Best Home EV Chargers for 2023, Tested - Car and Driver

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To make the most of EV ownership, you need high-voltage charging equipment at home. Here's everything you need to know to get started. Ev Charger Wall Mount

Best Home EV Chargers for 2023, Tested - Car and Driver

This article was updated in July 2023 with new products and information. We plan to update this article regularly as needed.

Okay, so you bought your first electric vehicle. Now what? There are a number of ways in which EV ownership will be different from having a vehicle with an internal-combustion engine, but a big one you need to figure out immediately is charging.

Trust us, you'll want to be charging at home as much as possible. This has two significant benefits: Charging can be accomplished when the vehicle is otherwise parked, and home charging is substantially cheaper (roughly one-third the cost) of DC fast-charging.

There are three major factors to consider when considering a home EV charger: the output of the household circuit you're connecting to, the output of the EV charging equipment, and the rate of charging that your vehicle can handle.

We've gathered seven charging options to connect your house to your electric car that range in price from $300 to $700, all of which are compatible with any new EV on sale today. The more expensive ones tend to have Wi-Fi connectivity, which lets you monitor charging, receive alerts, and control the unit via an app. Many of these products have variants (hard-wired or plug, different output capabilities, and varying cord lengths) with slightly different prices.

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ChargePoint is one of the largest providers of public charging, with thousands of units nationwide. Its Home Flex unit tested here integrates into the same app used to connect to the company's public units. You can add your vehicle in the app, which tailors the percentage of the battery replenished and number of EPA miles added to your specific vehicle. We found the app to be very user-friendly, with the best displays for charge-rate graphs, and it also shows the total charge time and total energy output during each charge. Furthermore, it offers the ability to schedule charging times to take advantage of variable-cost electricity during off-peak hours (most EVs also allow this to be configured in their settings menu).

The ChargePoint app has the most nuanced cost tracking, allowing us to select from among dozens of possible rate plans from our local utility to pinpoint the actual cost of charging down to the penny, even when on a variable rate. We also appreciate the simplicity of the built-in notch at the top of the unit to wrap the cord around and that the plug latches onto its dock in the center; many other units require mounting a second cord-management device.

Emporia offers a vast library of electricity-monitoring devices, from typical smart outlets to a system that tracks every circuit in your fuse panel. This entire electricity-tracking universe is integrated into Emporia's app, including the ability to link your EV to the app through the Smartcar API. But if you're just using the EV charging equipment, navigating around all of these unused areas makes the app seem overly complex.

Otherwise, this is an impressive Wi-Fi-connected entry at a price hundreds of dollars less than the JuiceBox or ChargePoint. The 11.5-kW-output capability is at the high end of this roundup. And short of a couple of features, such as using a specific vehicle to estimate the miles or battery percentage gained, the Emporia has just about everything, including detailed electricity pricing using your actual utility plan like the ChargePoint.

Even if you don't own a Tesla, the company's Wall Connector is a good option. In addition to Tesla's NACS plug, the brand now offers its home charging unit with the round J1772 plug most other EVs currently use. This new feature is somewhat ironic in light of a number of automakers recently announcing they will be adopting Tesla's NACS plug type by 2025. But even with the Tesla plug, connecting to a non-Tesla EV simply requires an adapter (such as this one from Lectron).

This third-generation Tesla charging unit has Wi-Fi capability, which allows for firmware updates but doesn't include any ability to control or monitor charging. But if you have a Tesla, any of that data and adjustability is available from the vehicle using a third-party application such as TeslaFi.

Although the lack of electricity tracking is probably the biggest drawback, Tesla's home-charging unit has a few advanced features that none of the other units have. For instance, it can network multiple units together to share a single circuit where the combined output will never exceed a set threshold. Also, with the Tesla plug unit, you can choose to allow specific Tesla vehicles to charge while blocking others.

The setup process for the Wall Connector is easy; you simply scan the QR code on the side of the unit to connect to Wi-Fi and then set the output limit through a web-based interface. Surprisingly, although the Wall Connector is capable of nearly the highest output of our group (48 amps or 11.5 kilowatts), it has the thinnest, most flexible cables. We also find the Wall Connector's sleek shape and glasslike clear top layer the most visually appealing.

When we first tested these charging units in 2022, we liked the JuiceBox best. Since then, the company redesigned its app, so we gave it another go. We were surprised to find the app to be less intuitive to use. Certain features, such as showing the charge curves for past charges, are gone, and this app annoyingly logged us out far more frequently than the others. Nevertheless, the JuiceBox is still one of the most feature-rich Wi-Fi-enabled Level 2 chargers.

One small advantage for the JuiceBox is that it is offered in a number of output levels, and if your household circuit can’t take full advantage of the maximum, choosing a lesser variant can lower the price. In addition to the 40-amp version we tested, there's a 48-amp version that's at the high end of this group and a 32-amp version that costs slightly less (since we were using a 40-amp circuit, we couldn't take advantage of the JuiceBox 40's full output anyway).

