Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gotta Love Jersey

Well my second wall charger seems to be put on hold until the State of NJ can figure out what it wants to do about the UL listing issue with the wall chargers. Last month I wrote that my wall charger at my house failed inspection because the two components of the charger, the wall box and the cable, were tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratory separately and some of the local inspectors were failing the units because of this technicality. Both items passed inspection and have UL approval, but I guess when you attach the cable to the box, it somehow becomes less safe. I know that UL testing is necessary. I can only imagine the dangerous junk that would be sold if there wasn't an entity to oversee and test electronic devices before they can be used by the public, but I think in this case the inspectors are being too strict.

There are nearly 500 MINI-E's on the roads of California, New York and New Jersey, and only in New Jersey is MINI and Clean Fuel Connections (the company MINI contracted to do the charger installations) having such extraordinary difficulties. The latest news is that they are requiring UL field inspections in addition to the regular municipality inspectors, and forcing MINI to replace the wall boxes previously installed with new boxes that have a UL sticker on them. Mind you, they are the SAME boxes as the ones they are replacing and using the SAME cables. The only difference is the cable (3 wires) is being attached at the factory, instead of having the licensed, NJ electrical contractor attach it at the time of the installation, unbelievable. New York and California inspectors have passed just about all the units, but here in NJ less than half of the installed wall chargers have passed.

It's really no wonder though. New Jersey is the land of corruption and payoffs. Rarely do we go a year without a major politician involved is some scandal involving "pay to play" politics. I guess MINI just didn't grease the right palms. MINI executives are now calling the fiasco "The New Jersey Problem." Way to go Garden State! Where's Tony Soprano when you need him? He'd make this little problem go away with a phone call!
Click the link below to read more about the charge box UL problems in NJ.


  1. Joysey?! Foggedabout it! Try getting one installed in Irvine CA! Same deal - the inspector wouldn't allow the install until the whole until was UL approved.

    And the real problem - they don't do it because they're holding out for a bribe - they are actually this zealous! They are untouchable and uncorruptable.

  2. Yeah, I did hear that one participant in Irvine failed. Was there more than one? Irvine was the only place in CA that I heard of any problems. I have discussed this with dozens of CA "pioneers" and everyone passed except the one from Irvine. Here in NJ, only about 30 passed inspection out of what, 70 or 80? Most everyone I know is NJ are awaiting re-inspection once Mini and the State work out the issues. Until then we are not "supposed" to use the wall chargers that are installed in our garages and begging to be used. I'm pretty sure most people are using them anyway; the 110V charging just takes too long. I know Mini claims 24hrs of 110V charging will fully charge, but its 32-35 hours if you start from under 5% charged as I usually do. That means you can drive the car every other day. Mini has done the right thing here though, as they are waiving the monthly payments for the participants that have not passed inspection yet.

  3. Wow I feel for your pain, I wasnt aware how bad the inspection problem was. Mine seemed to just fly through, the inspector passed it right away dont think he even looked for a UL sticker, dont think there are any on my cable or the wall box. I havent heard anything about them having to come back and reinstall the charger, and reinspect it I really hope that doesnt happen. This problem seems to be with the local township inspectors not the overall state government, what township are you in?

  4. Hi Robert. I'm in Chester Township. I know my towns electrical inspector works for 5 other local townships as the inspector and he told me he failed all the chargers he inspected. That was over 2 months ago and the problem still isn't resolved. I have spoken to the people at Mini a few times to see if a resolution has been worked out. I'm pretty sure they are paying to send a UL labs inspector to my home in person to test and certify the unit, I can only imagine what that is costing. You would know if you failed, the inspector would have put a red sticker on the charger, so you're in the clear. What town are you in?

  5. Tom,
    I'm in Bernards Twp, this was the first Electric Car charger the Inspector had seen we chated for a while about electric cars. No Red sticker, got an Inspection Approval slip though. Sounds like you've got a Inspector whose a stickler, good luck with this.