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Guide On How To Charge Your Electric Car With Charging Stations

Electric cars (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles are relatively new on the market and the fact that they use electricity to propel themselves means a new infrastructure has been put into place, one which few are familiar with. This is why we have created this useful guide to explain and clarify the different charging solutions used to charge an electric car.

In this EV charging guide, you’ll learn more about the 3 places where it’s possible to charge, the 3 different levels of charging available in North America, fast charging with superchargers, charging times, and connectors. You’ll also discover an essential tool for public charging, and useful links to answer all of your questions.

Before we get into those concepts, it is good to know the various terms used for charging stations. They usually all refer to the same thing.

  • Charging station
  • Charging outlet
  • Charging plug
  • Charging port
  • Charger
  • EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment)

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Electric Car Home Chargers

Charging an electric car or plug-in hybrid is mainly done at home.Home charging accounts actually for 80% of all charging done by EV drivers. This is why it’s important to understand the solutions available, along with the pros of each.

Home Charging Solutions: Level 1 Level 2

There are two types of home charging: level 1 charging and level 2 charging.

  • Level 1 charging happens when you charge an electric vehicle (EV) using the charger included with the car. These chargers can be plugged with one end into any standard 120V outlet, with the other end being plugged directly into the car. It can charge 200 kilometers (124 miles) in 20 hours.
  • Level 2 chargers are sold separately from the car, although they’re often purchased at the same time. These chargers require a slightly more complicated setup, as they are plugged into a 240V outlet which allows charging 3 to 7 times faster depending on the electric car and the charger. All of these chargers have an SAE J1772 connector and are available for online purchase in Canada and the USA. They usually have to be installed by an electrician. You can learn more about level 2 charging stations in this guide.

For every electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, the use of a level 2 home charging station is recommended to help you charge faster and enjoy your EV’s full potential. Provincial and municipal incentives are available in some regions to help with purchase and installation costs. You can also check the following websites for more information.

  • Quebec incentives for electric car home chargers
  • British Columbia incentives for electric car home chargers (the program is temporarily suspended)
  • For the United States, we suggest you check your government website.

The pros of home charging

To enjoy all the benefits of charging at home, you need to use a level 2 home charger.

A fully charged battery in a few hours

A level 2 charger allows you to charge your electric car 5 to 7 times faster for a full-electric car or up to 3 times faster for a plug-in hybrid compared to a level 1 charger. This means you’ll be able to maximize the use of your EV and reduce stops to charge at public charging stations.

It takes around four hours to fully charge a 30-kWh battery car (standard battery for an electric car), which allows you to make the most out of driving your EV, especially when you have a limited time to charge.

Start Your Day Fully Charged

Home charging is normally done on evenings and at night. Just connect your charger to your electric car when you come home from work, and you’ll be sure to have a fully charged battery the next morning. Most of the time, an EV’s range is enough for all your daily travel, meaning you won’t have to stop at public chargers for charging. At home, your electric car charges while you eat, play with the kids, watch TV, and sleep!

Save Big on Charging Costs

  • In Quebec, it is about 30% less expensive to charge at home than at a public charger and 6 times less expensive to drive 100 km (62 miles) on electricity than on gas.
  • In Ontario, it is roughly 65% less expensive to charge at home than at a public charger and 5 times less expensive to drive 100 km (62 miles) on electricity than on gas.
  • In British Columbia, it is roughly 30% cheaper to charge at home than at a public charger and 5 times less expensive to drive 100 km (62 miles) on electricity than on gas.
  • In the United States, it all depends on the price of electricity and gas. You have to compare the consumption of electricity in kWh/100 miles of the EV multiplied by the cost of the kWh vs. the consumption of gallons/100 miles of the gas car multiplied by the price of a gallon of gas. That way, you will be able to quickly know how much you could save on your travel costs.

Electric Car Public Charging Stations

Public charging allows EV drivers to charge their electric cars on the road when they need to travel longer distances than allowed by their EV’s autonomy. These public chargers are often located near restaurants, shopping centers, parking spots, and such public spaces.

To locate them easily, we suggest you use ChargeHub’s charging stations map that is available on iOS, Android, and web browsers. The map lets you easily find every public charger in North America. You can also see most chargers’ status in real time, make itineraries, and more. We’ll be using our map in this guide to explain how the public charging works.

There are three main things to know about public charging: the 3 different levels of charging, the difference between connectors and the charging networks.

Charging Station Connectors

Charging Station Networks

Tesla type 2 charger

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Introducing EVgo Autocharge

No tapping, no cards. Just plug in and charge.

EVgo Autocharge allows EV drivers to start a charge by simply plugging in, no extra steps needed. It makes charging faster and easier. To get started, download the EVgo app.

Update: The new Tesla CCS Combo 1 Adapter is now available for use on the EVgo network. Most Tesla models are compatible with the adapter, but please log into your Tesla account to verify. With the CCS Combo 1 Adapter, Tesla Models S, 3, X and Y are eligible to enroll in Autocharge.

Tesla Charging Options with EVgo

EVgo welcomes Tesla drivers to fast charge at any one of our 850 EVgo stations using your own CCS Combo 1 Adapter (offering charging speeds up to 250 kW), Tesla CHAdeMO adapter (up to 50 kW), or the Tesla connectors (up to 50 kW) available at select regions across the US, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington DC, Virginia, Texas, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Denver, New York, Phoenix, Florida, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

Types of Tesla Connectors

Learn more below about each connector used with an EVgo charging station

SAE J1772 Charging Adapter

Standard L2 charger adapter that comes with the purchase of any Tesla vehicle. The charge rate will vary by the charger and the state of charge of the Tesla battery.

Integrated Tesla Connector

Customers can use a Tesla connector directly from the charger at select sites. The charge rate will vary by the charger with speeds up to 50kW.

A CHAdeMO adapter can be used at EVgo fast chargers by connecting to the EVgo CHAdeMO connector with charging speeds up to 50kW.

