For those getting their first plug in car, the decision of which home charging station (EVSE) to purchase can be a daunting one. There are so many brands, options and power levels to choose from that the first-time buyer can easily become overwhelmed. The good news is that the EVSE market is beginning to mature and there are a few company brands (networks) that are emerging as industry leaders, offering high quality products at competitive prices.
One such company is ChargePoint. Although ChargePoint is more well known for their commercial charging products, they are quickly becoming one of the largest suppliers of home EVSEs as well. Let’s say, after doing some research, you’ve decided that you’re going to buy a ChargePoint Home EVSE. The next question is: “Which configuration is the right one for me?”
Hardwire vs. Plug In
The first decision to make is whether you want the EVSE to be hardwired (permanent installation attached to the wall) or do you want it to plug in (and thus be portable). That answer can be made for you if you plan to install the unit outdoors because the plug in version is not rated for outdoor use. Assuming you are installing it indoors, the reasons you may want the plug in version are as follows:
1) Relocation. If you’re planning on moving, you just unplug it and take it with you. There’s no need to call an electrician to disconnect it.
2) Ease of install. You simply need to have an electrician install a NEMA 6-20 or NEMA 6-50 outlet in the garage, depending on which home product you choose. You then simply hang the station on the wall and plug it in.
3) Portability. You can take it with you and use it at various locations, as long as there is the appropriate plug available. Some people who have summer or winter homes will install the outlet there, and take the plug-in EVSE with them when they visit. This saves the expense of having to buy two EVSEs
One thing to consider is although the price of the permanently-installed hardwired EVSE may be less than the cost of the pluggable unit, installation may cost more, so in many instances a pluggable unit can make sense.
The next consideration is the power level. ChargePoint offers 32 amp and 16 amp versions of the Home EVSE, with the former supplying double the power as the latter. The 32 amp unit can supply up to 7.7 kW to the vehicle and the 16 amp version can supply up to 3.8 kW. It’s important to know what power your car can accept, so you can match that with the EVSE you purchase. For instance, a Chevy Volt can only accept up to 3.6 kW yet a Chevy Bolt can take up to 7.2 kW. So make sure you know what your EV is capable of accepting before purchasing an EVSE.
It’s important to note that you won’t damage the car by using an EVSE that can supply more power than the car can accept. That’s because the car always dictates how much power it gets, not the EVSE. When you plug in your EV, there is a communication process where the EVSE tells the car how much power it can deliver, and then the car basically says to the EVSE, “OK, we’re compatible, I’ll take x-amount of kW.”
This communication process ensures the connection is safe, and that the car gets the right amount of power. Another thing to consider is even though your EV today may only be able to accept 3.6 kW, your next EV may accept more. For that reason, we urge consumers to consider an EVSE that accepts no less than 30 amps. This will help to future proof your garage. Of course, there are financial considerations and the higher-powered units do cost a little more. Another consideration may be that your home’s electrical supply cannot support a higher amperage unit. Some older homes have less available circuits in their service panel, and it’s possible they simply cannot add the 40 amp, dedicated circuit necessary for the ChargePoint Home 32 amp EVSE. Always have a licensed electrician inspect your electric service before purchasing an EVSE, just to be sure you have the extra unused electrical capacity to add whichever device you choose.
Once you’ve decided whether to buy a plug-in or hard-wired version, as well as what level of power you want, the final decision is the how long of a cable you need. The 16 amp versions only come bundled with a 12 foot cable, although you can special order a longer cable. However, the 32 amp units have the option of either the 18 foot cable or the 25 foot cable. The 25 foot cable adds $50.00 to the cost. When deciding which cable length to order, you need to know where the EVSE is going to be located, and then measure how far it is to the charging port of your car in any parking spot you may use. Don’t forget to consider the location of the charging port on your vehicle and the fact that future EVs may have the port at a different location. If the 18 foot cable cannot reach most places you may park than it may be advisable to consider getting the 25 foot cable. A 25 foot cable should be able to reach just about any corner of any garage if it is properly located.
All of ChargePoint’s products are high quality and UL listed. ChargePoint has been a leader in the electric vehicle charging industry since 2010 so whichever ChargePoint Home unit you choose, you can do so with the confidence that you’ve made a smart decision. Another benefit of choosing a ChargePoint Home EVSE is the fact that it is a “smart EVSE.” Unlike most of their competitors, all of ChargePoint’s EVSE’s are WiFi connected, allowing the owner to access the ChargePoint Network monitoring portal. This allows the user to see, in real time, the power that is being delivered to the vehicle, and it also stores the electric usage so you can monitor how much energy the car is using and how much it costs to charge based on your local electricity rates.
The graph below depicts the cost of the various configurations available for the ChargePoint Home EVSE
We’ve also set up a table where you can compare ChargePoint and other residential EV charging units here.