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V2G Charger Stopped Working - No Power

  • 16 October 2019
  • 20 replies
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Hello @Darran_OVO  @Ollie_OVO @Josh_OVO 

I’ve emailed Kaluza Support, but thought I’d just keep you in the loop too.

Our V2G charger was plugged into our car (and charging) and then today at 3pm (exactly) the electricity in the house went out for a moment, the V2G charger made a strange thump noise which I heard from inside the house and the unit now has no lights on and will not power back on.  I have tried resetting the unit by turning the isolator switches off and on and turning the emergency stop button clockwise but still no power or lights.

Our V2G installer disconnected our ROLEC unit when he installed the V2G unit and therefore have no alternative way to charge our car.  Therefore, please could you arrange a solution or a fix to our unit as soon as possible.

Kind regards,
Piers.

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Best answer by piersjk 18 October 2019, 10:15

Well I thought I’d just add an update to the situation for those who have an interest in these things on the forum.  Kaluza got back to me and I located the trip switches which were under a flap in a metal box fitted next to the smart meter.  It appears these tripped out when the electricity blinked off.  However when these were reset and the car was plugged back in the unit initially confirmed the car with the car charging lights flashing on Leaf, and then tripped out again, this repeated again on second attempt.  Then advised to leave it in idle mode without connecting to car so they could have a look at diagnostics data.  

Yesterday they phoned that the unit would need replacing on Monday and would arrange for installers to visit.  So now awaiting new unit.

From reading other forum messages, wondering if this issue is caused by an electricity surge which @Transparent  mentioned in the thread https://forum.ovoenergy.com/what-is-v2g-technology-90/check-out-the-latest-on-ovo-s-vehicle-to-grid-trial-here-2286/index6.html#post23822 and could benefit from better surge protection.  I would not want the unit having to be replaced every time we suffered a brown out.  (Not knowledgeable in these areas, but thought I’d highlight for those who follow).

Hopefully will be back up and running on Monday with a new unit.

 

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Userlevel 2

Well I thought I’d just add an update to the situation for those who have an interest in these things on the forum.  Kaluza got back to me and I located the trip switches which were under a flap in a metal box fitted next to the smart meter.  It appears these tripped out when the electricity blinked off.  However when these were reset and the car was plugged back in the unit initially confirmed the car with the car charging lights flashing on Leaf, and then tripped out again, this repeated again on second attempt.  Then advised to leave it in idle mode without connecting to car so they could have a look at diagnostics data.  

Yesterday they phoned that the unit would need replacing on Monday and would arrange for installers to visit.  So now awaiting new unit.

From reading other forum messages, wondering if this issue is caused by an electricity surge which @Transparent  mentioned in the thread https://forum.ovoenergy.com/what-is-v2g-technology-90/check-out-the-latest-on-ovo-s-vehicle-to-grid-trial-here-2286/index6.html#post23822 and could benefit from better surge protection.  I would not want the unit having to be replaced every time we suffered a brown out.  (Not knowledgeable in these areas, but thought I’d highlight for those who follow).

Hopefully will be back up and running on Monday with a new unit.

 

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Thanks for the news update @piersjk.

We can assume that the metal box next to your meter is the Consumer Unit. This will contain trips for each circuit in your house. I would expect that there is a separate one for your EV Charger. Each Trip should have a label to say what circuit it feeds.

There are different types of trip that might have switched off in your Consumer Unit when you noticed the momentary power-loss at 3pm yesterday. I’d be interested to know which type switched off.

The most common type is called an MCB and looks like the one on the left with the current rating printed on it:

 

The other types have another button in addition to the trip switch. I have highlighted this Test Button in red above.

At this stage it’s not possible to say what has gone wrong within the EV Charger, although the “thump noise” you heard makes it most likely that this was caused by something at the same time as the power-loss.

I consider it more likely that any fault would be induced by the surge of power being restored rather than the initial loss. If so, then it is indeed likely that anti-surge devices might have prevented damage.

My general view is that it’s more effective to install an anti-surge unit to protect the entire house than it is to protect an individual device like an EV Charger.

However, there’s no reason why OVO couldn’t train their Installation Engineers to add an anti-surge unit (at extra cost) when an EV Charger gets connected to the Consumer Unit. It would be an additional service which would fit well in the portfolio of Smart Devices which OVO/Kaluza offer.

As it’s a field of technology that I have work with for over 30 years, @Ollie_OVO or @Josh_OVO may wish to PM me for a more technical explanation than I will post here.

 

Userlevel 2

Hi @Transparent 

The box is not part of the main house consumer unit but a separate box installed (see SHIELD box in photo) at the time of the V2G unit, and is just for the V2G unit.  It has an RCD switch and trip switch (photos below).

