Choosing The Right Home Charging Station For Your Electric Car


BMW i3 Charging

BMW i3 Charging

When choosing a home charging station for your electric car there are a lot of factors to consider. I also think it’s wise to not only consider the vehicle you’re driving now, but also what you may be driving in the future.

For instance, the BMW i8 is a plug in hybrid and doesn’t have as large of a battery as a pure electric car. Since the battery isn’t so large, BMW limited the charge rate to only 3.7kWs. The BMW i3 on the other hand comes standard in the US with a 7.4kW charging rate. Therefore, if you buy a home charging station specifically for your i8 now, you may not be happy with it in a few years when you buy your next electric vehicle.

Personally, I’d recommend installing nothing less than a 30amp, 240 volt unit, even if your current EV cannot accept all of the electricity that such a unit can deliver. If you really want to “future-proof “your garage, spend a little more and install a 40 amp unit. A 40 amp station will deliver up to 9.6kWs, which should be more than adequate for home charging of just about any EV for the foreseeable future.

First, let me clear the air on terminology. The proper name for these devices is EVSE, for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. It’s very common to call them “charging stations” and BMW calls their home charging solution a “Wallbox.” Calling them a “charger” isn’t technically correct though, because they don’t really charge the car.

The actual charging equipment is built directly into the cars. These devices only supply electricity to the charger that is built into the car. There are very few differences in these devices, regardless of what they are called. They all do the same thing, and that is to supply electricity to allow you to safely charge your electric car.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on BMWBLOG. Check it out here.

Clipper Creek HCS-40

Clipper Creek HCS-40

Clipper Creek is one particular EVSE manufacturer that I routinely recommend. They have been making EVSEs for about twenty years, much longer than just about all of their competition. While there may be dozens of companies jumping in to the EVSE market now, Clipper Creek has been selling them since before there was even a standard connector for EVs, and they had different connectors depending on which car it was charging. They aren’t the only company making quality EVSEs but they have been doing it longer than anyone else, and I personally have used their equipment for about six years now. Clipper Creek also has a large product line, offering EVSEs in all sizes and power delivery.

Mini E Charging

Mini E Charging

I was in BMW’s MINI-E trial lease program, and back in 2009 when I got my car, BMW chose Clipper Creek to supply the home charging units for the MINI-E Pioneers. To this day, I still use my Clipper Creek EVSEs from the MINI-E Program. I just swapped the cables with the J1772 connector which is now the standard connection used. As a bonus to being a MINI-E pioneer, BMW asked us if we wanted additional EVSEs for free, and I took them up on the offer and got a second unit which I installed at my restaurant so I could plug in while I worked.

Clipper Creek CS 40 EVSE

Clipper Creek CS 40 EVSE

Clipper Creek charging equipment is definitely built to last. They are made in the US and in my opinion are best built EVSEs I’ve come across. I have a couple CS-40s (32 amps) and one CS-60 (48 amps) and have never had a problem with any of them. These are the previous generation EVSEs from Clipper Creek. The new models comparable to mine are the HCS-40 and HSC-60. The HCS-40 is now available in a hard-wired or plug-in (HCS-40P) model. This allows a level of portability not usually available in a 32amp home charging solution because they are usually hard wired and cannot be removed. With a plug-in EVSE, you could install the required 240V outlets in a number of locations and simply take the unit with you and use it wherever there is a compatible 240v outlet. I know people who have done this so that they can charge at work, or at a relative’s house.

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of EVSE options. Choose one that suits your charging needs, your budget and even aesthetic considerations. Make sure you don’t buy an underpowered unit only to find you need to upgrade it in a few years. Also be sure to hire an experienced, licensed electrician for the installation. I’d recommend getting a few competing estimates so you don’t get overcharged on the installation. I’ve seen the price to install these vary greatly from company to company, so do your homework. A high quality EVSE will offer many years of charging service. Do it right the first time and you won’t have to worry about it for a long, long time.

