How to buy an electric-car charging station: buyer's guide to EVSEs Page 3

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Clipper Creek HCS-40 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

Clipper Creek HCS-40 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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ClipperCreek HCS-40

  • Manufacturer: ClipperCreek
  • Price: $589 + $36 shipping with plug ($565 + $36 shipping hardwire)
  • Rating:  4.9 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.7 KW (32 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 25 feet
  • Enclosure: NEMA 4
  • Plug: 14-50
  • Warranty:  3 year
  • Size: 19.7”H x 9”W  x 5.3”D

The Scoop: Both ClipperCreek and the HCS-40 score the highest ratings from customers and almost without exception get recommended. While the HCS-40 is a newer model, ClipperCreek built its reputation on the older CS-40 unit that is more suited for business installations than home use. But the high quality and proven reliability of the CS-40 has been translated into a HCS-40 that is smaller and more suited to home installation and backed by reportedly stellar customer service.

 The unit itself, which is proudly announced as Made in America, is a basic looking black housing around which the cord can be wrapped. That enclosure is NEMA 4 rated for outdoor use. A separate holster can be installed as a storage location for the J1772 connector when it is not plugged into the car.  This can be very convenient when the logical location for the EVSE in the garage is not the same as the logical location to store the end of the connector. There are no buttons to press and no timer or connectivity options, just basic lights indicating power, charging, and faults.

 Many people’s search for a quality EVSE ends when they get to the ClipperCreek HCS-40, and perhaps yours should too.

ChargePoint Home 25 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

ChargePoint Home 25 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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ChargePoint Home 25

  • Manufacturer: ChargePoint
  • Price: $749 Plug-in ($699 hardwire)
  • Rating: 4.6 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.7 KW (32 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 25 feet (18 feet is $50 less)
  • Enclosure: NEMA 3R
  • Plug: 6-50
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Size: 11.2”H × 7”W x 4.5”D

The Scoop:  (Full Disclosure: The author purchased this unit, but has no relationship with ChargePoint and was not compensated in any way).

 ChargePoint Home is easily the nicest looking, compact, connected EVSE on sale today, and it is also one of the priciest. Fully configured with a 6-50 plug and the 25’ cable, the price is $749, although the shorter 18’ cable and hardwire version drops the price to $649, putting it more in-line with the price of other chargers.

Confusingly, ChargePoint refers to this EVSE as the “Home 25” unit which is their way of indicating that you can add up to 25 miles of range per hour.  While well intended, it might confuse people into thinking it is a 25 amp model, which it is not. It provides 32 amps of charging. This adds to the marketplace confusion that already exists with some manufacturers referring to their 32 amp chargers as 40 amps because that is the breaker size needed. So don’t rely on product names to tell you how many amps EVSEs output.

 One other point to get out of the way; the cable is sold as a separate item. So don’t get too excited when you see the ChargePoint Home 25 advertised for, say, $523 because that does not include the cable. By separately selling the EVSE and the cable, the manufacturer reduces the number of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units), which simplifies inventory. Cable installation is simple and does not require any tools. A small magnet in the cable assembly confirms to the main circuit board that the cable is both installed and not flipped left/right. Keeping the cable as a user serviceable item has a potential advantage that upgrading from an 18’ to a 25’ cord is easy, as is replacing the cord if it ever gets damaged.

The ChargePoint Home is very easy to install. The manufacturer is thoughtful enough to include the needed lag screws, drill bit, and hex driver for installation. The WiFi connectivity is set up using the ChargePoint app and a mobile phone. First the phone connects to the EVSE and then the app is used to configure the connection to the home WiFi. The app allows for remote start, scheduling, reminders, and charging history (both for your home EVSE and public ChargePoint stations). The system also integrates with Nest thermostats to provide both home energy and EV energy consumption in one report. The EVSE software itself can be updated over the WiFi connection. If you have TOU (time of use) metering, the connectivity and scheduling available in this device is very valuable. Also, you don’t need to sneak out to the garage to see if the car is plugged in, you just need to check your phone or use their web interface.