 

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Thanks for the clarification @piersjk. This makes good sense. OVO are basically adding an additional “consumer unit”, dedicated to the EV Charger.

The item on the left is a 4-pole Residual-current breaker (RCD) made by Chint, a Chinese multinational company. I’ll provide a manufacturer’s image here so that other readers can see it in focus.

 

It only has a single-phase feed to it, so I don’t know why they’ve used this model with the two additional terminals. Possibly it’s been chosen for the trip characteristics.

The other module in this metal box is a 32-Amp MCB which trips if the current is exceeded. A Type-C has been selected, rather than the more common type-B, because it is more tolerant of surges.

Since OVO have elected to install these trips in their own enclosure, they are not reliant on the customer having spare capacity in the existing consumer unit. They could equally well have chosen a 6-module-wide enclosure and installed a pair of surge suppressors in addition. The close proximity of the earthing-block would make this location ideal.

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Just to clear up any questions around surge protection in relation to our Vehicle to Grid Charger, I’ve received this information from the manufacturers that should help clear this up. 

Surge protection
The unit has built in surge protection as required by the CHAdeMO standarf and therefore no external surge protection is required.RCD.


The RCD is a 'type B', not a 'B curve'. This means that it can sense DC fault currents which has been a requirement of the BS7671 18th edition regs for all EVSE since 01 January 2018. They are more widely available as 4 pole variants and the unused two poles have no impact on the function of the device.

 

Thanks

Darran 

 

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Thanks @Darran_OVO. So that’s good in one way, in that there is surge protection of some level within the EV Charger…

… and not so good in that it leaves open the question of why @piersjk has a charger which died with a “thump”, coincident with a momentary power loss. I had been hopeful of a nice neat solution to that!

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I’ve read as much as I can find of the CHAdeMO spec online. I can only find references to having surge protection on the output/power-delivery side in order to protect the vehicle.

It’s possible that Indra have designed their Smart Charger and V2G charger such that they do have transient suppressors to protect the mains input and the charger’s own internal electronics, but I can’t see that this would be part of the CHAdeMO spec itself.

Now that there has been a similar failure of a V2G charger over the weekend, can I ask if @Ollie_OVO or @Sean_OVO could check the technicalities of what Indra have and have not protected?

This is not a negative comment. This technology is important and we all want it to succeed. Failures on a Trial should be expected.

Userlevel 2

Well V2G unit was replaced this morning (installers did an excellent job).  Faulty unit will be taken away to be investigated to see what went wrong.  New unit not yet online and exporting electricity as waiting for platforms team to do the stuff in the background to link the new unit or something.  Hope it won’t be too long. 

After hearing about the other failure at the weekend, it sounds very similar, just glad the RCD did it’s job on mine and didn’t blow the main service fuse to the house.

I know it’s a trial, and all these failures will make the end product better, so I’m still happy to be involved.  Hopefully this unit will not have a failure.

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Really glad to hear that news @piersjk, and I think you have exactly the right attitude to this Trial.

The Storage Technologies being developed by [color=#00c030]Kaluza[/color] and its partners are extremely important in the future energy strategies for this country. However disappointing are the current failures, the benefits to be gained from the eventual deployment of mass-distributed storage are going to make the effort so worthwhile.

Userlevel 2

Thanks for the clarification@piersjk. This makes good sense. OVO are basically adding an additional “consumer unit”, dedicated to the EV Charger.

The item on the left is a 4-pole Residual-current breaker (RCD) made by Chint, a Chinese multinational company. I’ll provide a manufacturer’s image here so that other readers can see it in focus.

 

It only has a single-phase feed to it, so I don’t know why they’ve used this model with the two additional terminals. Possibly it’s been chosen for the trip characteristics.

The other module in this metal box is a 32-Amp MCB which trips if the current is exceeded. A Type-C has been selected, rather than the more common type-B, because it is more tolerant of surges.

Since OVO have elected to install these trips in their own enclosure, they are not reliant on the customer having spare capacity in the existing consumer unit. They could equally well have chosen a 6-module-wide enclosure and installed a pair of surge suppressors in addition. The close proximity of the earthing-block would make this location ideal.


To me OP’s blurry picture looks like it is in fact the 2 pole version of this RCD not the 4 pole version.

 

I wish I could be as positive as you. I am now on my 3rd charger unit and it is still not working correctly. The first 2 simply broke in a similar way to yours, this third one will only charge the car if I press the boost button, otherwise it just sits idle. The app shows it is charging the car but at a rate of 0.1kWh. It has not exported anything for a whole month. I have contacted support several times but they just keep coming back saying ‘there are no issues with the charger’. I’m ready to give up on this trial, I could get a much better electricity rate from plenty of other suppliers, I only chose OVO as I would make up the difference by exporting energy back to the grid - if the charger does not do that then it is pointless using it. Hope you don’t have similar problems on your new unit.

