- Charger Introduction
- Mounting the Charger
- Installing the Electrical Outlet
- Connectivity: Making Extension Cords
The Jeep's main traction pack batteries will be charged as a pack instead of individually, for obvious reasons. This means a single charger will be connected to the entire series string of batteries and will be used to charge them from a wall outlet. The charger I chose to use is the PFC-30 charger made by Manzanita Micro. This charger is rated for a variety of supply and output voltages, and is very flexible. Thus it can be used on all common 120 and 240 volt AC outlets as well as 208 volts AC, etc. Regardless of the input voltage, the charger can pull up to 30 amps from the power source and dump close to 40 amps max into the battery pack. In order to charge my 160 volt DC pack, the charger is set to output up to 195 volts DC for a typical "daily charge". Note that the fully charged (160 volt nominal) battery pack has a voltage of about 172-174 volts DC.
Mounting the Charger:
I decided to mount the charger in the trunk of the Cherokee. This was decided due to its need of being in a ventilated space, but protected from the elements (mainly water and dirt). The trunk has two areas behind the wheel wells which provide space to stuff wiring, and I decided to mount the charger to the passenger side of the trunk. I made the mount for the charger mainy out of flat steel. I began by welding the flat steel to a cut length of "L" channel (which will bolt to the floor). Next, I used flat steel to finshed of the mount into a rectangular shape. Next I set the charger on the rectangle I now had and marked and drilled the holes to match those already drilled in the base of the charger.
Next, I drilled three holes in the "L" channel and the floor of the trunk. I then installed 5/16" riv-nuts into the trunk floor to hold the charger mount down. Next, I drilled three holes through the top piece of flat steel and through the metal flange found under the window on the passenger side of the trunk. In those three holes, I installed three #10 riv-nuts. These three #10 bolts will not support any weight of the charger, but instead are there for stability. I then cleaned and painted the mount a nice silver color. Next thing to do was to drill three holes in the plastic panel which goes in the passenger side of the trunk to allow the three #10 bolts to pass through it. Lastly I ran the AC power cord under the jeep and up into the passenger side trunk area, mounted the charger, and began charging the batteries for the first time.
Installing the Electrical Outlet:
Having the charger mounted in the Jeep was great and all, but I needed a way to easily connect/disconnect the charger from the cords which connect it to the input power source. This is usually accomplished by installing a recessed outlet of some type on the vehicle which the power cord can plug into. This is what I did as well. Following the trend set by most EV owners, I decided it would be both neat looking (and nicely ironic) to install the outlet where the old fuel-filler and gas cap used to be. The fuel-filler stuff was located behind a swing-out door on the rear driver's side of the Jeep. After the gas tank was removed, there was just empty space left behind the fuel-filler door.
After knowing where the outlet would go, I was left with the decision of what type of outlet to use. Any outlet rated for 30 amps at 240 volts A.C. would technically be acceptable. My only requirements were that the outlet be recessed and make a good solid connection. So I decided to use a 3-prong, 30A, 120/240 volt twist-lock style recessed outlet and matching plug. To mount the outlet in the space behind the fuel-filler door, I attempted to use that self-expanding foam that comes in the spray cans to fill the space in, with the intent of fiberglassing over it after it had dried to provide a clean, smooth mounting surface. I can honestly say this was one of those "not so great" ideas. When the can says "not intended for filling large gaps" they meant it! After waiting 24 hours as stated, I discovered the the foam wasn't going to harden, but instead remain a damp foamy disaster in my behind my fuel-filler door. So after becoming annoyed at my frothy mess, I did my best to clean it all out of the fuel-filler and proceed with another idea. Did I mention that expanding foam is is sticky, smells bad, makes a mess and sticks to most everything?
The next idea was to use a piece of metal welded in there to cover the hole and mount the outlet to. The only reason why this was avoided at first was due to the fact that all the surfaces behind the fuel-filler door are curved in strange ways making it difficult to weld the metal in place. This idea was carried out by Mark from the Austin EV club who used a piece of scrap metal from one of the battery boxes to fill the hole, then tack welded it in place. After the metal plate was installed, I painted it and we drilled the hole for the outlet then mounted it in place (after connecting it to the cord going to the charger).
Connectivity: Making Extension Cords:
After getting the recessed mount twist-lock outlet installed, it was necessary to make extension cords so the Jeep can be charged without being parked right on top of an electrical outlet. Furthermore, I had to make adapter cords so the Jeep could be plugged into both 120 and 240 volt AC wall outlets. There were several ways I could've chosen to make the cords, as any number of plug ends could've been put on one end of the cord(s), while a NEMA L6-30 twist-lock was installed on the other end. I decided to make the cords as modular as possible, so I decided to continue to use the L6-30 twist-lock connectors for all cord-interconnects. Basically it came down to the following configuration: I made one long ( ~ 25 foot ) cord with a female L6-30 twist-lock on one end and a male L6-30 on the other. Next I made two adapter cords ( ~ 4 foot each ): a cord with a female L6-30 twist-lock on one end and a standard 120-volt plug on the other; and a cord with a female L6-30 twist-lock on one end and a 240-volt 50/30 amp range/dryer plug on the other (NEMA 14-50 / 14-30). The wiring I used for all the cords is stranded 10/3 wiring which I bought at Lowe's.
The main benefit of the Jeep's modular cord system is that it maximizes the number of outlet types which the Jeep can plug into. This really matters most with 240-volt outlets of which there are many types and sizes for different applications. The Jeep currently can plug into three different types of 240-volt outlets: NEMA L6-30 (30 amp) twist-lock outlets, NEMA 14-30R (30 amp) Dryer outlets, and NEMA 14-50R (50 amp) Range outlets. You'll note that my 240-volt adapter cord can plug into EITHER the 30-amp or 50-amp dryer/range plugs. This is due to the fact that I have no neutral prong install in the plug housing. The reason that the industry is switching over to four-prong dryer/range plugs is due to the fact that most 240-volt dryers have a timer which runs on 120-volts. This 120-volt device needs a separate neutral and ground connection, which older three-prong dryer/range plugs can't provide. The PFC series chargers, however, do not need a separate neutral and ground when running in 240-volt mode, so it was safe in this case to remove the neutral prong, allowing the plug to fit in both 30-and 50-amp outlets. Of course, the charger can also plug into a standard 120-volt plug using my 120-volt plug to twist-lock adapter. Note that in this configuration, the charger accepts 120-volt hot on one wire, neutral on a second wire, and ground on the ground wire, and will never be allowed to pull more than 15-amps when using this adapter.
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