Table of Contents
- Our List of Best Electric Vehicle Chargers
- Siemens VersiCharge VC30GRYU
- JuiceBox Pro 40
- ChargePoint Home Electric Vehicle Charger
- Aerovironment TurboChord Dual
- Clippercreek HCS-40P
- What Should You Look For In An Electric Vehicle Charger?
- Critical Factors to Consider For Your Next EVSE
Electric cars are set to take over the automotive industry in the future. If you don’t already own one now, then probably you are planning on doing so in the next few months or years. One crucial component you need to learn about when using or planning to buy an electric vehicle is its charging system. In this piece, we are going to review some of the best electric vehicle car chargers in 2018 and tell you why we think they are excellent options to consider during your next purchase.
First of all, although these devices are typically referred to as “chargers,” they are officially known as “electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).” People refer to them as chargers because that is what they do – literally. In reality, an electric car has some battery-charging hardware built in it, and EVSEs simply provide the power required by the hardware to charge the car’s batteries. For simplicity purposes, we are going to use the terms “EVSEs,” “Chargers,” or “Charging stations” interchangeably, so we hope no confusion will arise.
EVSEs have evolved tremendously since the introduction of the first electric car. They have become faster and more reliable as manufacturers continue to invest heavily in improving their underlying technology. Currently, most advanced charging stations can charge electric vehicles fully in less than 6 hours but manufacturers hope to reduce this time to less than an hour in the next few years.
In this review, we set out to search for electric vehicle car chargers that have become widely popular in the United States. In our quest, we scrutinized different brands and compared their performance, reliability, cost, specifications, safety rating, design, additional features, and online reviews. Here are the various brands we think you should look out for when making an EV (electric vehicle) charger purchase.
Best Electric Vehicle Car Chargers List
Siemens VersiCharge VC30GRYU Quick Review
The Siemens VersiCharge is our top pick on this list, and for a good reason. It is an affordable, easy-to-use EVSE with great charging capabilities. The VC30GRYU is a universal unit designed for use both indoors and outdoors. It arrives ready to plug in, but if you want a hardwired option of the VersiCharge you can get the VC30GRYW model for an even cheaper price tag (functions the same).
We particularly loved the VersiCharge VC30GRYU because of its simplicity to use and a delay charging feature which allows you to delay charging for up to 8 hours manually. With this feature, you can pause charging and set it to resume at a particular time of day when utility rates from your electricity provider are low. For example, if you arrive home at 8.00pm and utility prices are high at this time, you can set the charger to automatically start charging 4 hours later when you know utility rates will be down.
The Siemens VersiCharge powered up our electric vehicles to full charge in less than 6 hours on average. The unit is a level 2; 30-amp charger powered by 240 volts and will not work with a standard 110/120V socket. It features two simple control buttons on the front that are simple to use and unique to this equipment. The left button is a power and pause button while the right one used to delay the charging time. Like all the other charging stations we examined, the unit has lights that show when it’s charging, when charging is complete, or when there is a fault.
The VC30GRYU is easy to mount on a wall, and it comes with a 20-foot long charge cord (shorter than some cords on other units on this list), but it isn’t too thick or heavy to use. Generally, we think this EVSE provides great value for your money.
Key features include:
- Level 2, 30 amps charger relying on 240 volts
- Delayed charging feature
- Universal compatibility
- Simple to use and mount
- 20-foot charging cord
- Large in size compared to other options
JuiceBox Pro Quick Review
JuiceBox Pro 40 from eMotorWerks is our second pick on this list because of its power, features, and capabilities. This unit is slightly more expensive than the VersiCharge because it has more power and features, but the Siemens model is better in our opinion because it’s more convenient to use and has features that are compatible with a higher number of EVs. With the JuiceBox, only a few EV owners can enjoy its extra capabilities.
This charging station is a high-powered unit that can deliver up to 40 amps on a 240 volts outlet. It is built for both indoor and outdoor use and can charge all EVs as it employs the J1772 charging protocol. One cool feature that we really loved about the JuiceBox is how you can easily control it using a Smartphone app. With the app, you can manage your charging station through Wi-Fi. For example, we were able to start, stop, view and set amperage, check the charging status of our EVs, and more.
