GE WattStation Chargers Suspected In Nissan Leaf Charging Issues

Last week after documenting at least 11 complaints by Nissan Leaf owners about GE Energy’s WattStation level II charger, GE Energy issued a statement that it was working with Nissan to figure out what the potential problem is.

According to plugincars.com, a San Francisco Bay Area Nissan dealership representative sent an email to Leaf owners on Thursday warning them to cease from using the WattStation charger because it had documented cases of it damaging the Leaf’s charging system.

The warning was made out of caution until engineers can determine an actual problem, and thus far, only Nissan Leafs are known to be affected by this charger.

Nissan told the New York Times, furthermore, “there’s no official Nissan policy instructing customers not to use GE WattStations.”

A spokesman for GE Energy also said “thousands of units have been shipped and it has received positive reviews from EV drivers” but nonetheless, the word is out, so it is a case of caveat emptor, particularly for Leaf owners.

One of the worse cases described was by a poster on the MyNissanLeaf.com forum who said after using the GE WattStation six or seven times, he plugged it in like normal and “everything went off.”

This Leaf owner’s dealer said the problem had been seen before with Leafs using the WattStation, and diagnosed it as the car’s on-board charger malfunctioning.

The problems at this point appear therefore to be random, as 11 or so out of “thousands” of users indicates a potential bug, and not necessarily an inherent and pervasive flaw – just the same, ceasing from using it until further notice would be erring on the safe side.

plugincars via NY Times Wheels Blog


  • Sean Gannon

    Hi, this is Sean Gannon from GE. I’d like to help clarify the information from GE that you reference in your story. Regarding the charging issue raised by 11 Nissan Leaf owners who had GE WattStation Wall Mounts, GE’s current analysis does not indicate that the WattStation is the cause of the reported failures. As you note, GE continues to actively work with Nissan to help determine the source of this issue. The GE WattStation has not encountered a similar issue with other brands of electric vehicles.

    For your readers that are interested in the technical specifications, GE’s WattStation is designed and tested to the SAE J1772 and appropriate UL standards and these tests have been validated by an independent third party. And there have been no design changes to WattStation since its 2011 launch.

  • Jim Vandegriff

    I just had a GE wattstation installed at my home last week to charge my new Nissan Leaf. So far it is working perfectly, but this is news is worrying to me. I hope the engineers at GE and Nissan figure out and fix any potential problems quickly.

  • Gary Hanson

    When I purchased our LEAF 15 May 2012, the sales person told us that it was not necessary for us to use the Nissan recommended AeroVironment EVSE Level 2 Charger, and that we could opt for any other Level 2 Charger in the market, such as the GE Wattstation sold by Lowes. My son is an Electrician, so instead of paying an extra $1200 to AeroVironment for their charger, we purchased the GE Wattstation and my son installed it FREE. Five days later the LEAF died and would not accept a charge at all, either from the GE Wattstation or the Nissan supplied Level 1 charger. Fortunately there was enough juice left in the batteries, so I drove it back to the dealership whereupon they gave us a loaner car until such time as the problem could be fixed. We live in Hawaii on Oahu, so the “parts” had to be shipped in. Ten days later we got the LEAF back from the dealership, with a verbal warning that if we continued to use the GE Wattstation and the charging system died again, that future repairs may not be covered under the LEAF warranty, since they Nissan, opine the Wattstation killed the LEAF. The dealership gave me a toll free number to GE Resolve [geresolve.postsalesservice@ge.com] Phone (Bill Cidela
    GE Post Sales Service 888-437-3765). Mr. Cidela tells me that the Nissan engineeres are reluctant to cooperate with the GE engineeres in resolving the issue, suggesting the problem lies entirely with GE and not Nissan. Mr. Cidela FEDEX’d us a replacement Wattstation along with an RMA and prepaid FEDEX label to send back the one purchased at Lowes, and also suggested not using the replacement Wattstation until GE and Nissan get their collective heads out from where the sun does not shine. In the mean time we do not have a Level 2 EVSE charger to use and are relegated to using the Nissan supplied Level 1 trickle charger. How do you spell FRUSTRATING!? The dealership suggested contacting the Nissan Hotline Customer Service Center. I did, and finally got Mr. Paul Smith on the line (877 664 2738) Options 1-2 Ext 457253, who told me he would look into the problem and get back with me NLT today, Mon, 16 Jul 2012. Still waiting for his call.

