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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another "Zoe won't charge" post? Yes I know, I know, there are already many posts like this, but hear me out.

Recently I bought a second-hand Renault Zoe R240. Only 11.000 km, in great condition, reasonable price, it looked like a good deal. The seller even drove the to my driveway (+/- 100km trip) to assure my the car and the battery were fine.
I also own a Nissan Leaf 2018 and I'm planning on building my own charger infrastructure in the future. But for now I just get by comfortably with the supplied EVSE charger. I tried the same with the Zoe, plugged in the Renault-branded EVSE and was greeted with the BCI message and a red light in the nose.

I tough to myself: "No problem, I'm a microelectronics engineer that works for a automotive semiconductor company, I''l have this figured out in no-time...." So here we are, 3 weeks later and I think I'm losing my mind!

So in the meantime I'm well familiar with the Raindance 馃嚬馃嚥 procedure. And indeed when retrying to much the error is more persistent. I wanted to read the OBDII port but my crappy ELM317 dongle was useless, so I build the CANSee dongle and this works marvelous. (@jeroenmeijer, I owe you a beer!)

So let's sum up my findings so far:
1: The Zoe will not charge with EVSE, tried all the suggestions I read on this and other forums.
2: It IS possible to charge with a AC fast-charger. (I'm lucky there is one 25 meters from my driveway)
3: I tried all the other public charging posts in the area, all of them failed the same as EVSE. However, I do not know if these posts are single or 3 phase.
4: I live in a weird part of the world where some (about 30%) households have neutral and earth are not tied together. Neutral is in fact just L2. There is 133Vac between N and Earth and 133Vac between line and earth. (This is a separate issue I'm dealing with with my power company!)
5. CanZE reports no DTC's (At least I think, do I need to do the 5 second push sequence to query DTC's?)
6. CanZE'' charging tab reports the correct charge pilot amps but the "Mains current type" is "NOK" with both the EVSE or public charger.

Here are my possible conclusions:
1: The Zoe won't charge with the "false" neutral line. (makes sense). And ALL the public chargers here, installed by professional company, also have the same issue. (makes less sense).
2: I read somewhere that a contactor connects N to L3 of the Zoe's rectifier. And there was a case where this contactor failed. But the seller said he charged the car with the EVSE overnight before driving to me. (This is backed by the CanZE charge logs)
2a: This contactor broke when I used the weird 133Vac neutral line on the Zoe. To me this feels like a very bad design on the Zoe's part and I find it hard to believe that the Zoe would close it's contactor in this situation.
2b: The contactor was broken all along, the seller knew this, lied to me and charged it with 3 phases before driving here.
3: There is some other issue I'm completely missing.

Is there any advice from the fine people on this forum?
Many thanks in advance!
Max
 

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Tesla Model 3 LR AWD, Renault ZOE R135 ZE50 GTLine (Sold: R90 ZE40 i Dynamic Nav)
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A few comments:
  • The ZOE does detect if it is receiving a single phase or 3 phase supply and switches relays to adjust the charging circuit accordingly (details somewhere on the CANZe website). There have been cases when a public 3 phase charger has had only two phases connected and this results in one or more of the ZOE's relays been welded closed. I guess the ZOE ought to check for this, but the designers thought public charger installers would be competent.
  • Your ZOE still charges on 3 phase AC? I think this excludes the welded contacts theory, so that's one possible fault rejected.
  • A floating differential AC supply is very strange. I think some areas in the US do something like this on old circuits, supplying about 130V on 3 phases and letting some high power sockets be connected across two of the phases? I guess it's possible that the ZOE doesn't accept this as single phase, and that would leave the input configured for 3 phase, but without a 3 phase supply.
  • Are the 'other public chargers in the area' that you refer to single phase, 7kW, charge points or 3 phase, 22kW, charge points? Is it possible that any local single phase AC chargers are connected in the same way as your house? If any are three phase then it should work if it has worked on a 3 phase AC public rapid charge (43 kW) as they just have thicker cables and are identical for your R ZOE, as it can only take 22kW anyway.
  • The ZOE does test for a low earth impedance - I think the test has been raised to about 200 ohms.
I'd do the following to start with:
  • Travel further afield and see if public 7kW chargers fail everywhere.
  • See if you can find another private EVSE to connect to, that doesn't have the strange AC connection.
Finally, asking the question in my second bullet point again, have you charged on a 3 phase charger since it wouldn't charge on your EVSE? If not, then it sounds just possible that connecting to the strange supply at home has welded the relay contacts closed, in the same way as can happen on an incorrectly wired public charger.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for taking the time to look at my problem!

So first of all, there has been a big development: The car charged from the EVSE.
I took the Zoe to the office where I know the mains supply is good. A TT-network with L = 230V and N = 0V and and a good earth earth connection. The Zoe started charging from the EVSE right away.

This means we can exclude a welded relay contact. I also thought about the possibility of it failing open, but in any case, this is now dismissed. The car can charge fine on 3 phase and on monophase with EVSE.
My problem is now reduced to: Zoe won't charge at home and at neighboring public chargers.

So let's focus on these potential causes:
Bad earth connection:
So the house is built recently(ish) in 2010 and I bough it less than a year ago. When buying the house the electrical systems are subject to inspection including and earth measurement. All of these were within spec. So I don't think the earth resistance is causing the problem.

Furthermore, the CanZE shows me "Mains type: Nok" and does not show any earth resistance measurement. Both for my power outlet and the public chargers. I don't know what the default behaviour in CanZE is when having bad earth connection. Can anyone confirm this?

