September 25, 2022

If you’re considering buying an electric vehicle, you should know that the most convenient way to charge it is at home. Roughly 70 to 80 percent of EV drivers charge their cars where they sleep, letting them fill up overnight instead of waiting at a public charging station. As more EVs hit the market, there are more options for a home Level 2 charger (a device that requires a 40-amp circuit to wire into) than ever before. Many of them include a lot of bells and whistles. Do you need them? Will you 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 decent options. If you want to manage just about every aspect of the charging experience, you’re also in luck. Here’s a guide on what to look for when shopping for a Level 2 home charger and our picks for the best ones you can buy.

What to Look For When Buying a Level 2 Charger

Cable Length

Before you buy a Level 2 charger, you’ll need to make sure that you can install it in a place where the cable can reach your electric vehicle’s charging port. A longer cable gives you more flexibility on where to place the charger. Most chargers come with a cord of 18 ft, but some can stretch into the mid ’20s.

Smart Capabilities

Smart features will probably be more expensive, but there’s a price to the convenience of having a charger that can connect to your smartphone. That allows you to monitor your charging session, schedule charging windows, and determine how much you spend each time you charge.

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Certified

To protect your home’s electrical system, you should ensure that the charger you’re buying has the certifications for safety and electrical soundness. A UL certification means that your Level 2 charger meets OSHA and National Electrical Code standards. The EPA will also give chargers ENERGY STAR certifications for meeting specific efficiency standards.

Outdoor Use

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 straddle the line between NEMA 3 and 4 on the rating scale, which gives them varying degrees of protection from dust, debris and light water. NEMA 4 and 4X-rated chargers provide better protection against water seeping in and corroding your charger from the inside out, but it’s not always 100 percent effective.

The Best Level 2 Chargers to Buy

Wallbox Pulsar Plus

The 40- and 48-amp Wallbox Pulsar Plus Level 2 chargers come with many features that make them one of the best overall options on the market. A power-sharing function lets multiple units split power between charging multiple EVs without overloading your home’s electrical system. You can also manage power output, charging schedules and more remotely though the Wallbox app.

Juicebox 40

Also available in 40- and 48-amp configurations, the Juicebox 40 can be adjusted down to 6 amps. The smartphone app allows you to keep track of stats like energy usage and charging times and take advantage of cheaper rate windows from your utility. But it does lack the data to tell you just how much you’re spending on charging.

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Grizzl-E

If you’re looking for a lower-maintenance option, Grizzl-E may be the way to go. Depending on the option you choose, it’s configurable to 16, 24, 32, and 40 amps of maximum current output. It also touts protections against overheating, as well as self-recovery and power outage recovery.

Chargepoint Home Flex

On the higher end, EV charging giant Chargepoint offers a home option that it claims can fill up your car at an average of 9 times faster than the rest of the field. With the company’s app, you can set charging schedules, see your charging data, and integrate your Amazon Alexa device to start charging by voice command.

Lectron Level 2 EV Charger

The Lectron 32-amp charger represents one of higher-quality options for a relative bargain price. There’s no Wi-Fi connectivity (you’ll have to shell out more cash for that luxury) but it comes with a display screen that displays things like amperage, temperature and voltage. 32 amps is the max setting, which can be adjusted down to 10 amps.

How to Get a Level 2 Charger Installed

Many Level 2 chargers will come with a NEMA 06-50 or 14-50 plug. The 14-50 plug is the type used for heavy appliances. So, if you have one that isn’t being taken up 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, then you’ll want to have it hardwired into your house’s electrical system so that it can regulate its output and self-manage so it doesn’t trip the circuit breaker. That will require a certified electrician. Estimates differ based on amperage, your home’s setup, and location, but the installation cost could run up to around $1,000.

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Here’s What You Do if You Have a Tesla

When you order a Tesla, the company offers its Wall Connector, a Level 2 charger for $400. However, that doesn’t include installation costs. If you choose to take the aftermarket route, you’ll need to be on the lookout for chargers that are either universally adaptable to Tesla’s proprietary charging outlet or you could purchase an adapter on top of that Level 2 charger.

For universal Level 2 chargers, you may want to look into a Lectron Level 2 charger, so long as you have a 32-amp plug that can support its Level 2 capabilities. Or you could look into the Chargepoint Home Flex charger, which will require an electrician to install.

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Current Manufacturer Level 2 Charger Incentives

Chevrolet: Currently offers to foot the bill on the purchase and installation of a Level 2 charger if you buy or lease a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV or Bolt EUV.

Ford: Provides 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 costs.

Kia: Offers Chargepoint’s Home Flex Level 2 charger for free with the reservation of a 2022 Kia EV6 but doesn’t cover the installation.

Mazda: includes a $500 credit with the purchase or lease of a 2022 Mazda MX-30 that can go towards public Chargepoint stations or the Home Flex Level 2 charger.