Here is how indestructible the HCS can be:

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62 Comments on "Choosing The Right Home Charging Station For Your Electric Car"

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Ok Tom, a good advertisement for ClipperCreek, although I haven’t heard any problem with their stuff, and it seems to work with all cars. It would have been better if you had plainly stated this was an advertisement. The 15 amp units ($379) and the 48 amp units ($899) are the best values for their sizes, unless you can avoid the sales tax elsewhere since CC always makes you pay it. The only thing I’d criticize CC for is their website, which used to be easy to use, is now hard, the same issue as the PBS websites which used to be straightforward, are now convoluted.. You have to go various girations to get a simple listing of their products, and you rather have to know what they sell in order to find it, which is rather backwards. The Bosch chinese stuff seems pretty good, (the 16 amp unit, while large, some people feel its stylish enough to fit in their upscale garages). The 16 and 30 have identical cases. The GE ‘Durastation’ (not to be confused with GE’s ‘old’ Durastation which ia a good but expensive outdoor unit) at $448 at Home Depot is the best 30 amp value,… Read more »

Hi Bill.

I’m sad to hear you’re selling your Roadster. I wish I had spare cash, I would make you an offer!

Make an offer. I’ll hold the loan. hehe.

Well, the “cash” was only half of my statement, which a loan would resolve. The other half was “spare”. With two kids and a second mortgage worth of student loans, I sadly don’t have room in my budget even if I did get a loan.

Has Tesla contacted you about the long promised Roadster upgrade?

What the Roadster really needs is supercharger access.

I called them. The one good thing is, supposedly, you can just upgrade what you want. But no pricing info has been released yet.

Read down to my next post for why I decided , ” its time to sell”.

Make an offer… I’ll hold the loan.

I think I’m swapping my Roadster (I have to prep it for sale with 2 new rear tires, and new left and right rear tie rods, and alignment, at my expense) for a 1000 mile ELR demonstrator. So i’m getting somewhat less than $50,000.

Oh no, I never got to drive the Roadster in full acceleration mode! Drat!

I guess I’ll have to rely on Brian’s tales of that acceleration, haha. 😉

Bill: What made you change your mind on the ELR? At one point you were really down on the interior of the car. Is it the latest, not yet released generation you are buying? I happened to see an ELR the other day, Black and very sleek, the first (and only)one I have ever seen, parked at a Walgreens. If I’d seen the owner I would have talked to him. I have always really liked the look of the ELR. It’s way out of my price range, but still looks great.

You know Lou, I like to think I’m doing an objective or even handed evaluation of things, but then this last time I took my nephew along to look at an ELR. I mentioned the things I’ve mentioned here and he said: “WHAT !!!??? Are you crazy?? Those are minor items you can used to. This car is da bomb!”.. (hehe) So, in the end, I want a car with Nice Seats, and A nice radio, and a decent electric range. Its a said state of affairs in the EV world currently. THE ONLY cars which apply to that statement are the VOlt and ELR. The Hondas, FOrds, BMW’s, Mercedes, etc only go 15-20 miles. THe I3 is kinda nice, but too expensive for what you get, and that 1.8 gallon gas tank would drive me nuts. The Tesla Roadster has been a fun-filled 4 years, but, as they say ‘its time’. The Roadster is rather like owning an exciting speed boat. Boat owners say the 2 most exciting days of their lives were: the day they bought it, and the day they got rid of it, hehe. Now that the Roadster is out of warranty, repairs will be time… Read more »

Thanks for your comments, Bill. Nice to hear from someone who thinks the ELR is worth buying. Please give us a follow-up report after you’ve driven it for a few weeks!

I guess the inadequate rear seat isn’t a problem if you never plan to seat an adult back there.

Sure enough… Very philanthropic of you Lensman.

“Inadequate rear seat.”

The thing that made me realize that was a semi-dumb comment of mine was I SAT in an I8 rear seat. The ELR rear seat is downright Mamoth by comparison.

Ha ha. The ELR is a great ride. Most people who have opinions about the ELR have never driven one so you get all the silly Volt comparisons. But even if the trunk is surprisingly large, it’s a coupe with a very small back seat. You have to be OK with that.

The upside of it being a couple is that, with the demise of the Karma, it’s easily the best looking EV.

We have the PEP at work and you are insulting junk when comparing them!

I have no idea as to whether you are insulting me, or agreeing that the Pep’s are junk.