Tesla CCS Combo 1 Adapter

CCS Combo 1 Adapter offers charging speeds up to 250 kW from the CCS connector. It can be purchased from Tesla by signing into your Tesla account to ensure your vehicle is compatible.

How long does it take to charge a Tesla?

You may be new to EV ownership or Tesla in particular, or you may be doing a little research before you take that welcomed leap into zero-emission transportation. No matter the reason for your visit, here you are wondering, “how long does it take to charge a Tesla?” The answer is not as simple as you may like to hear, but we have taken a crack at breaking down everything you need to know.

Tesla charging methods

In order to truly understand how long it may or may not take to charge your Tesla, we want to start with a brief course on the different charging levels and how they differ. This is a huge factor relating to the time it will take to charge your EV, regardless of whether it is, in fact, a Tesla or not.

Level 1 AC Charging

Imagine Level 1 as the universal charging option. If there is a standard wall socket nearby, you will be able to charge your Tesla with that. With that said, 120V is the bare minimum amount of juice you can pull into your EV. So if you’re wondering how long it would take to charge your 2021 Tesla Long Range Model 3, you’re looking at a matter of days, not hours. Not ideal.

Level 2 AC Charging

Level 2 chargers are the most common type found at third-party public charging stations, although DC fast chargers continue to expand their presence (more of them in a minute). At home, 240V plugs usually offer around 40 amps but can go as high as 80 and are usually more specifically placed compared to standard 120V outlets.

Think of this charger as the equivalent to your dryer or other large appliance. Tesla suggests owners install a Level 2 charger in their home or garage if they can. This is fairly easy for an electrician or specialist to come and install.

At Level 2, you’re looking at much quicker speeds compared to Level 1. We’re talking hours, not days.

Tesla Supercharger (DC Fast Charging)

The Tesla Supercharger network s a combined group of proprietary charging stations developed and implemented by Tesla. As a result, the automaker doesn’t have to rely on third-party charging networks like most automakers producing electric vehicles currently do. Although, some third-party chargers do offer an adapter plug for Tesla EVs.

These Level 3 chargers abandon the alternating current (AC) methods above to mainline power directly. While they require a lot more power from the grid (480 volts and 100 amps), their output is truly “super.”

Ok, sounds fancy, but how long do Superchargers take to charge a Tesla? Currently, most Tesla Superchargers can now recharge up to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes, depending on the rate of charge. These DC charging speeds range from 90 kW to 250 kW, depending on which Supercharger pile you’re at.

While 250 kW is the current limit for Superchargers, Tesla has shared plans to increase DCFC charge speeds upwards to 300 kW.

When you’re in the Tesla app or in your vehicle itself, you can search for nearby Supercharger stations, which can tell you what stalls are available and what their current output is. Navigation can help too. Tesla’s built-in trip planner is designed to automatically route you through Superchargers on the way to your destination.

At the end of Q3 in 2021, Tesla reported 29,281 Superchargers across 3,254 locations worldwide, so there’s plenty to choose from. Furthermore, the automaker has announced plans to triple the size of this network over the next two years.

For more information on Tesla Superchargers, we’ve put together an extensive guide here.

The Best Electric Vehicle Chargers for Home

Whether you’re a longtime electric vehicle owner or you’re still waiting for your first EV to leave the factory floor, you should consider investing in a Level 2 charger for your home.

Most modern EVs ship with a Level 1 charger—these tend to be small, portable, and slow-charging, thanks to their 120-volt output. But a 240-volt Level 2 charger is the fastest way to juice up an EV at home, adding four or more times as many miles per hour of charge.

They’re also more likely to have premium features, such as a power cord that’s long enough to reach across a two-car garage or a wide variety of installation options.

After 28 hours of research and 85 hours of testing, we found that the United Chargers Grizzl-E Classic is the best at-home charger for most EV drivers, whereas Tesla drivers should stick with the Tesla Wall Connector.

The vast majority of EVs fall into one of two categories: Tesla and everything that’s not a Tesla. The latter category is made up mostly of EVs from legacy car manufacturers like Chevrolet, Ford, and Volkswagen, with a charging port where the gas tank would normally be (called a J1772 port). Teslas have their own proprietary charging port (much like how iPhones charge from Apple’s exclusive Lightning port, whereas most other smartphones have a USB-C port). For this guide, we chose to FOCUS on chargers that are compatible with either a J1772 or a Tesla port, as well as on adapters that can convert one type of plug to the opposite type of port.

The best EV charger for home

This is the EV charger we’d put in our garage. It’s fast-charging and lightweight, and it comes with a lengthy, 24-foot cord. Plus, it’s the most weatherproof model we tested.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 429.

Despite costing less than any other J1772 (non-Tesla) EV charger in our testing pool at this writing, the United Chargers Grizzl-E Classic offers many of the same capabilities and features seen in pricier models. It’s rated for a maximum current of 40 A, which we were able to reproduce in our testing, allowing it to charge much faster than the Level 1 chargers that come with most EVs. The three-year warranty is as long as any we’ve seen, giving you plenty of time to make sure the charger works properly and meets your needs.

It’s available in two plug-in configurations and can also be hardwired, whereas many of the models we tested have just one or two installation options. This charger is also fairly compact, so it won’t take up much garage space, and it’s lightweight enough to lift into a trunk or mount onto a wall with relative ease. And it has a long, slim cord that can be neatly wound around the included cable organizer.

If you’d like the option of installing your charger outside, the Grizzl-E Classic has the most weatherproof exterior of any we tested, with a rating that shows it can shield the charger from superficial dirt, dust, oils, moisture, and even heavy rain or snow. It’s also rated to operate safely in temperatures between.22° to 122° Fahrenheit, and its plug has a protective rubber cap.

