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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Taking a Load Off Your UMC

Everyone likes a bargain, even owners of (relatively) expensive EVs.  The first question a new Tesla owner must address is: "how do I charge my car at home?"  Almost immediately you're down to two options, the extra cost Tesla High Power Wall Charger (HPWC) or the included Universal Wall Charger (UMC).
If you, like most owners, opt for the already included UMC, you'll find that Tesla has left you hanging.  Literally.  The UMC packs quite a bit of weight into its charging brick and it dangles precariously cantilevered on an adapter.  Over time this weight can weaken the connections between the car and the plug, leading to the risk of overheating, arcing or a short circuit.  To eliminate this problem you need to support the weight of the UMC.   But can you do it cheaply?

I'm happy to report that "post-purchase money-pit creep" need not apply to this particular problem! There are various clever solutions to be found on the internet ranging from water bottle holders intended for bicycles to a very nice 3-D printed bracket.

I stumbled across my own solution right after I parked Serena in the garage for the first time, using the cheapest of cheap coat hooks leftover from a project I never started in the house we'd just moved away from.   That's right, kiddies, my procrastination had saved me a cool 100 cents.  Plus tax.  I think the setup is pretty elegant in its simplicity and ease of use...  and you can't hardly beat the price!  Frankly, the only thing more impressive than the price is the availability (any hardware store) and the ease of installation (under 5 minutes).
I chose to locate the plug and UMC in between our two garage doors.  Serena has never actually parked on the other side of the garage but I wanted to have the option.   I also chose the door end of the garage because our garage layout guarantees this area won't ever be obstructed or blocked and it is a lot closer to our main electrical box.   My wife just pulls in forward but I like to back in (because no exhaust = no fumes = NEENER, NEENER because I CAN).   If you'd ever backed a cold-started Subaru into your garage in the middle of Winter, you'd appreciate how much better it is to do that with a Tesla.  "Lesson learned!" I said to myself when I regained consciousness...
Trying to save everyone some trouble I did a search online for these coat hooks and I can't find them anywhere but Amazon.  They're so cheap no one else bothers to sell them through the internet.  Not even from Hong Kong!  Best I can figure is that inflation has pushed the price up to about $4 for a 2-pack of similar hooks.  Every store has them or something similar, trust me.
A closer look at the installation reveals how the hooks are mounted.  The bottom hook supports the weight of the UMC and the top hook is mounted facing the other way to "lock in" the top of the UMC.  The UMC is under very slight pressure by the hooks and that keeps it from being knocked out the setup by kids tripping over the charger's cord or other handling mishaps.  When not in use the charger cord is just looped over the big black bracket on the right side.
When traveling outside your normal routes, the UMC can be easily removed from the mount by simply popping the top out the hook and then lifting it.  If you're in a real hurry, just twist and yank (insert The Office joke here).  Very simple, fast and easy, just like every other DIY project you will attempt in your life ever.  Okay, not really.  It is true that driving a Tesla makes your daily life better but even Elon can't make home DIY projects run smoothly.  This one, however, is as close as you'll get to a guarantee and a total slam-dunk if you're trying to prove to your wife how skilled you are with a screwdriver.

Are you more visually oriented, like me?   Check out the video version of this post that I made to show off how cluttered my garage is:
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