Whether you’re considering buying a Leaf or already own one, it may be a question you want to ask, is your charger waterproof? In this article, we’ll look at charging your Leaf and if it is always safe.
Nissan Leaf charging cables are waterproof, but your home outlet may not be. A Level 1 outlet needs to be weatherproofed to be completely safe.
There’s not much point in having an EV if it’s going to be a safety hazard. In general, there is no safety risk, but precautions still have to be taken. Let’s look at this now.
Charging a Leaf at Home
Most EV owners charge their vehicles at home. It’s the easiest way to boost your battery. Of course, a fast charger will charge your car to 80% in 30 minutes, but no one has the time to visit a fast charger every day. And so, at home, charging is the way to go.
You return home from work or school and plug in your car. But the way you are charging your Leaf needs to be safe. Most owners don’t even think about the safety aspect. No more than we would think of the danger involved in pumping gas. There’s always some risk involved. We just need to make sure we minimize the risk and maximize safety.
So what happens if you return home and it’s pouring down with rain? The last thing we want to do is start playing around with electricity, right? However, all the charging cables supplied with your Leaf are insulated to prevent electrocution in the rain. Unless your car makes a complete connection, charging will not begin.
So, I hear you say, no problem with the weather then… Well, not quite. We need to consider the other end of the cable and where the power is coming from. If your power outlet is in your garage, then it’s unlikely to be affected by the weather. However, if your outlet is on the side of your house or at the edge of a carport, it needs to be a weatherproof connection.
This is where the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 chargers comes into play.
Level 1 Car Charger
A Level 1 Leaf charger is a standard 120V outlet. It’s not a charger I would recommend unless you don’t use your EV very often. This type of charging can take 40+ hours to reach full charge. Lots of people do use this type of charger, though. But the thing to remember is where precisely your outlet is positioned.
It’s common to have an outlet in your garden or driveway for using vacuums or power washers, but they may not be an actual external outlet. If you use an external power outlet that is not weatherproof, then your connection will short or trip if it becomes immersed in water.
You will need an electrician to install a weatherproof outlet if you are using a standard Level 1 mobile connector. You should ensure that the outlet, when installed, is at least 20” above ground level. This prevents the outlet from becoming immersed due to flood or snow drifting.
Level 2 Car Charger
A Level 2 Leaf Charger is a little different. This is a faster charging system for your home. Using 240V, this realistically is the way to go for a home charger. It will charge your Leaf in 4-8 hours. This is the way the majority of Leaf owners charge their cars. Level 2 chargers are a specified, installed unit. They must be installed and certified by an electrician.
There are many options available to install from several suppliers, most of which can be installed either indoors or outdoors. The other thing to consider when charging your Leaf at home is the cable that runs from your car to your outlet.
Your cable needs to be in tip-top condition. If there is any damage along the cable, your car may not be able to complete the charging. It can be damaged in many ways, such as a car running over it. If it is damaged, you need to replace it
If you charge your Leaf outdoors, your cable is damaged and it’s raining, then your car will short, possibly causing damage to your battery, and your circuit to the house will trip.
The cables are very robust, but they are not designed to be left lying around. It’s good practice to tidy it away when not in use.
Charging Leaf at a Destination Station
All destination chargers are the equivalent of a Level 2 charger. They are widely available at shopping malls and public amenities. Like at home, when you connect your car to the destination chargers, your car will initially run several checks before it begins charging.
One of these checks is ‘Are all contacts secure, and is there a complete seal?’ If not, the charge won’t begin. One of the reasons may be moisture. However, most destination chargers will have covers over their connectors, and unless you’re holding your cable up to the elements, it will not affect your charging if it rains.
A Nissan Leaf has an IP Rating of 67. What is that? Well, it’s basically the rating as to how water resistant your car is on the Ingress Protection Rating. The first number is graded 1-6 for foreign objects/dust, with six being the best at keeping particles out. The second number is what we are concerned about – water protection – with 8 being the highest protection.
It means that you could submerge a Nissan Leaf in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes without any ingress damage. This is because most parts are completely sealed units.
And so, how does that affect our charging and charging ports? Well, as I said, the car does a complete check to ensure everything is as it should be before any current starts to flow.
EV Fast Charging Stations
The same principle applies to your chargers at any fast charger. However, Nissan Leaf (and several other Japanese car companies) use a different charging standard. Leaf uses CHAdeMo, (Charge de Move), rapid charging DC connectors. Not all fast-charging stations have the CHAdeMO facility, but you can download apps to direct you to the correct stations, or you can buy an adaptor to allow charging anywhere.
This doesn’t detract from the fact that any connections made with a fast charger will be safe regardless of whether it’s raining.
All EVs, including a Nissan Leaf, have chargers and charging waterproof cables. The only negative variable is human error. If you plug your cable into an exterior outlet that is not waterproof, then you will short your system. This is more likely to happen at a residential property, either your own home or while visiting a friend, and while using a Level 1 connection.
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