I have no personal experience with them and I’ve admittedly never seen one. But the reviews I’ve read say the car connectors break off on the car, or in one case, they melted themselves TO the car so then it cost the owner money to repair his car port.

They were agreeing with you.

Here is the statement they made slightly rephrased:

Comparing PEP stations to junk is an insult to junk.

i don’t view this so much as being an “advertisement” so much as it is an indication that moloughney is very please with the product. i personally talk up manufacturers who make products that i like; you just want to see good work being rewarded in an environment where not everybody is doing good work. word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising but this kind of “advertising” is typically not commercial in nature. now, of course, if moloughney were a compensated endorser and not revealing that fact, that would be a different matter altogether.

Great to hear from you again, Tom. I enjoyed your writeup, but I think you missed a key dimension. Too often, the question is “how long does it take to charge from 0-100%”, when it really should be “how long does it take to recharge after my typical / worst-case usage”. In other words, how many “miles per hour” can you charge? And yes, I know this opens a can of worms since it varies based on charge rate AND EV efficiency.

I agree with the conclusion that 30-40A will work for the vast majority of people well into the future, and possibly always. I personally have no regrets installing a 16A EVSE since I rarely drive more than 25 miles in a day. Even if I had a 100kWh battery, it’s more than enough to recharge overnight, since I’d still only be using 8-10kWh max in a day. But I wouldn’t recommend 16A to others, especially with how much the price difference has come down.

I worry about people getting so concerned about “future proofing” their house that they convince themselves they “need” an 80A EVSE (the upper limit of the J1772 protocol).

Deends on the existing situation. Some EV owners may be in a house with only an existing 60 amp electrical service and a 30 would be too big for them. A 12 or 15 amp unit for them would be just fine, since the majority of current ‘phev’s’, and even some Leafs can’t use much more. In other words, just like on the Saturday Home shows, all homes they build are 8,000 square feet, and all have 300 or 400 amp services. That’s not realistic to the typical EV buyer/leasee on a budget, which 99.9% of us are. We would prefer to make due with whatever existing facilities we have and don’t necessarily want to rebuild our house and want to install 220 facilities as cheaply as possible. For most of us, although a 30 amp (the most popular size), or a 40 amp unit would be ideal, if it means a service changeout, then the entire installation cost would be prohibitive, and people would say forget it. This is where a 15 amp unit such as you have, or a 16 amp unit, both of which can survice on a 12 gauge 20 amp circuit, (or, even the CC… Read more »

You’re right, Bill, my EVSE is 15A. And normally I’m the one who is a stickler for details…

My Leaf will charge ever so slightly faster at one of the public EVSEs around, so yes even my nominal 3.3kW Leaf charger is limited at home. Of course, 3.3kW is the OUTPUT of the charger. Assuming 90% efficiency, the INPUT would have to be up to 3.7kW.

But again it doesn’t ever affect me so I’m glad I saved the money. And a larger battery would only make it LESS important – not more. Now that it’s warm again, I only plug in the Leaf every 2nd or 3rd day. A Model S 85 would only need to be plugged in once a week!

Now that’s an interesting point: On GM products 3.3 kw is an ‘input’ figure. The Nissan stickers I looked at showed the standard charger at 3.6 kw and the $1,770 option was 6.6 kw, so I’m assuming THOSE are both inputs.

The only time this was an issue was those Portugese 24 kw single phase L3 Chargers. Except here, the output really WAS 24 kw, and people made the mistaken assumption that’s all they required. When per the spec sheet they drew at LEAST 111 amps for the requisite 25.5 kw at the supply.

Also, you make excellent points about older homes with limited expansion room in their electric panels. My house used to have a 100A service. I had to replace the panel when I installed the solar panels (to bring it up to code), so I upgraded to 200A at the same time (the marginal cost was pretty low – ~$1700 versus ~$1500).

One thing I like about the smaller amp units is that the cable is smaller and lighter. And honestly, 3.3Kw charging should be plenty for the vast majority of people, especially PHEV drivers.

Tom, we’ve got the Clipper HSC 25P which we like a lot for our chevy volt as we do take it with us for charging at relatives. However, it means we also have to take the regular charger for 110vac situations.

