Level 1 or Level2 for the PHEV? - Kia Niro Forum
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post #1 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-09-2019, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Level 1 or Level2 for the PHEV?

This topic is PHEV-specific. HEV owners don't have an external charging option, and EV owners are likely to have solid reasons for wanting Level 2 charging in their homes. But PHEV owners have to make a decision and the choices are hardly self-evident.

PHEV owners receive a level 1 charger when they purchase their Niro. We can plug it in to standard household electrical outlets, it takes longer to charge our PHEV than level 2 would take, but given that our maximum EV range is 26 miles and we can get a full charge overnight on Level 1, most of us are content with the level 1 charger's performance. Not having to hire an electrician and pay significant sums of money to install level 2 charging equipment reinforces that perspective.

But the owner's manual recommends level 2 and describes the level 1 charger as an "emergency charger". Many of us are concerned about maximizing the lifetime of our PHEV battery, and we're left questioning the owner's manual guidance because conventional wisdom suggests that slow (level 1) charging is likely to be better for battery longevity, but the owner's manual seems to contradict that conventional wisdom.

There are a lot of other threads on this forum that discuss these sane questions. My hope is that this thread will give this specific topic a home for future discussion.

In this post, lafe005 points out some level 2 advantages, in terms of both time and temperature. It's worth considering if you live in a cold climate, are concerned about charging efficiency/economics, or if your situation would allow you to avoid depleting the charge in your PHEV battery if you can use a level 2 charger, when you would be more likely to (almost) fully deplete it with a level 1 charger. That's because depleting the battery is not great for longevity either, although I think most of us PHEV owners are inclined to do that when exceeding our 26 mile range, because that's kind of the point of owning a PHEV. It would be interesting to see a scientific study on which is worse: depleting or avoiding depletion by fast charging.

Several threads speculate that Kia recommends level 2 not because it's necessarily better for your battery, but because of corporate liability concerns. The thinking seems to be that if you install a level 2 charger, it's going to land on a brand new dedicated circuit in your garage, because not many people have 240 V outlets in their garage and so level 2 likely requires an electrician to install new wiring that conforms to modern electrical codes, but if you use the level 1 "emergency charger", you might plug that in to old, substandard, house wiring and because the level 1 charger pulls a lot of current, if you have crappy or overloaded wiring in your garage, it could lead to a house fire which could lead to a lawsuit against Kia. I don't completely buy that theory, because it's not like the level 1 charger is necessarily pulling more current than is "legal" or "standard". The draw is comparable to a high powered hair dryer, although it's different from a hair dryer in that it runs for hours, rather than minutes. So yeah, if you have crappy garage wiring, that long high current draw could heat up your house wiring and start a fire when a hair dryer would not, but I don't really think that this is the reason why Kia recommends level 2 in the PHEV owner's manual. Which is not to suggest that I know what their real motivation actually is.

Looking forward to reading what others might be thinking on this topic.
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post #2 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-09-2019, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltasmith View Post
This topic is PHEV-specific. HEV owners don't have an external charging option, and EV owners are likely to have solid reasons for wanting Level 2 charging in their homes. But PHEV owners have to make a decision and the choices are hardly self-evident.

PHEV owners receive a level 1 charger when they purchase their Niro. We can plug it in to standard household electrical outlets, it takes longer to charge our PHEV than level 2 would take, but given that our maximum EV range is 26 miles and we can get a full charge overnight on Level 1, most of us are content with the level 1 charger's performance. Not having to hire an electrician and pay significant sums of money to install level 2 charging equipment reinforces that perspective.

But the owner's manual recommends level 2 and describes the level 1 charger as an "emergency charger". Many of us are concerned about maximizing the lifetime of our PHEV battery, and we're left questioning the owner's manual guidance because conventional wisdom suggests that slow (level 1) charging is likely to be better for battery longevity, but the owner's manual seems to contradict that conventional wisdom.

There are a lot of other threads on this forum that discuss these sane questions. My hope is that this thread will give this specific topic a home for future discussion.

In this post, lafe005 points out some level 2 advantages, in terms of both time and temperature. It's worth considering if you live in a cold climate, are concerned about charging efficiency/economics, or if your situation would allow you to avoid depleting the charge in your PHEV battery if you can use a level 2 charger, when you would be more likely to (almost) fully deplete it with a level 1 charger. That's because depleting the battery is not great for longevity either, although I think most of us PHEV owners are inclined to do that when exceeding our 26 mile range, because that's kind of the point of owning a PHEV. It would be interesting to see a scientific study on which is worse: depleting or avoiding depletion by fast charging.

