Blink's next-generation EVSE is powerful and smart.
Blink's recently introduced the IQ 200 is billed as a high-powered, networked EVSE that's ideal for apartment complexes, condominiums, and all multi-unit dwellings. Now that we've had the opportunity to use one for a while, we're ready to let you know if the unit lives up to promises.
The first thing we should mention is that the Blink IQ 200 is primarily designed for use in a public or semi-public space, it's not what a typical EV owner would buy to install in their private garage. It has a cellular connection and RFID activation, features that add expense and aren't necessary for normal home use.
For home charging equipment, Blink offers the HQ 100, a 30-amp Level 2 EVSE for $399. Additionally, purchasers of the HQ 100 then get a $300 credit to use while charging on the Blink Network, netting out the cost of the unit to only $99.
While the residential-use HQ 100 is limited to 30-amps, the IQ 200 EVSE can deliver up to 80-amps, (19.2 kW) making it one of the most powerful level 2 units available today. The question then becomes, why do you need that much power? We're glad you asked.
“We are incredibly excited to be deploying anywhere from two to 20 chargers with local load management,” stated Blink Founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Farkas. “It will change the conversation from ‘Can our community afford to install them?’ to ‘How soon can we have them?’ The future-proof design of the IQ 200 contemplated this advanced capability, and it was intentionally built into the initial product design. The advanced charger intelligence supports multiple charging ports while delivering the fastest level 2 charge possible. When installed on a single electric circuit, it can help minimize installation costs.”
Load-sharing capabilities that are perfect for MUDs
The Blink IQ 200 has the ability to load-share across anywhere from 2 to 20 units from a single 100-amp feed. Therefore an apartment complex, workplace charging facility, or any multi-unit dwelling will have the ability to service many EVs with only one power feed. That's vital because in many cases, the complex doesn't have the extra available capacity, and can't afford the thousands of dollars it costs for a service upgrade. The IQ 200s will intelligently share power and even queue up cars that are plugged in but not charging, to begin charging once the other cars plugged in first finish.
"The innovative design allows equal output to each charger based on the number of stations being used at one time. When one EV is charging, the EV will receive the maximum output of nearly 20 kWh. When others connect, the load will be equally shared among them. The system automatically redistributes the output when one vehicle completes its charge, even if it’s still plugged into the station."
Also, Blink envisions the IQ 200 being used for commercial fleets which are likely to accept more power than electric cars today can. For example, if you have an electric truck with a 200 kWh battery, a higher charging rate would be necessary to make sure the vehicles were fully recharged for the next morning's routes.
“This is a game-changer, especially for multifamily residences where power availability is often limited. This advancement in charging technology is good business for Blink, and it’s great for the environment,” continued Farkas.
The IQ 200 can be wall-mounted as seen in the installation video above. (note how simple the installation process is) It can also be mounted on a pole that was specially-designed by Blink to hold up to three IQ 200s. They are much sleeker and more attractive than the first generation Blink level 2 chargers, in our opinion.
Blink has also promised improved quality over the previous-generation EVSE. They have had years to review what worked and what didn't on the earlier equipment they deployed and used that information to make this generation reliable and more durable.
The unit itself is NEMA 3R rated, suitable for outdoor use and is safety-certified, UL listed. The connector is rubberized, not hard plastic and provides a good grip and nice feel in your hand. We've noticed some of the all-plastic connectors have a cheap feel to them, but the connector used by Blink feels solid, comparable to the connectors used by ChargePoint and ClipperCreek.
"Blink’s planning for, and use of, local load management responds to increased demand for EV charging infrastructure at multifamily and residential locations. Utilizing the local load management installation configuration, Blink can maximize the number of charging stations available at any given time on a single 100 amp circuit."
The cable, on the other hand, is very thick and quite heavy. I'm sure that's because the IQ 200 can deliver up to 80-amps. The cable's casing feels thinker than it does on most EVSE cables, so we're thinking Blink's goal was to make the cable very tough, to withstand getting run over and even occasionally parked on. Cables that are going to be used in public places need to be made a little tougher than those that are going to be used by one family in their private garage.
The 7" color touchscreen display is bright and seems much better than the touchscreens on the previous-generation Blink level 2 stations. It's very clear and responsive, and while I have it installed inside the garage, it looks like it will be clear and readable outdoors in sunlight, something that's a problem on many public charging stations, like the Electrify America touchscreens, for instance.
Blink Network Pricing
You're considering the IQ 200 for your property but want to know if the people it's intended for will actually use it. That's a valid concern because there's so much variation in EV charging pricing today.
Different networks have different pricing schemes. ChargePoint, for instance, sells their charging equipment to property owners and then just manages the network. They do not set pricing, usage rules or anything, that's all up to the property owner.
The problem that creates is that ChargePoint pricing varies wildly from site to site. EV drivers need to check their app to see what a specific station charges before using it or they could end up paying a lot more than they expected. You can find one charger that charges $1.00/hour and another that charges $5.00/hour right around the corner.
Blink has set pricing, the property owner cannot change it. Everybody pays the same price depending on what state they are in because Blink has pricing based on the electricity cost in that state. Blink charges by kWh (not by time) in the states that allow kWh-based pricing. In the states that don't allow kWh-based pricing, Blink members pay $.04 per minute and Blink guests pay $.06 per minute.
Plug it or Pass it?
The Blink IQ 200 looks like a solid contender to consider for a networked public or semi-public charger. It's compact, powerful and looks to be durable. The 7" color touchscreen is responsive and clear to read.
Blink offers a variety of plans for site managers to consider:
- Blink owns & operates the charging equipment, manages the installation, maintenance, and related services; and shares a portion of the charging revenue with the property owner.
- Alternatively, property owners may share in the charging equipment and installation expenses, with Blink Charging operating and managing the charging stations and providing connectivity to the Blink Network.
- For property owners that are interested in purchasing, owning, and managing the charging stations, Blink Charging can provide the charging hardware, site recommendations, connectivity to the Blink Network, and charger maintenance services.
The Blink IQ 200 is available on Amazon for $3,499.99, which sounds expensive, but it's actually reasonably priced in comparison to other networked commercial units that deliver less energy to the vehicle and cannot power-share from a single electricity supply. We also advise anyone considering the Blink IQ 200 to contact Blink directly to discuss pricing.
After using the Blink IQ 200 for a while, we're comfortable recommending it for consideration to those looking for public charging options past ChargePoint, GreenLots, Enel X, and others. The Blink IQ 200 offers another reasonable choice for those looking to provide EV charging for their tenants, employees, and guests, and that's a good thing indeed.