Ultimate EV Buyer's Guide by Swing, Chapter 4

Picking a Charger

It’s not as bad as VHS vs. Betamax or Blueray vs. whatever lost out to Blueray, but there are a few different EV charger standards. Learn if you need a personal charger, and if so, which one.

Do I Need A Home Charger?

Home chargers are sometimes called EV Supply Equipment (EVSE) -- we prefer the common term “home charger.” Most people who decide not to install a charger at their home rely on public charging infrastructure around their city or chargers at their workplace. There are several popular apps for exploring available public charging infrastructure including PlugShare , ChargeHub , and OpenChargeMap . If there are chargers at areas you commonly drive to (like grocery stores, places of worship, strip malls, etc.) and you don’t drive your electric vehicle more than ~30 miles per day, then there is a good chance that you can depend on this public infrastructure and your Level 1 charger, instead of installing your own dedicated Level 2 Charger.

Public charging stations in Oakland, CA
A typical EV public charger availability map view. Source: OpenChargeMap 

Some of these public chargers are Level 3 chargers, also known as DC Fast Chargers, which (as you can probably guess) charge even faster than Level 2. Level 3 chargers typically add 150–200 miles of range per hour of charge. Note that not all electric cars support Level 3 charging; it is often a non-standard option available only on more expensive trims or as an additional technology package (at Swing Electric, we analyze our customer’s driving habits to advise on whether their money is better spent on the DC Fast Charging option, on getting a Level 2 charger installed at home, or both).


Which Charger Is Compatible With My Car?

In terms of Level 2 chargers compatible with your car, you first need to determine which type of connector your car’s charging port accepts:

  • Tesla has its own proprietary standard (the Tesla “Supercharger”)
  • Nissan (with the Leaf) is staying with the Asian CHAdeMO standard
  • The rest of the industry in the United States has settled on SAE J1772 (also called CCS )

It’s worth double checking your car, especially for used EV’s (early Hyundai and Kia models were CHAdeMO, for example).

A typical ChargePoint SAE J1772-style charger
An SAE J1772 type, level 2 Connector. Source: Wikipedia 

The next factor to consider is the vehicle’s maximum charging rate. Many newer BEV’s will charge at 7kW+ of power but older electric cars and some PHEVs may charge at a speed as low as 3.3kW. Buying chargers that supply more power than your car’s charging rate can be a waste of money unless you’re planning to buy a newer electric car soon and want your installation to be future-proof. If you want to save some cash, you can purchase a charger with a lower power rating than your electric car, you just need to be aware that your vehicle may charge slower than your driving habits demand.

A sampling of EV charge rates
A sampling of EV charge rates. Full list available at ClipperCreek .

There are also some chargers, like the eMotorWerks Juicebox series, that can automatically detect the maximum power of your car’s charging port and lower the charge power accordingly.

The most common brands that we recommend to consumers are EMotorWerks and ClipperCreek. EMotorWerks is great for folks looking for a charger with all the bells and whistles (like remote control over wifi) and while ClipperCreek provides a no-frills, low-cost offering. Level 2 chargers will, in general, cost you from $400-$700 depending on the model you choose (not including installation).

If the upfront cost is a deterrent, EMotorWerks has started offering a financing plan called Juicebox-as-a-Service which allows you to pay in small monthly increments over the course of your electric car lease. Local rebates also available fairly often from electric utilities to cover the cost of the charger or installation.

Selecting, buying, and installing a charger can feel as complicated as doing your taxes, which is why we designed Swing Electric to automatically find all the rebates you qualify for; a kind of Turbo-Tax for electric cars!

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