Finding the Best Level 2 EV Charger You Can Buy
If you're in the market for an electric vehicle, chances are the sheer convenience of home charging has already won you over. Imagine the ease of not having to drive to a public charging station and wait for hours. Just plug in your EV overnight, and in the morning, you're all set for your day. With more and more electric car models hitting the market, there's a growing variety of home EV chargers available. These range from hardwired home charging stations to portable chargers that you can easily carry in your car.
What is a Home EV Charger?
A home EV charger, specifically a Level 2 charger, is a device designed to recharge your electric vehicle quickly and efficiently. Unlike standard Level 1 chargers that come with most EVs and plug into a standard household outlet, Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt circuit to deliver a higher charging rate. This results in significantly faster charging times, making Level 2 chargers the preferred choice for most EV owners.
What to look for when buying a level 2 charger
Compatibility is essential. Ensure that the charger's plug type aligns with your EV's receptacle. It's crucial to verify compatibility, as different electric vehicles may utilize distinct plug types. Some, like the J1772, are standard, while others, such as Tesla's North American Charging Standard (NACS), are unique. Adapters can often bridge the gap if a perfect match isn't available.
Understanding charging speed. Amperage, often referred to as charging power, dictates the rate at which your EV charges. Selecting the right amperage is like choosing your vehicle's cruising speed. Higher amperage results in faster charging, but it's important to check whether your car's onboard charger can fully utilize the selected amperage. A mismatch can lead to inefficiencies.
Practical length matters. Consider the practicality of the cable length provided with the charger. Ideally, it should comfortably reach your EV's charging port without requiring any stretching or straining. Anticipate the distance between your charging station and your parking spot, allowing for flexibility.
Future-proofing flexibility. When determining cable length, think about potential future adjustments in your charging setup. Having a bit of extra length can be a wise choice, especially if you plan to reconfigure your charging location.
Smart features for convenience. Many modern Level 2 chargers offer advanced features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and smartphone apps. These capabilities empower you to remotely monitor and manage your charging sessions. A smart EV charger allows you to schedule charging during off-peak hours, track energy consumption, and receive alerts when your EV is fully charged or if any issues arise.
Energy efficiency and convenience. The smart features enable you to optimize your charging for cost savings and convenience. Smart chargers are like programmable thermostats that let you set your home's temperature just the way you like it.
Weatherproof design. If you plan to install the charger outdoors, look for models designed to withstand various weather conditions. These EV chargers typically possess robust weatherproofing features, ensuring they function reliably in rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. For those living in regions with cold winters, it's essential to also consider the impact of cold weather on electric cars and their charging performance to ensure a seamless charging experience year-round.
Longevity and reliability. Outdoor-rated chargers are built to last, similar to how outdoor furniture is constructed to withstand sun and rain without fading or corroding. Investing in a charger built for outdoor use ensures long-term reliability and performance, regardless of the weather.
Safety certification. Look for chargers with safety certifications like UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Intertek). These certifications ensure that the charger meets strict safety standards for your peace of mind.
Energy efficiency. If you're eco-conscious, consider ENERGY STAR certification. It means the charger is designed to be energy-efficient, helping you save on operating costs.
Cybersecurity. For chargers with smart features, check for cybersecurity standards. ISO 27001 certification indicates that the manufacturer has strong information security practices, keeping your data safe.
Installing a Level 2 Charger at Home
Installing a Level 2 charger at home is an excellent way to ensure convenient and efficient charging for your EV. There are two primary options for installation: hardwired and non-hardwired. Let's discuss both methods:
A hardwired installation involves permanently connecting your Level 2 EV charging station to your home's electrical system. This method provides a dedicated and clean charging solution. It typically requires professional installation to ensure compliance with electrical codes and safety standards. A licensed electrician will inspect your electrical panel to determine if it can support the charger's amperage, and they may need to upgrade your electrical service if necessary. While hardwired installations can be costlier due to installation fees and potential electrical upgrades, they offer the advantage of a fixed, secure charging station. However, they lack mobility and flexibility, making them suitable for homeowners who don't plan to move their charging stations.
