JuiceBox Meets Ice Box in Electric Car Charging Station Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — the massively popular activity of dumping ice cold water on someone’s head to help raise money and awareness of the debilitating and devastating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis — is unarguably the social media phenomenon of this summer.

While the current Internet sensation that is the Ice Bucket Challenge is most definitely focused on ALS awareness today, the actual practice of dumping cold water on one’s head to raise money for charity has been around for many years — but now a company from California has tweaked the familiar challenge to promote the durability of its Juice Box electric car charging stations.

How safe is a charging station in ice cold water?

How safe is a charging station in ice cold water?

Enter eMotorWerks from Palo Alto, California, and its tounge-in-cheek yet informative EVSE Ice Bucket Challenge.

Founded by software engineer Valery Miftakhov, eMotorWerks has become something of a go-to source in the past few years for electric car enthusiasts looking for parts to help them convert a gasoline car to electric. But in addition to working with converted electric cars, EMotorWerks has designed and built a variety of components enabling electric car enthusiasts to build their own electric car charging stations. In fact, EMotorWerks was the first company in the world to offer enthusiasts a way to build an experimental DC quick charging system for CHAdeMO-equipped cars like the Nissan LEAF.

But it’s the JuiceBox — a modular, super-affordable Level 2 charging station which received more than double its initial fundraising goals last July when its Kickstarter project was given International coverage — which is the subject of this particular variant of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

In a short video released on YouTube earlier, Miftakhov and one of his chief engineers explain that eMotorWerks has received plenty of enquiries over the years from potential customers asking about the weather-proof capabilities of the budget charging station.

Don't do this at home, kids.

Don’t do this at home, kids.

In most cases, Miftakhov explains in the video, customers want to know if the modular charging station — available as a pre-built unit or a built-it-yourself solution — can cope with inclement weather.

The proof? Submerging a fully-assembled, working 15 kilowatt Juice Box into an aquarium, and then filling the same aquarium with ice-cold water. All while the charging station is providing power to a nearby, charging Nissan LEAF, of course.

After five minutes, the eMotorWerks team pull the frozen charging station from the icy water, disconnect it from both the car and the power supply, and open it up to see if any water has entered into the charging station. Of course, the unit is bone dry, with no damage to its sensitive electronic circuits.

While nearly all domestic and public charging stations are rated against some form of water ingress, very few charging stations are fully protected from water ingress, with most having some form of exterior venting on the underside or back of the unit.

That’s something the team at eMotorWerks know only too well, challenging mainstream electronics firms Schneider and Bosch to an EVSE Ice Bucket Challenge of their own at the end of the video.

The charging station is dry inside, but we'd still recommend you don't try this at home.

The charging station is dry inside, but we’d still recommend you don’t try this at home.

Only time will tell if the two rival companies step up to the plate and accept the challenge, but as we’re all too aware, too many electric car charging stations on the market today leak or stop walking altogether when the temperature drops and the weather turns nasty.

What do you make of the challenge? Will either firm respond? And do you have trouble in bad weather with your charging station? Leave your stories and thoughts in the Comments below.

Disclaimer: however cool it looks, we’d suggest you don’t put your electric car charging station in any form of water, even if you follow safety protocols. ICE AND ELECTRICITY DON’T MIX!

Leave this to the electronics engineers, or you might end up with a nasty shock. (Pun intended).

[Hat-tip: Mark Chatterley]


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