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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a caravan and the site owners have agreed that I can charge my car using their 16A "commando" style blue sockets. These are on almost all caravan sites and many marina and other commercial or business premises. They are also part of the ZCW Zero:Net charging network.

The problem with using these "commando" sockets is that you will need a way to plug in the 13A plug connected to the charging cable. You can't just use a normal extension lead in the same way that you might for a strimmer or lawn mower because it is connected for hours at a time and it might rain and a normal extension won't have a waterproof socket. If it gets wet then there is a good chance it will blow the fuse or trip the MCB and if that doesn't trip then it could even catch fire! There are very few days I would be happy to leave my car plugged in to an extension lead, even one that is properly rated, without me being physically present... and definitely never over night.

So, thanks to dpeilow, I bought one of these today and made up my own IP56 rated adapter cable. Masterplug 1 Socket 13 A External RCD Adapter 0.5m Orange | Departments | DIY at B&Q. The socket is properly IP54 rated and it has an RCD protector too - all for under £9.00 from B&Q.

All I had to do was buy the commando plug from a caravan shop (about £3.50), remove the 13A plug and and carefully wire up the commando plug. Make sure it is very securely fixed with all the terminals very secure and with the cable clamp properly preventing it pulling out. Remember, it my have the weight of the EVSE dangling from it. If you are not used to doing this kind of electrical thing then please don't risk it, find someone who is and let them do it. Better safe than sorry.

I wasn't going to buy this adapter lead from B&Q. Instead I was just going to get the waterproof socket but this lead is £2 less than the socket on its own and includes an inline RCBO. You work it out... this is great value and I strongly recommend you buy one now before they realise their mistake (if it is a mistake!).

Just a quick word of caution: Although the blue "commando" sockets are able to safety take a 16A load not all caravan sites electrical supply can supply 16A. A lot of them are only 10A and if that is the case you may have to reduce the charge rate to 6A using the button on the charging cable block. Ask first. The site managers can get a bit upset if we keep blowing their fuses or tripping the MCB and they have to keep resetting!

Edited: Correction of IP56 to IP54
 

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One correction: It's not an inline RCBO, it's an RCD.

(RCBO means with Overcurrent protection - but in this case that protection is provided by the fuse in your EVSE plug)


By the way, the socket really is rainproof. It's been getting a proper test this week, but remains bone dry inside.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the correction... I have always got those two mixed up.

The socket is rainproof but it is also quoted as IP54. For those that don't know what that means the definitions of the IP rating can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code

If you don't want to read the full definition then here is a snippet:

The IP Code (or Ingress Protection Rating, sometimes also interpreted as International Protection Rating) consists of the letters IP followed by two digits or one digit and one letter and an optional letter. As defined in international standard IEC 60529, IP Code classifies and rates the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in mechanical casings and with electrical enclosures
The first number indicates the level of solid partical protection (in this case 5) the second number indicates the degree of protection from water (in this case 4)

4 indicates that the casing offers this degree of protection against water:

Splashing water : Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
We only need protection against rain so providing it is not in a location where water can accumulate and we leave it in a way so the rain can run off easily I think this should be adequate for our needs.

I am interested though in your test though David ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Are yes... sorry... it works then!

Just a point... with an RCD is there a way to test it is working other than with the test button and is the test button an adequate test? If I am to be protected I want to know that it will actually work and I have always been suspicious, perhaps unreasonably so, about RCD's. It is a bit like parachute... the only way you can see if it works is when you jump!
 

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dpeilow said:
Yes you can test it. Get a plug, plug it in and touch live to earth...
I understand that is exactly what the test button does, nothing complicated! and actual proof that it is working.
 

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Paul,

Can you rewire the RCD so that the lead can be made longer? Specifically from the RCD to the socket?

You are using it as a converter but it could also be used as an extension lead?

I am also assuming that the Ampera's "in the boot" charge lead is also IP54/6 rated so can be used outside. I can't remember seeing any specific info on that so excuse me if I have missed something.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ray, I haven't considered that as an option but I suppose it could be done without affecting the RCD effectiveness providing the RCD housing can be opened and closed without damage (saym, with screws) but it is not convenient for me to look right now but I will look when I am next able. :)
 

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Well I took the risk and purchased one, it is possible to rewire it, all the connections in the plug and RCD are screw terminals so you just have to replace the cable make sure the cable you use is 1.5mm. The other thing to be aware of on the RCD is that when you take off the cover there are two tiny rubber washers one on each screw inside the cap that comes off. Make sure you get them the right way round when reassembling. The cup side faces the RCD.

I also used cable that will withstand being outside just to be extra safe. I now have a 10m extension lead with a bright yellow cable. Now when I am away hopefully I will be able to park the car within reach of an ordinary 13amp socket. The extension with the RCD and the cable in the boot will hopefully be long enough.
 

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Yes the Ampera charge cord can be used in bad weather. I've thoroughly tested that :)

It's IP54 I think. So ok to be splashed but don't leave it anywhere where it can end up in standing water.
 

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By the way I tried to charge at a campsite last weekend. No go. Either the cable run to the socket was too long or there was a ground fault there somewhere, but the EVSE cut out every 5 minutes then gives up after the 4th time it happens.

I ended up driving up the road and using a POLAR point instead.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We charge regularly at a camp site so it is a mixed bag. Just have to try and see if it works but remember... unless you are certain of their wiring always charge at 6A.
 

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Does the Nissan EVSE have a way of changing to 6A?

I've not noticed a button on mine.
 

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You can buy an EVSE that can select 6A or 8A, in addition to 10A, 13A and 16A (13A and 16A only available with the Schuko EU plug type). AFAIU, the car will respond according to the duty cycle of the 1kHz carrier wave the box sends, so your Leaf would then charge at 6A once set.
 

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Thanks guys

I'm not wanting to spend any more on another EVSE. The Nissan one was enough! (Even second hand)
 
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