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Articles on Electric Vehicles

December 3, 2015
Paul Gipe

Jesla High-Power Mobile Charge Cable (EVSE) for EVs

If you plan to take your Electric Vehicle (EV) on a road trip in North America today, you must take along a portable charge cable. Like a spare tire, a portable charge cable is an essential piece of gear. Don’t leave home without it.

This may not always be case, but today there are simply not enough charge stations to travel from one city to another. For example, here in the southern end of California’s San Joaquin Valley there’s an appalling lack of charge stations between Bakersfield and Los Angeles.

Driving intercity without access to commercial charge stations with today’s EVs requires flexibility, ingenuity, and a portable EVSE that you can use wherever the opportunity presents itself, such as charging at RV parks or truck stops.

Once you make the decision to charge along the road with a portable charge cable (known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment or EVSE in the trade), you quickly learn that the faster—that is, the more powerful—the better. This where the Jesla (rhymes with Tesla) comes in handy.

All EVs come with an emergency EVSE suitable for trickle-charging the traction battery on a household receptacle at 120 volts. These are painfully slow, requiring nearly 24 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf with a 24 kWh traction battery. Thus, they’re only useful in an absolute emergency or if you need to top up overnight.

For us, having a portable EVSE is part of the cost of owning an EV. It was an anticipated expense. Immediately after installing our home EVSE, we shipped off the emergency EVSE in the Nissan’s trunk to EVSE Upgrade.

EVSE Upgrade modified the Nissan charge cable to work on both 120 volt and 240 volt circuits. The modified Nissan charge cable could now draw as much as 16 amps at 240 volts, sending more than 3 kW to the Nissan Leaf’s onboard charger. It was money well spent. This made travel out of the southern San Joaquin Valley possible for us.

EVSE Upgrade is a nice package. It fits into the pouch designed for it and can be used with several different adapters. We’ve used it on road trips at least seven times and it never let us down. We used it to charge at both 120 volts and at 240 volts. It offers good value. If you’re a Nissan Leaf owner, your choice for a low-cost portable EVSE often comes down to an EVSE Upgrade or a portable EVSE from ClipperCreek. To me, this is the minimum every EV driver should have.

However, our 2015 Nissan Leaf can draw more than 6 kW from an EVSE. It can draw as much as 27.5 amps at 240 volts. To minimize the amount of time spent charging at intermediate stops, we wanted to fully use our Leaf’s onboard charger. This realization very quickly leads you to Jesla from Quick Charge Power.

Jesla rhymes with Tesla for a reason. The Jesla is a Tesla mobile EVSE modified to work with the J1772 standard plug, such as the Leaf requires. It’s a surprisingly compact package that can deliver up to 40 amps continuously at 240 volts, giving it a 50-amp rating.

It’s not cheap. Quick Charge Power calls it a “premium” charge cable with reason. Jesla’s $1,000 cost is nearly three times that of EVSEs from either ClipperCreek or EVSE Upgrade, but it can deliver all the power our present Nissan Leaf can take and probably as much power future Leafs will require as well.

No one knows for sure, but future mass-market EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, may well use more powerful on-board chargers that can draw much higher currents than today’s EVs. Teslas can use the full 40 amps that its mobile charge cable can deliver. For example, a Tesla can pull up to a electrical pedestal at an RV park and plug their charge cable into the 240-volt outlet and pump nearly 10 kW into the traction battery. It seems likely that mass-market EVs will eventually follow suit. If that’s the case, our Jesla will be even more advantageous on road trips in future EVs than it is today.

At an RV park, where we can draw the full charge our Leaf is capable of, we can charge in nearly half the time necessary with EVSE Upgrade or the portable units from ClipperCreek. When you have a long day of travel ahead of you, charging faster may be worth it. It is to us.

Jesla comes with a 19-foot charging cable, a 240 volt NEMA 14-50 adapter plug and a 120 volt NEMA 5-15 adapter plug. The adapter plugs are specially designed to fit only the Jesla cable. The reason for this is that each plug includes a resistor that tells the EVSE how much current the plug can safely draw. The NEMA 14-50 adapter, for example, can draw up to 40 amps.

We added a NEMA 10-30 adapter to our order so we could use it with Shorepower’s electrical pedestals at Flying J’s truck stop in Lebec on our route to Los Angeles.

Jesla comes with a small padlock. Using the padlock gives you peace of mind that someone’s not going to walk off with your expensive hardware while you’re waiting for your car to charge.

Quick Charge Power offers Electric Auto Association members a 5% discount. They also offer free shipping for the Jesla. Altogether, you can save about $100 on the purchase. And for such an expensive EVSE, every discount helps.

We’ve used Jesla on our trips to Kernville, Ridgecrest, Paso Robles, and several trips to Los Angeles. It’s a quality piece of hardware we expect to use for many years to come.

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