Floating AC mains:
I live in Belgium and there has even been a recent news article heckling the fact that some suburbans have a very old mains grid infrastructure. The article states some electric cars, it also mentions the Zoe, cannot charge. Car manufacturers and power companies point fingers to each other.
In two weeks a technician from the power company will come by and take a look at my mains connection to see if there is anything he can do at the substation. This for sure is the reason why the EVSE does not work. If the power company cannot do anything I'm thinking of using an isolation transformer to fix the issue or trying to twist the power companies arm into giving me a 3 phase connection to solve my issue.

I have no way of telling if the public chargers are using 3 phases. On Chargemap they are listed as 11kW, so I suspect 3 phase 16 amps. At some point I suspected the charging cable was defective, so I used the cable from my Leaf (only PE, N and L1 are connected). This resulted in the same BCI error.
It seems perhaps that the charging stations are affected by the same floating mains. I will drive out a bit further to see if others are behaving the same.
I also saw someone on the forum here that built a small device to emulate the pilot signals. I could use this to verify with my multimeter the voltage on the phases of the public chargers. (I can already imagine the looks of people passing by the guy with wires stuck into a public charger...)
 

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Hello Maxvdb,

I think your problem is the same that I'm trying to solve. We have grid that are 127Vac L-N, or 127Vac L-Earth and 220V L1-L2. Zoe do not charge in grids like this. Zoe needs a grid that is 220Vac L-N or Earth.

I am in Brazil and the grid in most cities here is 127Vac L-N. We installed the first EV charger in my city. Recently we receive a Zoe that didnt charge in our charger. We have a parking lot.

I think that Zoe has some parameter that we can change and turn possible to charge in grids like ours. I'm trying to contact the Renault support here in Brazil, but I think that they know less than us. LOL

If you have update in our situation, let me know. If I discover some way to solve, I will share here.

Best Regards
 

Co-author of CanZE. Q210 nov 2013
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I think your problem is the same that I'm trying to solve. We have grid that are 127Vac L-N, or 127Vac L-Earth and 220V L1-L2. Zoe do not charge in grids like this. Zoe needs a grid that is 220Vac L-N or Earth.
This is correct. In Belgium some areas are still having floating networks. There is no other safe way to solve this other than using an insulation transformer. If you (the OP) want I can bring you in contact with an engineer in Leaven who did exactly this.
I think that Zoe has some parameter that we can change and turn possible to charge in grids like ours. I'm trying to contact the Renault support here in Brazil, but I think that they know less than us. LOL
AFAIK it doesn't, as it does an earth check between it's N and PE.
 

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I live in Belgium too, and have of course run into the same problems. Many 3-phase chargers seem to have the same problem, too; Namur is TERRIBLE!!! in this respect, for example (in fact, in the new interparking, ALL the chargers went offline within a minute of me connecting the car to one charger. And circuit breakers have been tripping elsewhere as well, putting public chargers offline...). Now, while I note that the only safe way of dealing with this kind of thing is to use an insulation transformer in order to create a real 0V neuter.... I also know that charging will work if you use a granny cable which you don't actually connect to earth, but where you connect the earth wire to the neuter-not neutre. Zo茅 sees 0V neutre and 0 ohm earth-neutre impedance and charges happily. (DISCLAIMER: don't try this at home).
So this got me thinking. What happens if you trafficate a 3-phase cable so that earth (car side) is not actually connected to earth, but to the neutre-not neutre?Would the result be the same as with the granny cable, or will it just end up frying the car's electronics? The difference between the two cases, I guess, is that in the case of the charging cable connected to a public charger, the control unit would see the real earth. This could make a difference for the signal line (and fry some parts). Whereas, for the granny charger, the control unit doesn't know any better than that the earth is actually earth - whereas in fact it's neutre-not-neutre.
Sorry, I'm hoping that this makes sense - I'm not an electronics engineer.
 

Co-author of CanZE. Q210 nov 2013
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You are in essence ignoring the ground wire and hooking up the chassis of the car to the grid. As the car frame is sitting nicely insulated on 4 rubber mats, it will indeed charge nicely as it has no other ground reference. Unfortunately, there chassis and the actual local earth are very not connected.

Connecting the car to a three phase grid with 230 volt between the phases (as opposed to the normal 400v) might (ignoring the earth issue) work or not work, most probably not as usually the charger works in buck mode when on 3 phases; I don't know if it can do boost mode on 3 phases. I mean, in theory it could for sure, but it might not be implemented.

In all tinkering with the PE line is, to put it mildly, not the cleverest idea and if the car is in a public place possibly more than dangerous. I am about the last person on this forum to care about legalese and "you can't do xxx because of", but here we are wading into serious liability land, almost independent of which legal system is applicable.
 

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You are in essence ignoring the ground wire and hooking up the chassis of the car to the grid. As the car frame is sitting nicely insulated on 4 rubber mats, it will indeed charge nicely as it has no other ground reference. Unfortunately, there chassis and the actual local earth are very not connected.
Yep. Is there any other danger in this situation than the obvious one of the car chassis being at ~130V AC? For the car itself, I mean, rather than for passers-by?

In all tinkering with the PE line is, to put it mildly, not the cleverest idea and if the car is in a public place possibly more than dangerous. I am about the last person on this forum to care about legalese and "you can't do xxx because of", but here we are wading into serious liability land, almost independent of which legal system is applicable.
Fair enough. But, you find yourself stuck once after midnight in a city where literally no public charger works for this reason, and you'll find yourself wondering: "what if I took a special cable with me just for those desperate occasions? Would it work?"
 
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