There are many options for a home EV charging station that is available within a wide range of purchase prices. Some level 2 chargers at a higher price point include wifi accessibility, though this is not needed for the performance of your electric car. Knowing this information, I asked myself: what is the best budget-friendly electric vehicle charging station?
The least expensive does not mean that it is the most budget-friendly home EV charging station. With that in mind, the features included in these level 2 EV charger are the minimum required to charge your electric vehicle. Portable level 2 chargers are not included in this comparison as they are not intended to be permanent home EV chargers.
Now you might be asking yourself, how do you tell what the best EV charger is for the least amount of money. You can look at the main aspects of an EV charger: aesthetics, charging, safety, and lifetime duration, while filtering out higher priced feature-rich charging stations.
After doing some investigation of home EV chargers, I have narrowed it down to a few: the EVoCharge EVoInnovate, Eluminocity, and the Juice Box Pro 40. Each of these chargers is the lowest price in their category and also offer the fewest features.
This doesn’t mean that all features are stripped away, you might be surprised to find out that most basic charging features are required to meet the J1772 standard. Be careful not to go for the bottom of the barrel priced charger as they should be certified with UL for safety reasons, which all of these are.
EVO Charge EVoInnovate
The first thing you will notice with the EVO Charge EV charging station is the sleek design of the charger base. After looking at all of the other EV chargers on the market, including higher end models, this one has the nicest looking design in my opinion. This charger is a small form factor, in fact, it is smaller than a letter-sized piece of paper. Size and appearance isn’t everything but it’s a good start.
It might surprise you with the look of this charger that it is one of the least expensive level 2 home charging stations. There are a couple of factors that affect the cost of a charger including cable length and how they are connected. Typically a hardwired only charger will be less expensive since there isn’t a need to include a plug with the charger. This charger; however, does include a NEMA 6-50 plug which can be easily removed if you choose to hardwire it once you get it installed.
The cable length is 18 feet which are the minimum that any EV charger will come with. This may or not be an issue for you depending on the location of the 240V receptacle and where your electric car charging port is located.
With this charging station, you get 7.68 kW of the maximum charging power with a 32 amp supply. This is the default setting on the unit but it can be changed to a 24 amp or 16 amp output setting. Note that the 32 amp setting will require a minimum of a 40 amp breaker while the 24A and 16A will require a 30A and 20A circuit breaker respectfully.
The most reported issue is the use of the wrong amperage setting for their circuit. If you connect this charging station to a 240V and 30A circuit, it will trip the circuit breaker since the default setting is 32A output current. Switching it to 24A is a quick change and will end up supplying 5.76 kW of charging power.
The actual charging is straightforward: plug it into your electric car and it will charge as required. When not in use the charging cord can be plugged into the supplied holster and the excess cord can be wrapped around the holder. The holster is a separate piece that will need to be mounted where you require it. It seems like a no-brainer to have cable management either supplied or integrated into the charging station, though there are some that only include this in higher priced units.
The manufacturer, EVoCharge, does have a cable reel called EVoReel for cable management. This also adds an extra 30 feet of cable use. There are some EV owners that mount the EV charging station hidden away in the garage ceiling along with the cable reel, leaving only the adjusted stop and charging plug exposed and dangling from the ceiling. It’s a clean way to set up your garage for EV charging.
The EVoCharge EVoInnovate EVSE can be mounted indoor or outdoor due to the NEMA 4 weather rating, which means it is dust and waterproof against the elements. On the front face of the charging station, there is an LED light to provide the charging status. The most common colors that will show up are solid green for power to charging station, flashing green for plugging into an EV and waiting for charging to begin, and a slow flashing blue to indicate charging is in progress. The other possible colors are red and yellow both of which can be solid or be flashing and indicates a fault that will need to be looked into.
Though the flashing red indicates that there was a recoverable fault, it is most likely caused by a power outage, which will auto restart the charging process once the power is restored and the charging station reboots.
The flashing yellow light indicates that the firmware is being updated or is in the process of booting. So this is not really an issue with the charging station and you will only need to wait for updates or booting.
There is a 3-year product limited warrant for the EVoCharge EVSE. This does not require routine maintenance, though it should be checked for cracks in the housing and cable. They clearly state that only licensed electricians can repair and maintain these chargers, to the extent that they state that it is forbidden for general users to repair or maintain the unit. It doesn’t say what happens if you violate this declaration; however, in my opinion, it would void the warranty and is not worth the risk.