Our main gripes with this model are that its packaging isn’t especially protective, so we worry that it could be more easily damaged in transit, and its painted metal exterior attracts fingerprints and smudges more than most models we tested. But we think most people can overlook these minor quibbles in light of the Grizzl-E Classic’s other great qualities.

fast, charge, your, tesla, models, evgo

Max current rating: 40 AWeatherproof rating: IP67 (fully dustproof and waterproof)Installation options: three (hardwire, NEMA 14-50 plug, NEMA 6-50 plug)Warranty: three years

The best EV charger for Teslas

If you drive a Tesla, this is your best option for at-home charging. It’s rated for up to 48 A of current, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and backed by a two-year warranty. It also has a super-streamlined look, and its built-in cable organizer keeps its 24-foot cord neatly stored.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 400.

Not surprisingly, our testing showed that the best charger for a Tesla EV is Tesla’s flagship charger, the Tesla Wall Connector. It’s not our top pick for all drivers, because connecting it to a non-Tesla EV requires a pricey third-party adapter that isn’t designed for everyday use. (Plus, since Tesla sells more EVs than the other car companies combined, its chargers are in high demand and often out of stock.) But if you drive a Tesla, it’s the best option available with the company’s proprietary connector. Its maximum current rating of 48 A is among the highest of those we tested, and at this writing its price is one of the lowest.

The Tesla Wall Connector is even slimmer and lighter than the Grizzl-E Classic, it has a super-sleek look, and it’s backed by Tesla’s two-year warranty. This charger has a 24-foot cord, just like the Grizzl-E Classic, and its built-in cable organizer is elegantly designed. It’s not quite as weatherized as our non-Tesla pick, but it’s still rated to provide ample protection against dirt, dust, and oils, splashes and sprays of water, and temperatures between.22° to 122° Fahrenheit.

The biggest downside to this charger is that it lacks plug-in options, so you have to hardwire it into your home’s electrical system. That’s less convenient if you want to be able to move your charger without calling an electrician. But since hardwiring is generally preferable to plug-in installation anyway, we don’t consider this a fatal flaw.

Max current rating: 48 AWeatherproof rating: IP55 (highly dustproof and waterproof)Installation options: one (hardwire)Warranty: two years

The best EV charger for home

This is the EV charger we’d put in our garage. It’s fast-charging and lightweight, and it comes with a lengthy, 24-foot cord. Plus, it’s the most weatherproof model we tested.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 429.

The best EV charger for Teslas

If you drive a Tesla, this is your best option for at-home charging. It’s rated for up to 48 A of current, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and backed by a two-year warranty. It also has a super-streamlined look, and its built-in cable organizer keeps its 24-foot cord neatly stored.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 400.

Why you should trust us

As the writer of this guide, I spent 28 hours researching and 85 hours testing EV chargers. I’ve been a science writer for more than nine years, covering a wide variety of topics, from particle physics to satellite remote sensing. Since joining Wirecutter, in 2017, I’ve reported on surge protectors, rechargeable batteries, power banks for phones and tablets, and more.

In preparation to write this guide, I interviewed Paul Vosper (CEO of JuiceBar, a manufacturer of commercial EV charging stations founded in 2009) about the history and current landscape of the EV charging industry. I discussed the ins and outs of installing an EV charger in a private home or an apartment building with Tracy Price (CEO of Qmerit, a network of certified electricians specializing in the installation of EV chargers) and Caradoc Ehrenhalt (CEO of EV Safe Charge, an EV charger installation and consulting firm). To better understand the needs and concerns of EV drivers, I interviewed Joe Flores, deputy director at San José Clean Energy, a nonprofit electricity provider; Suncheth Bhat, director of clean energy transportation for the Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) utility company; and Aaron August, PGE’s vice president of utility partnerships and innovation.

Who this is for

If you’re in the process of buying an EV, and you want the fastest possible at-home charge right out of the gate, this is the guide for you. If you already own an EV, and you’re thinking about leveling up (literally) from a sluggish Level 1 charger to a speedier Level 2 charger, this guide is also for you. If you’re just here to learn, welcome! We hope you find what you’re looking for.

Gas-powered vehicles might still rule the road, but global EV sales doubled in 2021, and analysts expect there to be 26 million EVs worldwide by the end of 2022. We can safely assume that these millions of EV drivers, despite having at least one thing in common, have widely varying lifestyles, needs, and priorities: They could be homeowners in single-family houses or renters in multi-unit apartment buildings. Or they might be remote workers who rarely leave the house or ride-share drivers clocking hundreds of miles a day. Maybe they pass dozens of charging stations along their daily route, or perhaps they live 90 miles from the nearest public charger.

Regardless of your situation, though, having the most powerful EV charger possible at home will likely be a worthwhile investment. Per the U.S. Department of Transportation, a Level 1 charger can take days (40 to 50 hours) to charge an EV battery from empty to full, whereas a Level 2 charger can complete the same task in just four to 10 hours. Even if you don’t put many miles on your car, and topping off the battery overnight works for you most of the time, you still might want to have a charger at home that lets you juice up quickly in the event of a wildfire, flash flood, or other unforeseen disaster.

In addition to faster charging times, Level 2 chargers often come with features you might not get from the charger that came with your EV, such as:

fast, charge, your, tesla, models, evgo
  • the option to hardwire the charger directly into your home’s electrical grid
  • a long cord that can reach across a two-car garage or carport
  • a smartphone app that supplements your EV’s app to track battery life, charge times, and more
  • a weatherproof enclosure to add protection from elements

As is true of any home-improvement project, upgrading your EV charging setup will come at a cost. In addition to the sticker price of the charger, you’ll likely pay around 400 to 1,200 to have it professionally installed. You can circumvent some of these installation costs by buying a plug-in model, but if you don’t already have a 240 V outlet installed at your parking spot (they’re typically used for RVs or electric stovetops, among other things), you’ll still need to spend at least a few hundred dollars to take advantage of the Level 2 charger’s higher current. The silver lining here is that to help recoup the costs of going electric, many federal, state, and regional programs offer rebates and other incentives, including discounted rates for electricity usage during off-peak hours (which you can manage through your EV’s app or, if it has one, your EV charger’s app).