Several threads speculate that Kia recommends level 2 not because it's necessarily better for your battery, but because of corporate liability concerns. The thinking seems to be that if you install a level 2 charger, it's going to land on a brand new dedicated circuit in your garage, because not many people have 240 V outlets in their garage and so level 2 likely requires an electrician to install new wiring that conforms to modern electrical codes, but if you use the level 1 "emergency charger", you might plug that in to old, substandard, house wiring and because the level 1 charger pulls a lot of current, if you have crappy or overloaded wiring in your garage, it could lead to a house fire which could lead to a lawsuit against Kia. I don't completely buy that theory, because it's not like the level 1 charger is necessarily pulling more current than is "legal" or "standard". The draw is comparable to a high powered hair dryer, although it's different from a hair dryer in that it runs for hours, rather than minutes. So yeah, if you have crappy garage wiring, that long high current draw could heat up your house wiring and start a fire when a hair dryer would not, but I don't really think that this is the reason why Kia recommends level 2 in the PHEV owner's manual. Which is not to suggest that I know what their real motivation actually is.

Looking forward to reading what others might be thinking on this topic.
Someone please contact KIA engineering and ask them why level2 is recommended over level1.

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post #3 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-09-2019, 03:08 PM
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Because the charger is only using 3.3 KWh, the load on a circuit of a 30 amp/240v is less than the 15 amp/120v.

You have to understand how a 240V circuit is wired for this to make sense. A 240V circuit is literally 2 120V circuits. A 120V circuit has Live and Neutral wires, a 240V circuit has 2-120V live wires. A 240 V circuit at the circuit breaker is literally 2-15 amp circuits next to each other.

A level 1 charger maxes out the live wire on 1-15 amp circuit. (15 amps)
A level 2 charger uses at most 90% of the capacity of the circuits. (13.5 amps each wire)

These are maximum possible current draws, with ideal wiring and minimal resistance (Ohms about 8 ohms for these numbers).


Watts = Volts x Amps
Volts = Watts ÷ Amps
Amps = Volts ÷ Watts
Ohms = Volts ÷ Amps

Cold weather makes Ohms rise, this is more resistance. More Ohms causes a much higher current flow to keep the same watts. Amps squares as ohms increases. Watts also equals the sqaure of Amps x Ohms. W=A˛ x O

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post #4 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-09-2019, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Carmichael View Post
Because the charger is only using 3.3 KWh, the load on a circuit of a 30 amp/240v is less than the 15 amp/120v.

You have to understand how a 240V circuit is wired for this to make sense. A 240V circuit is literally 2 120V circuits. A 120V circuit has Live and Neutral wires, a 240V circuit has 2-120V live wires. A 240 V circuit at the circuit breaker is literally 2-15 amp circuits next to each other.

A level 1 charger maxes out the live wire on 1-15 amp circuit. (15 amps)
A level 2 charger uses at most 90% of the capacity of the circuits. (13.5 amps each wire)

These are maximum possible current draws, with ideal wiring and minimal resistance (Ohms about 8 ohms for these numbers).


Watts = Volts x Amps
Volts = Watts ÷ Amps
Amps = Volts ÷ Watts
Ohms = Volts ÷ Amps

Cold weather makes Ohms rise, this is more resistance. More Ohms causes a much higher current flow to keep the same watts. Amps squares as ohms increases. Watts also equals the sqaure of Amps x Ohms. W=A˛ x O
FWIW

level1 uses max 12a x 120v = 1440w. (Confirmed by measurement)

level2 uses max 16a x 240v = 3840w (IIRC)

1440w/3840w ~ 2.5hrs/6.5hrs respective charge time ratio
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post #5 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-10-2019, 02:49 AM
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I read an article about 120 vs 240 charging in regard to which is best for battery life. It stated that while 120 volt charging does not heat the traction battery as much as 240 charging does, it charges and heats the battery for a longer period of time makeing 240 volt charging slightly better for battery life in the long run. I am currently charging with 120 volts and it is working well for me but I will most likely install a 240 circuit in the near future to maximize battery life. I tried to find the articale to post a link but couldn’t find it second time around.
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post #6 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-10-2019, 10:09 AM
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Charging the last 10 or 15 percent is what shortens battery longevity (capacity). No issue there as the Niro has a substantial buffer in that charging to "100%" is actually around 80%. Excessive heat from fast charging can also shorten life, but it is hard to imagine that the small increase in heat from Level 1 charging over a longer time is worse that the higher increase for a shorter period. I'd have to see the research that supports it. It would have to be a long term lab test on individual cells controlling carefully the charging and noting the temperature, and the reduction in capacity a few thousand charging cycles later to be valid.

No special knowledge of the field, but of note in a college coop job, I programmed satellite battery testing routines (major issue was designing programs that would fit in the limited RAM of the minicomputers of the day). These were NiCad batteries and we tested the entire battery, not individual cells. What we were looking for cell voltage reversals and how to prevent them happening in space. Satellites were very expensive back then and a battery failure means you have to replace the entire satellite.

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post #7 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-10-2019, 10:43 AM
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To put this tome in perspective; if the level 1 charging is so bad for the battery, why does Kia supply a 120v charger? DUH!
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post #8 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-10-2019, 11:10 AM
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For "emergency" use only.
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post #9 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-10-2019, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yticolev View Post
for "emergency" use only.
amen!!!!!

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post #10 of 52 (permalink) Old 02-10-2019, 01:44 PM
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I wasn't being serious, simply quoting the manual.

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