DaveBDA
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:41 pm

Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:48 pm

I live in Bermuda which uses 110v like the US and I have just purchased on i3.

There is an active electric vehicle rental market on Bermuda and there are a lot of charging stations available that have 220v (maybe it is 240v) outlets shaped like the standard British plug.

Can I use a UK to US adapter (just plug shape - not a transformer) to plug my i3 into these outlets and would it charge faster on these than on a standard 110 outlet?

Thanks for any advice you can offer!

Busfolder
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:34 pm

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 1:49 pm

According to the BMW University text 'Charging the High-voltage Battery'

"The input voltage, which can be processed by the electrical machine electronics, may be in the following range: 100V to 240V, 50Hz or 60Hz"

So you can use an adapter plug, and will get faster charging with 240V (for the same current capacity)

Enjoy your i3!

Chris

alohart
Posts: 2050
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:36 pm
Location: Honolulu, HI

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:31 pm

DaveBDA wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:48 pm
There is an active electric vehicle rental market on Bermuda and there are a lot of charging stations available that have 220v (maybe it is 240v) outlets shaped like the standard British plug.

Can I use a UK to US adapter (just plug shape - not a transformer) to plug my i3 into these outlets and would it charge faster on these than on a standard 110 outlet?
No EV can be charged by merely plugging one end of a passive cable into an electrical outlet and the other end into the EV's charging port. There must be an electronics device between the outlet and charging port to perform negotiations with the EV's on-board charger (EVSE - electric vehicle supply equipment).

In some places including Europe and the U.K., public charging stations (EVSE's) do not include the cable that plugs into an EV's charging port. An EV owner must provide a passive cable that connects the charging station's outlet to the EV's charging port. If that's your situation, you'd need to provide a passive charging cable for this purpose which might be difficult to find because the charging ports on North American and the European EV's are incompatible.

However, if the outlet that you've described is merely an electrical outlet and not an EVSE outlet, you would need to plug in an EVSE like the 120 V Occasional Use Cable (OUC) included with an i3. However, this is only a 120 V device and would be fried if connected to a 230 V electrical outlet using merely a plug adapter. Using a transformer would probably not be a great idea because its capacity would need to be rated for a continuous 10 A or 12 A depending on which model i3 you have. That might be a heavier and/or larger transformer than you want to carry around.

There are a number of voltage-sensing portable EVSE's available for purchase in the U.S., but you'd have to change the power plug or use a plug adapter rated at a continuous 10 A or 12 A. If you bought a portable British EVSE with the correct plug, it would have an E.U. charging plug that's incompatible with the charging port on your U.S. i3.

An EVSE powered by 230 V would charge almost twice as fast as one powered by 120 V assuming the same current for both voltages.

My explanation is probably about as clear as mud :D However, I hope that you're aware that you're probably running into the problems that result when importing a North American EV into a country that uses some British standards.
Aloha,
Art

2014 BMW i3 Arravani Grey, Giga World, Tech + Driving Assist, Parking Assist, DC Fast Charging, JuiceBox EVSE

DaveBDA
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:41 pm

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:43 pm

Thanks for the response! I had a question for Art.

I was planning to use the same cable to plug into the 220v that I use with the 110v at home. My question is really: Is the cable that comes with the i3 in North America capable of handling 220v like one that would come with a UK i3?

Your answer suggests that it is not but I would have expected the unit to be the same globally (standardisation is generally cheaper to produce) and just have a voltage sensor - which is what Chris suggests. Are you sure that the standard cable is only rated to 110?

eNate
Posts: 431
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:33 pm

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:58 pm

The back of your included "cable" (EVSE) should be labeled with acceptable input voltages.

The EVSE that came with my i3 is 110 only. I purchase an aftermarket EVSE called a Duosida that accepts either 110 or 220.

The Diosida is my everyday EVSE, and the voltage sensing is automatic. But it requires rigging up adapters for the various receptacle types I use, since a 110 outlet is different from 220.

Also, this particular EVSE pulls 16A, so requires a 20A circuit to plug into. If you only plug into 15A circuits where you normally charge, you would want an EVSE that works at 12A @ 110V or else you'll need to fiddle with your car's charge settings to use reduced power.
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DaveBDA
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:41 pm

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:26 pm

That’s clear. I will check the voltage range on the label.

Thanks!

JohnWasser
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2020 6:15 pm

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:54 pm

The US "EVSE" that comes with the car (Part 6818634-01) says that the input is "120V 60Hz 10A (1.2 kW)". I suppose it's possible that you could use it on a 240V single-phase grounded outlet but I don't know if it would survive or if you would get the benefit of faster charging. It would certainly be safer to get a British charger or use a step-down transformer that can handle at least 1.2 kW.

alohart
Posts: 2050
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:36 pm
Location: Honolulu, HI

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:57 pm

JohnWasser wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:54 pm
It would certainly be safer to get a British charger or use a step-down transformer that can handle at least 1.2 kW.
A British EVSE would have a European charging plug that's not compatible with a U.S. J1772 charging port.
Aloha,
Art

2014 BMW i3 Arravani Grey, Giga World, Tech + Driving Assist, Parking Assist, DC Fast Charging, JuiceBox EVSE

jadnashuanh
Posts: 4959
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 2:07 pm
Location: Nashua, NH USA

Re: Converter Plug

Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:43 pm

The confusion may be that while the i3 can handle a wide range of input voltages and charge the batteries, the box that you plug into the wall has internal digital circuits that may require a specific voltage input to work. The logic in the EVSE has an internal power supply and digital logic board that controls the interlock signals sent to the i3, and control the power switch in the thing that actually connects the ACV to the car.

Since power=volts*amps, if you can double the voltage, you'll provide double the power at the same amperage rate. But, not if the EVSE burns up because you try to plug it into a voltage it can't handle!
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

Busfolder
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:34 pm

Re: Converter Plug

Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:05 am

My take on this is:

Any i3 can charge from any 120V to 240V AC outlet, using a simple 'dumb' cable with suitable connectors.

This is borne out by a public charger I use in Didcot (Oxfordshire) Although on the Pod-Point network, it simply supplies 230V at up to 32A single-phase, with no app, card, or 'handshake' interactions with the car.
This also means there's no payment, it really is free energy!

Chris

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