Don’t Get Your Wires Crossed Regarding Level 2 Charging Requirements

Level 2 vehicle chargers draw A LOT of power.

How much? Well, to put it into perspective, consider: a level 2 charger running at 48 amps is equivalent to ratcheting your oven up to a full 450 degrees, turning on all of the stove’s cooktop burners, and then tossing some bread into the toaster and turning the dial to “burnt” – all for 6-10 hours, and all while you sleep (for the most part).

Not trying to scare you, but it’s critical to know all about the hardware you use and to trust the professional you hire to install it.

It’s no wonder utility companies across the country are going into overdrive to boost infrastructure by 10 to 20 percent within the next few years.

Some of my clients bring up the location of their dryer outlet or other receptacles in the home, wondering if they can be used for a Level 2 charger. A very specific wire is required to handle a Level 2 charger’s electricity and constant load. The wire we use for standard, 48-amp hardwired installations is all copper. As a conductor, copper has a high tensile strength and doesn’t expand and contract – or corrode and oxidize – as much as others.

Believe it or not, aluminum wiring is still found in new homes for high-amperage appliances such as ranges, heat pumps, and air conditioners. This can be safe if installed according to code (after all, even the wires you see on the electric poles are aluminum, but not for Level 2 chargers).

Issues that occur with wiring are almost always caused by the connections (or junctions) at each end of the wire, or the size (gauge) concerning the draw. As you use your appliance, wires heat up and expand. When you stop charging, they cool and contract. Therefore, terminals or connections in the units (like wire nuts in your outlet box) are a critical component. They vary from one manufacturer to another, and all are NOT created equally.

The Chargers

While EV Power Solutions currently stocks 3 different EV chargers, we are capable of installing all models (and, boy, there are a lot).

Here is the inside scoop on a couple of well-known (and easily accessible) Level 2 chargers.

Although we’ve devised a long list of pros and cons for each (see our FAQ section), here we’ll focus on the internal connections and overall build quality of the units themselves.

The Tesla Wall Connector NACS

  • Tesla Wall Connector NACS – $475
  • Tesla Wall Connector J1772 – $550

The Tesla Wall Connector NACS and J1772 share the same back plate and terminals. So, we’ll include them both here. These units are hard plastic. By far the best connections in the industry, there are four points of entry for the wire, each with plenty of space to wrap around and enter the terminals from the top or the bottom. Lugs tighten nicely with an Allen key, and you can FEEL, as well as measure, the torque. (After the hundreds of installations we’ve completed, the lugs have never been stripped.)

Internal electronics are completely hidden from the lugs and separated from the plate which gets the most use and abuse. If ever the unit were to go bad (Tesla offers a best-in-industry 4-year warranty), it’s only a matter of replacing the front control portion of the unit and never messing with the wiring. The “guts” of the unit are housed behind a glass faceplate and solid plastic body.

Emporia EV Charger ($399)

Emporia makes the most economical hardwired 48-amp Level-2 charger we’ve found. And it shows. If you were to look at the reviews for this charger before you buy, you’ll see how poor the app works and how finicky the software is.

EV Power Solutions has installed several Emporia EV chargers to date. The terminal connections at the unit are tightened using a flat-head screwdriver. If over-tightened, they have the potential to strip. There is a fine line between overtightening and under-tightening. Neither is good. What concerns me as much as the terminal connections are the internal components. These units get hot, especially while charging for long stretches, which could contribute to the degradation of other electrical components over time. The faceplate must also be removed for installation. Small, low-voltage wires run to the body and are very easy to yank free or jostle. These low-voltage connectors also don’t look like they can be removed and reinstalled too many times before failure. The housing is thin plastic.

Emporia offers a 3-year warranty.

ChargePoint HomeFlex 48-amp hardwired unit ($599)

Though not sexy, these ChargePoint units are solid.

A hybrid between the Tesla and Emporia, the terminal connections for the HomeFlex are separated from the other electronics but still housed in the same body. I like that there are no low-voltage wires to take apart or disconnect when wiring up the unit. Each terminal uses a lever-style connection, which grabs the end and clamps it to the unit. There’s nothing to torque. We have never had an issue with connections not holding. They seem tough and well-made. The ends of the charger cord also be installed in the same fashion, and I like that the unit is shipped without this already connected. It makes installation easier without the bulk of the charger cable getting in the way.

ChargePoint has also used standoffs for attaching the unit against the wall. These little rubber feet are meant to give HomeFlex chargers some air, so they don’t overheat. The body is hard plastic with a thin plastic cover.

ChargePoint offers a 3-year warranty.

WallBox Pulsar Plus 48-amp ($699)

WallBox’s Pulsar units are sexy, sleek, super waterproof, and have a great app. But when it comes to internals – well…

I can just imagine the Pulsar Plus marketing team discussing how small the unit should be, while the engineering team stares in shock with their mouths agape. There’s a lot of stuff in a small box, here. As a result, they don’t give the installer much room to install and/or connect the wire. There are only two port locations to enter the unit – from the back or the bottom – and both are exactly where the terminal connections are. Not great for a 90-degree bend at all. The terminals have screws that, instead of tightening down to the wire, pull a plate up to clamp onto its backside. While the screws don’t strip like Emporia’s charger, the clasp does, and easily. Also similar to Emporia, the Pulsar Plus needs a low-voltage wiring harness to be untethered before installation. Pulsar seems to have a much better connector, though. Unlike the Emporia, the soldering looks clean, and the controls are organized, but I still prefer my charger’s “brains” to be further away from the engine.

WallBox also offers a 3-year warranty.

Finally, please, please don’t hook up your charger like this!

At EV Power Solutions, we’ve seen it all! This was prepped for “Future EV” by the builder (with aluminum wiring) and then functioned with a small splice of copper wire (not rated for 48 amps) for the Tesla. Many circuit trips later, we reinstalled things correctly with all copper wiring back to the panel with a flush installation and no junctions. Please note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the above links. All of these units have been tested by Underwriters Laboratory and have gone through their standards of testing. All have been approved. With every installation, the charger is only one part of the equation. The installer is also responsible for a well-functioning appliance.

Embarking on an EV adventure? Reach out for more information, to schedule an installation, or just to chat!