A few weeks ago, AxFAST sent me their 32-amp portable EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, or a more technically correct term for “EV Charger”). I was originally going to test this one at home, but I had an issue with my wiring that isn’t going to be repaired soon. So, I took the unit out to a 50-amp pedestal that one of the small cities in my area lets people use.
Specifications & Features
Before I get into how it worked (quite well), let’s take a look at the specifications and features.
What this unit is basically designed to do is provide a common 6.6 kW of power to vehicles. With a full 240 volts (like you’d get at a residential power source), you can probably get more wattage out of it, but many EVs can only pull about that much. 6.6 kW is very common, but some EVs are capable of getting 7.2 kW or even 11 kW.
Plugging any of those vehicles that can draw more than 32 amps into this unit won’t hurt anything, because it limits itself to what’s safe and only feeds the vehicle what the unit can safely provide. Likewise, if you have an older EV or PHEV that can only pull 2.8 or 3.5 kW, the unit will only provide what the car asks for and draws from the circuit. Everything happens behind the scenes and doesn’t require you to change any settings.
The only time you might have a problem is if you’re plugging the unit into some janky installation where you can’t draw more than 20 or 30 amps. If that’s the case, you’ll either need to set the car to draw less or upgrade your wiring, or you’ll get a tripped breaker (or worse). But, if you’ve got a NEMA 14-50 plug that has been professionally installed (a good idea), you shouldn’t have a problem at all.
This EVSE does have some very cool features for portable use. It comes with a carry bag that fits both the EVSE and its cords (from plug to box and box to car) as long as you wind it up properly. It’s a decent bag that shouldn’t have any problems riding in the back of your car should you choose to use it as a portable charging unit for emergencies, RV parks, or visiting places with a NEMA 14-50 plug.
One cool feature it has is the ability to wind the cord around it. I’ve previously had an EVSE that came with my Nissan LEAF, and the constant stress on the cord eventually led to it starting to have problems. By being able to put everything away neatly and contain it all in the bag to sit still, the unit should work for the life of an EV.
The other cool thing about having a place to wind the cord is that you could use this EVSE at home and install it on the wall. It comes with screws to mount it on the wall near a NEMA 14-50 plug and comes with a dummy plug you can mount to the wall and hang the end of the charging cord up. As you can see in the video above, this could give you not only a professional-looking installation, but give you a place to safely store the cord and keep it off the ground.
So, the AxFAST 32-amp EVSE can be used for a home installation, portable use, or both (keep it on the wall between road trips, and load it in the bag when you’re leaving home). It’s very versatile, and can play both roles very well.
Like someone would on a road trip, I took the unit to a local park that has a 50-amp RV pedestal (with a NEMA 14-50 plug).
Unwinding it went very well, as did getting everything plugged in. The unit isn’t too heavy, so it doesn’t strain the plug or make it hard to get plugged in. In this case, the 14-50 plug wasn’t far from my car, so it was easy to test things out. But, with almost 25 feet of cord, even awkward situations where you can’t park right next to the plug wouldn’t get in the way of getting a charge.
When I tested it, I got the usual amount of power in the LeafSpy App. Using a Bluetooth OBD II dongle, you can use LeafSpy to connect to the car and see what’s going on with various things like battery health or how much power the air conditioner is using. The LEAF pulls a maximum of 6.6 kW, but there’s always around a 10% loss, so 6 kilowatts is what you’d usually see when measuring at the battery (like LeafSpy does).
When I was all done, I was able to easily spool up the charging cable, put the unit away in its bag, and get it all put away in the car. The first time, I didn’t get everything put away neatly, but when I got home, I figured out that it’s best to put the unit with its cord spooled onto it in the bag first, and then put the NEMA 14-50 plug and the J1772 ends in the bag. This makes everything neat and tidy for the next time you use it.
Why Taking A Portable Level 2 EVSE Along Is A Great Idea
In a few years, we’ll get to the point where there are DC fast charging stations everywhere. The Infrastructure Bill stations will make them happen every 50 miles, but that’s still years away. Even then, you’d be in trouble if you got to a charging station and all of the stalls are down without enough range to get to the next station.
Options, especially in rural towns, can be limited. Plugging in at a normal wall socket only adds 4 miles per hour, so it could take over a day to get enough range to get to the next station in some cases. If you’re lucky, there might be a hotel or business with Level 2 charging, but if you’re not lucky, the only remaining option will probably be an RV park that you find on Plugshare.
While not all parks are cool with an EV plugging in and charging, many are cool with it and won’t charge you much for power. But, at an RV park, it’s BYOEVSE (Bring Your Own EVSE). Having one in your car can make the difference between having a decent option in an emergency and not.
All images by Jennifer Sensiba.
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