There is Life at 120 Volts

We’ve been in a rental for five months now while our new home is being remodeled. During that time both our Tesla Model S and Volt have been sharing a single 120 volt 15 amp circuit. We knew going in that it would be a challenge. But we’ve made it work and it has not been as much trouble as we anticipated.

Our two EV's sharing a single 120v circuit.

Our two EV’s sharing a single 120v circuit.

Our rental house has several 120 volt outlets on the outside. However, they’re all on a single circuit. We found out that we can’t charge both cars at the same time, the breaker trips. We have to charge one car at a time.

At 120 volts the Model S charges at a slow rate of 3 to 4 miles per hour, the Volt charges at about 5. That may seem glacial, but in 24 hours that’s over 80 miles of potential range. Our combined daily driving averages less than half of this. We usually have one car on the plug while we’re driving the other. Overnight we top up the car we’ve been driving that day. By morning both cars are usually fully charged.

Charging at the Science Center

Charging at the Science Center

We also take advantage of opportunity charging whenever possible. The Science Center of Pinellas County is about a half mile away and has a free level 2 charger. We use it about once a week to top up after a longer trip. It’s close enough that I can drop the car off and walk back to the rental. The nearby Publix and Applebee’s also have free level 2 chargers.

More of a concern to me is the fact that the rental does not have an enclosed garage. Both cars sit outside exposed to the elements. As a result we’ve got a nice collection of pine sap droppings on both cars. I probably have one of the dirtiest Tesla’s in existence. A visit to Pete in Sarasota will be in order after we move in!

The takeaway from this is that you really don’t need a level two charger at home. It’s great to have, but it’s not absolutely essential. Even with two EV’s we are getting along fine with a single 120 volt 15 amp circuit.


3 thoughts on “There is Life at 120 Volts

    1. bobhodgen Post author

      All the outside plugs are on a single circuit. It’s a rental and I can’t retire it.
      The limitation is not that much trouble. We can live with it as is.


  1. Andrew Diamond

    Thanks for proving my theory. I was thinking that if it came to it, that I could just keep my L2, 3.3 kW EVSE that I got for my Chevy Volt and use it for a Tesla or even a Tesla plus an i3. The way I saw it, the Tesla pack is large enough that I could charge it on Tuesday and Friday nights and the i3 could have it the rest of the time.



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