By John Gartner · August 16, 2019
My 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid has a relatively small 7.6 kilowatt-hour battery. Because I take mostly short trips, the C-Max’s 20 miles of all-electric range—and access to a plug in my garage—means I only have to gas up about once a month. I thoroughly enjoy spacing out those refueling stops as much as possible.
When I bought the C-Max, I decided to use a good old-fashioned 110-volt wall outlet instead of buying a Level 2 home charging station. So it takes me about six or seven hours for a full charge. That works great most of the time. But petrol-guilt sometimes gets me when I have to pick up the kids or run multiple errands in a day. The 110-volt trickle charge means that I leave the house without enough juice for those errands and need (gasp) to stop at a gas station.
The Low-Cost, Easy Answer
Thankfully, there are new solutions for reducing the charging time without springing for a Level 2 charging station that could cost $1,000 or more to buy and install. Several companies are selling charge cords (rather than mounted stations) on Amazon. They are inexpensive and as easy as to use as the cord set that comes with the car.
I recently tested the Accell AxFAST Portable Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charger, which sells for $399.99. It uses the standard J1772 charging inlet. The charging kit includes a connector for a standard NEMA 5-15, 120-volt outlet, or a NEMA 6-20, 240-volt outlet.
Since my garage has an older NEMA 10-30, 240V dryer outlet, I bought an adapter from Accell that sells for $39.99. Fortunately, I didn’t need to upgrade my electrical panel to handle the additional load, and the Accell unit worked perfectly when connected via the adapter.
Using the Accell charger, my charge time for filling up a depleted battery was slashed from overnight to about two hours. When operating at 240v and 16 amps, the charger provides approximately 10 miles of driving distance per hour connected to the plug. That gets me back on the road with a full pack in the time it takes to do a load of laundry.
The cable is nearly 25 feet long, which is sufficient for reaching a vehicle’s charging port whether it is on the front or back. A travel bag is included to make it easy to use away from home. The Accell AxFAST features indicator lights so I can see its progress.
I’m now charging at home at about triple the previous speed. So my trips to the gas station are cut down to once every two or three months. My electric miles are up, and my fuel costs are down. I recommend a portable 240-volt charger like the Accell AxFast to any plug-in hybrid drive who’s been putting off the upgrade to Level 2.