How to buy an electric-car charging station: buyer's guide to EVSEs Page 4

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GE WattStation electric-car charging station (EVSE)

GE WattStation electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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GE WattStation

  • Manufacturer: GE
  • Price: $545
  • Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.2 KW (30 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 20 feet (older units 16 feet)
  • Enclosure: NEMA 3
  • Plug: NEMA 6-50
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Size: 19.5”H x 16.9”W x 12.5”D

The Scoop: The WattStation is generally well regarded by owners. It is more stylish than its much less expensive GE DuraStation cousin, with a black shiny color and silver trim. The front face is even customizable with GelaSkins removable skins.

Other than that, it is a pretty basic unit with no timer and no internet connectivity. A power switch allows the unit to be shut off completely. A ring of bright LEDs illuminate on the charger which functions as a night light in the garage—which is good, because electric cars are afraid of the dark (little known fact).

But several owners thought the lights were too bright and ended up covering them with black electrical tape. A green LED indicates charging and a red one indicates a fault. The unit mounts on a bracket in such a way that it can be moved for transport, or locked in place to prevent theft.

The WattStation is large, shockingly so. Many owners were taken back when the box arrived on their doorstep. The power cord (for the plug-in version) is short at 12” which requires planning and possibly mounting the NEMA 6-50 outlet upside down.

Older units have a loud thunk when the contactors close and a hum during operation. New units are reported to be much quieter.

WIth its attractive, if large, enclosure and affordable price, the WattStation is a great choice for anyone that has sufficient space for the unit and no need for connectivity or timer functions.

Siemens Versicharge electric-car charging station (EVSE)

Siemens Versicharge electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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Siemens VC30GRYU Versicharge

  • Manufacturer: Siemens
  • Price: $549
  • Rating: 4.7 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.2 KW (30 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 20 feet
  • Enclosure: NEMA 4
  • Plug: NEMA 6-50 (ground facing down)
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Size: 15.2”W x 20.6”H x 6.5”D

The Scoop: Siemens is a giant in the electrical industry, but perhaps not a household name in the U.S. The Versicharge provides reliable service and includes an integrated holster for storing the J1772 connector when it is not being used.

A “halo” light indicates status: pulsing green when charging, solid green for fully charged, and red for fault. That light can be turned off, a feature more than a few users have taken advantage of. The enclosure is attractive although somewhat large.

Mounting is flexible; the unit can be purchased with or without a NEMA 6-50 plug. As with other units, the cable on the 6-50 plug is extremely short so plan accordingly. One clever feature is that you can install it with a plug but have the plug connection hidden behind the unit for a very clean look.  

The hardwire can come in with a bottom or rear feed for units without a plug. Maximum charging rate is adjustable via a board-level selector switch that can be useful to take advantage of pre-existing wirng that isn't capable of handling its full 40 amps.

A very popular feature is delayed start. The user can delay the start of charging 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours so that charging can occur later at night to take advantage of lower rates or to just ease the burden on the grid. (Note: this may not presently work with the Volkswagen e-Golf or Fiat 500e, which is probably an issue with the car rather than the EVSE).

The installation guide is on an included green thumb drive that looks like a key chain, which some owners have mistakenly discarded!

A handful of users have had a red gasket move out of position in the J1772 connector making charging impossible.  Others have had the retaining clip on the J1772 connector fail. The good people at Siemens have sent out replacements. Some users say they are disappointed by the sloppy fit of the J1772 connector into the holster.

Overall, the Versicharge is a great EVSE supported by an established company, offering a useful delayed-start charging feature. A promised future SG model will have WiFi connectivity.

Leviton EVR-Green 400 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

Leviton EVR-Green 400 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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Leviton EVB40-PST Evr-Green 400

  • Manufacturer: Leviton
  • Price: $699
  • Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 9.6 KW ( 40 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 25 feet
  • Enclosure: NEMA 4
  • Plug: NEMA 6-50 (ground down for indoors, ground up for outdoors)
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Size: 24”H x 16.2”W x 9”D

The Scoop: For customers owning a Tesla, RAV4 EV, or Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, or those looking to future-proof their EVSE, the Leviton Evr-Green 400 is worth a look. It can charge at 40 amps (9.6 KW), notably more than most chargers that offer only 30 or 32 amps (7.2 or 7.7 KW).