Whether you or an electrician are installing this EVSE, make sure you pay attention to the adjusting current output section in the users/installation manual. Like I mentioned earlier, the default current output setting is 32 amps, which can be adjusted to either 24A or 16A depending on your circuit arrangement. Be sure to double or triple check the DIP switch setting, this is what is used to change the current output amperage. This is one of the most confusing parts of installing or configuring this EV charger. Having the incorrect setting can overload your circuit and trip the breaker and leave you wondering what is wrong with the charger.
The tamper-proof EV charging station case is a futuristic styled white and black enclosure. It has a clean look to it that is minimalist and tasteful. In fact, it reminds me of stormtrooper armor with its shiny white and black contrasts.
This charging station has a fairly small form factor, being just over a sheet of paper in size. Unfortunately, there is no provision for cable management, and this is one of the options that is removed for a less expensive version. The charging station is shown with the cable wrapped around the unit when not in use, which is not ideal. This can be remedied by using a separate holster or holster with a holder, which can be mounted to the wall near the charging station.
To keep the cost low on this EV charging station this model is offered as a hardwired model only. This typically reduces the cost of the unit by around $50 when compared to a plug-in model.
This charger includes an 18-foot cable which is the standard minimum length. This puts more importance on planning out the location of the EV charging station. You will have to pay attention to the location of the electric vehicle charging point in relation to the garage. There shouldn’t be any issue reaching an EV charging port from the side of the garage wall.
This EV charger packs a punch with the maximum output at 7.68 kW of power. The circuit breaker needs to be at a minimum of 40A for this 240V charger to provide the maximum output power.
Using the charging portion of the charging station is simple. Plug it into your electric car and it will charge as required. When not in use the charging cord can be looped around the charger enclosure and left hanging there until you need to use it. Otherwise, you will need to a holster to keep the excess cord from becoming a tripping hazard, since the plug will most likely be hung over the enclosure with the charging cable laying on the floor.
This level 2 charging station has type 3R ingress protection. This means that it can be used indoor and outdoor though is better suited for indoor use. The 3R rating means that it provides protection against falling dirt and water ingress, not windblown dust. This can be used outdoors if the charging station is protected from blown dust. This is still a good rating as it will remain undamaged from a build-up of ice on the enclosure and provide protection against water ingress from rain, sleet, and snow.
The charging station uses Torx screws to help prevent unauthorized entry. This EV charging station is listed with a tamper-proof rating of IK08 which means that the enclosure will resist 3.7 pounds of forced dropped from 11.8 inches from the enclosure surface.
On the front of the charger, there are three separate lights to indicate the status. These are ready, charge, and fault. When the EV charger has power to the unit the green light will show, and the charge green light will turn on when plugged into your electric car and charging is underway. The red fault light will illuminate when there is something when with the power supply such as an overcurrent, a short, voltage fluctuations, and if charger maximum temperature is reached. There is also a charger on/off and a stop charging button on the charger.
The Eluminocity grid charge has a 3-year warranty for the unit. This warranty can cover the complete replacement of the EV charging station if there is a defect of the workmanship or materials, free of charge, as long as it is reported within the 3 year warranty period. If Eluminocity determines it is a repairable issue then they will cover the cost of repair.
If there is an issue with the charging station make sure to provide a brief description to Eluminocity as soon as you notice it. The warranty is transferable to another person as long as the charger is still at the originally installed property. If you end up moving within the 3 years of installation, you might as well include it in the sale of the house since the warranty will not be valid at the new place.
Juice Box Pro 40
The Juice Box Pro 40 has a black powder coated aluminum enclosure. The enclosure is a simple rectangular design like a juice box, plus it provides your EV with “juice”, clever. This is a small form factor which is under the size of a letter-sized piece of paper.
The Juice Box Pro 40 is the most expensive EV charging station on this list but it does offer the most. There are some features that are on this level 2 charger that the others do not have like JuiceNet charging features for smart charging and voice control that work with Alexa and Google Home. These are nice to have but are not essential to an EV charger.
The Pro 40 charger is supplied as a hardwired. There is, however, a Pro 40 plug-in version though it is more expensive that has a NEMA 14-50 plug, which is known as the standard dryer plug in North America or an RV plug. One of the reasons for using the plug-in is for portability since the Juice Box includes a mounting bracket that allows quick removal. It can be unmounted from the supplied bracket and stored in the electric car on your adventures as a portable charger.
The cable length is 25 feet long which is a standard length for all Juice Box EV charging stations and the Pro 40 is no different. Having a longer charging cord than these other EV chargers might seem like a small issue but if your garage layout forces you to mount the charging station in front of the vehicle, then it turns into a big deal.