Only Aerovirinment seems to have officially cracked this nut. Could you explain why I can’t easily buy a high power 110/220vac EVSE? Is it an electrical code issue? I figure with an intermediate proprietary cable connector whose cable ‘tells’ (via resistor) the EVSE what cable, and thus what plug and max current, it shouldn’t be an issue.

I’d totally have paid more for that.

Why don’t you buy a TurboCord then?
EVSEupgrade is also an option for turning a L1 EVSE into a L1/L2 (depending on what your car came with)

That’s totally what we would have gotten if it had been available back then. Really though, EV companies should be making their EVSE equipment that comes with the car 110/220 ready. That would avoid a LOT of the negative comments people have about cost to decrease charging time at home.

I am a CC HCS-40 user. Good stuff at a reasonable price. I convinced two of my friends to get the same units.

I have a CC LCS-25 at home and we have a few CS-100s at work. My opinion on sizing is that you should get the biggest one you can afford as batteries are only going to get bigger.

In practice, the easiest solution is to align with common house wiring practices and plugs. For example:

Install a 30A dryer circuit & receptacle, with EVSE set to 24A, or
Install at 50A range circuit & receptacle, with EVSE set to 40A

Every electrician knows how to install a dryer or range circuit for a reasonable price. Then simply mount, configure, and plug in your EVSE.

My advice to people is to avoid buying ANY EVSE until you know what you really need. When my wife and I leased our Leaf 26 months ago, we assumed we’d need to put a 240-volt unit in the garage sooner rather than later. But instead of spending that money up front to accommodate our first EV (especially since we didn’t know for sure it wouldn’t be our last), we decided to use the L1 unit that comes with the Leaf and the good ol’ 110-volt outlet in our garage.

As it turns out, that’s all we ever needed, so our total EVSE cost to date has been $0.00.

Now that we know we’re NEVER going back to a non-plug-in car, and we’re likely to be leasing another Leaf or buying one if the rumors/analysis that it’s getting a bigger battery later this year are true, we’ll likely pop for that EVSE, and at a lower price than we would have paid in March 2013.

I’m holding off right now on installing a 240 volt outlet and EVSE. Why? Prices still seem to be falling and technology is advancing with new wireless (Wi-Fi) connected units (Siemens recent announcement) that allow cloud/PC/Smartphone monitoring, remote on/off capability, and a utility demand response option. Off course, our utility is backwards and doesn’t offer any TOU discount or demand response discount yet for electric vehicle use. Still have a reliable analog electric meter too!

Nice article. I couldn’t agree more about the high quality of Clipper Creek.

Getting into the weeds, which NEMA 240V outlet should I get estimates on? NEMA 14-30? NEMA 14-50? We’re fortunately in that we have room on our panel.

We currently trickle charge our BEV (and have for the past 14 months) on Level 1 using a 120V GCFI wall outlet. Even with the cheap EV rate starting at 11 PM, there’s still enough time overnight to fill the battery on most nights.

That said, there have been a few times over the past year when it would be nice (meaning not have to drive the other car) to have L2 charging at home. This is the benefit that I am weighing against the cost of installing a 240V circuit and plug.

Here’s my 2 cents. I assume you are doing your own work? If inside a home and it will be inspected to the 2008 national electrical code (many municipalities haven’t converted over to 2011 or 2014 yet), you’ll need cable based on 60 degree centigrade ultimate temperature, which means: Copper: #10 AWG: 30 amps #8 40 amps #6 55 amps (50 amp breaker) #4 70 amps (some inspectors will allow an 80 amp Tesla HPWC on it if there is no insulation placed on the wiring. Call them first to see how lenient they are. #2 95 amps (most inspectors won’t split hairs and allow this for 100 amp breakers/ 80 amp HPWC’s). Aluminum: #6 – 40 amps #2 – 75 amps. (again, see the comment on #2 copper). Take the running current of the EVSE and multiply by 1.25 . This is the size wire, and fuse/breaker you need. Aluminum wires must be wirebrushed and greased with Oxyban or a similar product to prevent corrosion. I put (2) Nema 14-50’s (range or rv outlets) in my garage in anticipation for a model S or X, but then, have decided against the car. But if you’re doing the work yourself,… Read more »

Our HCS-40 just went kaput with only about a year of service. Kind of a bummer, but at least there is a 3 year warranty which we’ll be using very quickly.