    Gary

  • William Fay

    Hi

    If you want to test an EVSE to see if it’s safe and complies to SAE J1772, Gridtest Systems provides an automated test tool for the purpose. It runs more than 20 tests and gives a pass/fail report on the EVSE.

    It was designed to help prevent and solve these sorts of charging issues. Many manufacturers and independent test labs have started to use the EVE-100 Test tool.

    William

  • Gary Hanson

    Regarding my posting above, Mr. Cidela informs me that the email address I provided is one of those that are not monitored unless it includes a case number, however, his phone number is accurate for anyone needing to contact GE Resolve.

    Gary

  • Jason

    Hi, I own a ’11 leaf with a plug in wattstation form GE. I have been using it daily since December ’11 till now (july ’12). I have 16000 miles on the car and 1/2 the charges are from the GE station. I am concerned it may create an issue in the future, but there is no way I can stop using it or I can’t go to work. 50 mi each way highway speeds. I would like to know the conditions of when it failed. I never charge if I am at the top two bars. I’m curious about the conditions that it failed.

  • Gary

    UPDATE. You may recall that I’d previously commented that my local Nissan Dealer suggested that should my LEAF OBC fail again incident to being charged by a GE WattStation, that it likely would not be covered under warranty. Mr. Smith from NISSAN USA Customer Service called me today to inform me that he had entered a “Statement for the Record” in my Nissan Account to the effect that if I as the customer reconnect my LEAF to a GE WattStation, and the OBC fails again, that my LEAF warranty will cover any repair costs.

    Garu

  • Sean Gannon

    Hi, this is Sean from GE again. The cause of the Nissan Leaf charging problem has finally been determined. It’s an OBC software issue on the Leaf — not an issue with WattStation. Here is a statement that we just posted to our website (http://www.ge-energy.com/leaf-wattstation-facts.jsp).

    Nissan and GE have completed their investigation into the instances of Nissan LEAFs experiencing on-board charging (OBC) issues when using certain EV chargers. Nissan has traced the root cause of the issue to the LEAFs OBC software that can allow damage to occur to its OBC components while using certain chargers and in certain instances, such as when a brief under voltage or blackout condition occurs. Nissan is working to address this issue as quickly as possible, and in the meantime is advising customers to avoid charging during times when brownouts or momentary power dips may be likely, such as during electrical storms or high power usage on the grid.

    As we were telling folks last week, even early on, GE’s analysis was indicating that the GE WattStation Wall Mount was not the cause of the on-board charging issue. Also, WattStation did not encounter a similar issue with other brands of electric vehicles.

    And, just to reiterate, reports in the media that using a GE WattStation charger would void the warranty on the Nissan LEAF were incorrect, as were reports that Nissan had told its dealers to avoid WattStations. Nissan publicly stated that it is not their policy and they are addressing it with their dealers.

  • bob Bruninga

    Since we have a DIY charge cord, we are watching this closely. Our under $100 DIY charge cord has the biggest cost savings from not using the $200 J1772 plastic and pins, but uses the same pins but in a Home Depot set of plumbing parts and a custome EVSE cicruit board.

    In addition, using our DIY connector, allows us to fit the entire EVSE inside the LEAF Charge door so it can remain permanently connected. The cord end is connected to a $39 recoil cord also from Home Depot (under the hood) so when we park, we only have to pop the charge door, and grab the 120v plug end of the 30′ retractible cord and go plug it in.

    When we prepare to leave, we unplug from the wall, the spool autorewinds the cord, we close the charge door and driveaway. Never have to fuss with the handheld EVSE or J1772.

    With the car being parked for over 21 hours a day, either plugged in at home and plugged in at work, the car is ALWAYS fully charged at the start of each trip. Even from an empty battery, in one day (10 hours at home and 8 at work) we can still fully charge a Leaf in one day’s cycle.

    See the web page http://aprs.org/charging-DIY.html

  • WilbertCassatt

    Dead pent articles, regards for selective information. Read More I am impressed with this site, rattling I am a big fan.

  • MarianelaCraveiro

    Thanks for another magnificent post. The place else may anybody get that type of info in such an ideal approach of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the search for such info. Full Report You have noted very interesting details! ps decent site.