If you rent your home and you’re unsure whether your rental agreement allows you to install a Level 2 charger, check your state’s “right to charge” laws. Likewise, if you own a home or rental property, the U.S. Department of Energy has a trove of resources explaining the various rules, regulations, and rudiments of installing EV chargers.

How we picked

To find the most well-known and widely available makers of Level 2 EV chargers, we sniffed around the websites of major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, as well as industry publications such as Car and Driver, CleanTechnica, Electrek, and InsideEVs. From there, we built a list of contenders based on the following features:

  • Costs less than 2,000: Most chargers we considered cost 1,000 or less, but we were open to pricier options that add an extra feature, such as the ability to charge two EVs at once. The annual savings from switching to electric will vary depending on your driving habits, the type of car you drive, fuel costs, and a variety of other factors. But whether you spend 500 or 2,000, your EV is likely to pay for the cost of your charger in less than a year. In 2022, according to a AAA study, powering the average EV will cost 2,100 less per year than fueling a traditional car, and that doesn’t even include the reduction in maintenancecosts. (You can see how your car stacks up using an online calculator from the U.S. Department of Energy.)
  • Has at least a 32 A maximum current rating: To provide the fastest possible at-home charge, Level 2 chargers run off a 240 V circuit, passing between 16 to 80 A of current to your vehicle. Since most EVs come with a portable Level 1 charger capable of trickle charging up to 32 A from a standard 120 V outlet, we made that our minimum amperage requirement.
  • Has at least a 20-foot cord: Longer cords tend to be thicker and more unwieldy than shorter ones, but a lengthy cord is critical for an EV charger to ensure that it can reach the car’s charging port. A typical two-car garage is 20 to 24 feet wide, so we struck any chargers with a cord shorter than 20 feet from our testing pool. We didn’t set an upper limit for cord length, though the National Electrical Code (NEC) set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) caps it at 25 feet, and we didn’t see any that were longer than that.
  • Weighs 50 pounds or less: Even though most Level 2 chargers are intended for stationary use, you may occasionally need to lift your charger into a car trunk (to bring it on a road trip, say) or move it on and off a wall mount. As such, we set a weight limit of 50 pounds, since heavier loads have an increased risk of injury.
  • Has a NEMA 14-50 plug and/or can be hardwired: Hardwiring is generally preferable to a plug-in installation, since it creates a more seamless (and, therefore, more energy-efficient) connection between your home’s wiring and the charger. Hardwiring also offers better protection against the elements (vital if you’re planning to install your charger outside) and can deliver between 15 A to 60 A to your vehicle, whereas a NEMA 14-50 (plug-in) connection can handle only 15 A to 50 A. On the downside, in order to hardwire your charger, you’ll need to have it installed (ideally by a certified electrician) and, if you ever want to move it, have it uninstalled. Since everyone’s living situations and needs are different, we can’t say that one method or the other is better across the board; in the end, we preferred each model in our testing pool to have at least one of these installation options, and we gave bonus points to those that offered both. We considered additional plug configurations (such as the less-versatile NEMA 6-50 plug, which lacks a neutral wire and is most commonly used for welding equipment) to be nonessential bonuses.
  • Certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL): A seal of approval from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek’s Electrical Testing Labs (ETL), or any of the other testing facilities recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicates that a product meets rigorous safety and compliance standards. We required that each charger have a certification from one or more of these organizations.
  • Has at least a one-year warranty: We think a year is ample time to use your charger on a regular basis and ensure that it’s not a dud. Still, a longer warranty period is nice, since it gives you more wiggle room in case a part breaks or your charger conks out unexpectedly.
  • Can be used safely outdoors: If you typically park in a carport or other outdoor parking space, you’ll want to make sure your charger is protected from blowing dust, rain, and other inclement conditions. Even if you plan to keep your charger in an enclosed garage, it’ll still be exposed to the elements to a lesser extent when the door is open. We gave preference to chargers with more robust Ingress Protection (IP) or National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) ratings (two common grading scales for weatherproofing) and to those rated to withstand more extreme temperatures, so you can juice up in a variety of environments.
  • Has a cord organizer: We preferred that each model in our testing pool include some type of cord organization system, whether it be a simple wall-mounted hook or an elaborate retraction system. Not only does this keep your garage looking tidy, but it prevents someone from tripping over the cord or running it over and damaging it.
  • Has a history of positive : We ran some of our top contenders through FindOurView, a program that analyzes online user ratings and reviews to highlight common patterns. Although some models had an insufficient number of reviews for the software to analyze, this allowed us to identify a few models with consistently reported problems, which we then cut from our list.

After sifting through dozens of contenders based on these criteria, we were left with a list of 10 models for testing:

fast, charge, your, tesla, models, evgo

In addition to these chargers, we also tested a handful of adapters that make it possible to charge an EV with an otherwise incompatible charger. For non-Tesla EV drivers who want to use Tesla chargers, we tested two Tesla-to-J1772 adapters: the Lectron Tesla to J1772 Charging Adapter (40 A) and the Lectron Tesla to J1772 Charging Adapter (48 A). For Tesla drivers who want to use non-Tesla chargers, we tested Lectron’s J1772 to Tesla Charging Adapter, as well as the J1772 to Tesla adapter that comes with all Teslas.

We opted not to test Combined Charging System (CCS) adapters, which allow some J1772 or Tesla EVs to charge at Level 3 chargers (also called DC fast chargers). These top-speed chargers are commonly seen at public charging stations, but since they require a heavy-duty 480 V power circuit, they’re impractical for at-home charging.

Ford and Tesla announced in May 2023 that they plan to launch a proprietary adapter allowing Ford EVs to fast-charge from Tesla Superchargers starting in early 2024. But like other Level 3 chargers, Superchargers are not designed for residential use, so we don’t currently have plans to test this type of adapter.

How we tested

To test the chargers, we rented a 2022 Tesla Model Y Long-Range AWD and borrowed a 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro for a week apiece. Teslas have a proprietary charging port, whereas all non-Tesla EVs (including the ID.4) have a J1772 port. So testing with one of each type allowed us to confirm the chargers’ compatibility with both types.