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Oh dear…. I’ve had my replacement V2G unit working for just two weeks and last night had a failure with hardly any charge in the morning. Rebooted the machine and now incurring the horrible solid RED light and continuous whirling fans which can only be bad news!  Waiting for Kaluza support to get back to me….

 

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Ah that’s not good to hear @piersjk, but that’s the nature of a trial sometimes!  Glad to hear you’ve already been in touch with Kaluza support, I’m sure they’ll get back to you soon with next steps to get this sorted!! 

 

Darran

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That’s sad news @piersjk. I wish we had a bit more feedback from Kaluza to tell us whether the symptoms being reported are actually enabling them to isolate what these faults are.

I recognise that they’re unlikely to want to share the exact detail because that would privileged information of interest to a rival.

However, it’s unclear whether the data they retrieve via your WiFi, combined with the technical feedback from Customers on the Trial, is adequate.

If you’ve just experienced a failure that left the EV with inadequate charge in the morning, I wonder if Kaluza’s central management software was actually able to detect that across their internet data-link.

Userlevel 2

Hi @Transparent ,

It would be very useful to have some information in the app or access to history logs to see what the nature of the error is, even if this was very basic and competitive non-sensitive for the user.  At the moment we know it either works or it doesn’t, and with High Voltage stickers on the unit it doesn’t fill the novice user with confidence of what has gone wrong and if it is safe to try to reboot again.

I’ve read on the OVO V2G facebook forum that Indra are putting a firmware update out which will try and resolve some issues with units failing due to the timing sequence on boot-up causing the unit to record an out of sync error and shutting down as a precaution.  The firmware update is to increase the timing on boot up to avoid these issues.  Not sure if this is what my issue is though. 

Hopefully will hear back from Kaluza today with some better news to get the unit back up and running. 

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So we’re agreed on the need for a bit more fundamental feedback from Kaluza@piersjk.

And I guess we’d still like to know what level of automatic reporting is actually received by Kaluza when a V2G charger fails in the manner yours has. Does it still have an operational processor sending diagnostics back via WiFi? Or are they having to wait until you report the fault manually and describe the symptoms?

Can I just clarify what you mean by “boot-up” please?

I had assumed that the Charger was always left running (booted) once installation was complete, and that customers weren’t meant to turn it on/off. Is that correct?

If my understanding is correct, that leaves you with just two choices

  1. plug the car in and wait until the Kaluza platform sends commands to charge or feed back to the grid according to settings agreed in the App.
  2. plug the car in and demand an immediate charge (boost), overriding the App settings.

Have I got that right?

Userlevel 2

Hi @Transparent 

Yes your understanding is correct.  The unit is left on at all times, and the car is plugged in when at home.

If the unit has a temporary fault (indicated by a red flashing light) then you need to turn the unit off and on at the isolator switch to reboot the machine, to enable it to become operational again.  A solid red light however indicates a more serious fault, initial advice from Kaluza is to attempt the off on cycle, but this didn't fix the error.

Waiting to hear back on next steps.

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Ah… that’s now clear. Thanks @piersjk.

For several reasons I don’t like the solution of restarting the Charger by cycling the supply off/on.

Firstly, whatever fault has occurred within the charger, there is a significant risk of a surge current creating further damage when the power is reapplied. Imagine that a power transistor has blown short-circuit, and the internal processor has sensed this and shut down the charger to avoid further damage to charger or EV.

When you reapply power, the short circuit is still present, but the processor still requires time to boot before it could sense the problem and remove that short-circuit current.

Secondly, when you cycle the power, it stops the diagnostic data stream being fed to Kaluza via your WiFi.

I’d prefer to see a recessed “Reset Processor” button beneath the charger which can be pressed to initiate a controlled shut-down and restart, whilst still maintaining a data stream.

I’ll just tag @Darran_OVO here to see if he wants to alert the design team of this discussion.

And I’ll tag @PeterR1947 because, unlike me, he’s a qualified engineer, and his insights would be invaluable on this matter.

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@Transparent@Darran_OVOI’m afraid I have to say that most engineers, when an electrical device is failing will say “have you tried turning it off and back on again” however, this is usually applied to devices like radios and TVs and other domestic appliances.

 

I have to say, with a high voltage DC charger, with a solid red light I would tend to turn off...full stop.  then call support.

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That’s a fair point @PeterR1947.

The only other similar DC-output device I can think of which might be found in a home is a welder!

But a single-phase arc welder is normally constrained to 16A max, which is just half the current drawn by an EV Charger. :scream:

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