Today’s most common electric vehicle chargers aren’t chargers at all, they are strictly mediums to connect your EV to an electrical grid – most commonly via a 120v or 240 v connection if you are in North America.
The actual charging unit (especially when we are talking about residential charging) is found inside your plug-in vehicle, so knowing what rate of electricity your EV can accept is a good first step before deciding on a EVSE – or Electric Vehicle Service Equipment.
Note: We have listed 6 of the most popular EV charging station options below
A good first step before shopping for EVSEs is to check if there are any regional/state incentives in your area. A good resource for both EV charging equipment incentives (as well as discounts of EVs themselves) is the US Dept of Energy’s Data Center – which can be found here.
With that in mind, most EVSE stations of today can be found for well under $800 before installation. That being said, you should make sure you household circuit box can handle at least an additional 40 amp service connection, as that is the rating needed for a 30 amp EVSE – which is a good starting criteria for selecting a unit.
Costs & Options
Generally, the least expensive EVSE will be a “hard-wired” unit. However, we would suggest picking up a unit compatible with a NEMA 14-50 outlet unit (think your dryer’s plug), which allows the EVSE to be plugged in and out, moving from place to place easily.
While portable EVSEs used to be much more expensive than their hard-wired cousins a few years ago, today’s portable EV charging stations are normally only $20-$50 more; well worth the extra cost if you ever plan on relocating your residence, or want to plug-in your vehicle in multiple locations with the same unit.
Other factors to consider when buying an EVSE is how much cord you will require to reach your EV’s charging post – bear in mind that some plug-ins have their receptacles in the front, while others are located on a side, or in come cases the rear. The EV you own today, might not be the EV tomorrow, so allow for some extra footage.
Connectivity and Metering
While certainly not a ‘must have’, Wi-Fi enabled EV charging units can offer you integrated timers for charging your electric vehicle, as well monitoring software, and net metering (determining how much power your EV is consuming). In some cases, your utility may offer “connected” EVSE units at a discount in order to collect data on their consumer’s usage. We today’s smarter and smarter cars, these features may not have much advantage to the typical buyer.
Popular EVSE stations today:
Clipper Creek HCS 40/LCS 20
Clipper Creek is the most used EV charging equipment today in the United States. Given that the LCS 20 – 20 Amp/22 foot cord, is priced from $379 ($399 for the portable unit) and made in America, there is little wonder why. These units have a max power of 3.6 kW (perfect for the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Energi products or smaller range EVs).
For our money, and as plug-in vehicles come equipped with both larger batteries and greater abilities to accept a charge, we would suggest the HCS 40, which offers more than double the rating of the LCS – up to 7.7kW, and comes with 25 feet of cord.
Check out/Buy Clipper Creek’s offerings here.
ChargePoint Home: With ChargePoint Home, EV drivers enjoy the convenience of charging from home, recharging any EV up to 6X faster than plugging into a wall outlet.
Home provides speed and power in a compact, ultra-thin design with a footprint smaller than a standard letter size paper so it fits in your garage with all your stuff. Choose from 18’ or 25’ cord options depending on how you park.
Use the ChargePoint mobile app to set reminders to charge, schedule charging at off-peak times and track all your charging in one place. You can even start a charge remotely so you never have to leave the couch.
Includes a three-year warranty, and Home has been tested for safety and compatibility with every major EV and is UL listed for your peace of mind. It works with Nest to provide a report on your monthly energy usage. Home Plug can be installed indoors and Home Hardwired is rated for outdoor or indoor use.
ChargePoint Home starts at $499 with options for 16A or 32A depending on your EV’s battery size. Find out more here.
Bosch Power Max™ 30A / 25ft cord
Bosch has as deep a lineup as you will find for EVSEs, ranging from a Power Max™ 16A unit with 12 foot cord (that would probably drive us insane) from $449, to the far more ideal – and recommended by us – Power Max™ 30A unit with 25ft cord that retails from $749.
The Power Max is not only very visually appealing but robust for both indoor and outdoor use.
All the Bosch units come with a 3 year warranty, and the company is known to stand behind their products well.
Check out/Buy Bosch’s Power Max™ lineup here.
JuiceBox Pro 40
Electric Motor Werks now offers the JuiceBox Pro 40, which seamlessly integrates portability, high power, and networked convenience via Android and iOS phone apps. JuiceBox Pro features smart grid features to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money via time-of-use (TOU) charging, and offer reward payments for smart-grid optimized charging.
US made, the unit includes a 25 foot cable, and a 6 foot input cable to simply plug in at home or on the go, a small and weatherproof metal body to throw in the trunk, and a mounting bracket which lets you slide your JuiceBox on and off the wall. The unit is rates at A 40A, enabling 10kW max charging from $599. The JuiceBox’s WiFi control lets you set charge schedules to best leverage TOU and charge cheaper, monitor your charging, track your energy use, lock down your charger to bar access – all from your phone or PC.
Check out/Buy Electric Motor Werks offerings here.
Probably the most aesthetically pleasing residential charging unit you can find, the wall-mounted station from General Electric doesn’t come with a lot of options.
Starting from $699, the WattStation™ is a 30 amp unit (once again – breaker sizing needs to be 40A), and comes with a 18 foot cord that puts out up to 7.2 kW of juice. The unit is also quite large (16”W x 24”H x 6”D), so make sure you have an appropriate area to install the EVSE. Historically, these stations have been very reliable, and it is nice to have the GE name behind the product.
If you have a “pretty garage”, this is definitely your choice for a charging station.
Check out/Buy the GE WattStation™ here.
If you were around for the “golden age” of electric vehicles, then you are familiar with the Aerovironment EVSE product, as the company had (and still does) a strong tie-in around the launch of the Nissan LEAF
Today, Aerovironment has added other official partners to their 30 Amp EVSE units. And as one might expect with all these OEM partnerships, the EVSEs are a little pricer than most. AV’s basic EV charging product starts from a decently reasonable $649, but it only has a 15 foot cord (which we feel is just too short). Moving up to a 25 foot cable will set you back $799 – a full $150 more. There must be gold in that extra 10 feet.
Check out/Buy the Aerovironment EVSE-RS here.
TurboCord Dual 240V/120V
Remember all that we said about needing a 30A charging unit? Well forget all that for the sake of convenience.
The AV TurboCord Dual is billed as “the world’s smallest plug-in EV Charger” for good reason. The unit can plug into a standard 120V household wall socket, but also a 240V (dryer) plug as well. So whereas most units weigh in from 15-30 lbs, the TurboCord Dual is a fraction of that.
This is the ultimate “throw in the back of your EV and go” unit. Unlike Aerovironment’s hard-wired solution, it is free of OEM tie-ups (although it is standard equipment on the new Volvo VX90 T8 plug-in) and is priced from just $599 and comes with a 20 foot cord. Max charging rate on this unit is 3.6 kW.
Check out/Buy the TurboCord Dual here.
Probably the most hearty of the residential chargers, the Siemens Versicharge unit is, well versatile. The Universal Versicharge unit can be mounted indoors or outdoors, and features a NEMA 4 enclosure (you don’t need to know what the means, other than most others are a NEMA 3R), and features two back-lit buttons for controlling the charge and also a delay timer with “a glowing halo that conveys the charging status.”
Looking to the future? The VersiCharge can be ordered in both 30A (up to 7.2 kW) and 70A (up to 16.8 kW) configurations. The 30A unit is worth $499 ($549 for the universal)
Check out/Buy the Siemens VersiCharge here.