Over the course of two weeks, we drove the cars up and down country roads, circled parking lots, and waited in fast-food drive-through queues to run the batteries down to a 65% charge. We then charged the batteries up to 75% and recorded three key measurements, as reported by the cars’ built-in software: time elapsed (in minutes), battery capacity (in kilowatt-hours, or kWh), and maximum current (in amps, or A). To test all 10 chargers with both cars, we repeated this process 20 times.

In general, to make them last longer, EV batteries should be kept at a 20% to 80% charge, and ideally they’d never get lower than 10% or above 90%. We chose an even narrower window for our testing, though, since staying above a 65% charge and below a 75% charge puts minimal strain on a lithium-ion battery (the kind found in most EVs). It also allowed us to spend way less time driving and charging than we otherwise would have: The Tesla we tested on has a 75 kWh battery and a 330-mile range, and the Volkswagen has a 82 kWh battery and a 260-mile range. So draining their batteries from 75% to 65% takes about 20 minutes to an hour (depending on driving speeds, wind, and other factors).

We ran the majority of our charging tests using a NEMA 14-50 wall outlet, which is rated for 240 V and 50 A. Even though hardwiring offers some well-documented advantages for long-term use, we didn’t think we’d glean any additional insights by hiring an electrician to install and uninstall all 10 chargers for our two-week testing period. Since the Tesla Mobile Connector comes with two swappable plug options, we tested it on a slow-charging 120 V outlet as well as the 240 V outlet. And we used a Kill A Watt power meter to verify that its time, capacity, and amperage measurements matched the readings shown on the EVs’ respective display screens (they did). Also, before getting started, we used a Klein Tools electrical test kit to make sure the voltage and wiring conditions of both outlets were up to snuff (they were).

Two of the models we considered couldn’t be tested on our NEMA 14-50 wall outlet. The Tesla Wall Connector is limited to hardwire installations, so we performed our tests at a public charging station that already had one installed. The Blink HQ150 can only be hardwired or plugged into a NEMA 6-50 outlet, but we decided to dismiss it based on other factors before getting to the charging tests. We used the Lectron Tesla to J1772 Charging Adapter (Max 48 A) or Tesla SAE J1772 Charging Adapter to connect the Volkswagen or Tesla, as needed, to a non-compatible charger. Once we’d identified the most powerful chargers, we used them to put the other adapters in our testing pool to the test.

To compare the circumferences of the chargers’ main power cords, we measured them with a small measuring tape (all were less than 3 inches around). In general, longer electrical wires are thicker to combat resistance and carry power over greater distances. So we didn’t expect any of the EV charging cords to be as slim as, say, a smartphone or laptop charging cable. But we favored thinner cords because they’re typically lighter and easier to maneuver, and they don’t add as much clutter to your charging setup.

In addition to these quantitative tests, we spent hours collecting qualitative data. Throughout our two-week testing period, we took stock of the overall look, feel, ease of use, and build quality of the chargers. We also assessed the efficacy and added value of any extra features, such as a mobile app or cord-storage rack. We did the same for the adapters we tested.

The best EV charger for home

This is the EV charger we’d put in our garage. It’s fast-charging and lightweight, and it comes with a lengthy, 24-foot cord. Plus, it’s the most weatherproof model we tested.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 429.

The United Chargers Grizzl-E Classic is the EV charger we’d buy for ourselves. As of this writing, it costs less than any non-Tesla charger we tested, while offering many of the same benefits of models costing hundreds of dollars more. It’s rated to charge at 40 A, and it matched that figure in our testing with the Tesla and slightly surpassed it with the Volkswagen. It can be hardwired into your home’s electrical panel. But if you prefer a plug-in model, you have two options in that regard: either a NEMA 14-50 or a NEMA 6-50 plug. This charger is lightweight, has a long cord, and boasts a higher weatherproof rating than any other model in our testing pool, making it great for outdoor use.

When we charged the Volkswagen and Tesla batteries with the Grizzl-E Classic, their power gauges registered 45 A and 40 A, respectively. In real-world terms, this meant that it charged the Volkswagen’s battery from 65% to 75% in 45 minutes, and the Tesla’s in 55 minutes. Batteries don’t drain or charge at a constant rate—and most EVs have a setting to automatically prevent you from getting down to 0% or up to 100%, since these extreme states of charge can put undue strain on the battery—but from this we can roughly calculate that the Grizzl-E can fully charge either of these EVs in about 7.5 to 9 hours.

In addition to being hardwire-ready, the Grizzl-E Classic comes in either a NEMA 14-50 plug or NEMA 6-50 plug configuration. We generally recommend having a certified electrician hardwire an EV charger into your home electrical system, but if you prefer a plug-in charger we think you should opt for one with a NEMA 14-50 plug: Unlike a 6-50 plug, it has a neutral wire, and it can also be used to power RVs, electric stoves, and more. In any case, we like that this charger offers more options than most—especially if you already have a 6-50 outlet in your garage for a welder or some other power tool.

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The Grizzl-E charger is relatively compact and lightweight, measuring 6.25 by 10.25 by 3.5 inches (not including the cord) and weighing just 20 pounds (about as much as a small dog crate—or a small dog). Its cord is longer than most we tested, measuring 24 feet in length, and it has a circumference of 2.75 inches. It also comes with a sturdy, wall-mountable cord organizer to keep your garage walkways clear of clutter.

This charger is better-suited for outdoor use than any other we tested. Its weatherproof rating is best of the bunch (IP67, meaning it’s fully protected from dust and water). And its plug has a protective rubber cover attached by a short tether, further protecting the internal components from the elements. Also, like most models we tested, it’s rated to operate safely within a temperature range of.22° to 122° Fahrenheit.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The United Chargers Grizzl-E Classic isn’t the sleekest or most attractive charger we tested, and its glossy painted metal surfaces attract fingerprints and smudges more than most. But we think most people can overlook its sub-par aesthetics in exchange for superior weatherization.

