At-home charging stations are almost a must for electric car owners. Unless you can charge at work everyday or really like waiting a long time to charge from a standard wall outlet, a home charging stations is vital. They used to be quite large and expensive but they’re now getting more affordable and are quite slim by comparison to older models.
Hitting on the basics of electricity supplies, in the United States a 120V is a common household plug, and 240V is what is used for household electric ovens, dryers and air conditioning units. A 240V outlet can charge, depending on the power level and how much energy the car can accept, at 3-6x the rate of a 100V. A Level 1 Charger, which uses a household 110V current, is good when you are in a pinch – BMW even calls it an “occasional charger” so you get the hint that you need a Level 2 Charger.
One of the larger manufacturers of home charging stations is Clipper Creek.
The Clipper Creek HCS-50 EV Charging Station is tough, reliable and powerful 40 amp station paired with a durable rubber over-molded cable and vehicle connector. It has 240-volt, Level 2 charging capabilities and is good for both indoor and outdoor use. The standard HCS-50 unit (not the HCS-50p, which is a plug-in unit that requires you to already have a 240-volt outlet) costs $835 (on sale now for $635) but it does come with everything you need:
- 25 feet of charging cable for installation and operations flexibility
- Integrated cable wrap to make storing the cable simple and convenient
- Wall mount holster allows storage of the vehicle connector where it’s most convenient
- Fully sealed NEMA 4 rated enclosure for product durability and installation anywhere
- High power charging cable is rubber overmolded for increased durability and superior cold performance
- No assembly required
- No mounting kit required
- Safety listed by ETL and cETL
Installing the charging station (note: it’s not a charger, don’t say it is or EV fans will be mad at you. The actual charger is on-board the EV itself) is quite simple, actually. Clipper Creek advertises the HCS-50 as having the lowest cost of installation of any charging station. That’s because it doesn’t really need much. The wallbox is pretty straight forward, as it just mounts to the wall with a coupe of screws into the wall studs.
It also comes with a wall-mounted holster for the charging handle, which also just screws to the wall. The separate holster for the handle can upset some fans who’d rather have it integrated into the charging station itself. However, it does keep the handle flush with the wall, so it doesn’t stick straight out and makes the entire unit more compact.
The tricky part is running wires and installing a new breaker. Even if you’re a handy person who likes to work around the house, a professional electrician is recommended, as this isn’t an easy task and you want to make sure it’s done properly. 8 Gauge wires and 40 amp breaker are needed to comply with local electrical codes which may vary state-by-state. If you live in a house with an attached garage, then you’re in luck. The installation is likely the easiest possible, with running the appropriate wires from the electrical panel to the charging station. In a building complex the installation is a bit more challenging so it’s always best to check with an electrician and your condominium association before you being the process.
This HCS-50 charging station is capable of 240-volt and 40 amps, which translates to 9.6 kW, so it can charge a BMW i3 in about 4.5 hours with Level 2 charging. That’s because the i3 can accept up to 7.7 kW of power, and the HCS-50 is capable of doing that. The rest of BMW’s plug-in hybrid iPerformance lineup can only accept a max charge of 3.7 kW. That’s due to their smaller batteries, though the smaller battery doesn’t take as long to charge, either, so it evens out. The only EVs currently on the market in North America that can accept higher charging than 7.7 kW are the Tesla Model S and X and the Mercedes-Benz B250e. You can order the plug-in versions with either a NEMA 14-50 or NEMA 6-50 plug. Therefore, you can have your electrician install the 240v you choose before you even buy the EVSE.
Clipper Creek has an extensive list of electric vehicle charging equipment and probably offer more options than any other company. There are many great wall-box charging stations on the market, however, the Clipper Creek HCS-50 is a low-cost, low-profile option that has low install costs and stays nice and compact in your garage or on your exterior wall.