The Pro 40 EV charging station has a maximum output power of 10kW with 40A supply. Of these three chargers, this one has the highest output power potential. The Pro 40 model is equipped with a wifi connection for use with the JuiceNet app. This is really where the Juice Box chargers set themselves apart from other chargers on the market. Using the app, the output power can be derated to suit your electric circuit. Plugging the charger into your electric vehicle is a simple act just like the other chargers.
There are a lot of features included with the Pro 40 charging station has that the other chargers do not. You can start and stop charging through your smartphone, track the charging history and all the features of the JuiceNet app. One of these features is the ability to schedule a charge for optimal use of charging times in relation to electricity rates, which they call the clean charging JuiceNet Green option.
The aluminum enclosure of the Juice Box Pro 40 is protected from the weather with a NEMA rating of 4X. This means that it is able to be used indoors and outdoors. The plug holder and cable hook are also included with the charging station and will need to be mounted separately whether it is to the garage wall or a pedestal outside.
On the front of the Juice Box enclosure are three lights: power, network, and charging, which are green, blue and orange respectively. In short, any solid color and a flashing light for network and charging are all normal without cause for concern. The network light will flash during setup and search for a network, and it keeps only one network ID credentials in memory. The charging light will flash when you have a delayed charging in progress which will only be visible if you are using the upgraded software, otherwise, you won’t see this flash.
If you see the power light go out it can either indicate that there is no power supplied or that there is an error. The power light flash means there is an issue that needs to be looked up in the troubleshooting guide provided by emotorwerks, the manufacturer of the Juice Box.
There is a 3-year warranty for the Juice Box EV charging station. There are no user maintainable components inside the EV charger. One of the conditions of the warranty is that the charger enclosure should not be opened. Since the maximum output current can be adjusted using the app there is no need to gain access to the enclosure.
The enclosure, cable, and handle are waterproof so these can be cleaned with your preferred household cleaner.
In the end, any of these three level 2 charging stations would be a great addition to your home. It is up to you to decide which features are deal breakers and which ones are most important.
Looking at the main aspects like aesthetics, cost, charging, safety, and lifetime there are a lot of similarities. For some people, the look of the charger is a big deal, while others prefer to focus on a charger that can be located outside or both.
All of these EV charging stations have great safety features with clean warning lights. Though the Eluminocity GridCharge does not include a plug holster, cable holder is a good addition for a minimum cost.
For lifetime value all the chargers provide a 3-year warranty and provide protection from the elements. Both the Eluminocity GridCharge and EVoCharge EVoInnovate are level 2 chargers that provide the current industry standard. These will charge all-electric cars overnight, though in the future the battery capacity of electric cars could increase. There is no telling when this will happen, but likely in 3-year intervals. The Juice Box Pro 40 provides higher than the standard level 2 charging power to keep charging times low for right now and to keep its value in the future.
This is one of the reasons that the best home EV charging station for your money is the Juice Box Pro 40. When you look at the comparable charging options of the Eluminocity and EVoCharge they provide the essential requirements for a fully operational level 2 EV charging station. I like that you have access to smart charging option with the Juice Box Pro 40 like using the JuiceNet, similar to the Tesla Powerwall charging station.
The Juice Box is not the least expensive home EV level 2 charger, but it does provide the biggest bang for your buck.
|EVoCharge EVoInnovate||Eluminocity||Juice Box Pro 40|
|Charging Voltage||240 volts||240 volts||240 volts|
|Maximum Output Current||32 amps||30 amps||40 amps|
|Maximum Power||7.68 kW||7.2 kW||10 kW|
|Optional Output Currents||24 and 16 amps||n/a||30 amps adjustable thru mobile app|
|Type of Plug||NEMA 6-50||n/a||n/a|
|EV Connection||SAE J1772||SAE J1772||SAE J1772|
|Enclosure Size||11” X 7 ½” X 3”||12 ½” x 10” x 4 ½”||10” x 6” x 3 ½”|
|Enclosure Material||Plastic Tamper Resistant||Plastic Vandal Proof Casing||Powder Coated Aluminum|
|Weather Rating||NEMA 4
(Indoor / Outdoor)
(Indoor / Outdoor)
(Indoor / Outdoor)
|Operating Temperature Range||-22°F to 122°F (-30°C to 50°C)||-22°F to 122°F (-30°C to 50°C)||-22°F to 122°F (-30°C to 50°C)|
|Warranty||3 years||3 years||3 years|
|Cable Length||18 feet||18 feet||24 feet|
|Cable Management||Yes, connector and cable holder||No||Yes, connector and cable holder|
|Charging Features||Standard level 2 charging||Standard level 2 charging||Wifi and smartphone enabled for smart charging, and voice activated with Alexa or Google Home|