When we unboxed this charger, it wasn’t as well-wrapped as other models, which could have potentially led to it being harmed in transit. And we found several user reviews reporting damaged parts, dents, and/or scratches straight out of the box. But since ours arrived intact, and the charger seems sturdily built overall, we don’t think it’s a major cause for concern (just make sure to inspect yours for signs of damage before setting it up).

The best EV charger for Teslas

If you drive a Tesla, this is your best option for at-home charging. It’s rated for up to 48 A of current, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and backed by a two-year warranty. It also has a super-streamlined look, and its built-in cable organizer keeps its 24-foot cord neatly stored.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 400.

If you drive a Tesla, or you’re planning to get one, you should get a Tesla Wall Connector to charge it at home. It charges EVs (Teslas and otherwise) slightly faster than our top pick, and at this writing the Wall Connector costs 60 less. It’s small and sleek, weighs half as much as our top pick, and it has a long, slim cord. It also has one of the most elegant cord holders of any model in our testing pool. It’s not as weatherized as the Grizzl-E Classic, and it has no plug-in installation options. But if it didn’t require a third-party adapter to charge non-Tesla EVs, we might have been tempted to make it our overall top pick.

True to its amperage rating, the Wall Connector delivered 48 A when we used it to charge our rental Tesla, and it ticked up to 49 A when charging the Volkswagen. It brought the Tesla’s battery up from a 65% charge to 75% in just 30 minutes, and the Volkswagen’s in 45 minutes. This translates to a full charge in roughly 5 hours (for the Tesla) or 7.5 hours (for the Volkswagen).

Like the Grizzl-E Classic, the Wall Connector is UL-listed, showing that it meets national safety and compliance standards. It’s also backed by Tesla’s two-year warranty; this is a year shorter than United Chargers’ warranty, but it should still give you plenty of time to ascertain if the charger meets your needs, or if it has to be repaired or replaced.

Unlike the Grizzl-E Charger, which offers several installation options, the Wall Connector must be hardwired in (to make sure it’s installed safely and in accordance with electrical codes, we recommend hiring a certified electrician to do this). Hardwiring is arguably the best installation option anyway, though, so it’s an easy pill to swallow. If you prefer a plug-in option, or you don’t have the ability to permanently install a charger where you live, Tesla also makes a Mobile Connector with two interchangeable plugs: One goes into a standard 120 V outlet for trickle charging, and the other goes into a 240 V outlet for fast-charging up to 32 A.

Other than the Tesla Mobile Connector, the Wall Connector is the lightest model in our testing pool, weighing just 10 pounds (about as much as a metal folding chair). It has a sleek, streamlined shape and a super-slim profile—measuring just 4.3 inches deep—so even if your garage is tight on space, it’s easy to sneak past. Its 24-foot cord is on a par with that of our top pick in terms of length, but it’s even slimmer, measuring 2 inches around.

Instead of a wall-mountable cord holder (like the ones most models we tested have), the Wall Connector has a built-in notch that allows you to easily wind the cord around its body, as well as a small plug rest. It’s an elegant and practical solution to prevent the charging cord from being a trip hazard or leaving it at risk of getting run over.

Though the Wall Connector lacks the Grizzl-E’s protective rubber plug cap, and it’s not completely impervious to dust and moisture like that model is, it’s still one of the most weatherized models we tested. Its IP55 rating indicates that it’s well protected against dust, dirt, and oils, as well as splashes and sprays of water. And like most chargers we tested, including the Grizzl-E Classic, the Wall Connector is rated for use in temperatures between.22° to 122° Fahrenheit.

When it arrived on our doorstep, the Wall Connector was carefully packaged, with little room left for it to knock about inside the box. This minimizes the likelihood of the charger getting battered or broken en route, necessitating a return or exchange (which, in these times of lengthy shipping delays, can be a major inconvenience).

How to charge most electric vehicles with a Tesla charger (and vice versa)

Just as you can’t charge an iPhone with a USB-C cable or an Android phone with a Lightning cable, not every EV can be charged by every EV charger. In rare cases, if the charger you want to use is incompatible with your EV, you’re out of luck: For example, if you drive a Chevy Bolt, and the only charging station along your route is a Tesla Supercharger, no adapter in the world will allow you to use it. But in most instances, there’s an adapter that can help (as long as you have the right one, and you remember to pack it).

Lectron’s Tesla-to-J1772 adapter is UL-listed and rated to support up to 48 A of current. Photo: Connie Park

A Tesla-to-J1772 adapter allows a non-Tesla EV to charge from a Tesla charger, which is handy if your battery is running low and a Tesla charging station is the closest option. Photo: Sarah Witman

Lectron’s Tesla-to-J1772 adapter is UL-listed and rated to support up to 48 A of current. Photo: Connie Park

The best Tesla-to-J1772 adapter

This compact, easy-to-use adapter lets drivers of non-Tesla EVs use Tesla chargers (except Superchargers) to juice up. When paired with a compatible charger, it can provide up to 48 A of current.

Buying Options

The Lectron Tesla to J1772 Charging Adapter (48 A) allows non-Tesla EV drivers to juice up from most Tesla chargers, which is helpful if your non-Tesla EV battery is running low and a Tesla charging station is the closest option, or if you spend a lot of time at a Tesla owner’s home and want the option to top off your battery with their charger. This adapter is small and compact, and in our testing it supported up to 49 A charging speeds, slightly exceeding its 48 A rating. It has an IP54 weatherproof rating, which means it’s highly protected against airborne dust and moderately protected against splashing or falling water. When you’re connecting it to a Tesla charging plug, it makes a satisfying click when it snaps into place, and a simple press of a button releases it from the plug after charging. It’s also UL-listed and has a one-year warranty.

The best J1772-to-Tesla adapter

Included for free with all Tesla EVs, this easy-to-use adapter is the best option for charging any Tesla using a non-Tesla charger. Since it supports up to 80 A of current, it can be paired with any Level 1 or 2 charger.

