Charging at Level 2 Charging Stations

Ever notice that when you get a new car, (meaning new to YOU) or something that’s seen in public you start to notice others who have the same car/thing as you? It’s just a human nature thing to notice stuff once you have it. I recently discovered and purchased a Level 2 EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment) “J Plug” which is a J1772 plug. It’s the same plug used for almost all electric cars except for Teslas which I can now use to charge my Cake Kalk& as well as my Sur Ron Light Bee. You can read about that journey by clicking here.

I live in the Bay Area of California and those who don’t live here think we all have Teslas and nothing but Teslas. Nope I don’t have one YET (A Tesla Cybertruck will get my money next year) and there are people here that purchase electric cars other than Teslas albeit they represent a minority of EV owners. And really for the majority of people who drive EV cars Tesla or not, they mostly get charged at home. If they drive to work (you know pre and post COVID) they may be able to charge at work if needed. About the only time they charge at EV charging stations is when they embark on a longer than regular trips. In speaking to some who own non Tesla EVs a lion’s share have told me “Gosh come to think of it I’ve never charged anywhere but at home.”

Charging my Cake at a ChargePoint level 2 charger

Forbes recently published an article “Tesla Supercharger Network Vs Electrify America Vs EVgo (Late 2020)” that outlines how much EV charging stations is growing at an almost exponential pace. So why all of this interest in level 2 charging Mark? Well most of you only ride your Sur Ron or Cake Kalks on the dirt which is fine, but I want to do both with mine. I’ve written extensively about my frustration with Cake not helping owners figure out how to do that. So I’ve been trying to educate myself on how to accomplish level 2 charging. And Cake is not the only manufacturer of EV motorcycles that has not moved to level 2 charging. Sure you can purchase lower priced Zeros like the FX that have a built in level 1 charger, but they don’t include a level 2 charging plug only the standard grounded household 110 plug (C-13). And I have no idea if Zero’s onboard chargers can handle 220v which is the standard at EVSE charging stations. 110v won’t cut it.

I’ve also learned that increasing the input voltage does NOT speed up the charging process. Just because I’m now using 220v at EVSE charge stations does not mean it will charge twice as fast as the 110v I’m using at home. There are many factors that limits charging which is best explained by this Battery University post or ChargePoint’s Quick_Guide_to_Fast_Charging (1). Even though Battery University’s post is about UAV batteries the same principles apply to our motorcycle batteries:

Simple Guidelines when Buying a Charger

  • Charging a battery is most effective when its state-of-charge (SoC) is low. Charge acceptance decreases when the battery reaches a SoC of 70% and higher. A fully charged battery can no longer convert electric energy into chemical energy and charge must be lowered to trickle or terminated.
  • Filling a battery beyond full state-of-charge turns excess energy into heat and gas. With Li-ion, this can result in a deposit of unwanted materials. Prolonged over-charge causes permanent damage.
  • Use the correct charger for the intended battery chemistry. Most chargers serve one chemistry only. Make sure that the battery voltage agrees with the charger. Do not charge if different.
  • The Ah rating of a battery can be marginally different than specified. Charging a larger battery will take a bit longer than a smaller pack and vice versa. Do not charge if the Ah rating deviates too much (more than 25 percent).
  • A high-wattage charger shortens the charge time but there are limitations as to how fast a battery can be charged. Ultra-fast charging causes stress.
  • A lead acid charger should switch to float charge when fully saturated; a nickel-based charger must switch to trickle charge when full. Li-ion cannot absorb overcharge and receives no trickle charge. Trickle charge and float charges compensate for the losses incurred by self-discharge.
  • Chargers should have a temperature override to end charge on a faulty battery.
  • Observe charge temperature. Lead acid batteries should stay lukewarm to the touch; nickel-based batteries will get warm towards the end of charge but must cool down on “ready.” Li-ion should not rise more than 10ºC (18ºF) above ambient when reaching full charge.
  • Check battery temperature when using a low-cost charger. Remove battery when warm.
  • Charge at room temperature. Charge acceptance drops when cold. Li-ion cannot be charged below freezing.

Here is a simple chart from ChargePoint’s Quick Guide to Fast Charging

Neither my Sur Ron nor Cake has near the battery range of the 80 mile battery outlined in this chart. And I had to look up what RPH means. It’s Range Per Hour meaning how many miles you will get per hour of charging based on the car/motorcycle model you select. Of course neither my Sur Ron or Cake are listed in ChargePoint’s app so I just use the Zero FX as my bike to gauge RPH and it’s pretty close.

When I began to write this document I thought people were interested in level 2 charging, but since then I’ve found most are not. So I will end my work here. There is much more to know so if you’re interested start your own researching and have fun. I’m very happy to have the ability to charge my motorcycles in convenient places other than just at home.

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  1. Yes thank you for all your hard work and sharing your knowledge!! This is so awesome!!! Can’t wait to get my SR and use level 2 charging to ride long distance! Yay!!!!

    1. Thanks to both you and Lee. It takes a lot of time to share what I’ve learned. The appreciation is always welcomed.

  2. Thanks Mark
    You have managed to make charging understandable and entertaining.
    Really appreciate it.

    1. Sure Todd no problem. As you may or may not know I no longer own the Cake due to a bad battery they would not or could not replace after only 8 months of ownership.

      I replaced the Cake with a 2017 Zero DSR with Charge Tank in March of 2021. I discovered that the DSR is the bike I SHOULD HAVE PURCHASED from the start. I’ve been happily riding and charging my bike at level 2 stations and recently discovered how to charge at Tesla Destination chargers as well. Which means I can now stay at hotels or eat at restaurants where Tesla has installed them. So leisurely trips (post covid) are now in the cards for me. Hands down Tesla OWNS the market on charging infrastructure. I know that Ford touts that ‘they’ have the largest charging network simply based on their association with Electrify America and EVGo, but trust me, after having first hand experience using EVSE stations which don’t work due to being offline, broken or shared kWs it’s bullshit.

      None of us likes making mistakes especially a 14k plus CA tax and license for the Kalk&. But admitting mistakes and learning from them is key. I keenly distrust Cake the company and would never recommend their products. My feeling is they are much more interested in attracting investors than improving the customer experience. Not many people I know take the time and effort to build a site about a product they own without any intent of gaining revenue like in YouTube videos. This along with my other site is just to help other owners.

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