Residential Level 2 EV Charger Roundup

Sunday, August 28, 2011
Updated: 5/6/12

Looking to get a charge at home?

There are now several choices on the market for residential EV chargers.  The right one for you depends on what you need it to do.

These EV Chargers will charge any car with the SAE J1772 standardized plug which all new cars in the US are using.  If you have Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-Miev, or Chevy Volt, all you need is a 240V 15A device, since these cars only have a 3.3kW/h inverter built in.  Selecting an EV Charger with higher Max Amperage rating will not harm the car.

These EV Chargers are not "chargers" at all...they are safety devices to ensure that you don't get shocked while using it or drive away with your car attached to high voltage.  While they are pricy now (most are about $900 and up depending on features), the more they are sold, the faster they will decline in price...just like EVs themselves.

The cost to install varies with distance to power and difficulty to install.  This can range from real cheap ($200) to very expensive ($1500 to upgrade service and install).  If you buy a networked EV Charger, then you also have to factor in hooking it up to your router too.  In most cases, you'll also have to get them permitted.

See below for a list of scenarios and the complete list of Level 2 EVSE (or EV Chargers)...

Coulomb CT-500
uniquely installed at
a happy Volt owner's
home in Orlando

Scenario: I have a garage and I just want a simple EV Charger permanently attached to my wall

  • If you've got a Chevy Volt, consider the SPX/Voltec unit. The Voltec unit is currently the cheapest on the list ($490) and the only one with a flashlight in the handle.  You can currently only buy one if you have a GM car (they'll want a VIN number when you order).  
  • The following non-networked Level 2 units are direct wire and great for this purpose: Schneider EV2430WS, Legrand L2EVSE16, AeroVironment: EVSE-RS, Clipper Creek: LCS-25, or General Electric: Wattstation Wall
  • With the exception of the Schneider EV2430WS, these EV Chargers can be mounted outdoors.

Scenario: I move around frequently and want a Level 2 Charger to move with me

  • Install one of the Level 2 EV Chargers that "plug in" to the wall (like an existing dryer outlet - see list below).  When you need to take it with you, "uninstall it" off the wall and go...you just need to make sure there's an available plug waiting for you (like at your Aunt's house or RV park).
  • These units that "plug in" are typically more expensive to purchase and install, since the plugs and receptacles cost more money than wire.  That said, if you already have a receptacle installed, then installing a "plug in" EV Charger is a great idea.

Scenario: I want to monitor the power my EV uses 

View of the TED5000 monitoring the power
being pumped into my Nissan Leaf
  •  You have two basic choices...
    • Install a Networked EV Charger like the AeroVironment RS+, Blink, Coulomb CT-500, or EVSE LLC reEVSE.  These units connect to the Internet via a cable or wireless.  The Networked versions typically allow you to view the power supplied to your car...and they have other features as well.  You'll pay more for this capability.
    • Install a non-networked EV Charger AND an energy monitoring device like a TED or Powerhouse Dynamics so you can monitor your EV's power consumption along with other important loads in your home. 
  • The Coulomb CT-500 has many of the same features as their commercial EV Chargers - allowing you to control who can use it, when they can use it, and see how much energy each driver uses.  This product is best suited for apartments, condos, and families who want to charge their kids for charging their cars.  :-)

Scenario: I don't have enough spare power in my house for a Level 2 Charger

  • Choose a lower power (less than 20 Amps) EV Charger like the Voltec, Clipper Creek, DBT, or Leviton models.  If you have a first generation Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, this is all the power (3.3kW) they can drink.
  • Control Module Industries has a "Power Share" version of their reEVSE that can sense when other large loads are being used in your home (like your water heater) and pause the EV Charging process until the load is off.
  • Some permitting authorities require that a load calculation be done on the home before a EVSE Permit is allowed.  If there's not enough spare capacity in the panel, then you typically have to upgrade the service which can be costly.  If a service upgrade is too expensive, then a lower power EV charger or the the Power Share reEVSE might be a good alternative.

