If you are considering buying an electric car, you should know that the easiest way is to charge it at home. About 70 to 80 percent of EV drivers charge their car where they sleep, so they can refuel overnight instead of waiting at a public charging station. As more EVs hit the market, there are more options for a level 2 home charger (a device that requires a 40-amp circuit) than ever before. Many of them contain a lot of bells and whistles. Do you need them? Are you going to use them?
It depends on what kind of experience you want. If you’re looking for a “set it and forget it” deal, there are some good options. If you want to manage just about every aspect of the charging experience, you’re in luck too. Here’s a guide to what to look for when shopping for a Level 2 home charger, and our picks for the best ones to buy.
What should you look for when buying a Level 2 charger?
Before purchasing a Level 2 charger, ensure that you can install it in a location where the cable can reach the charging port of your electric vehicle. A longer cable gives you more flexibility when placing the charger. Most chargers come with an 18 ft cord, but some can extend into the mid-20s.
Smart features will likely be more expensive, but there’s a price to pay for the convenience of a charger that can connect to your smartphone. It allows you to track your charging session, schedule charging periods and determine how much you spend each time you charge.
To protect your home’s electrical system, make sure the charger you buy has the certifications for safety and electrical soundness. A UL certification means your Level 2 charger meets OSHA and National Electrical Code standards. The EPA will also give chargers ENERGY STAR certification to meet specific efficiency standards.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) provides a rating scale for how well electrical equipment can protect itself from the elements. Most Level 2 chargers are on the border between NEMA 3 and 4 on the rating scale, providing varying degrees of protection against dust, dirt and light water. NEMA 4 and 4X rated chargers provide better protection against water ingress and corrosion of your charger from the inside, but it is not always 100 percent effective.
The best level 2 chargers to buy
Wallbox Pulsar Plus
The Wallbox Pulsar Plus Level 2 chargers 40 and 48 amps come with a lot of features that make them one of the best general options on the market. With a power sharing feature, multiple units can split the power between charging multiple EVs without overloading your home’s electrical system. You can also manage power, charging schedules and more remotely via the Wallbox app.
Juice box 40
Also available in 40 and 48 amp configurations, the Juicebox 40 can be tuned up to 6 amps. The smartphone app allows you to track stats such as energy usage and charging times and take advantage of cheaper rate windows from your utility. But it lacks the data to tell you how much you spend on charging.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, Grizzl-E may be the way to go. Depending on the option you choose, it is configurable to 16, 24, 32 and 40 amps maximum current output. It also provides protection against overheating, as well as self-healing and power failure recovery.
Charging point Home Flex
At the high end, EV charging giant Chargepoint offers a home option that it claims can fill your car on average 9 times faster than the rest of the field. The company’s app lets you set charging schedules, view your charging data, and integrate your Amazon Alexa device to start charging via voice commands.
Lectron Level 2 EV Charger
The Lectron 32-amp charger represents one of the higher quality options at a relatively bargain price. There’s no Wi-Fi connectivity (you’ll have to spend more for that luxury), but it comes with a screen that displays things like amperage, temperature and voltage. 32 amps is the maximum setting, which can be adjusted up to 10 amps.
How to install a level 2 charger
Many Level 2 chargers come with a NEMA 06-50 or 14-50 plug. The 14-50 plug is the type used for heavy equipment. So if you have one that isn’t used by a washer or dryer, you can install a Level 2 charger yourself by mounting it on the wall.
But if you have a high-amperage model, you’ll want to wire it up to your home’s electrical system so it can control output and manage itself so the circuit breaker doesn’t trip. That requires a certified electrician. Estimates vary based on amperage, your home’s installation, and location, but installation costs can run as high as about $1,000.
This is what you do when you own a Tesla
When you order a Tesla, the company will offers its Wall Connector, a Level 2 charger for $400. That doesn’t include installation costs, though. If you choose to take the aftermarket route, look for chargers that are either universally adaptable to Tesla’s own charging station, or you can purchase an adapter on top of that Level 2 charger.
For level 2 universal chargers, look at a: Lectron level 2 charger, as long as you have a 32 amp plug that can support the level 2 capabilities. Or you could look in the Charging point Home Flex charger, which requires an electrician to install.
Current Manufacturer Level 2 Charger Incentives
Chevy: Currently offering to pay the bill for the purchase and installation of a Level 2 charger if you buy or lease a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV or Bolt EUV.
Ford: Offers a Level 2 charger for its electric vehicles, either the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E or the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, but the customer pays the installation fee.
kia: Offers Chargepoint’s Home Flex Level 2 charger for free when pre-ordering a 2022 Kia EV6, but does not cover installation.
Mazda: includes a $500 credit with the purchase or lease of a 2022 Mazda MX-30 that can be used for public charging stations or the Home Flex Level 2 charger.