Posted 5.19.2016 in Reviews by Christopher
Aerovironment’s TurboCord is such a marvel of compact, elegant design that you can’t help but wonder why all electric cars do not come with this unit standard-issue. In fact, Volvo has included the TurboCord in their top-of-the-line PHEV SUV. The dual-voltage TurboCord plugs in to either a standard 120v household socket or a 20-amp 240v outlet. The TurboCord is especially well suited for owners of plug-in hybrids and other cars that have 3kW chargers, which charge at 16 amps. Although the TurboCord will charge cars with 6kW chargers like the Fiat 500e and most newer Nissan Leafs, it will be at half the speed they are capable of. If you have or can install a low cost NEMA 6-20R outlet at the office, this unit could serve as your workplace charging solution and as your everyday travel cord. It can also work as your home charger if your daily drive cycle can be satisfied with the 10 mph charging that the 3kW TurboCord can deliver.
All of the unit’s control electronics are stuffed into a tiny enclosure that is also a handle and the unit’s wall plug. It is by far the smallest 240v EVSE on the market, less than half the size of the 120v units that auto manufacturers provide with EVs. The complete unit weighs just 4.2 lbs. The 20 ft cord is also remarkably small and lightweight for a 3kW unit. Indicator lights at the top of the enclosure show charge status; blinking blue for charging and solid blue for charge complete. A solid or blinking red LED indicates various fault conditions that can be decoded and diagnosed with the help of the user manual and Aerovironment customer support. Given Aerovironment’s reputation for quality and reliability, problems are very unlikely. Aerovironment even made the TurboCord waterproof, not just with case seals, but by potting the entire electronics assembly with waterproof putty, which also makes the electronic circuits impervious to damage from bumps and vibration.
The 240v connector plugs into a NEMA 6-20R outlet, which uses the same small blades as a 120v outlet, but with one of the blades rotated 90 degrees relative to the other, like a T. Although not the most common 240V plug, installation of the outlet at home or work would be a relatively simple job for an electrician, which should keep installation costs low. The TurboCord is a great option for EV owners that comes in its own high quality nylon carrying case, allowing you to carry just one cord for both 120v and 240v charging at 6-20R outlets.