Electric car charging is a bit different from charging other battery-operated appliances in your house. While everything else from your Roomba to your phone gets more and more efficient with each passing generation, the power demand never goes down with a battery-electric car. Even though modern electric cars have much more efficient batteries than they did 10 years ago, the charging times have only gone up, owing to larger battery sizes.
This means that even though your friend could charge their Nissan Leaf from a 15A plug a few years ago, you can’t expect to get decent range in the morning unless you supply a large amount of AC through your charger. But the whole EV charging deal doesn’t have to be too complicated. If hardwired connections and complicated circuit boards confuse you, here we have two chargers that can be simply plugged into a 3- or 4- pin dryer socket and offer decent charging times courtesy of a high 40-amp output capacity.
First-time EV buyers are often paranoid about putting their money in the right place. Whether you are a new car buyer or eyeing the used car market, your primary concern when buying an EV charger is the price. Here, we’ve rounded up two of the most popular and cost-effective chargers on the market — the Juicebox 40 and the Pulsar Plus Level 2 charger.
Both these chargers have identical peak power outputs, and they both offer similar connectivity options that you get with the best chargers in the business. We’ll go through each charger’s specs, features, and performance, and then compare the two side-by-side.
Product Review: Juicebox 40
Despite its unassuming and plasticky appearance, the Enel X Juicebox 40 is an effective universal car charger that can charge any EV available in the market. It features connected tech and other helpful technologies, all packed into one wall-mounted unit. However, some corners have been cut to keep the prices low, and not everything about this nifty charger is flawless.
First, let’s talk specs: the Juicebox 40, as the name suggests, has a peak output of 40A and 9.6kW. It can be bought without a plug if you plan to do a hardwire connection. But depending on your household wiring and circuit breakers, you might not need a hardwired connection to make it work.
As standard, you get the Juicebox 40 with a NEMA 14-50 plug that can be connected to a ‘new dryer’ socket in your house. As long as you ensure that your house has a 50A circuit breaker, you’ll get up to 40A of charging power from this charger. There is a short 2-foot cable that connects the Juicebox to the plug. As for the charging cable, you get one size that’s 25-feet long. This makes the Juicebox 40 ideal for a wide range of residential apartments and independent houses.
The 14-50 plug also helps if you rent your current house, or if you expect to move houses soon. Juicebox needs to be mounted to the wall using the supplied mount, but it has a quick-release lever to aid removal and reassembly. It also comes with a conventional lock-and-key in case you have to install it on the street where you park your car. For a full low-down on the installation and user guide, refer to this link.
Once the unit is plugged in and powered on, it can be connected to the Enel X app via your home’s wifi connection. It can then update the software, connect to any other Juicebox charger part of the same circuit, and download local electricity tariff data. You can program the charger to work when the rates are lower, or you can schedule the charging times according to your routine. Don’t worry if this sounds too complicated — you can use the Juicebox 40 as a plug-and-play device, and it’ll effectively communicate with your car’s battery management software to stop charging once the battery is full. Wifi connectivity helps you check the status on your phone, but it’s not an absolute requirement to make the Juicebox work.
Here’s the final verdict — the Juicebox 40 is an affordable electric car home charger that boasts similar features as other high-end products in the market. At the same time, it is also user-friendly enough to be used as a standalone device without connecting to the Enel X app or Wifi. Its connectivity isn’t the most seamless that we’ve seen in the market, but for most people, this charger will work as well as any other more expensive device.
Product Review: Pulsar Plus
While most other wall chargers in the market are large and ungainly, the Pulsar Plus looks like a scaled-up Febreeze vent clip mounted on your wall. It is a Level 2 charger that connects to the 240-volt circuit in your house. It can be plugged in either indoors or outdoors since the NEMA type 4 connector offers weatherproof connectivity.
To get the maximum output wattage, you need to get a 50-amp circuit breaker if it’s not already installed. The power cable going into the wall box is short, but the cable holder can be mounted on a separate wall to help you better utilize the full length of the 25-foot charging cable. This makes the Pulsar Plus versatile enough to be used in apartment complexes and street parking spots, too.
The Pulsar Plus charger can be operated with the myWallbox smartphone application. It connects via Wifi to your phone and streams charging data, electricity tariffs, charging schedules, and more information. Despite being one of the more affordable chargers in the market, it is capable of power-sharing with other Pulsar chargers connected to the same Wifi network.
One nifty feature of the Pulsar Plus charger is that its output is adjustable from the app itself. You can program it to go as low as 16A when charging a friend’s plug-in car, or to the maximum 40A, as needed. Most electric cars sold these days can communicate with the charger to adjust the current, but the Pulsar Plus also allows you to charge older cars that didn’t come with this feature.
You get the peace of mind of a 3-year warranty with the Pulsar Plus charger. In fact, you don’t actually need a Wifi connection to operate the charger at all. It can even work with Bluetooth, although the device may still need to download its own updates via Wifi. Whether you use Wifi or Bluetooth, the Pulsar Plus offers good connectivity.
And those are the two major advantages of this electric car charger — versatile connectivity and good-looking design. The fact that this is one of the least expensive chargers in the market makes the deal even sweeter.
Pulsar Plus Vs Juicebox Buying Guide
Let’s Compare the Two
The Pulsar Plus and Juicebox 40 are closely matched in price, but there is a slight difference in their features list. As an electric car buyer, you might consider these chargers as a long-term investment. In some instances, you might be eligible for US Federal tax credits worth 30% of the cost of the charger. This, along with their low starting price, makes the Pulsar Plus and Juicebox 40 EV chargers ideal for those looking to save money.
On one hand, the Juicebox 40 is a no-nonsense choice with its simple-to-use Enel X smartphone application. It has all the features that you’d expect — tariff-based charging scheduling, Wi-Fi-based status updates, and power-sharing with other chargers on the network.
The Pulsar Plus also packs in all these features, but in a lower-profile package that is likely to look great while mounted on your wall. It offers one additional way to connect your phone, via Bluetooth, although most users are more likely to connect the device to their home Wifi and set a charging schedule instead. This charger also has a separate charging cord cradle that needs to be mounted separately. Buy this charger if you don’t expect to change your parking spot anytime soon.
Here lies the advantage of the Juicebox — its single-unit construction. The connector and cradle are part of the same assembly that allows you to lock them up with a key when not in use. This is a helpful feature for the majority of buyers, who live in crowded cities and apartment complexes. In addition, the quick-release mount allows for simple disassembly when moving houses.
Both Juicebox 40 and Pulsar Plus Level 2 chargers are great chargers for both entry-level new EV buyers, as well as used EV owners. They offer a substantial 40A of peak output and can charge most EVs in the market at their respective maximum-rated wattages. The latest and priciest electric sedans and SUVs do pose a challenge for these chargers. The emergence of 50A and better chargers could make these chargers feel sluggish in the coming years, but for now, they each make for a cost-effective home charger.
FAQs (Reader and Pro Tips)
What is the fastest EV home Charger?
The Blink IQ 200 chargers. These are Level 2 AC charging stations producing 80 amps of output, or 65 miles of charge in an hour.
Can I install a Level 3 charger at home?
No. DC Fast chargers are for commercial applications and not available for home installation. They are very expensive and need specialized and powerful electrical equipment.