How do I purchase one?

Here are some ways you can purchase a Residential EVSE...
  • Buy it as an installed option when you purchase your car.  Nissan (AeroVironment), GM (SPX), and Fisker (EVConnect) are just a few car companies that have made installing a charging station very simple for the new owner...you just click a box and someone will be calling you for an installation time.  You'll pay a bit more for this simplicity, but you get a lot for it...especially if don't have the time to find a qualified/trained electrician that knows how/where to install these new devices.
  • Get one through a Government or Utility sponsored program.   Ecotality and Coulomb have programs that will pay for the hardware and possibly the installation of your home EVSE.  Check with US Government's nice database of incentives here: http://www.dsireusa.org/
  • Buy the device directly from the manufacturer.  Leviton and SPX sell them on their website (click on the Name of the Manufacturer below).  You'll pay full retail.
  • Buy the device from through a online reseller like Amazon or a big box store like Home Depot or Best Buy.  You can buy many brands of residential EVSE's in just two clicks.
  • Buy it through your electrician...and have it installed.  Your local electrician can order one of these devices and install it for you.  

The List...

If you would like to read some user comments on these Residential EVSE's, you can find some great info at www.mynissanleaf.com or www.gm-volt.com.

Residential Level 2 EVSE Max Amperage Outdoor Networked Wiring Photo
AeroVironment: EVSE-RS 30A Yes Option Direct
Blink: Level 2 Wall Mount 30A Yes Yes Direct
Clipper Creek: LCS-25 20A Yes No Direct
Control Module Ind: ReEVSE 70A Yes Yes Direct
Coulomb: CT500 30A Yes Yes Direct
DBT USA
16A Yes  Can be Direct
EVSE Upgrade: Nissan Leaf OE 
(upgrades the Level 1 you get with your Leaf to a Level 2)
12A/16A No  No Plug (NEMA L6-20)
General Electric: Wattstation Wall 30A Yes No Direct & Plug (NEMA 6-50P)
Legrand: L2EVSE16 16A Yes No Direct
Leviton: Evr-Green 160

16A Yes No Direct & Plug (NEMA 6-20P)
Schneider: EV2430WS

30A No No Direct
SPX: Power XPress
(Moveable & Permanently mounted)
24A Yes No Plug (NEMA 6-30)
SPX/Voltec: Sold to GM Volt owners only! 15A Yes No Direct

9 comments:

  • Greg

    It is frustrating that some many of these EVSE are only available through special programs or limited distribution through manufactures or dealers. We need to be able to buy them on-line, Amazon, Home depot, Lowe'sa etc....

  • Mark Thomason

    Hi Greg...I updated this article to answer your questions...thanks for the idea.

  • The Legrand level 2 charger can be ordered online from Lowes.

  • Sorry. Should have said Home Depot.

  • blappen

    I have used the Legrand L2EVSE16 for almost four months now to charge my Nissan Leaf. It is a very simple device to install and use. It works fine.

  • EV

    The cheapest charge cord if you have a Leaf is to get the one that comes with the Leaf upgraded by EVSEupgrade. They charge $239 for the 12a model and $287 for the 16a model which is 3.8kW when used on a 240v outlet. It will still work on 120v outlets also. They sell new ones as well if you don't have an existing one. Very well-made and compact unit!

  • g1v3up

    Nissan has raised the price of their charge cord to over 800 now, because of EVSE upgrade. You can send the one in that came with your car but to buy another it's cost prohibitive now.

    Much better to go to OpenEVSE web site and get the parts and build your own. It's universal, does 120 or 240, portable and you can build one for less that 500. Best deal on the net right now.

  • micheal clark

    Great Post! It's very nice to read this info from someone that actually knows what they are talking about.
    residential property management las vegas

  • Mike

    Great resource, this is the second or third time I've come here to compare charger specs. Thanks!