The unit comes in an attractive, if large, case with an integrated holster. Three lights on the front show power, charging, or fault, giving a simple and clean user interface with no advanced features to complicate the experience. For the plug-in version, a 6-50 outlet is required, and buyers should plan placement carefully, as the cable is only 12 inches long.

One point of frustration for some users is that the version with the 6-50 plug doesn’t come with a bracket. That must be purchased separately, as part of an $84 installation kit that includes several other components that may not be needed.

Early teething problems from 2013 and 2014 seem to have been resolved, and users report the current Leviton unit to be rock-solid. Although there is no power switch (you'll have to use the breaker), the unit only consumes 5 watts when idle, probably about the same as your microwave oven.

For electric-car owners looking for a true 40-amp EVSE as a future-proofing option—and have sufficient room on their garage wall—the Evr-Green 400 is one of the few options available (the JuiceBox is the other one).

Bosch PowerMax electric-car charging station (EVSE)

Bosch PowerMax electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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Blink HQ / Bosch EL-51254 PowerMax

  • Manufacturer: Delta Electronics, sold under Bosch and Blink brands
  • Price: Blink $499.99 plus $26.237 shipping, $749 Bosch
  • Rating: 4.2 (Blink) or 4.5 (Bosch) out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.2 KW (30 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 18 (Blink), 25 feet (Bosch)
  • Enclosure: NEMA 3R
  • Plug: N/A
  • Warranty: 1 year (3 years if installed by a Bosch Certified Contractor)
  • Size: 14”W x 16”H x 5”D

The Scoop: This EVSE is manufactured by Delta Electronic, most likely in Taiwan, and sold by both Bosch and Blink with only minor variations in cable length and color, but a significant difference in price.  The Blink branded unit is about $250 less expensive, although it comes with only an 18-foot cord rather than a 25-foot one.

The charging station is only offered in a hardwired version, although some buyers have converted their units to use a plug. The design is minimalistic with only a power switch, a stop switch, some LEDs, and a holster for storing the J1772 connector when not in use. The case is attractive, if a little large, made from white plastic with a horizontal black accent stripe for the Bosch or all black in the case of the Blink.

 One thing to watch out for: The three-year warranty on the Power Max is only available if a Bosch Certified contractor is used for installation.  Otherwise the warranty is a scant one year—which has left a couple of owners with an $800 box that is out of warranty and cannot be repaired. For the Blink-branded units, only a one-year warranty is available, far less than the three years offered by most manufacturers.

The Blink unit includes the extra feature of delayed charging. The charging time can be delayed by 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours allowing electric-car owners a simple way to plug in when they arrive home in the evening, but delay that start of a charging session to take place later in the evening and reduce the burden on the grid.  The Blink unit also comes with a $100 credit that can be applied to purchase charging sessions at Blink public charging stations. This credit is obviously only useful if you live in an area where Blink has stations you are likely to frequent.

This solid, attractive EVSE is worthy of consideration, and unless a 18-foot cable is simply too short, the lower price of the Blink unit is probably the one to go with.

 

 

 

AeroVironment EV Charger electric-car charging station (EVSE)

AeroVironment EV Charger electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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AeroVironment EV Charger

  • Manufacturer: AeroVironment
  • Price: $749 with plug ($649 hardwired)
  • Rating:  4.4 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.2KW (30 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 25 feet
  • Enclosure: NEMA 3R
  • Plug: 6-50
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Size: 12”W x 12”H x 8”D inches

The Scoop: While the company AeroVironment is hardly a household name, it really should be, particularly if that household happens to include an electric car.

AeroVironment played a significant role in the resurgence of modern electric vehicles by creating the GM Sunraycer and GM Impact, a predecessor of the EV1. It created much of the electronic technologies that exist in modern EVs.

It may be that reputation that led Nissan, Ford, Hyundai, Fiat, Kia, BMW, Mitsubishi, and Volvo to partner with AeroVironment to offer their charging stations, often rebranded. But there is no mistaking the distinctive round white plastic EVSE for anything other than an AeroVironment product, even if the label on the front says Ford or Nissan or BMW.

This EVSE has a simple start and stop button to control the unit, along with five LEDs that indicate charging status. It has a reliable reputation but lacks connectivity to the internet or any other data channel.

The price is on the higher end of the range of non-connected EVSEs, but AeroVironment’s long experience may simply be worth paying for.

 (Note: An advertised network connectivity version, called the EVSE-RS+, does not seem to be widely available, and support for its features in the broader electric-car community appears to be weak.)

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