The Best Electric Vehicle Charger Options for Your Smart Home
25 April 2021
As electric vehicle sales have boomed in recent years it’s gotten me thinking about the inevitability that someday I may be driving one. While sales may be up, the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles is still less than ideal, and finding a charging station can be a challenge in some locations. Home charging systems help electric vehicle owners bypass the EV station challenge to stay charged between outlets.
My Mom has a Tesla and absolutely loves it. Though I’m an All-American muscle car fan I have to admit the convenience of charging at home appeals to me. The range and dependence on charging not so much. This makes the prospect of traveling across Texas an exercise that requires planning lest you wind up stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery.
With the possibility that an electric vehicle may be parked in our garage someday, Debbie and I agree that planning on infrastructure to support that makes sense. A little garage design comes to mind at this point as my Mom had a special NEMA outlet installed to accommodate charging her Tesla. She didn’t have to do this as a standard outlet will work but the difference is how fast you want to recharge. Actual charging speeds depend on a few different factors:
- The charging equipment, sometimes called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
- The power source
- The electric vehicle’s own onboard charging capacity.
Electrical charging levels are broken down into 2 levels. Level 1 charging is considered the default EV charging option. It works on all electric vehicles and at all places with a standard power outlet. Level 1 charging equipment is included with every EV. With Level 1 charging, all you do is plug your EV into a standard 120 volt AC wall outlet. This is the same kind of outlet you plug your laptop or phone charger into.
The problem with Level 1 EV charging is that it’s very slow. They are typically powered at a low 12 or 16 amps and provide just 2–6 miles of range per hour. Level 1 is the lowest charging option available and is often referred to as “trickle charging”.
For faster charging, homeowners, like my Mom, can upgrade to Level 2 chargers. These use a 240-volt power outlet, the same as those used by air conditioners or clothes dryers. Level 2 charging is a lot faster than Level 1, providing 14 to 35 miles of range per hour by taking advantage of the circuit’s higher amperage. These charging cords are traditionally sold as a separate add-on for EVs.
Some homes might not have a 240-volt outlet, so you may need to work with an electrician to get one installed. This is where our garage design comes into play. Initially we’ll ensure that our home circuit supports a high enough amperage to allow peak charging. And then for convenience, as charging cords aren’t particularly long, we’ll install the Level 2 power between the garage doors for easy access to charge ports on the EV(s) and enough space to install the charging units and store the cords.
Now that electrical infrastructure is covered, the next step is the charger itself. From portables to Tesla-compatible options, here are a few of the best EV chargers you can buy for your home.
The Charge Point Home Flex is their newest, fastest and most advanced Level 2 home charger, charging up to 50 amps and adding up to 37 miles of driving range per hour of charging. The Flex allows drivers to pick the speed that’s right for them and their home’s electrical supply. Charge Point Home Flex is also Wifi enabled and offers smart charging features using the Charge Point app, including the ability to set a charging schedule, get reminders to plug in, see all of your charging history in one place and connect with Alexa, so you can ask the virtual assistant if the EV is charging without manually checking the system. This feature makes the Charge Point Home Flex one of my favorite options due this integration. Flex is UL Listed for electrical safety, ENERGY STAR certified for efficiency and comes with a 3-year and 24/7 customer support. Charge Point Home Flex can be installed by any electrician, indoor or outdoor, to charge at 16A to 50A, and comes with a 23-foot charging cable and either a NEMA 14–50 or 6–50 plug. Plug-in installation with a NEMA 6–50 or 14–50 outlet requires circuits/breakers rated 40 or 50 Amp. For other circuit ratings, the plug is easily removed for hardwired installation. Flex can be installed outdoors using either a hardwired installation or a weatherproof NEMA receptacle. The unit is compatible with a wide range of popular EV makes and models including Teslas.
The Pulsar Plus is a 40-amp charger with a J1772 connector and 25-feet of cable. Compared to level 1 recharges, the 240-volt unit is capable of charging up to 7 times faster. It has adjustable capacity from 16 Amp up to 40 Amp, giving you the flexibility to connect to lower-power circuits when maximum power isn’t needed and to “amp-up” when you’re ready for more power. You can also connect more than one Pulsar Plus to the same electrical circuit to safely charge multiple EVs at one time. Built-in smart power management automatically balances charging to ensure the most efficient energy distribution, with no need for extra components. The myWallbox app allows you to manage your EV chargers on the go, and the unit works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to wirelessly control and monitor your charger via Wifi or Bluetooth. Additionally, you can create schedules that take advantage of off-peak utility rates, get notifications, set reminders and more.
