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EV Adventures – Part 4 of 6

January 2nd, 2012

The EV/Leaf Evaluation

I received email notices and phone calls about one week before my evaluation and found Nissan to be much nicer than the cable company about pinpointing an exact time for the visit.  Nissan gave me a 2-hour window and told me the person doing the evaluation would contact me with a more exact time.  Sure enough, on the day of the evaluation, Sept. 27, the person coming to my house phoned me in the morning.  He arrived promptly at our scheduled time of 1 p.m.

Steve Achtemeier assessed my electrical service, helped me locate the best place for the charging station in my garage, and took measurements for the installation quote.  Steve works for a company named Lightschape.  In addition to their main business of outdoor lighting, Lightscape is a certified installer of the charging station for the Leaf.  The charging station is manufactured by AeroVironment.  Their main business includes manufacturing small drones for the military.  Steve told me that after I receive my quote for the installation, I could elect to purchase only the equipment and do that directly through AeroVironment.  It would then be my responsibility to hire a contractor to install the station, including any local permits that may be required.

I learned from Steve that the charging station communicates with the vehicle and is harmless until the vehicle tells the station to feed it electricity.  The plug at the end of the cord that is connected to the charging station carries no electricity when unplugged from the vehicle.  Only when plugged into the vehicle will any voltage be present and even then, electricity does not flow until the vehicle tells it to at the pre-programmed time.  Since electricity costs are minimal – in the middle of the night – that is when the vehicle would typically be charged.

The quote for the charging station came to me by email on Oct. 3.  The total price is $2,388.14, broken down as follows:

  • Installation permit and processing: $200.00
  • Custom installation: $1,372.00
  • Shipping and Delivery: $49.95
  • Charging Dock, Wall Mount 15’ Cable: $721.12
  • Total before tax:  $2,343.07
  • Sales tax: $45.07
  • Total: $2,388.14

Details covered by this quote:

Apply for permit.  Cut drywall, pipe up to ceiling (4’), over to EV dock location (18’) and down to EV dock (4’).  Drill hole in wall between mudroom and garage for pipe to pass.  Mount disconnect and connect flexible pipe from disconnect to dock.  Install circuit breaker, pull wire and connect.  Schedule inspection.  Validate charging dock.  Train customer.

Personal comments related to this quote:

I am familiar with residential electrical work.  Note that this quote covers running the electrical line outside of the existing interior wall, which should be less expensive than installing the line inside the wall.  For conversation sake, let’s say that Lightscape’s labor rates are much higher than normal at $100/hour.  This means they have over 13 labor hours to cover this installation.  It is hard to imagine that this installation will take one technician more than 6 hours.  At a more reasonable rate of $50/hour, $1372 buys more than 27 hours.  To me, the quote to install this equipment sounds much too high.  I want to investigate the option to hire my own contractor.

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