The physical device has a ring light that glows green when ready, flashing green when ready and scheduled, blue for charging, and red for fault. There are no buttons on the EVSE itself. Just plugging in the J1772 connector to the car starts the charging process. The unit is second only to JuiceBox for smallness of footprint. However, the routing the power in cable through the bottom of the unit is less aesthetically pleasing than having it come through the back as is the case with many models of EVSE. One clever owner did manage to close-off the infeed wire hole on the bottom of the ChargePoint Home and route the wire through a knockout on the back for a very clean, small footprint installation.

 One nice feature, if you want to charge your car immediately, but the charging timer is set, you can overcome this by unplugging the car and replugging it in again within 7 seconds. That simple action overrides the charging timer.

So if you are looking for the least expensive EVSE on the market, ChargePoint Home 25 is not what you want. But if you would like a high quality, attractive, connected unit, made by a company with a great reputation, and are willing to pay a little more, you may have found the unit for you.

JuiceBox Classic Edition 40 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

JuiceBox Classic Edition 40 electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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eMotorWerks JuiceBox 40A EV Charger

  • Manufacturer: Electric Motor Werks, Inc, a.k.a. eMotorWerks
  • Price:  $499 ($599 pro, and $899 pro 75A)
  • Rating:  4.7 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power:  9.6 KW (40 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 24 feet
  • Connector: 14-50R
  • Enclosure:  IP66 (NEMA 4)
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Size: 10"H x 6"W x 3.5"D

The Scoop: Started as a kickstarter campaign a few years ago, eMotorWerks is now a successful company with many avid fans. Inside the rugged industrial aluminum enclosure are components with a good reputation. The “classic edition” version is capable of delivering 9.6 KW, which is significantly more than most units which typically are 7.2 or 7.7 KW. The JuiceBox is at a lower price point than most, to boot. Unless you own a Tesla, you are likely to only be able to use 6.6 KW. But it is nice to know that 9.6 KW is available in case your next EV can use it.

 The housing is one of the smallest on the market which many customers enjoy for the ability to take the EVSE with them in their car to a remote location.

 While the functions are basic on the “classic edition” for an additional $100 the “pro” version adds Wifi connectivity that allows a smartphone app and web interface to control charge scheduling and energy monitoring.

If you happen to have a Tesla with the optional 20KW charger on board, eMotorWorks has you covered with a 75A model for $899.

But the classic edition is the most price competitive with a nice small unit, a good reputation, no bells or whistles, and a rather basic industrial look.

GE DuraStation electric-car charging station (EVSE)

GE DuraStation electric-car charging station (EVSE)

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GE DuraStation

  • Manufacturer: GE
  • Price: $399
  • Rating: 4.7 out of 5 Stars (Amazon)
  • Power: 7.2 KW (30 Amp)
  • Cord Length: 18 feet
  • Enclosure: NEMA 3R
  • Plug: None
  • Warranty: 3 year
  • Size: 14”H x 12”W x 7.5”D

The Scoop: A very basic no frills EVSE at the lowest possible price. This unit consists of a commercial standard gray plastic electrical box with no features to wrap up the cable or holster to store the J1772 plug in when not being used. However, customers using it are very happy because it works well despite the no frills nature.

 The unit is so basic that you must drill your own hole in the box just to install the incoming electrical wire. That box, in addition to not being very attractive is quite large. Installation is hampered by poor instructions (Tip: look online for better instructions as paper copies are barely legible). There is certainly no timer, or WiFi connection, heck there isn’t even a power switch. But many customers are perfectly fine with that. There is a jumper that allows selection from 15, 20, 30, and 40 amps which is very useful where existing wiring cannot carry the full current. You do get a red/green LED on the front of the unit which shows if the system is charging or has a fault, but no LED light at the business end of the cable to aid plugging into the car at night. That cable, by the way is only 18 foot long, so plan accordingly.

 If you want a basic charging station at the lowest cost, this just might be the unit for you. If you would like to have a holster to go with it just search for a J1772 EVSE Secure Holder / Dock for EV Charging Station, Wall Plate on Amazon or eBay.

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