Non-hardwired installations offer a more portable and cost-effective solution. These chargers can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet, typically using a National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 14-50 plug. They are more suitable for renters or those who may want to move their chargers in the future. While non-hardwired chargers are more budget-friendly and don't require professional installation, they may have limitations on amperage and charging speed. Proper cable management is essential with non-hardwired setups to ensure the charging cable is neatly stored when not in use. This method provides convenience and flexibility, especially for those with changing living situations or who prefer a DIY approach to installation.
The Best Home EV Chargers You Can Buy
Lectron Level 2 Tesla Charger
Amperage: 40 amps
Cable Length: 16 feet
If you find the Tesla Wall Connector too expensive or you're not ready for a hardwired installation yet, the Lectron Tesla Level 2 Charger offers a more budget-friendly alternative with portability and a 40-amp power output. It can plug directly into a NEMA 14-50 outlet, delivering up to 36 miles of range per hour of charge. Its portability eliminates additional EV charger installation costs, which can range from a few hundred dollars and up. Additionally, it holds FCC and Energy Star certifications, along with an IP65 rating for its control box and an IP55 rating for the charging handle.
Amperage: 48 amps
Cable Length: 20 feet
Installation: Hardwire and Non-hardwire
If you want the complete home charging station experience with flexible installation options, the Lectron Home Level 2 Tesla V-Box EV Charging Station is the one for you. It can be plugged directly into your existing NEMA 14-50 outlet for up to 40 Amps of charging output or hardwired into your home's electrical system for 48-Amp charging. It charges up to 46 mph at 11.52 kWh, perfect for quick top-ups overnight or during your work hours.
Can You Use an Extension Cord with a Level 2 EV Charger?
If you find the original length of your charger insufficient, an extension cord could be the answer. Some EV drivers might have a detached garage, or their power source is just too far away from their parking spots. The bottom line is, that using an extension cord provides an instant solution. While manufacturers warn about the risks of using an extension cord for Level 2 charging, there are key factors to consider to ensure safety and efficiency:
Length: Choose an extension cord that provides the required extra length to reach your EV from the power source without excessive slack. Measure the distance carefully to determine the appropriate length.
Amp rating: Ensure that the extension cord's amp rating matches or exceeds the amperage capacity of your Level 2 EV charger. Using an extension cord with an insufficient amp rating can lead to overheating and other safety issues. Additionally, understanding car battery charger amps is crucial for safely and efficiently charging your electric vehicle.
Wire gauge: Opt for an extension cord with a wire gauge that is suitable for the charger's amperage and voltage requirements. Thicker wires (lower gauge numbers) are better for higher amperage.
Outdoor use: If you plan to use the extension cord outdoors, make sure it's rated for outdoor use and can withstand exposure to weather conditions.
Quality and safety certifications: Look for extension cords from reputable manufacturers with safety certifications, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Intertek), which ensure they meet safety standards.
Plug and outlet compatibility: Ensure that the extension cord's plug matches your charger's plug type and that it can connect to the power source. Consider buying an extension cord from the same manufacturer as your EV charger. For instance, Lectron's 20-foot Tesla Extension Cord is compatible with its Level 2 Tesla Charger. Products from the same manufacturer ensure seamless compatibility and are often designed to work optimally together.
Remember that while using an extension cord may provide extra reach for your charger, it's essential to prioritize safety and choose the right cord for your specific charger and charging situation. If possible, consult with a qualified electrician to ensure your setup is safe and complies with electrical codes.
The best Level 2 charger depends on your specific needs, including your electric vehicle model, charging speed requirements, and budget.
The most powerful Level 2 EV chargers typically provide a 48-amp output. Some examples include the Tesla Wall Connector (for Tesla vehicles) and the Lectron V-Box, which deliver rapid charging speeds suitable for various EV models.
Yes, a Level 2 EV charger is worth it for those who value efficiency. It offers faster charging compared to standard Level 1 chargers, reducing charging time and providing more convenience. It's especially beneficial if you rely on your EV for daily commuting or have a larger battery capacity.
The fastest Level 2 EV charger for home use depends on factors like your EV's compatibility and your home's electrical capacity. Chargers like the Lectron V-Box and the Lectron Portable Level 2 Tesla EV Charger are known for their fast charging speeds, offering up to 40-48 amps for rapid charging at home.