“With a plug-in EVSE, you could install the required 240V outlets in a number of locations and simply take the unit with you and use it wherever there is a compatible 240v outlet.”

I look forward to when an EVSE is built into the EV itself, and the most you’d ever need to plug in is possibly an adapter for an incompatible plug. Seems to me that having it as a separate unit is a Rube Goldberg kind of thing, like one of the kludges a gas guzzler needs to get the horribly inefficient gas motor to power a car. Something like a water pump, oil pump, or muffler. Something a really efficient car doesn’t need.

KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid

I’d rather have the safety of an EVSE. A KISS extension cord is dangerous.

The external EVSE has always puzzled me, too. It’s not as if it’s huge, heavy, or particularly delicate piece of equipment that the companies couldn’t economically build into the car.

An EVSE is a smart extension cord. It doesn’t supply power until the handshake is completed. You can unplug from the car and drop the end in a bucket of water unlike a live extension cord.

EVSE provides you with monitoring on both ends of the charger cord. Your car charger monitors things in the car and the EVSE monitors things at the wall. It does provide for added safety that way.

I immediately got a GE WattStation when the Volt arrived in my garage. It was $999 at HD with a $300 gov tax credit. I have not been disappointed. I have an ELR now.

A 50-amp circuit is the biggest I could install based on my 200-amp entrance. If I need to go bigger in the future (unlikely), I would need to upgrade the main panel.

I use 110v when traveling. One thing I disliked about the 2013 Volt was the stupid 8amp vs 12amp setting always defaulting to 8amp. Small nit but irritating.

As others have said, for daily driving there is no need for a huge EVSE. Even with a huge battery. With 13 or so hours to charge at night, it’s very easy to get the juice required for a normal commute.

The companies need to start improving their EVSEs. I want one that is accessible on the internet, able to track my PV system so I can have it charge when the sun is shining, be programmable so I can have it charge according to the best TOU metering rates, allow me to turn off & on remotely, etc.

I have a Chargepoint CT500 that seems to have the hardware to be able to do that stuff but they created good home software for it.

Fun article! Never mentions a price. But who cares, since we’re all made of money? Hey Bill, want to trade your Roadster for a 2004 VW Phaeton W-12? Needs a little work, but it’s worth it.


We appreciate comments, but you have consistently presented snide, disparaging comments (both on topics and to other community members that don’t agree with you) that really have done nothing but make InsideEVs a less enjoyable place to visit, so this is a warning.

This post in and of itself is not that serious, however you have now posted over 298 times in the past two weeks, anywhere 30 to 100 times in the same thread (104 times here, 40 here, 38 here) , basically expressing the same opinion, steamrolling all others. The ID “CP” is also your 4th alias on this site, which is something we can’t allow to change again.

Your choices going forward are to take it down a notch, and present your point (whatever the prospective is) as a mature community member, or not post at all. There won’t be a second warning, and any future excessive comment(s) will be removed without comment.

Okey doke, I’ll be gone. I really hate to have the Wrong Opinions.

Well CP, I tried to give accurate pricing, and Tom says he’s just writing as an interested party…. And you have to admit, the photos take a large amount of effort to get right, that’s why I’ve only included them only once myself since they’re so time consuming to do. We should thank Tom for making his articles interesting. I mistakenly thought Tom was being compensated for the article, since everytime I go on this website I’m plastered with Aerovironment and Clipper Creek ads. I’m not against that, since it pays for this party and no-one works for free, but I thought Tom was just doing more of the same thing, and turns out, he is not. I’d miss your ‘accountant’s green eye shade info’ since you can add valuable information to many topics here since whether something is profitable or not can shed light on whether something is a real doable idea, or just a pipe-dream whose numbers don’t add up. So please stay. All of us occassionally have hard days and we sometimes impune motives to people that aren’t there. They may simply word things wrongly. I’m guilty of that myself: I occassionally think someone is going out… Read more »

Hey CP,

You don’t have to “be gone”, no one is asking for you to change any of your opinions.

I think we are just asking you to step back a little and consider than 100+ (or 30) comments (many delivered very passionately) on one post is detrimental to the overall process, the community…and really even to yourself in trying to deliver your point of view and having it be accepted by others in the best way to effect change.

Although our company producing competing products (JESLA, JAMP JR), I would like to add my support for the quality units that Clipper Creek has built, and the fine customer service they provide.

We actually patterned our company from their very successful model.

I will add that I do have a CS-50 (that was originally from th BMW MiniE project) hanging from a palm tree in my front yard. It works EVERY time.

Thanks, Clipper Creek and staff, for leading an industry.

That’s a pretty cool endorsement. I read the article on your company a few months and learned you manufacture in the city I live in – small world!

Hi Tony,

I’m intrigued by your JESLA (TM) 40 amp model S cord.

1). Do you buy them from S owners who no longer want them?

2). What is your retail price for the JESLA(TM) unit and do you offer a price break in quantity? Are these Tesla based products sufficiently reliable? I know the roadster UMC’s were horrible, – these seem much better.

Clipper Creek comes highly recommended, but I’d also suggest looking at EVSE upgrade. They modify the Panasonic chargers that come with the Leaf (may be others I just don’t know). The Panasonic chargers are simply bulletproof with a build quality far above any vehicle you’ll get from Nissan. You can have it autosensing for 240v and 120v with adapters, so it’s a flexible solution.

Didn’t know about the JAMP product. That’s the cheapest charge cord I think I’ve seen.

Well, the Clipper creek L1 charger I have is pretty crap. But then again, it is just a cheap L1 charger that came with the car.

I have both a Clipper Creek and a Schneider EVSE. Both are great, but I’d give the nod overall to the CC. as it’s more solid, portable and sealed. Neither has ever failed me. Glad we are living in a time when it’s increasingly difficult to make a really bad choice of EVSE.

We also have an HCS-40. CC gave us top customer support while I was finding a problem that ended up being a bad connection on our car.

Our setting includes a “super-sized” conduit between the breaker box and the HCS-40 so if we ever need a larger EVSE we can just replace that, and maybe the breaker, and not have to mess with the conduit.


I know im two days late on this topic, but id like to add my thoughts. I was also part of the Mini E trial in 2009-2010 and was supplied with a Clipper Creek Cs-40. After the trial ended i upgraded it to a j1772 plug and cable. This Evse has worked everyday since 2009 without a hiccup. 23,000 miles in the Mini E, 64,000 miles in the 2012 Leaf SV, and 10,000 miles so far on my 2015 Leaf S. It has also charged visitors Mini E, Model S, Fit Ev, Think City, Smart Ed, Chevy S-10 electric, and other Leafs. I’ve even taken it off the wall and brought it to Penn State with me for EV competitions. Can’t recommend it highly enough. I didnt pay $1750 for mine but wouldnt hesitate to buy one or one of Clipper Creeks less expensive portable options. I also have a upgraded stock Leaf Panasonic 120/240v cable. This has also never let me down. My mom drives a Leaf also and has used since 2012 a Ge Wattstation purchased from Lowes for $799. Until recently this has been trouble free. I did have to open it up a month ago… Read more »

Yeah, A lot of these EVSE units are of marginal quality, including alot of brand name stuff.

My Schneider Electric (‘Square – D’) 30 amp docking station not only would not work unmodified with my Tesla Roadster, it also overheated due to crappy internal connections which I redid with box lugs to eliminate the overheated wiring.

People using a volt or a leaf at 14 amps would never notice the problem, but a dead roadster would run the thing at the full 30 amps for 8 hours. I called Schneider technical support initially, and I got the answer “it works with a volt and a leaf and thats all we care about” (!!!!).

Supposedly this model is one of the Depot’s and Lowe’s best sellers. But it wouldn’t surprise me if more and more people had exactly the same trouble you had with your Wattstation.

Choosing The Right Home Charging Station For Your Electric Car is an excellent
piece of composing, I’m discussing with my good friends.