The Blink Home enables you to charge your vehicle faster than with the typical charging cord at your house. This 30 Amp Level 2 AC charge station enables your EV to get a complete charge overnight for complete range confidence every morning. The Blink HQ can be set to charge at your convenience with a delay of 2–8 hours, allowing you to save money by charging overnight when utility rates may be lower. Also, the front panel LED indicator displays your vehicle’s charging status with an 18-foot cable for flexible installation options. Blink HQ’s small footprint saves wall space in the garage and comes with a bracket for the cable but installation by a licensed electrician is recommended. It is compatible with a number of popular models such as Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion and more. This charger is Tesla J1772 compatible, although the adapter component is sold separately.
This 30 amp Megear level 2 charger includes 18-feet of charging cable. The wall mount control box features an LCD display to detail current, charging status, voltage and more. This model is capable of delivering up to 24 miles of recharge range per hour. An interesting aspect of the Megear Level2 EV charger is waterproof level of IP66, so the EV connector can keep working even on rainy days. It can also charge up to 3 times faster than the charger that comes with most EVs. It has all UL approved components. The EV Charger is compatible with major EVs that meet the SAE J1772 standard, so it works with most EVs. The Megear offers ground protection and is leakage, overheating and lightning-proof. These EV charging stations need no assembly, simply plug them into NEMA6–20 or NEMA5–15 receptacles. This EV charger comes with a 12-month warranty.
The 30 amp Level 2 Siemens US2 VersiCharge is 4 times faster charging than Level 1, 120V chargers and it includes 20-feet of cable. The wall unit offers a number of charge-delaying functions for added home energy control — 2/4/6/8 hour delay functions are built into the charger interface. This model is compatible with J1772 connectors and comes with a three-year product warranty. The unit features a NEMA 6–50 plug, commonly used for clothes dryers, making install easy depending on the home setup. It includes an industry leading 3-year warranty for indoor or outdoor use. The VersiCharge works with all J1772 complying EVs and also Tesla vehicles using Tesla’s charging adapter.
Another 40 Amp option, the MUSTART level 2 EV charger includes 25-feet of cable and is capable of charging vehicles up to 2.5 times faster than 16-amp level 2 models. It is 5 times faster than the 16A level 1 EV charger that most electric vehicles come with (actual working current depends on your vehicle setting). It’s a portable option and boasts a total weight of just over 14 pounds. The portability could be a bonus for people who park their EV at multiple locations throughout the week offering flexible charging options on the go. It is lightning-proof and has leakage, overvoltage, overheat and overcurrent protection, so you can safely charge your vehicle. The unit also features a universal SAE J1772 connector and has an IP67 waterproof rating. It works with most EVs, the EVSEis compatible with all plug-in EVs.
As US states vary by grid and smart home deployment, it may be helpful to understand other factors for EVs and your smart home. A new report reveals some US states take comprehensive steps to help residents charge EVs, but many have done little to reduce barriers.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released the first State Transportation Electrification Scorecard and California wins first place, leading in 5 of the 6 categories the council used to rank states. The scorecard comprehensively reviewed each state and ranked the top 30 (plus the District of Columbia) based on the state’s policy and program efforts to promote the much-needed electrification of transportation. California is the only state to set deadlines for electrifying transit buses, heavy duty trucks, and commercial vehicles and to adopt statewide building codes for wiring most types of new buildings and houses for EV charging. The other top 10, in order, are: New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, and New Jersey.
Despite the transportation sector’s responsibility for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, electric vehicles account for only 2% of the American car market. EVs, the report noted, “stand to play a critical role in reducing emissions and achieving aggressive climate goals.” On a positive note, there are many states (23) taking steps to integrate EVs and charging infrastructure into the electric grid through rate design and ongoing efforts to improve electric-system decarbonization.
Not surprisingly, in a very heavy petroleum and natural gas state, Texas didn’t rank high but did make the top 30. Check the map below and see where your state ranked in the top 30 …
This may all seem a little complicated but it’s really not. There are EV charging options for standard home electrical outlets as well as higher amperage circuits. It really boils down to your charging needs and home electrical wiring. As this is a new build project for Debbie and I, we’re going to simply install the optimal current infrastructure available to support charging options like I’ve outlined above. And as we don’t currently own an EV we’ll just be ready when friends and family who do own them come to visit. But it’ll also make it easier for us later if an EV finds a full-time home in our garage.
Work continues toward finalizing our floor plan. I imagine this is starting to sound as old to you all as it does to Debbie and I. As the price of wood is going up again we’re looking at ground breaking options and possibly revising our timeline. This is obviously disappointing to us but we’re not under any pressure to get the house built and we don’t want the budget to suffer due to a temporary jump in costs.
We’ll keep you updated as to our progress so stay tuned. As far as EV charging, I’m curious how many of you out there drive EVs and what your home charging solution is. Did you modify your home wiring to accommodate the charging solution? What model charger do you use? What is your average top-off time for charging your EV? Let us know in the comments, DM or email us. Until next week …
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