How to get more Level 2 EV charging flexibility without costly electrical work

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by Kivi

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09.01.2020


A dedicated 240-volt home-charging circuit is one of the make-or-break essentials for electric vehicle ownership. If you have it, life is easy: plug in each evening, and the battery is charged to your specification by morning. If you don’t—even if you otherwise have the garage space—a 120-volt AC outlet probably won’t cut it.

But American garages—even newer ones, in many cases—are woefully equipped for this. Renters are often left without options, and even owners, installing the circuit and sockets needed for fuss-free charging is often cost-prohibitive as it can require panel upgrades.

NeoCharge Appliance Smart Splitter

NeoCharge Appliance Smart Splitter

That’s where the NeoCharge Smart Splitter launched Tuesday comes in. Simply put, it lets AC vehicle chargers share an existing circuit—like the one you might currently use for your 240V clothes dryer or water heater, in or near a typical home garage.

The project started in 2017 when two Cal Poly engineering students, Spencer Harrison and Akhil Velunu, encountered some of those barriers and looked for a solution. The product they’ve created and refined, measures 5.25 by 5.25 by 2.75 inches and is designed to plug into a 50A circuit. 

On the device, there’s a primary and secondary side. So if you have the dryer plugged in as the primary, the device will split what you don’t use by the primary toward the secondary side. Likewise, if you have two car chargers plugged in, the device will split the output depending on the draw of the devices in the same way—in both cases governed by firmware. 

The system will work well with either smart-charging or non-networked units you choose to install on the wall, or with the 240V mobile charge cords that many EV makers include with their vehicles.

The U.S.-built device is UL-listed and has been tested for the past two years in various environments—although it’s for indoor use only. Simple LED indicators show power and charging status, and the unit has a quick release to detach from its wall mounting bracket. 

NeoCharge supported sockets

NeoCharge supported sockets

It also has built-in wi-fi connectivity for over-the-air firmware upgrades and potential future features, and a mobile app still under development will help track power usage and provide notifications. No app is necessary to use the device on a daily basis. 

Two units are available. An Appliance Smart Splitter is rated at 24A total draw, while a Dual-Car Smart Splitter is rated at 40A. They cost $449 and $499, respectively.

NeoCharge has worked with various EV charging companies, utilities, and solar providers, and it’s received interest from several automakers. So expect to hear more about that in the near future. 

Clipper Creek HCS-D50 in use

Clipper Creek HCS-D50 in use

If you do have a 50A circuit you can dedicate to EV charging and want to get a second electric car but can’t make room for a second circuit in your electrical panel, there’s another solution that would work well to help split the difference daily and not turn it into a constant shuffle of cars and charging cables. Last month Clipper Creek announced the HCS-D50, which will split its 40 amps (9.6 kw) equally between two cars when both are charging, or send up to 40A through one connector if only one is charging.

That HCS-D50 unit, also U.S.-made, costs $1,479. The upgrade to a unit introduced last year, it’s indoor/outdoor and comes with two 25-foot charging cables and connectors. 

What we like about both of these solutions is they can expand the potential of a limited electrical setup without investing more on a new circuit or service panel, which would allow more charging for EVs. And as more people with less-than-perfect home setups go electric, that will be increasingly in-demand.



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