When we tested the JuiceBox on our EVs, we attained almost the same charging time as with the other EVSEs charging at 32 amps although we expected it to be a little faster. However, remember that we mentioned a car’s onboard charging hardware hugely determines the charging speed? Well, that’s the case here. JuiceBox is a future-proof charging unit, meaning that it will perform at its optimal levels in the coming years when EV batteries are larger and faster charging is required.
The JuiceBox features a 24-foot long, thick and heavy charging cord. This is one of its downsides because the cord can be difficult to handle for some people. We did not find it difficult to mount or unmount the device when checking for portability.
Key features include:
- Smartphone control
- Wi-Fi enabled
- High charging speed – 40 amps, 240 volts
- Easy to mount and un-mount
- Safety certified (UL and cUL listed)
- 24-foot thick, heavy charge cord
ChargePoint Home Electric Vehicle Charger Quick Review
The ChargePoint Home Electric is a 32-amp, 240-volt charging station with a stylish design. Like the JuiceBox Pro, we also liked this unit because of its Wi-Fi connection capabilities. It can connect with your Smartphone and provide you with real-time information about your car’s charging status. The unit also allowed us to schedule charging to optimize for periods of time when energy rates were low. This feature allows you to save money on electricity charges just like with the Siemens VersiCharge. ChargePoint’s app also allows you to set reminders to power up your car, which is a useful feature for people that are often forgetful.
The ChargePoint Home Electric EVSE comes in two different forms – plug-in and hardwired options. The hardwired option can be used both indoors and outdoors while the plug-in should be used indoors. In our charging tests, we found this charger to add around 20 to 25 miles per hour of charging. That means it gives almost the same charging speed as the other charging stations on this list and is a reliable option for household use.
The unit can charge a wide range of electric vehicles using the standard J1772 connector. It is UL listed, meaning it has a good safety rating. However, this EVSE requires you to pay an extra $100 for an 18-foot charging cord or $180 for a 25-foot cord. This is quite a drawback, but overall the charging capabilities of the unit are great.
Key features include:
- Level 2, 32-amp EV charging station
- Smartphone compatible
- Compatible with many EVs
- Possible to schedule charging to when electricity is cheapest
- Hardwired and plug-in option available
- UL listed
- Gives plug-in reminders
Aeroenvironment TurboChord Dual Quick Review
For a reliable, portable charging station option, our tests found this to be a superb choice. The TurboCord Dual is a 16-amp, 240 volts charger that requires a NEMA 6-20 outlet for best results with level 2 charging. We liked this unit because of its portability and dual charging capability. With the EVSE, you can receive two charges in one; meaning you can use the 120V adaptor in any standard outlet for level 1 charging or a NEMA-6-20 outlet for faster level 2 charging.
If you plan on charging your EV at different places every now and then, or if you want a single, portable charger capable of charging at two different points (one with a 120v outlet and the other with a 240V outlet), this could be the perfect EVSE for you. From our tests with a 120V outlet, the charger gave us around 9 miles per hour of charging on average. This is slower charging speed compared to the other options on our list, but three times faster charging than when using standard charging cords.
The unit comes with a standard 20-foot long cord which we found to be light and easy to move around when charging.
Key features include:
- Dual charging capability (120 volts & 240 volts)
- Light and very portable
- UL listed
- Wall-mountable cord hanger
- 20-foot charging cord
ClipperCreek HCS40P Quick Review
The ClipperCreek HCS-40P is a 32-amp, 240 volt EV charging station that is compatible with most electric cars. We liked this unit because its simple design makes it exceptionally easy to use. However, it lacks extra features to justify why it’s slightly more expensive than our top choice – the Siemens VersiCharge. It is not Wi-Fi compatible and has no control buttons to help you control your charging. But it does have LED indicator lights just like all other stations on this list.
We also noted that this unit is long and narrow unlike other EVSEs, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes and preferences for style. The design doesn’t take up much space on the wall, and we also found that it makes it easy to keep the charger’s 25-foot long charging cord neatly wrapped around the unit. The unit requires no assembly. You only need to plug it into a NEMA 14-50 receptacle or have a 14-50R 220V-240V socket installed, and you are set to start charging!
eMotorWerks, the manufacturer of JuiceBox Pro 40, also has a version of ClipperCreek HCS-40 that comes with some extra features such as Wi-Fi connectivity. It uses the JuiceBox software and is more convenient to use but only charges at 32 amps, unlike the JuiceBox which has a 40-amp capability.
