EV Life, Part 2 - 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,237
edited February 2017 in Chevrolet
imageEV Life, Part 2 - 2016 Chevrolet Volt

You're not really living the EV life if you ignore the standard household-outlet method. Here's what happened when we plugged in our 2016 Chevrolet Volt for the evening.

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  • longtimelurkerlongtimelurker Member Posts: 455
    Your garage outlet should be 20 amp, that wiring between the service panel for that circuit and the outlets should be 12-gauge, which should have no trouble handling a 30-foot run, and depending upon what else is served by that 20-amp circuit, there should be no impediment to charging at 12 amps. That wussy little 16-gauge extension cord in the photo should be out of the picture...if the cord is 25 feet or under, a 14-gauge cord would work - preferably a 12-gauge. There should be no reason to have to go beyond 25 feet from the outlet, judging by your photo...car is sitting right outside the garage door.

    At night, the compressor, shop-vac, etc. that may also be on that circuit should be inactive...that's one of the advantages of charging at night.
  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,676
    This is not how Volt owners charge overnight. It seems like you're just looking for ways not to like the Volt. The dealer explained to me how to set the 12 amp setting. You can set that to your garage automatically if you charge there. If you charge in a garage with an outlet at 12 amp settting, it will charge overnight, no extension cord needed. That's what the majority of Volt owners do. Also popular -- 240v charging stations, many are free. I drop mine off in the morning and come back 4 hours later to get it, fully charged. Third alternative: charging at work. If none of these are possible for you, the Volt might not be the right vehicle. But at least try to use it the way most people do.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    12 Amps is the same current as a hair dryer, a toaster, or a sweeper. You should have no trouble running at this level with a proper extension cord.
  • blueprint1blueprint1 Member Posts: 22
    I tested a 2017 Volt for a French-Canadian publication. It's very easy to access the charging menu to reset to 12a, and my outdoor plug near the garage needed no extension. Full charge in the morning. Ditto at work, where I plugged on a 120V during the day. The car only needed the 4-banger for the return part of a 1hr highway trip. Final tally for a weekly car review: 535km, 1 l/100km in gas or about 230 mpg US. Power is about 6 cents per kWh in Quebec. Got the same results with a Sonata PHEV, and guess what: I'm replacing my 2015 Golf TDI with a 2017 Audi A3 e-tron.
  • justoneopinionjustoneopinion Member Posts: 21
    Did anyone at Edmunds read the owner's manual *before* charging? On page 215, under the heading "Plug-In Charging," two short paragraphs explain the number of hours for a full charge for a battery depleted to its 25% minimum charge (approx. 13 hours at 12 amps and 19 hours at 8 amps). You can read on and learn how to set the vehicle charging system to the maximum 12 amps every time the car is plugged in, including at Level 2 public charging stations. These numbers have been proven in other online reviews and forums, and have been spot on when charging my 2017 Volt in my moderate temperature garage using the Chevrolet-supplied EVSE with 18-foot-long cord and no extension.

    Fumbling around with charging misses the concept of the Volt's commuting flexibility. Want to drive 100 miles roundtrip but have only slow 120-volt charging at home instead of a speedy 240-volt Level 2 charger? Let the Volt's gas engine reduce your nighttime charge duration. On the highway, force the engine on with the "Hold" mode (pages 180-183 of the owner's manual, BTW) to maintain battery charge and then switch to electric "Normal" mode driving on roads below 50 mph where the electric motors are most efficient and fun. The gas engine will sip fuel at a Prius-like 45+ mpg on the highway while it links with the electric motors and maintains the battery charge level. The lower overall battery consumption on city streets in electric mode will dramatically reduce the charging time necessary at the end of the day. That's how you can make the slow 120-volt charging work if your daily driving exceeds the Volt's typical 40- to 60-mile electric range.

    Too complicated? Then do what every serious EV driver/homeowner does: Install a Level 2 charger with a 25-foot cord in your garage or side of your house for the driveway. The Volt will charge up in 4 to 5 hours at night (potentially on cheaper, off-peak utility rates) while you sleep and dream about the Tesla you really should have.
  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,676
    Or you just charge overnight on the 12 amp setting and it's ready in the morning. This isn't that hard!
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • justoneopinionjustoneopinion Member Posts: 21
    I think it's a challenge only if someone has unique circumstances.

    Someone like the Edmunds editor with a 120-mile roundtrip commute may not have the necessary 13 hours of 12-amp charge time available if they work an 8-hour day at the office, need a minimum of 2 hours for their lengthy roundtrip commute and drive for any activities/errands before or after work.

    And then if their 120-volt outlet is on a 15-amp circuit -- not 20 -- like my garage, which is also tied into two other rooms in the house, the circuit breaker won't like small appliances on that circuit competing with the 12-amp Volt.

    If that's not enough to think about, the charging time is also extended depending on temperature. In my 115-degree Phoenix garage during the summer, I add almost an hour to the charge time because the Volt's on-board battery temperature maintenance system is running fans and liquid cooling the battery using electricity siphoned off the current flowing into the charging system. I would think battery heating would use even more juice in very cold temps.

    Easy solution: Use the gas engine in Hold mode occasionally or install a Level 2 charger.

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