These days I’m testing more and more electric cars, about one of every five press vehicles I get. Like many people with an EV, I’ve discovered that depending on public chargers just sucks. They are either broken, being used by other or just too expensive.
A lot of cars come with their own Level 1 (120V) emergency charger that works, but is too slow for a full charge in a hurry. But recently, some of the cars have stopped coming with even that. I’m looking your way Kia.
I finally thought it’s time to do something about this first world problem of mine. Because I live in a rented townhouse, I have long thought the prospect of getting my own charger was a non starter. I was wrong.
A quick look online showed me that I can get a home charger that’s not only affordable – not thousands but for hundreds. Furthermore, there are so many solutions that I could even get one that offers multiple plug styles and charging levels to meet my needs, even in a rented townhouse.
In my case I found on Amazon the Lectron Level 1 / Level 2 portable charger with with dual charging plugs that work both for Level 1 (120V – 16 Amp) and Level 2 (240V / 32 Amp). In such it allows you to plug into a conventional household outlet or a 220/240V outlet such as in my garage – perfect to keep in the trunk of the car for your travels.
Opening the box, I found it came in a compact black canvas carrying case that zips open and shut. The charger itself comes with a pretty heavy guage 21-foot cable and a universal charging plug compatible with all J1772 standard EVs.
It has two separate attachments for plugging into your power source. The first is the NEMA 5-15 plug for connecting to a 110/120V household outlet and it operates at 16 Amps. You will want a minimum 20 Amp circuit for this.
The second is the 220/240V Level 2 charging plug that has a NEMA 14-50 plug that will operate the charger at 32 Amps. You will need a minimum 40 Amp circuit to accommodate this charging method. For the filming of this video I used the Level 1 charging as my 240V 30 Amp circuit first needs to be upgraded to 40 Amps before I can safely use the outlet with this charger.
Once connected to whichever outlet you have, you can then plug it into your vehicle. Soon after the vehicle lit up and started whirring away. On the charging unit you can see LED’s lit up comfirming successful operation.
According to the manufacturer the charger can add up to 6 miles of range per hour at Level 1 and up to 31 miles per hour at Level 2. These metrics obviously depend on your vehicle and the onboard charging capabilities it has, but most contemporary EVs have onboad chargers that exceed this charger’s speed.
In all, I am pretty happy with this particular unit given it offers both Level 1 and Level 2 charging in one box. At the time this was filmed the list price of this particular unit is about $350 on Amazon. Lectron however offers several variations of chargers some less and some more.
One thing it did not come with is a user manual, however I was able to download a PDF manual from their website. Once I did I found that there isn’t much in it as this is ultimately a pretty simple device. Honestly I’m just happy to find out I didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars to be able to charge at home and avoid the hell-scape that is using the public charging network to charge my EVs.