Tesla introduced the 3rd generation wall connector back in January so we immediately ordered one for the InsideEVs EVSE testing garage. Now that we've used it for about a month, we're ready to answer that question: Is the new wall connector better than the Gen 2 high-powered wall connector, and if so in what ways?
There's a substantial amount of differences in the new wall connector. Tesla didn't just make some minor tweaks, give it a new look and put it out there for the Tesla faithful to consume, it's really a totally new product.
First off, while it retains the same general shape as the previous unit, the Gen 3 wall connector is smaller and lighter. It has a glass front display covering a white background as opposed to the plastic black or silver cover on Gen 2.
The cable is noticeably thinner and it's very easy to manage. In fact, while it's slightly thicker than the cable on Tesla's 32-amp mobile connector, it's easily the thinnest cable on any high-powered (40-amp or higher) level 2 EVSE that we've ever tested. Tesla's EVSE cables are by far the thinnest of any major EV charging-equipment supplier and we wonder why the other brands haven't switched to thinner cables like Tesla uses.
On the downside, Tesla reduced the length of the cable from 24 feet to 18 feet. This, in our opinion, is a significant problem and a huge mistake on Tesla's part. We've been reviewing EVSE for a decade, have had hundreds (perhaps thousands) of comments on our reviews, received direct messages on what users like and dislike about their units, and have used virtually every product that has come to market, and we've come to conclude that 20 feet is the very minimum that a wall connector's length should be. It's Ok to have a shorter cable on a portable, occasional-use EVSE, but not on a permanently-installed wall-connector.
If Tesla reduced the length as a cost-cutting measure, they could have offered the 18-foot cable as the standard length, and then have a 24-foot one as an extra-cost option, but they didn't. The standard size 2-car garage in the US is 24' by 24' and having a cable that reaches most corners of the area can be useful. If I pull straight into my garage without backing in, the cable will barely reach the chargeport and I have to park so close to the wall that a passenger would have difficulty walking around the front of the car to get inside the house.
This was an unforced error on Tesla's part and I'm betting they will either offer a longer standard cable in the future or add a longer cable as an extra-cost option.
One reason the Gen 2 cable was thicker was because it was much more powerful. The Gen 2 wall connector could deliver up to 80-amps to the vehicle and the Gen 3 is now limited to 48-amps. However, Tesla no longer sells cars that can accept more than 48-amps, so it makes sense that they sell a wall connector that matches what their cars can accept. In fact, there aren't any electric vehicles from any brand that can charge on AC at more than 48-amps.
When the Model S and Model X first came out, they could be ordered with dual-onboard chargers, each one capable of accepting 40-amps. Cars with the dual-onboard charger option could charge at 19.2 kW (80-amps), so Tesla needed to offer a home charging solution that could deliver that much power, but that isn't the case anymore.
The old unit was capable of load-sharing with 4 connected units. Load-sharing allows more than one wall connector to share a single electrical feed (circuit), saving cost and allowing multiple wall connectors to be installed in some places where it would otherwise not be possible. The Gen 3 unit can now load-share up to 16 devices, and it does so wirelessly, so each unit doesn't need to be hard-wired together to communicate in order to load-share anymore.
The new wall connector is also a wifi-enabled "smart charger" although Tesla hasn't announced just what smart-charging features the unit will provide. For now, having it wifi connected allows you to provision the unit with your smartphone, (there's no need to set the physical dip switch inside the unit to set the maximum circuit amperage like you had to on the previous models), it can also get firmware updates OTA from Tesla, and as mentioned above, configure daisy-chain load sharing with multiple units.
However, even though users may not get to take advantage of the new wall connector's "smart" features today, they will, as Tesla will most certainly add things like the ability to communicate with your solar array and/or Powerwall so you can charge your car exclusively from your solar production if desired. We're pretty sure Tesla will also get the unit utility-certified to participate in demand response programs, which can save the user a lot of money on their electric bill.
From the Tesla website:
- · Up to 44 miles of range per hour of charge
- · Compatible with Model S, Model 3, Model X and Model Y
- · Up to 11.5 kW / 48 amp output
- · Customizable power levels on a range of circuit breakers
- · Compatible with any home electrical system
- · Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n)
- · Approved for indoor and outdoor installation
- · Lightweight 18’ cable length
- · Tempered white glass faceplate
What's it Cost?
Tesla placed the same $500 price tag on the Gen 3 model as they did for Gen 2 wall connector. While his model does have the smart-charging software built into it and the cool glass cover probably added some extra expense, even with those improvements it probably costs Tesla less to manufacture than the previous high-powered wall connector. That's because the internal electric connectors have to carry much less power so they are less robust, and the thinner, shorter cable saved some expense too.
At $500, the Gen 3 wall connector is very competitively-priced. Comparable 48-amp EVSE from the leading competitors cost much more, for example:
ChargePoint Home Flex: Cost $699.00 and has a standard 23' cable
Enel X JuiceBox 48: Cost is $689.00 (coming soon) has a standard 25' cable
ClipperCreek HCS-60: Cost $899.00 and has a 25' cable standard but is not a smart-charger
The Best Tesla Wall Connector Yet?
With the introduction of the Gen 3 wall connector, Tesla now has a connected smart-charger. Even though it currently doesn't utilize many features, they will most certainly be added. With the ChargePoint Home, or Enel X JuiceBox, you can pair them with your Amazon Alexa or Google Home assistants and say "Charge my car" or ask "How many miles I’ve added?” or
"How much did I spend on charging my EV last month?” and it will respond. We expect Tesla to add that kind of functionality to the wall connector in the future as well as other features.
Plus, more and more utilities are starting demand response programs that will save you money and you need a smart charger to participate. We also expect Tesla to introduce some cool features pairing the wall connector to a Powerwall and home solar array. All of these additions are definitely improvements for the new unit.
The lower power delivery isn't a problem since none of Tesla's current cars can accept more than 48-amps. But what if the Cybertruck and its huge battery can? What if tesla decides a 200 kWh battery needs faster home charging to fully replenish overnight so they give it 72-amp onboard chargers? Will they then introduce a new high-powered wall connector? Maybe, but it's probably still not necessary because in a typical overnight charging session the 48-amp wall connector will add over 100 kWh. That will be good enough for all but the most extreme use cases.
Which brings us to the cable length. In our opinion, it's a big enough problem to offset the advances the Gen 3 wall connector made in other areas. For some users, because of their garage configuration and where they installed the unit, the length won't matter. However, for many other potential buyers, it will, and they will have to park a specific way for the cable to reach the chargeport.
This will also be a huge problem for those installing the unit outside and have multiple cars. If a car is parked near the unit and you park behind that car the cable most likely won't reach your car. and you'll be jockeying the cars around just so you can plugin - that's not convenient.
For that reason, we cannot say the new wall connector is better than the previous one. There's improvements for sure, and overall it's a really nice unit at a great price. However, until Tesla offers a longer cable - even if it's an option, we can't give the new wall connector a top rating. It's too big of an issue to look past.