Buying Options

To charge a Tesla from a non-Tesla charger, the Tesla SAE J1772 Charging Adapter is your best bet. It comes free with all Tesla EVs, and even if you buy it separately—maybe you lost yours, or you just want a backup—it’s still one of the least expensive options available at this writing. It’s small and lightweight, making it easy to pack in a trunk or even a glove compartment, and we measured up to 48 A of current flowing through it in our testing. (This is lower than its 80 A rating. But since our testing pool included only chargers rated for 48 A at most, it’s the highest amperage we’d expect to see, and as high as on any adapter of this type that we tested.) Its NEMA 3R weatherproof rating (equivalent to IP14, meaning it’s minimally dustproof and moderately waterproof) isn’t great, but it should be fine for occasional use. Plus, it’s backed by a two-year warranty, which is twice as long as that of any adapter we tested. It’s worth mentioning that the Tesla adapter is the only product we tested for this guide (chargers and adapters included) that hasn’t been certified by UL, ETL, or another NRTL. But we are reasonably confident, given its prevalence, that any potential issues will have been spotted and ironed out at this point.

Other good EV chargers and charging adapters

J1772 chargers

If the Grizzl-E is out of stock: You should buy the Emporia EMEVSEVAR without hesitation. It cost 100 more than the Grizzl-E at the time of our testing, but the have since equalized. That makes them two of the cheapest non-Tesla chargers we tested. The Emporia got up to 40 A in our tests with the Tesla and 45 A with the Volkswagen—both of which are below its 48 A rating but still on par with that of the Grizzl-E. Like the Grizzl-E, this charger has a three-year warranty, is UL-listed, weighs 20 pounds, and has a sleek, low-profile shape. It has a slim, 24-foot cord, its metal cord holder is sturdily built, and it comes with a handy set of hook-and-loop ties to keep the cord neatly coiled when not in use. The Emporia model can be installed via a NEMA 14-50 plug or hardwired directly into your home power grid. (It lacks the Grizzl-E’s optional NEMA 6-50 configuration, but that’s an unusual plug type anyway.) This charger is rated to operate in temperatures between.22° to 122° Fahrenheit, and its NEMA 4 (similar to IP56) rating means it’s highly protected against the elements. Plus, its plug has a removable rubber cap, further protecting its innards from dust and water damage, and it was shipped to us in adequately protective packaging.

If you want a charger with a replaceable cord (and can live with some significant drawbacks): The ChargePoint Home Flex is a good alternative to the Grizzl-E. It’s one of the priciest models we tested (750 at this writing), and its NEMA 3R rating (similar to IP14) means it’s not especially weatherproof. It also failed to live up to its amperage claims in our testing (it’s rated for 50 A, but we measured only 44 A with the Volkswagen and 40 A with the Tesla). And if you don’t connect to its mobile app, you’re stuck at a sluggish charging rate of 16 A. However, there’s still a lot to like about this charger. It has a three-year warranty, is UL-listed, and can be hardwired or plugged in via a NEMA plug (either 14-50 or 6-50). It weighs just 18 pounds, and it has a slim, 23-foot cord. It’s relatively sleek and compact, and it comes with handy hook-and-loop cord keepers, a built-in cord holder, and pre-printed sticky labels (so you can easily annotate the circuit breakers on your electrical panel). Notably, this is the only model we tested with a user-replaceable cord, meaning you can easily swap in a new one when it wears out, rather than having to replace the entire unit (because the cord gets handled more frequently than the other components, it’s likely to wear out the quickest). This charger is also the only model we tested that uses almost no plastic in its well-designed packaging, and it can be used in colder climates than most models we tested (with a working range of.40° to 122° Fahrenheit).

If you want a charger the size of a child’s lunch box that has a longer cord than the Grizzl-E: Get the Wallbox Pulsar Plus (48 A). Its nearly 700 price tag (at this writing) is eye-popping, but it has a slightly longer cable than those of our picks (25 feet, which is as long as it can be while abiding by national safety standards), and it’s one of the smallest, most discreet models we tested. Like the Grizzl-E and Emporia chargers, it weighs just 20 pounds, is UL-listed, and has a three-year warranty, and it performed well in our amperage tests (passing 40 A to the Tesla and 45 A to the Volkswagen). Also like those models, it can be plugged into a NEMA 14-50 outlet or hardwired in (though it lacks the Grizzl-E’s NEMA 6-50 plug option). It has a NEMA 4 (similar to IP56) rating, meaning it’s highly protected against the elements, and it’s safe to use in temperatures from.22° to 104° Fahrenheit.

Tesla chargers

If you want something more portable and less expensive than the Tesla Wall Connector (and you can deal with slower charging): The Tesla Mobile Connector is a good option. Unlike the Wall Connector, the Mobile Connector can’t be hardwired into your home’s electrical setup, but it comes with two interchangeable plugs: NEMA 5-15 (for a standard 120 V outlet) and NEMA 14-50 (for a more powerful 240 V outlet). It comes with a convenient mesh zip-up storage case, it’s small and sleek, and, at 5 pounds, it’s lighter than any other contender. Like the Wall Connector, it’s backed by a two-year warranty, is UL-listed, is rated to operate safely at temperatures between.22° to 122° Fahrenheit, and has an IP55 weatherproof rating. It has a lower amperage rating (12 A with the NEMA 5-15 plug or 32 A with the NEMA 14-50 plug) than the Wall Connector (which offers 48 A), and its 20-foot cord is on the short side compared with most we tested. But these tradeoffs might be worthwhile if you want a charger you can keep in your trunk for emergencies or occasional slow-charging. Also, at this writing, it costs just 200, making it the least expensive charger we tested.

