The Wallbox Pulsar Plus Is a Smart Home EV Charger That’s Also a Smart Buy
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The Wallbox Pulsar Plus Is a Smart Home EV Charger That’s Also a Smart Buy

Oct 08, 2023

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Whether you want your home EV charging station to be as advanced as your smartphone or as simple as the USB cord you use to charge that phone, the Wallbox Pulsar Plus is a good buy. This smart EV charger gets the basics right and offers several clever features for power users.

Every buyer will appreciate the long 25-foot cable, the flexible installation options, and the compact design that lets you drape the cord around the unit or use the standalone cable hook and holster. It's also a great choice for an EV owner who wants to charge multiple EVs simultaneously, charge using solar panels, charge on a preprogrammed schedule, or charge at full power without upgrading their home's limited electrical service.

Wallbox sells two versions of the Pulsar Plus. The $649 Wallbox Pulsar Plus 40A charges a vehicle at up to 9.6 kilowatts and can be either hardwired or plugged into a 240-volt NEMA 14-50 outlet. The $699 Wallbox Pulsar Plus 48A must be hardwired to allow for faster charging with its maximum power of 11.5 kW. The difference will be trivial for most EV owners who plug in their vehicles overnight. Charging a Hyundai Ioniq 5 AWD with the 40A will add about 27 miles of range per hour, the 48A roughly 32 miles per hour.

(Pricing note: We've seen discounts and digital coupons offered recently, so be sure to check current pricing for the Wallbox Pulsar Plus if you're cross-shopping other EV chargers.)

There are some subtle design differences that might lead you to choose one over the other. The 40A's cable is about a quarter inch smaller in diameter; that might not sound like a lot, but it makes for a noticeably lighter and more flexible cord that's easier to unwind and re-coil, particularly in cold weather. The Pulsar Plus 40A also comes with a rubberized coating on the connector handle that feels more premium than the 48A's hard plastic finish. Based on that, we recommend the more affordable Pulsar Plus 40A unless you drive a big-battery EV such as the GMC Hummer EV or the Ford F-150 Lightning and regularly charge from nearly empty to full.

Wallbox's free Android and Apple iOS apps are attractive and easy to use, although the company has made a bizarre decision by giving the most prominent digital real estate to a dial for manually changing the charging amperage. Most EV owners use their charging stations the same way you use a Ronco Rotisserie: Just set it and forget it. The maximum amperage should be programmed by the installer, and the user should never need to think about it again.

Look past that quirk, and you'll find several useful features. The app reports basic energy consumption and charging cost data and offers the ability to set a schedule so that you can, for example, plug in your vehicle at 6 p.m. but delay charging until 10 p.m. That will be useful for any homeowner who has a time-of-use plan from their utility, which offers a discounted rate for electricity used during off-peak hours (generally around 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., but the hours vary). We should note, however, that using the charging station to a set schedule will be redundant for many EV owners, as most electric cars offer the ability to do the same thing from the built-in infotainment system.

The Pulsar Plus becomes even more compelling if you have reason to use its more advanced features. If an electrician tells you you need to spend thousands of dollars upgrading your home's electrical panel or the service wires coming into the house, Wallbox has a much cheaper alternative. When paired with a $279 power meter, the Pulsar Plus uses a function called Power Boost to actively adjust its power consumption based on other electricity use in your house.

Here's an example of how that works: Let's say your home only has a 100-amp main circuit breaker and all your appliances are electric. You can probably charge your vehicle at full power while you sleep, but if you try to do that while the water heater, clothes dryer, air conditioner, and oven are running, you'll likely trip the breaker for the whole house. Power Boost detects how much electricity your house is consuming at any given time and derates the Pulsar Plus until more power becomes available.

For drivers with multiple EVs, the Power Sharing feature intelligently splits the electrical load among two (or as many as 25!) Pulsar Plus charging stations wired on the same circuit. This is particularly useful if your home's breaker panel can only accommodate one 240-volt circuit for EV charging or if an electrician tells you the amperage of the main breaker won't support charging two cars at once. In that case, you can gently inform your electrician that they're not wrong, they're just ill informed about the more advanced charging stations available today.

Using the same add-on power meter mentioned above, the Pulsar Plus can also be programmed so that an EV is either entirely or partially charged from a home's solar panels. And if you plan to install the unit outdoors or in a parking garage, you can electronically lock the charging station to prevent someone from helping themselves to the electricity you pay for.

If all that sounds complex, that's because the Wallbox Pulsar Plus has more advanced capabilities than your average EV home charger. Fortunately, no matter how you use it, once the unit has been installed and set up, that complexity disappears and is replaced with a simple user interface and experience—just like the best smartphones.

WALLBOX PLULSAR PLUS 40A MSRP: Max power: Cable length/diameter: Pros: Cons: WALLBOX PLULSAR PLUS 48A MSRP: Max power: Cable length/diameter: Pros: Cons: