We've been big fans of the JuiceBox since it first hit the EV charging scene. It was an EVSE that was ahead of its time with Wifi connectivity and the ability to view real-time charging data and past charging sessions. It was also one of the first high-powered level 2 EVSE to utilize a NEMA 14-50 plug. At the time when the JuiceBox first came out, most 240v level 2 EV charging units had to be hardwired, and none were "smart-chargers".
The JuiceBox has had improvements over the past five years, including two different looks, however this is the first all-new version. It's important to note that eMotorWerks, the company that made the JuiceBox, was bought by energy-powerhouse Enel in 2017. Therefore this second-generation JuiceBox is the first one developed under the management of Enel X.
That makes us curious to find out if the new product is better, is it the same with new branding, or perhaps not as good as the previous unit that we've come to love and recommend.
What's the difference?
We're often asked for recommendations on EV charging equipment and quite often people will ask us what makes one charger better than the other. While it's true that the main function of the unit is to supply electricity to your EV safely, and all units do that, there are differences and there's no "one size fits all" EV charger. Here are a few of the factors we look at when we review charging equipment:
- Power delivery
- Cable length
- Outdoor rated
- Size & stying
- Safety certified
- Hardwired or plug-in
- Robust design
- Connector holster & cable management
- Smart or dumb
- Ease of installation
- Energy Star certified
- Warranty length
What hasn't changed:
The bread-and-butter of the JuiceBox line has always been the JuiceBox Pro 40, a 40-amp unit. A few years ago eMotorwerks added a lower-powered 32-amp unit and higher-powered 75-amp one. They all still use the JuiceNet smart-charging platform, allowing the user to schedule charging, view current and past charging session data. You can also limit the power the JuiceBox provides to the vehicle, should you have the need or desire to do so.
The new JuiceBox is currently available in 32-amp and 40-amp varieties, with a 48-amp version coming to market very soon and can be ordered with a NEMA 14-50 plug, or as a hardwired device. As with the older JuiceBox, the new versions are WiFi-connected smart chargers and come with the JuiceNet app, they are also all safety certified. They are also one of the few EVSE available today that are Energy-star rated and have a solid 3-year warranty.
The new units also retain the NEMA-4 rating for the enclosure, giving it best-in-class protection for safeguarding against the elements and are Amazon Alexa and Google Home and/or Assistant compatible. The JuiceBox is also one of the few EVSE that has the capability to participate in utility demand response programs, which can save owners a lot of money.
You can also still load-share with the JuiceBox, which means you can install more than one JuiceBox on a single circuit.
The most obvious changes in the second-generation JuiceBox are visual. JuiceBox 2.0 has an entirely new look with a built-in connector holster and cable management system attached below the housing for the electronics. Previously, the JuiceBox came with a small plastic holster that you would attach to the wall separately from the main unit.
Some people like that setup because you could house the connector anywhere in the garage, it didn't have to be on the main EVSE. Enel X still sells the remote connector holster if JuiceBox owners prefer to store the connector away from the EVSE, perhaps right next to where their charge port in when they park their car.
The new, more stylish look of the JuiceBox included an LED bar across the bottom of the main unit that changes color depending on whether the car is currently charging, finished charging, or idle between charging events. We tested the JuiceBox in our indoor facility and the LEDs looked clear and bright. However, we're not sure how well they will display in direct sunlight if the unit is mounted outdoors.
It also comes standard with a security lock, mainly in case the unit is installed outside in a public place and the cable is now 25 feet, 1 foot longer than previous models. Previously, if you had a JuiceBox and wanted to securely lock it into place, you needed to purchase the security locking bracket for $39.99. Additionally, the cable for the NEMA 14-50 plug is about 6 inches longer, making it easier to plug into the outlet, something that previous JuiceBox owners often complained about.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is that the JuiceBox can now perform over the air upgrades, which will allow Enel X to add new features to the unit as they develop them.
One of the biggest complaints of the previous JuiceBox was how thick the cable was. It was much thicker than other 32-amp and 40-amp EVSE on competing brands. Enel X listened to customer feedback and the new JuiceBox now has a thinner cable. However, it's still not great. One of the things we check on EVSE is how pliable the cable is in cold temperatures. This cable is one of the least flexible cables we've come across.
After leaving the cable outside overnight in 32-degree temperatures, it was stiff and hard to manage, more so than the cables on most other chargers. This might not be an issue if you live in a warm-weather area, or if the charger is located in a heated garage, but it should be a consideration if you live in a cold-weather area and the unit is going to be mounted outdoors. If you look at the picture above, you can see the cables from the other chargers seem to hang straight down, and the JuiceBox cable protrudes outward from the cable hanger before bending downwards because it is less flexible.
The new JuiceBox retains all the features that the old one had while adding new ones. The standard locking base is a good add, as is the built-in connector holster and cable manager. We really liked the fact that the previous JuiceBox had a sturdy metal outer case, and the new one is now plastic, so we're not sure how well it will hold up to the elements over the long term. However, most other EVSE have plastic outer cases and they don't seem to have issues.
The cable is a weak point in our view. While it's thinner than the previous version, it's also less flexible and becomes very stiff when it's cold. Also, due to the added cable management and connector holster, the unit much bigger now than its predecessor and will have a larger footprint on the wall.
Is it better than the previous unit? Probably, but not by much. I think Enel X made some good upgrades and at the same time left room for improvement. They also raised the prices from $599.00 to $649.00 for the 40-amp unit and from $549.00 to $619.00 for the JuiceBox 32, which needs to be taken into consideration. However, even with the price increase, it's competitively priced compared to other smart-chargers that deliver comparable power. Enel X is also running a special until 3/23/20 and is giving away a free Echo Dot with the purchase of any new JuiceBox.
In 2019 the JuiceBox Pro-40 was our "Top-Rated" unit for mid-powered level 2 home chargers. Will the new version retain the crown? It's worth noting that ChargePoint also improved their Home unit and introduces the ChargePoint Home Flex 48-amp EVSE, and may have closed the gap on the JuiceBox. You'll have to wait a few months to find out when we publish our Ultimate EV Chargers Buyers Guide for 2020.
Until then, let us know what you think of the new JuiceBox in the comments section below.