Charging adapters

If you want an adapter with a 6-inch cord to charge a J1772 EV from any Tesla charger (except a Supercharger): The Lectron Tesla to J1772 Adapter (40 A) is a good option. We thought most people would prefer a small, compact adapter like our pick in this category. But this adapter adds a half-foot to the end of the charging cord, if you prefer to have some extra length (and you don’t mind that it’s a bit bulkier, making it more cumbersome to store). This model has a lower amperage rating than our pick in this category (40 A versus 48 A). But both models performed the same in our testing by allowing up to 48 A to pass through to the vehicle. (A representative from Lectron told us, however, that even though it’s safe to do so, passing more than 40 A through this adapter will likely hamper its long-term performance.) Both adapters cost the same, at the time of writing, and their plug ends fit snugly into their respective ports. Like the other Lectron adapters we tested, this one has a one-year warranty, is UL-listed, and has an IP54 weatherproof rating.

If you want a weather-sealed, UL-listed adapter to charge a Tesla EV from any J1772 charger: The Lectron J1772 to Tesla Charging Adapter (60 A) is a good alternative to the Tesla adapter we recommend. Our pick in this category is the one that comes free with every Tesla, but maybe you lost that one (or want a backup) and want the added peace of mind that comes with having an adapter that’s UL-listed and has an IP54 weatherproof rating—two features Tesla’s own adapter lacks. In that case, this is the one to get. It has a shorter warranty (one year, as opposed to two) and currently costs 10 more than Tesla’s version, but those aren’t dealbreakers. It also has a lower amperage rating than our pick in this category (60 A versus 80 A), but both models performed the same in our testing, delivering up to 48 A to the Tesla. (This is the highest amperage we’d expect to see, since we didn’t test them with any chargers rated for more than 48 A.)

Sustainability and EV chargers

By most metrics, driving an electric vehicle is much kinder to the environment than driving a gas-powered car. Fossil fuels produce large quantities of carbon dioxide when burned, and in turn those carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to climate change.

In 2020, the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the US was the transportation sector, primarily from combustion-engine cars and trucks. By contrast, in 2022 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that EVs “offer the largest decarbonisation potential for land-based transport.” They have no tailpipe emissions, require much less maintenance than traditional vehicles, and lack many of the components that have historically made cars difficult to recycle. (At the same time, it’s important to recognize that the process for recycling lithium-ion batteries, the kind found in EVs and most other rechargeable devices, is still far from perfect.)

In terms of charging EV batteries, there’s still room for improvement, since about 61% of the electricity generated in the US currently comes from fossil fuels. However, if you’re able to install rooftop solar panels or another energy-efficient electrical system in your home, you could greatly reduce the climate impact of powering your EV charger. Even if you’re not a homeowner, there might be a community solar program that you can take advantage of in your area.

As with most electronic devices, one of the most sustainable things you can do with an EV charger is treat it well, avoiding the need to replace it. If a part breaks or it stops working, the company might offer replacement parts or repairs (especially if the charger is still under warranty). There’s also a growing industry built around maintaining and repairing EV chargers, and many DIY-ers offer free tutorials if you want to try your hand at it (if you have questions, we recommend consulting the community at iFixIt, especially if you’re new to electronics repair).

Even if your charger is running like Usain Bolt (as in, perfectly), you can keep its ticker ticking longer by wiping off any excess dust and moisture that accumulates on its exterior surfaces, since they can degrade metal and plastic over time. Also, to avoid damage, don’t run your charger if the weather is hotter or colder than its rated operating temperature. Keep in mind that a stuffy garage is often hotter than the temperature outside.

Sadly, at some point, even the sturdiest and most scrupulously cared-for EV charger will reach its end of days. When that happens, the best thing to do is recycle it. Recycling facilities salvage usable components from old electronics, which can mitigate the need to mine and manufacture the materials needed to make new ones. So this simple action can help conserve natural resources, reduce emissions, and avoid polluting soil and water systems. (And if you’re unsure how to recycle electronics, here’s a handy guide.)

What to look forward to

The 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was host to several EV charger announcements, including the following models, which we plan to test as soon as we can:

We’re also planning to test the Blink HQ200, Blink Series 4, and Tesla J1772 Wall Connector, which were unavailable during our most recent round of testing.

The competition

The Blink HQ 150 is small and streamlined, weighs just 16 pounds, and comes with a wall-mountable cord organizer. It’s also UL-listed, backed by a three-year warranty, and has a 25-foot cord (among the longest we’ve seen—and the longest the National Electrical Code (NEC) will allow). However, it has the lowest amperage rating we accepted in our testing pool (32 A), and we were unable to confirm this in our hands-on testing since it can only be hardwired or plugged into a NEMA 6-50 outlet (we used a NEMA 14-50 outlet for our testing, which is more common). The plug has a handy rubber cap attached to keep out dust and moisture, but it’s otherwise less weatherized than most models we tested; it has a NEMA 3R rating (similar to an IP14 rating), which means it’s only somewhat protected from accumulating ice, airborne dust, and falling rain, sleet, and snow.

The Electrify America ‎EA2R040JPA10-00 slightly exceeded its amperage rating (40 A) in our testing, reaching 45 A with the ID.4 and 40 A with the Model Y. It’s large yet streamlined, weighing just 20 pounds, and it has a 24-foot cord, a built-in cable organizer, and a wall-mountable plug holster. It’s backed by a three-year warranty, is UL-certified, and has two installation options: NEMA 14-50 plug or hardwired. However, it’s on the pricey side (650 at this writing), and its NEMA 3R rating makes it one of the least weatherized models we tested.

The Enphase HCS-50 is on the larger side, but it has a slim profile, and, at 14 pounds, it’s one of the most lightweight models we tested. It has a 25-foot cord, a built-in cable organizer, a wall-mountable plug holster, a lock on the plug to prevent illicit charging, and a NEMA 4 (similar to IP56) weatherization rating. It’s also ETL-certified, backed by a three-year warranty, rated to operate safely at temperatures from.22° to 122° Fahrenheit, and available in a NEMA 6-50, NEMA 14-50, or hardwired configuration. However, its amperage rating is on the lower end (40 A), and it’s the priciest model we tested, costing 725 at this writing.

This article was edited by Ben Keough and Erica Ogg.

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