Emporia Energy Emporia EV Charger
advantages and disadvantages
- Beautiful aesthetics and build quality
- Detailed energy telemetry down to the second
- Integration with the VUE unit for whole-home energy monitoring
- Excellent app
- No option for white cable with white unit
- No integration with third-party DC charging services
more shopping choices
Over the past year, I have purchased two electric cars: a Polestar 2 and one Let’s be EV6. I’ve also had the opportunity to review several level 2 fast AC chargers, especially those of the “smart” variety, which are connected to Wi-Fi and the app and can give you a rundown of your energy consumption (in kilowatt hours and dollar equivalents) and can also be used for smart scheduling with your energy provider for off-peak charging.
With the exception of Tesla’s home charger, I’ve tested all major competitors for best home EV charger in the smart category – ChargePoint, Electrify America, Grizzle-E Smart and Emporia Energy.
Although I love them for different reasons, the Emporia Energy unit is my favorite. Why? The price, the level of detail of energy consumption telemetry and the quality of the app, and the potential for whole-home energy monitoring.
Also: The best home EV chargers
Aesthetics and manufacturing quality
Since it’s priced about $100-$200 less than its major competitors, you might expect the Emporia EV charger to sacrifice industrial design and build quality and be limited in features, but that’s not not the case.
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I found the build quality to be excellent. And the Emporia has a sleek, flat, clean design (in a choice of white or black) that blends in with the colors of most garages and home exteriors.
I would like an option for a white cord instead of a black cord in a future model, but that’s finicky. My unit is mounted outside my garage and when the cord is coiled you can’t tell it’s there.
Technics and installation
The rectangular device with rounded corners is covered with weather-resistant plastic. It has four LEDs on the front with indicators for system power (green), Wi-Fi connection (multicolor), charging (multicolor), and fault (amber). It comes with a heavy 24 foot charging cord and thick plastic SAE J1772 connector handle for the EV – if you have one You’re hereyou will need a J1772 adapter, sold by Tesla and third parties.
The unit comes with a mounting bracket and uses eight drywall anchors to secure it in position (see installation and user guide) (PDF). You will need a different drill bit and anchors if you are drilling in solid concrete.
Before you install the Emporia, or any other EV charger for that matter, you’ll need a 240V 14-50 NEMA outlet (you can also use a NEMA 6-50 outlet, like I do, and use a adapter cable) and a circuit breaker to match the maximum charging speed of your residence. In my case, I could install a 50A circuit breaker, which gives a maximum load rating of 39A/40A because the NEMA standard only allows 80% use of the circuit.
The Emporia device has a maximum load rating of 48A but requires a dedicated circuit (no NEMA outlet) and a 60A or greater circuit breaker to do so; any product advertising 48A/50A output requires a dedicated circuit, such as the popular ChargePoint device. You’ll want to consult an electrician to determine if your residence can even accommodate a 60A service or more.
The unit can also be reduced to 15/20/25/40/45A circuit breakers during initial setup, which will also reduce your load power.
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Keep in mind that if you’re charging overnight, you won’t see a huge difference between the 32A, 40A, and 48A power output, especially if you’re partial/filling as opposed to full charging. from, say, 10 or 20 percent battery. In the latter case, you may need to start a few hours earlier; whether it takes 4 hours or 6 hours to fully charge doesn’t matter to most households.
After mounting and powering up, installation is a breeze. You download the Emporia Energy app (iOS and Android), choose “Add device”, then connect to the device via Bluetooth and configure it for your Wi-Fi network.
The unit only supports 2.4 GHz networks, which seems comparable to a smart EV charger. We had no problem connecting to our home Wi-Fi even though our neighborhood is congested with 2.4GHz SSIDs.
The Emporia app
Emporia Energy’s unit differs from other smart EV chargers because its product is a energy hub for the whole house. Although you can buy the charger just to charge your EV for $399, the company also sells it as an integrated bundle with 16 circuit sensors, its Emporia Vue energy monitor, which integrates with your circuit panel (PDF) and four smart outlets, for $564.
I haven’t had a chance to test the Vue or the smart plugs, but the idea of having a whole-home energy management and monitoring solution is very appealing. The Vue can also adjust your EV charger to automatically charge your car to draw excess energy from your solar power system – I don’t have a solar power system, but would definitely look into this if I did.
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The Emporia app also integrates with Ecobee, Emerson Sensi, Honeywell Total Connect smart thermostats (sorry, no Nest or Amazon), Emporia Energy’s Bluetooth-connected home backup batteries, and electric vehicles that have smart car Data API network connectivity.
I haven’t had a chance to test the SmartCar feature, but it looks great because it will know remotely if your vehicle is charging anywhere, not just from an Emporia device.
The app’s home screen shows you the devices you have onboarded for monitoring (charger, SmartCar-connected EVs, thermostats, smart plugs, batteries, and circuits), and there’s a main graph view that shows your energy consumption down to the secondif necessary.
So, for example, you can see the live rate of the charger as it goes from just a few amps to 48A, if your circuit supports it, and it reduces the charging speed towards the end of the charge cycle . The graph view will also show you views of energy consumption per minute, hour, day, week, month, and year, measured in kilowatt hours, amps, gallons of gasoline equivalent, car miles, CO2 offset, and even trees. If you have defined your energy provider — in my case, FPL — it can also show you how much energy you have consumed in dollars, per charge, in daily logs and graph views.
The device can also set charging schedules based on whether you’re signed up for a “time-of-use” billing type or whether your utility provider charges on a peak or off-peak cycle, so you can optimize the time to recharge your vehicle. In my case, due to my power consumption, FPL does not recommend a Schedule of use or if I use the energy during peak or off-peak, so I have not enabled scheduling in the app. However, if I lived anywhere else where this power usage was impacting my billing, I would enable it and investigate these programs.
Since Emporia Energy doesn’t have a charging network, you won’t get consolidated billing reports like you would with the Tesla, ChargePoint or Electrify America apps when used with their home chargers – that’s probably the only one negative point that I see about this device. Still, I’m not someone who uses these networks a lot, as most of my top-ups happen at home.
At the end of the line
The Emporia EV Charger is a powerful and promising device that can help you manage your vehicle’s energy consumption with whole-home monitoring if you purchase it as an integrated solution with Emporia Energy’s Vue unit. and accompanying sensors, which is useful for solar users looking to charge their vehicles with excess power.
However, even if you are not purchasing the EV Smart Charger as an integrated solution, the unit has other features, such as scheduling options to optimize charging times based on peak or off-peak cycles, helping you save on electricity bills. With all of these features in one device, Emporia’s Smart EV Charger is worth considering if you want an efficient way to manage your home energy system and monitor your vehicle’s energy consumption.
Alternatives to consider
The ChargePoint Flex is probably the highest-end EV charger on the market today and integrates with ChargePoint’s EV charging network, so you have a complete understanding of your energy use in dollars and cents at home and at ChargePoint locations.
The Grizzle-E, made in Canada and made of stainless steel, is a “tough” and weatherproof EV charger that comes in smart “dumb” and also app-connected versions. This would be my choice if you live in an environment with extreme cold or heat and need to mount the box outdoors.