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The Best Level 2 EV Chargers You Can Buy

Original Post Date: Dec 5, 2023
Source: Gear Patrol
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If you’re buying an EV, the most important charging infrastructure is likely to be in your house.

If you’re considering buying an electric vehicle, you should know that the most convenient way to charge it is at home. Roughly 70 to 80 percent of EV drivers charge their cars where they sleep, letting them fill up overnight instead of waiting at a public charging station. As more EVs hit the market, there are more options for a home Level 2 charger (a device that requires a 40-amp circuit to wire into) than ever before. Many of them include a lot of bells and whistles. Do you need them? Will you use them?

It depends on what kind of experience you want. If you’re looking for a “set it and forget it” deal, there are some decent options. If you want to manage just about every aspect of the charging experience, you’re also in luck. Here’s a guide on what to look for when shopping for a Level 2 home charger and our picks for the best ones you can buy.

How We Tested

Gear Patrol staffers are continually testing Level 2 EV chargers as residential conditions and vehicles permit. We look for highly-rated chargers that deliver consistent performance, offer versatility for installation and use, provide assurances like warranty backing and deliver solid value.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.

The Best Level 2 Chargers to Buy

Best Overall Level 2 Charger

Tesla just debuted a new version of their proprietary Level 2 charger, the Universal Wall Connector. Unlike previous versions, this one is compatible with both Tesla-spec NACS and CCS plugs, so it will be able to charge a Tesla or another EV you buy now — and whatever EV you buy in the future, as most EVs in the U.S. switch to NACS plugs. Tesla says it can add up to 44 miles of range per hour, and it comes with a four-year warranty for home use.

Best Upgrade Level 2 Charger

The 40- and 48-amp Wallbox Pulsar Plus Level 2 chargers come with many features that make them one of the best overall options on the market. A power-sharing function lets multiple units split power between charging multiple EVs without overloading your home’s electrical system. You can also manage power output, charging schedules and more remotely through the Wallbox app.

Best Affordable Level 2 Charger

The Grizzle-E charger is a great value option, offering a durable and reliable no-frills Level 2 charger at a significantly lower price point. It’s versatile as it can be installed indoor or outdoor with an IP67 water resistance rating and be hardwired by an electrician or plugged into a 240-volt outlet. And it does what you buy it to do: charge your EV easily and conveniently.

Our tester installed the Grizzle-E unit outside his garage with an electrician, noting that install proved “extremely easy.” He has found that the charger delivers the same, steady output every single time it’s used. The 24-foot cord offers a lot of flexibility for vehicles with differently located charge ports. Our tester found the Grizzl-E simple to use as you don’t need to coordinate with an app to begin charging, but that simplicity also means you can’t monitor or control the charging remotely.

Best Level 2 Charger for Tesla Owners

The most straightforward Level 2 charging option for Tesla owners is the standard Wall Connector. It’s cheaper than the Universal Wall Connector. It connects to Wi-Fi and works with the Tesla app. And it can add up to 44 miles of range per hour with 48 amp charging. Most EV manufacturers are moving to Tesla’s NACS standard plug in 2025. So the Tesla charger will be usable for every type of EV moving forward.

Best Portable EV Charger

Mustart’s 40-amp Level 2 EV charger is one of the best value units on offer. It offers super-fast 40-amp charging — about 2.5 times faster than a 16-amp Level 2 charger — without jacking up the price. It has a digital display with several different data points in addition to LED indicators. It has IP67 waterproofing and for the EV connector, and it’s IP65 rated for the control box. Mustart backs it with a two-year warranty.

Chargepoint Home Flex

On the higher end, EV charging giant Chargepoint offers a home option that it claims can fill up your car at an average of nine times faster than the rest of the field. With the company’s app, you can set charging schedules, see your charging data, and integrate your Amazon Alexa device to start charging by voice command.

Juicebox 40

Also available in 40- and 48-amp configurations, the Juicebox 40 can be adjusted down to 6 amps. The smartphone app allows you to keep track of stats like energy usage and charging times and take advantage of cheaper rate windows from your utility. But it does lack the data to tell you just how much you’re spending on charging.

Lectron Level 2 EV Charger 32-Amp

The Lectron 32-amp charger represents one of the higher-quality options for a relatively bargain price. There’s no Wi-Fi connectivity (you’ll have to shell out more cash for that luxury), but it comes with a display screen that displays things like amperage, temperature and voltage. 32 amps is the max setting, which can be adjusted down to 10 amps.

What to Look For When Buying a Level 2 Charger

Plug

Tesla uses its own plug, called NACS (North American Charging System). Most other manufacturers use CCS (which is based off the J1772 standard). Nissan still uses a CHAdeMO plug for the Leaf, but most non-Tesla EVs currently use CCS, although Ford, GM and several other manufacturers plan to convert to NACS by 2025.

Amperage

Level 2 EV chargers offer different charging speeds, which is largely a product of how much amperage they can draw. The higher the amperage the higher the speed. But higher amperage units are likely to cost more. You’re also limited by your circuit breaker. The National Electrical Code requires a circuit to be rated for 25 percent more amperage than the charger’s output. So a 50-amp outlet can also support a 40-amp Level 2 EV charger.

Cable Length

Before you buy a Level 2 charger, you’ll need to make sure that you can install it in a place where the cable can reach your electric vehicle’s charging port. A longer cable gives you more flexibility on where to place the charger. Most chargers come with a cord of 18 ft, but some can stretch into the mid-20s.

Connectivity

Smart features on your Level 2 charger will cost more. But some of the features may be worth the price. Being able to monitor your Level 2 charger from a Smartphone can allow you to monitor your charging session, schedule charging windows, and determine how much you spend each time you charge.

Certifications

To protect your home’s electrical system, you should ensure that the charger you’re buying has the certifications for safety and electrical soundness. A UL certification means that your Level 2 charger meets OSHA and National Electrical Code standards. The EPA will also give chargers ENERGY STAR certifications for meeting specific efficiency standards.

Outdoor Use

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) provides a rating scale for how well electrical equipment can protect itself from the elements. Most Level 2 chargers straddle the line between NEMA 3 and 4 on the rating scale, which gives them varying degrees of protection from dust, debris and light water. NEMA 4 and 4X-rated chargers provide better protection against water seeping in and corroding your charger from the inside out, but it’s not always 100 percent effective.

Installation Process

Installing a Level 2 EV charger can be straightforward or complex and expensive. A higher amperage unit may charge your car more quickly. But it may need to be hardwired into your electrical system at an additional cost. Adding a 240V outlet if one is not accessible from your garage or carport can also add to the cost.

How to Get a Level 2 Charger Installed

Many Level 2 chargers will come with a NEMA 06-50 or 14-50 plug. The 14-50 plug is the type used for heavy appliances. So, if you have one that isn’t being taken up by a washer or dryer, you can install a Level 2 charger yourself by mounting it on the wall.

But if you have a high-amperage model, then you’ll want to have it hardwired into your house’s electrical system so that it can regulate its output and self-manage so it doesn’t trip the circuit breaker. That will require a certified electrician. Estimates differ based on amperage, your home’s setup, and location, but the installation cost could run up to around $1,000.

Do You Get a Tax Credit for Installing a Level 2 EV Charger?

Potentially, yes. The Inflation Reduction Act extended a federal tax credit for installing a home Level 2 EV charger through 2032. Taxpayers can claim a refund for 30% of the hardware and installation costs (capped at $1,000). Note that the tax credit is nonrefundable. So it can offset taxes owed but cannot be used to give you a tax refund.

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