Ecotality Blink EVSE Problems

Our Ecotality Blink EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment, aka electric car charging station) was installed at the end of January, and it was fine. Nothing special, just an EVSE that worked. We hadn’t had any bad experiences like practically everyone else. That is, until the recent software update.

On February 2, I got an email warning me that a new software update was going to be pushed to our box within a few days. I thought “great, fixes to all those bugs I’ve been hearing about”. Sure enough, a few days later, the unit updated itself. Unfortunately, it decided to do so during a charging sequence. The Volt chirped and my phone vibrated with a charge error text message. I went out to the garage to see why the car had stopped charging and saw that the EVSE was rebooting. Once it rebooted, it resumed charging and everything was going well again. I checked the device info and confirmed that the EVSE was now running the new software.

About two days later as I was leaving I noticed that the startup screen displaying “Blink” was showing up. I figured that it was rebooting for some random reason, but I wouldn’t deal with it since I had to go to school. That night when I got home from school, I noticed it was still at the “Blink” splash screen. My dad had plugged the Volt in, but it hadn’t begun charging, because the EVSE wasn’t fully booted. I did a hard reset at the circuit breaker and it started working again.

Today we got a call from Ecotality, who wanted to update the EVSE. My dad told them to come by, since he didn’t know that it had already updated itself. I wasn’t aware that anyone was coming by or I would have told them it was already updated. Although since the unit is so “smart” shouldn’t they be able to remotely see what software version it’s on? At about 8:30am my dad calls me and leaves a voicemail asking about our WiFi setup, but by the time I got out of class the Ecotality guy had left.

I don’t know what the guy from Ecotality did, but I do know that whatever it was erased everything from the unit. It has no memory of charging events prior to today. It has no memory of our hidden WiFi network. It has no memory of the password that we’ve set for intranet access to it. I went ahead and re-set up all of those, because apparently the Blink representative was incapable of undoing the damage he’d caused. Unfortunately, there was one other thing that he screwed up that I can’t fix.

Once I have the unit all set up, I open my iPhone to see if it can connect and I get a message saying something like “you need to associate an EVSE with your account”, which of course I did back in January. I ran a charge cycle to make sure that data was being sent to the Blink Network (as they recommended), but the EVSE was still not showing up. So I decided I would re-enter the info, which consists of entering a Device ID and a serial number, along with your address. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. The website tells me “this device has already been associated with another account”. The “other” account is the same account I’m trying to re-associate the device with, making it impossible for me to view the EVSE stats from my phone.

On the bright side, there is really no need for an EVSE to have its own app. The vehicle itself has all the data that the EVSE has, plus more, and only requires one app no matter where you are charging. I wish Ecotality would have not wasted their time and money on all the half-assed fancy features and just made a standard box that can report the data back to them through a microcomputer.

I am not going to talk to Blink support about the issue, because if they can’t send a properly-trained technician out, I don’t want to even think about how horribly trained their phone staff must be. Sure, they could probably fix the issue in 20-30 minutes, but I never used the Blink app. I can still use it for public charging and the home charging feature is useless, so not really a big deal.

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