Posted 03.24.2015 in Reviews by Christopher
ClipperCreek has again lowered pricing on their 240 volt 15 amp charge station. The unit is matched for plug-in cars with 3kW on-board chargers which includes plug-in hybrids, older Leafs, the Chevy Spark and Smart ED. The unit is also ideal for people who want to install the slower 240v charger using an existing 20amp electrical circuit to avoid the expense of installing new wiring to the garage or parking space.
The new low price level is a fairly significant development. Just a little more than two years ago the LCS-20 was the industry's low-cost leader at $995. The LCS-20 is now over $100 less than the company's LCS-25, a 20amp charger which uses the same enclosure and a slightly higher amperage, 3 foot longer cord. The sub-$400 price makes the LCS-20 the lowest cost 240v charger available from a major manufacturer.
The LCS-20 is intended for hard-wired installation in a garage or parking area. The compact rugged case, shared across the company's LCS line, carries a NEMA 4 rating suitable for outdoor installations. The outdoor rating means this unit could also be useful for workplace charging where charge speed is not an issue, access to a larger number of chargers is needed. At 67% of the price of the Clipper Creek HCS-40 30-amp unit, three of the LCS-20s could be purchased for the cost of two HCS-40s.
In workplace or public settings where access must be limited, LCS-20 can be installed in a locking cabinet or it can be used with the Liberty Access Technologies' Hydra Control Module access control and billing system. The main audience for this simple, easy to use unit, however is residential users.
Except for cases where an EV driver is looking to conform to the limitations of existing wiring or a constrained budget, the selection of charger rating is usually dictated by the specifications of the car. In a residential installation, there's usually no advantage to purchasing a more expensive charging station that has greater capacity than a car can handle. The exception to this is if a purchaser wants to “future-proof” the installation and anticipates the purchase of an electric car with a faster onboard charger, but as the rapid price drops mentioned above indicate, that rationale might be a false economy.
For people looking to save some money by purchasing a lower cost 240v charger or using existing wiring, here's a good rule of thumb to compare the power ratings of various charge units available from ClipperCreek and others:
These rule of thumb estimates use rounding and individual results may vary, but the ratios here will remain accurate. Measuring charge rate in mph usually makes for a more useful and easy to understand comparison than citing the watts.
The 30amp Clipper Creek HCS-40 will charge a car twice as fast as the 15 amp LCS-20 if the car has a 6.6kW charger like the Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit EV and most newer Leafs. Car that have a 3.3kW on-board charger, like the Chevy Spark, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Smart ED or most plug-in hybrids, will charge at 10mph no matter how fast the wall mounted charge station (charge cord) is.
A couple of thoughtful design features make it clear that Clipper Creek designers have enough experience to understand the little details that make the charger easier to use. There is no on/off button. The unit stays in a very low-power standby mode, drawing power only to light the single status LED, until it is plugged in.
Cord reel ears are integrated into charger body; the cord wraps around the unit to keep it off the floor and away from tires and other damage. ClipperCreek provides a rugged, low cost plasic charge coupler holster that keeps the charge coupler out of the way until needed.
The company's reputation for reliability is well deserved. This reporter's experience with two ClipperCreek units, an LCS-25 and an HCS-60 has been that they operate flawlessly. Neither one has ever had so much as a hiccup and have never required a reset or any other attention. The LCS-20 is made in America, has ETL Certification and comes with a 3 year warranty.
For drivers who own a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Plug-in Prius or or a battery electric with a 3.3 kW charger like the Chevy Spark EV, Mitsubishi iMiEV or Smart ED, the ClipperCreek LCS-20 is a terrific deal.
The LCS-20 is also a great low cost option for cars with a 6.6kW charger whose owners don't drive a lot and don't need quick turn-around on trips to and from home during the day. For EV drivers that do occasionally need to charge at home at the fastest rate their car can handle, it will be worthwhile to spend the extra $195 for the HCS-40.