Like the ChargePoint unit, the JuiceBox provides energy output and charge time for each charging session, various adjustable notifications, and the ability to set up customized charge times to take advantage of differing electricity pricing. But it can't match ChargePoint's nuanced utility pricing information or the Emporia’s low price.

This Lectron is one of the cheapest options, so it's not surprising that there's no wall mount, but a simple hose reel or hook mounted to the wall could take care of that. Even though the Lectron isn't a "smart" unit with Wi-Fi capability, it has a small LCD screen that displays voltage, amperage, charge time, energy (kWh), and temperature.

This unit came with no instructions, but with only two buttons, it wasn't too hard to figure out that holding down the "+" was how to set the limit on current, which can be adjusted among 10, 13, 16, or 32 amps of output to match your wall circuit. When you plug in, charge time starts over, but the kilowatt-hour readout doesn't, so if you want to monitor individual charges to track your car's efficiency, you have to unplug and replug before every charge. If you want to track your charging fastidiously, one of the Wi-Fi-connected units is probably a better choice, and the Emporia doesn't even cost much more.

The promise of the Grizzl-E Smart is that it can theoretically pair with any EV charging app that uses the OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) 1.6 and it's one of the cheapest smart units. Unfortunately, it took months to get ours to connect. Initially, Grizzl-E said its unit could work with either AmpUp or ChargeLab apps, but now it's only the latter. It appears that Grizzl-E has streamlined the connection process considerably since we first tried using this unit, and we were eventually able to get a firmware update and connect it to the ChargeLab app.

Grizzl-E touts the ruggedness of its beefy aluminum enclosure, with videos on its website showing a small off-road vehicle running over it (which seems completely unnecessary for a thing that's mounted on a wall in or outside your garage). It also had the thickest cables, which were consequently the most resistant to hanging up after charging. A wall mount for the cable is included.

Like the other units, this one can adjust among various output levels, but that's most difficult to accomplish in the Grizzl-E. Rather than change it via the app, you have to take off the front cover and toggle DIP switches. The unit can, however, be preordered to a specific setting to save that hassle. The cover also must be removed to reset the Wi-Fi connection, which we did at least a half-dozen times when trying to get ours to connect.

As with our top-pick ChargePoint unit, this Electrify America home charging station integrates with the same app used for the company's public fast-chargers (most EV owners likely already have it on their phone). Setup is easy—the app offers the ability to scan the unit's barcode to add it to your account and connect it to Wi-Fi. But the short cable that plugs into the house's outlet limits mounting options. And we're not sure why this unit is so large, but it's far bulkier than the others and still doesn't include any cord management, which is handled by a separate holster that is included and mounts to the wall. Despite that the Italian design house Italdesign is credited on the enclosure for the design, we don't think it's nearly as sleek as the Tesla Wall Connector.

After successfully tracking the first charge, our unit stopped communicating with the app, despite still indicating it was connected. After trying every possible reset, we spent a half-hour with the support line doing the same, none of which fixed the issue. After we followed instructions to send a follow-up email with a screen grab from the app, we never heard back. But even the lone time it did work, we didn't like that it doesn't display a charging curve or indicate when charging stopped. That info comes in handy when trying to manage charge-time windows to potentially take advantage of variable electricity rates and make sure the car has enough time to charge before you plan to depart (e.g., after the car is plugged in overnight, you don’t know whether it was fully charged hours before your departure or minutes before you're leaving).

When putting together this story, I went down the same path a new EV owner would, starting with installing a dedicated 240-volt outlet in my garage. We have charging at the Car and Driver office, but I needed a proper setup at home to support all of the EVs we're reviewing these days. I was able to add a 40-amp circuit to the existing electric service in my house without a pricey upgrade to run additional capacity, so that's why I landed on a 40-amp outlet versus a 50-amp setup. To be able to easily switch among the units, we ordered the NEMA 14-50 plug-in variant of each charging device. (Note: Tesla doesn't sell a version of its Wall Connector with a plug, so to keep our test comparable, we wired one in ourselves to connect to our NEMA 14-50 outlet.)

In the first round of testing, we used each unit to charge our long-term Tesla Model 3 numerous times over a period of months. We then compared the electricity output from the wall to what the Model 3 reported made it into its battery pack using the third-party (and very cool) TeslaFi software. Recently, we tested a few new units along with our favorites from before using our long-term Rivian R1T, verifying the energy delivered to the vehicle an inline electrical meter. Despite varying cord lengths and thicknesses, there was no measurable difference in performance or efficiency (which averaged roughly 5 to 8 percent charging losses).