Key features include:
- 32 amp, 240-volt charging station
- Simple, long, narrow shape design
- A 25-foot long charging cord
- Safety certified
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor installation
- Locking mechanism to restrict users
What Should You Look For In An Electric Vehicle Car Charger?
It's important to note that charging stations fall into four categories namely:
- Residential charging ports – These are charging stations that can be installed at home and you can use them whenever you are there. Most EV owners that have them commonly recharge their cars at night.
- Charging stations at public spots – These are run by commercial operators who collaborate with business property owners and install charging stations in their parking lots. Such charging stations may be slow or high speed and are great for an EV owner looking to charge their car as they shop or attend a meeting.
- Fast charging public stations – These are fast charging systems that are capable of delivering over 60 miles of charge in less than 30 minutes. They are commonly installed at rest stops to enable EV drivers to charge their cars for long distance trips. Regular commuters also hugely depend on them. Great examples of these EVSEs include the Tesla Superchargers and CHAdeMO standardized chargers.
- EV battery swaps or charging in less than 15 minutes.
In EV charging, there are three levels of power input that determine how fast your car battery fills up.
Level 1 charging involves using the standard 120 volt AC house outlet to power up an EV. This takes longer to charge a car fully, but it's quite reliable for drivers who are not regular commuters or travel short distances. If you drive an average of 40 miles per day, then charging your car overnight will restore it to full charge in around 8 hours on a typical 15-amp, 120-volt circuit.
Level 2 charging uses 240 volt AC and is similar to the outlet circuit used for household appliances like garment driers. A level 2-charging station can charge an EV in less than half the time it takes a 120-volt outlet. They can give you around 8 to 30+ miles per hour of charge depending on the EVSE being used, type of car, and electrical line’s power capacity. Level 2 chargers are the most common at businesses’ parking lots, and most regular commuters also prefer to have them at their homes.
Most level 2 charging ports come in 15 or 30-amp versions, with the 30-amp versions being the faster chargers. However, your EV’s onboard charging hardware determines how fast your car batteries fill up. The hardware’s power ratings vary from car to car; with some having as low as 3.3 kilowatts and others as high as 20 kilowatts (typically long-range electric vehicles like Teslas and Chevrolet Bolt have the highest power rating).
Level 3 charging is also known as DC fast charging and is capable of supporting up to 500 voltages. They are powerful pieces of equipment, and the Tesla Superchargers are a great example. A supercharger can add around 170 miles of range to a Tesla Model S in less than 30 minutes.
Critical Factors to Consider for Your Next EVSE
- Charging capacity – How fast is the charger? How many miles per hour of charging does it deliver? Does it use a 120 or 240-volt output? What is the charger's amperage (e.g. 15,30,32, or 40amps)? What is its onboard charger rating?
- Cost – How do the prices of different chargers compare?
- Popularity – What charging stations are more people using and is it within your budget? What are people saying about it? Is it from a reputable brand?
- Portability – Is the station movable?
- Installation – Does the station need to be permanently installed or is it just a simple plug-in and play?
- Features – What extra features does the charging station have? Does it support Wi-Fi and can you control it from your phone? Does it allow delayed charging so that you can take advantage of charging only during the cheapest time of day given by your utility provider?
- Ease of use – Is the station’s cord long enough to make charging simple for you? Is it too heavy? Are the charging port’s buttons easy to control?
- Warranty – How long is the product’s warranty?
Terms likely to confuse you:
- CHAdeMO – Trade name for a quick electric vehicle charging method that can deliver up to 62.5kW by 500V, 125 amps direct current.
- J1772 – North American standard for electrical connectors of electric vehicles.
- NEMA 14-50 -A 50 amps plug that is commonly used for electric ovens and often found in campgrounds and RV parks.
- NEMA 6-20 – 20 amps plug used for 208 and 240 Volts circuits.
- NEMA connectors – Power plugs and receptacles used for AC mains electricity in North America.