The Best Portable Level 2 EV Chargers You Can Buy
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The Best Portable Level 2 EV Chargers You Can Buy

Oct 28, 2023

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A wall unit works for most people but not everyone.

Public EV charging infrastructure can be spotty. That's especially true if you live in a rural area and don't have a Tesla to access the Supercharger network. Most electric car owners will install a Level 2 charger in their home, letting them fully recharge the vehicle overnight.

But a Level 2 wall charger won't suit everyone's needs. It can't come with you when you're traveling to a campsite, visiting relatives for the holidays or moving out of your rental. Portable chargers tend to lack some of the features of high-end Level 2 wall chargers like Wifi compatibility and programmable charging. But they are also much more affordable and (if you have the outlet already) require no additional installation.


Amperage determines how quickly a Level 2 charger can power up the vehicle. A 40-amp charger will charge the vehicle more quickly than a 16-amp charger. Some chargers will offer adjustable amperage. Cheaper 16-amp chargers will still charge the vehicle around three times faster than a Level 1 outlet, but that may not be enough to charge the vehicle fully overnight.

The cable needs to be long enough to connect the vehicle with the intended outlet from where it's parked (you cannot use extension cords to charge an EV). The longer the cable the more flexibility you have on where to park. Though a longer cable may be bulkier when transporting it.

Portable Level 2 EV chargers have a wide range of readouts they can give you. Some offer rich LCD readout displays with charging data. Some only offer a green light to confirm it's charging and a red light to alert you to an error. Added complexity and features will result in a higher price.

Most portable EV chargers are designed to work with the J1772 outlet used by most manufacturers. Tesla owners need to use an adapter. Also, note that there's no universal standard for Level 2 compatible outlets. The NEMA 14-30 plug used for driers differs from the NEMA 14-50 plug used for ovens at campsites. Some portable EV chargers will have adapters for different NEMA plugs or to connect to a standard household outlet.

Portable Level 2 EV chargers are expensive. Many of the companies selling them are new and not particularly name-brand. Some chargers can come with one or multiple-year warranties to offer some peace of mind.

Odds are that if you're using a Portable EV charger it may be outside. Dust can still be a concern, even if you live outside an area with wet winters. Certain chargers will have an IP rating, indicating their ingress protection against solid particles and liquids.

The larger the battery in the vehicle the faster charging you're going to need. If you have a plug-in hybrid, a 16-amp Level 2 charger or even a Level 1 charger may suffice. But if you have a 200 kWh pack in your new GMC Hummer EV SUT, you may want to level up to something faster.

Mustart's 40-amp Level 2 EV charger is one of the best value units on offer. It offers super-fast 40-amp charging — about 2.5 times faster than a 16-amp Level 2 charger — without jacking up the price. It has a digital display with several different data points in addition to LED indicators. It has IP67 waterproofing and for the EV connector, and it's IP65 rated for the control box. Mustart backs it with a two-year warranty.

Primecom's Level 2 portable EV charger offers several premium features. A digital display offers temperature readouts and several data points. The amperage is push-button adjustable with several options up to 32 amps. The unit can also communicate with the EV to find the optimal rate. It has an IP56 waterproof rating. And it's available in several extra-long cord lengths up to 50 feet.

Splitvolt's Level 2 EV charger is a great affordable option. It draws 24 amps, the most powerful charging you can do from a 30 amp dryer outlet. It's IP55-rated for all-weather use. And it's on the affordable side at just over $200. Splitvolt's unit does have LED indicators, though it lacks the digital readout of more expensive options.

Lectron's 32-Amp charger will be the right choice for most buyers. It charges at about six times the speed of a standard house outlet. It keeps you informed on charging status with clear LED lights. And it's also protected by a one-year warranty. Buyers should note that the 21-foot cord length is a bit shorter than other options. And while it fits J1772-equipped vehicles, Tesla owners will need an adapter.

Lectron also provides a great portable Level 2 EV charger for Tesla owners (other owners will need an adapter sold separately. It includes interchangeable plugs that permit both Level 1 and Level 2 charging up to 32 amps. It has a push-button stop/start so you don't have to stop and start by unplugging. The 21-foot cord will be adequate for many uses but is shorter than those offered by other manufacturers.

This Schumacher unit includes an adapter for Level 1 charging on a standard household outlet or Level 2 charging on a NEMA 6-20 outlet, with speeds of up to three times traditional Level 1 charging. It also comes with an extra-long 28-foot charging cable. The list price is around $300, but we have seen deals with it on sale for less than $200, which makes it a much better value.