Charging capability is categorized into three tiers. Level 1 and Level 2 use 120-volt and 240-volt AC electricity, respectively, which is what your house is wired for. Level 3, also called DC fast-charging, is high-voltage (400 to 800 volts) DC charging that takes place at a dedicated public EV charger and charges far faster. DC fast-chargers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to install, so it's not something you'd put in at home.

Home-charging equipment is analogous to a USB cable to charge your phone. It connects the electricity in your house to your car, and in that way they're all similar. The main differences are their output capability—typically expressed in either amps (e.g., 32, 40, 48 amps) or power (e.g., 7.7, 9.6, 11.5 kW), which equates to charging speed—and whether they are Wi-Fi connected, which typically allows charging to be monitored and controlled remotely via a phone app.

The charging "Levels" generally refer to charging speed. Level 1 is extremely slow (think multiple days for a full charge), Level 2 is adequate for at-home use (an EV can charge overnight), and Level 3 is the fastest (a half-hour top-up might add 80 percent charge). Technically, the difference is the voltage at which energy is input into an EV. Level 1 means 120 volts, like a typical household outlet, with a typical charging rate of 1.4 kilowatts. Level 2 is 240 volts (like an electric dryer) and, depending on the amperage of the circuit, can range between 5.8 and 19.2 kW. Level 3, DC fast-charging, typically operates at 400 or 800 volts, and the rates can be as high as 350 kW.

Yes. The sweeping Inflation Reduction Act reinstated a federal tax credit of 30 percent of your total costs (capped at $1000). That includes money spent on electrical upgrades and wiring to your house, in addition to the charging unit itself. This credit is currently set to be in place through 2032. In addition, there are often additional state or regional incentives, so make sure to check what's available in your area.

Not necessarily. While you do need a device to connect the electricity from your house to your vehicle, you may be able to get by with the portable charging equipment that came with your vehicle. In some cases, the car either comes with or the automaker sells accessory adapters that allow the portable unit to plug into a 240-volt circuit and provide perfectly acceptable charging speeds, as long as you don't mind leaving it behind in your garage (or regularly loading it in and out of your car).

Although several automakers have announced a switch from a J1772 connector to Tesla's North America Charging Standard (NACS) design in the 2025 time frame, whether you buy a J1772 or NACS unit today doesn't limit its future compatibility. There are adapters to go from NACS to J1772 or vice versa, and with the mixed ports both on the vehicles and the public-charging infrastructure, EV owners will need to get used to keeping adapters in their vehicles to be prepared for whichever plug type they encounter.

Generally, yes. Each charging unit we tested has an outdoor-grade rating according to either the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) or Ingress Protection (IP) standards. A NEMA 3R rating, like the ChargePoint and Tesla Wall Connector have, is intended for outdoor use, but does not mean water tight; under certain circumstances moisture could potentially enter the enclosure. The NEMA 4X rating of the JuiceBox 40 and Grizzl-E is superior. The IP ratings are two digits, the first representing the unit's resistance to solids (in this case dust) and the second number representing water protection. An IP66 rating means the unit is intended for outdoor use, with complete protection from dust or high-pressure water. But an IP67 goes one step further and can be immersed in water up to three feet deep.

Another thing to keep in mind with charging equipment mounted outside is that the electrical feed line to that location must also be in an outdoor-rated enclosure and, if you’re using a plug-type unit like we tested, that the outlet's enclosure must also be rated for outdoor use.

A good middle ground is a 40- or 50-amp circuit, which will be able to charge most EVs overnight. EV charging equipment can either connect via a plug or be hardwired into your home's electricity. We suggest going with a NEMA 14-50 outlet; that way the charging equipment simply plugs into an outlet, similar to any other household device. If you move, you can unplug your pricey EV charging equipment and take it with you, or you can easily switch to another unit in the future. Plus, when you're not charging, that outlet could also be used for other 240-volt needs, such as an electric heater or a welder.

A dedicated electrical line must be run from your breaker box to the garage or exterior location where you want to install the charging equipment. Qmerit is a company that specializes in these installs and has a nationwide network of electrical contractors to do the work. If your house has enough spare electrical capacity, you may be able to simply run a new line, which might cost a few hundred dollars. If not, more capacity needs to be added to your house, and that might raise the total to a couple of thousand dollars.

Although many people refer to the products reviewed here as "chargers," technically they are electric-vehicle supply equipment, or EVSE. The vehicle's onboard charger is a device that converts the AC electricity from your house to DC energy to be stored in the battery, and it determines the fastest Level 2 charging rate your vehicle can handle. No matter how much electrical output you have at your house, you can't exceed the charge rate limited by the onboard charger.

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Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in varied roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leading Car and Driver's vehicle-testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start at C/D by happening to submit an unsolicited resume at just the right time to land a part-time road warrior job when he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became enthralled with the world of automotive journalism.

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