If you’re contemplating switching to an electric vehicle (EV), your top concern is most likely the cost, method, and equipment required for charging. Even as the network of public chargers expands, most EV buyers charge their vehicles at home, with public chargers being reserved for emergencies and road trips. A wall charger is the ideal home-charging device. It connects to your household electric circuit and provides an app-based interface to manage the electricity that’s going into your electric car or SUV.
You might end up using your wall charger more frequently because of two concerns: it’s less costly and can help your car battery last longer. A healthier battery gets more predictable range figures. But with the cost of charging, it depends on your local rate of electricity and the purchase and maintenance cost of your wall charger.
Invariably, charging at home works out to be less expensive in the long run, but it takes more time. Unlike a public charger where you plug in and wait for an hour or more, charging at home involves plugging in the car when you arrive and forgetting about it until the next time you have to leave the house.
Today, we’ll compare two chargers: the Tesla Wall Charger and the Chargepoint Home Flex wall charger. Both have attracted rave reviews over the years, but this comparison review will tell you if it’s worth taking the plunge and buying a Tesla, or if you can go for a more interesting or affordable EV from the ever-expanding potpourri that’s the US EV market.
Product Review: Chargepoint Home Flex EV Charger
First, let’s examine the Chargepoint Home Flex EV Charger: a Level 2 charger with variable charging rates that can charge any L2-compatible EV on sale in America. This device can provide alternating current at up to 50A, over three times higher amperage than your most powerful household socket.
If you own a car that can take up to 50A of current, you’ll have to get a hard-wired installation that may require upgrades to your electrical circuit. You might even need your landlord’s permission, and Chargepoint has a handy letter that you can print out or email to them.
But if you don’t need the 50A, you don’t have to get a hard-wired connection–a 240-volt plug will do. Set the output at the maximum that your electricity panel allows (ask your electrician). The lower the amperage, the longer it’ll take for you to charge the car. For reference, a 32A output can give you approximately 25 or more miles of additional range per hour, while a 40A charger can up the range by 30 miles per hour. These are just ballpark figures, and the real range increments you’ll get will depend on the capacity and charging level of your car’s battery.
You can find out this ballpark range per hour for specific amperages using a simple utility on Chargepoint’s website. That’s just for reference — the real-time charging duration is displayed on the Chargepoint app available for smartphones. The app helps you track the car’s battery status, schedule charging times, set charging amps, and set reminders to plug in your car. We would recommend the app for another reason: it is compatible with Amazon Alexa smart home, so you can charge your car with voice commands (as long as the car’s plugged in).
Chargepoint offers a 3-year warranty on the Home Flex charger. With an Energy Star certificate under its belt, it complies with the top industry standards for efficiency. You get a 23-foot long charging cable as standard.
If you buy a Chargepoint Home Flex charger, you’ll get 30% off the purchase cost from the US federal tax credit. It also covers installation costs, and the benefits can add up to a maximum of $1,000.
Product Review: Tesla Wall Charger
The Tesla Wall Charger is a pioneering home charging solution that is now in its third generation. It’s a Level 2 charger that puts out a maximum of 11.5kW and 48A of alternating current. Compatible with all models of Tesla cars, the Gen-3 AC charger is capable of intelligent power-sharing with other Tesla chargers connected on the same circuit.
As an individual Tesla buyer, you’ll probably need just one charger at a particular location, and you can instal it indoors or outdoors. As standard, you get an 8.5-foot cable, but you can order it with an 18-foot cable at no additional cost. Tesla will then ship you the full kit that you can get installed from a qualified and trusted electrician. A detailed installation guide and videos are available on Tesla’s website.
Tesla claims that at the maximum output of 48A, you’ll get range increments of around 44 miles per hour of charging. Keep in mind that to use the charger at maximum voltage, you might need to get a hard-wired installation. If you have a Standard Range Tesla Model 3, a 40-amp circuit breaker is all you’ll need, since it charges at 7.7kW and 32A. All other models will require a 60-amp circuit breaker.
The Wall Charger can be connected to your local WiFi network that allows it to download system updates automatically. The Gen-3 charger can host its own WiFi network to connect with other wall chargers in the vicinity.
Charging speeds vary by the car’s battery size and system voltage. This handy table on Tesla’s website lists the approximate charging speeds for each Tesla model by circuit breaker amperage. For example, a Tesla Model S charges at 23 miles per hour when the Tesla Wall Charger is configured for 32A and 7.7kW. When the Wall charger is running at its full capability, at 11.5kW and 48A, while plugged into a 60A circuit breaker, the same car charges at 34 miles per hour.
Chargepoint Vs Juicebox Buying Guide
Let’s Compare the Two
Although they have similar specifications, the Chargepoint Home Flex and Tesla Wall Charger offer distinct user experiences. For one, the apps themselves are different — the Tesla Wall Charger is controlled by the same app as the car. Chargepoint has its own app that you’ll have to download in addition to the app that controls other features in your car.
Can you charge a non-Tesla EV with a Tesla Wall Charger? Of course, you can! Most modern EVs offer Type 2 ports, so you don’t need an adapter to charge a different brand’s electric or plug-in hybrid car from a Tesla charger. However, a non-Tesla EV or plug-in hybrid might not charge at the maximum-rated 48A, even if it can take a high charging voltage. Any Tesla EV, on the other hand, whether it’s the Model S, Y, 3, or X, will charge at the maximum 11.5kW and 48A. The exception is the Standard Range base model of the Model 3 that can take a maximum of 7.7kW at 32A.
On the other hand, a Chargepoint Home Flex charger can charge at a similar wattage but slightly higher amperage than the Tesla charger. The claimed charging speed is 37 miles of range per hour which is still higher than the 34 miles per hour that Tesla claims for a Model S being plugged into a Tesla Wall Charger.
Chargepoint’s Alexa compatibility isn’t likely to polarize buyers, but it’s an added advantage nonetheless. We reckon most EV buyers wouldn’t bother with voice commands or a schedule, since any modern EV can just stay plugged in to a wall charger without getting overcharged.
If you have or are planning to buy just one electric car, the Tesla Wall Charger makes the most sense when that car is a Tesla. It provides the optimum charging power and amperage and can take advantage of flexible electricity tariffs.
The Chargepoint Home Flex is a pricier option, but it works well if you want to charge any number of non-Tesla EVs. It offers good charging speeds even with Tesla EVs and allows similar scheduling features on the app. The subscription also gives you access to Chargepoint’s wide network of public chargers.
What if you have a Tesla and a non-Tesla EV in your garage? You’ll likely get decent charging speeds with either of the cars. But if you use the non-Tesla car more often, or if it can take the higher charging current, the Chargepoint charger could be the better option.
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