Published on November 19th, 2017 | by Kyle Field0
eMotorWerks JuiceBox Pro 40 EVSE Review (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
November 19th, 2017 by Kyle Field
On paper, it appears that eMotorWerks’ JuiceBox is the most advanced and intelligent Level 2 EVSE (“EV charger”) on the market today. As such, we were excited for the opportunity to spend some quality time with the JuiceBox Pro 40 to see if it lived up to the hype.
About the JuiceBox
At its core, the JuiceBox is your run of the mill 40 amp | 10 kW Level 2 EVSE. You power it up through a hard-wired connection or the optional NEMA 14-50 plug and you’re off and running. Plugging in a plug-in vehicle gets the juice flowing and the car’s driving range increases.
Check out the specs for a taste of what the JuiceBox is packing under the hood:
- High charging speed, 40A | 10 kW
- Full JuiceNet app and web-based charging control
- LED indication for power, connectivity, charging status
- Voice control via Amazon Alexa
- Portable: can be removed from the mounting bracket in seconds
- Durable, fireproof, and waterproof metal case
- UL Listed
In addition to the Pro 40, the JuiceBox is also available in a 40 Lite version that comes with a basic set of wireless/networked features and a 75 Pro version that ups the amperage to 75 amps for those looking for a bigger straw to slurp power through.
The JuiceBox Pro 40 we tested came equipped with a NEMA 14-50 plug on the backend. It is also available with bare wires coming out the back for those looking to hardwire it in. After finding a stud and drilling a few mounting screws in to hold the mount plate to the wall, the EVSE was stable and ready for action. I plugged that directly into my recently purchased Dryer Buddy (more on that later) and was off and running, simple as that.
On the software side of things, I would recommend setting up a JuiceNet account (free) and installing the eMotorWerks smartphone app (available for Android and Apple, also free) before the unit shows up to make things that much easier when it does arrive. From there, setting up the JuiceBox is as simple as connecting directly to the EVSE from the smartphone app via WiFi and walking through a few simple steps. The process is well documented in the included paperwork and gets the EVSE connected up to your local WiFi and to the app in a few minutes.
For more complicated or flexible installations, I was surprised to find that eMotorWerks also offers a range of plug adapters, rainproof boxes, and similar accessories for very reasonable prices that shows that eMotorWerks understands the various challenges faced by plug-in vehicle drivers in their homes and on the road.
Charging with the JuiceBox (without spilling any amps)
After plugging the JuiceBox into power and connecting it to your local WiFi network, you can start playing with the JuiceBox. By default, the JuiceBox Pro 40 is set to pull 40 amps, but this can be adjusted downward through the app or the web portal. We have it plugged into a 30 amp dryer outlet, so I have the amperage set to 29 amps to ensure we don’t trip the breaker.
Charging is as simple as plugging the standard J1772 connector into a plug-in vehicle. The cable from the EVSE itself and the connector is a bit on the thick side, which makes it a bit awkward to handle, but it’s still manageable. Compared to our Schneider Electric charger, it is quite a bit thicker. It compares to the Tesla Wall Connector cable and speaks to the high power it is capable of moving and the high-quality materials with which it was built.
JuiceBox will also communicate with your vehicle and deliver the correct power for the vehicle. Though it obviously cannot charge faster than the rated power of the JuiceBox or you car’s onboard charger. It also won’t charge faster than the maximum power setting in the app / web portal.
Asking my wife what she thinks about the charger, her answer was straight to the point, noting that as long as the car is charged in the morning, she’s happy. To that effect, the convenience feature of notifications if the vehicle is not plugged in by 10:00 pm has saved her at least twice in the short time we have had the JuiceBox. So, yeah, it helps ensure that her car is fully charged by the time she leaves for work, even if she doesn’t notice the details.
Now that you’ve started charging your plug-in vehicle, it’s time to start playing around in the app and the web portal to see what they can do. The average user will find the notification options useful, specifically the ability to set an alert if the vehicle has not been plugged in by a user-adjustable time of the day. For me, it’s 10:00 pm so if the car hasn’t been plugged in by then, I get a little popup reminder to go confirm if the car is charging or not. This saved us once when my wife didn’t fully get the car plugged in and a second time when she parked out front to do laundry then forgot to pull the car back in. I took care of both and it was great.
Other notifications are available for drivers with different needs that can all be set up from the web portal or in the app. In addition to notifications, many users will find the current charging status helpful. It can display the number of miles or kilometers added in the current session, historical charging data and the like.
These details are gathered in real-time but also saved for later analysis or exporting such as the average charging duration, start/stop times, and kWh used per day. Data geeks like me will nerd out on the csv-exportable data to their heart’s content to put it all in beautiful monthly usage charts, savings graphs and average daily departure time.
These are the features expected by users in today’s Internet-of-Things consumerspace and it’s great to finally see an EVSE manufacturer that gets it. Think about the eMotorWerks JuiceBox as the Nest of EVSE — it’s smart so you don’t have to be (even if you are).
All the Connected Things
The JuiceBox is a network-connected, intelligent Level 2 charger that gives owners the ability to interact with and manage the EVSE from a smartphone app or web browser. The charging speed can be adjusted, notifications are sent, proactive alerts like “Hey Kyle, it’s 10:00 pm and your car isn’t plugged in. Wanna do something about that?” But that’s really just the beginning.
The JuiceBox can also be controlled remotely, including by voice through the Amazon Alexa appliance, if that’s something you’re into. Just uttering … or muttering “Alexa, ask JuiceBox to get status” will return a handful of stats about the current state of the car. It’s a quick and easy way to check on whether or not the car is plugged in and the like and allows you to start and stop charging. It’s a neat touch that will resonate with some while not even registering as a relevant feature for others.
The real power of having a connected EVSE is in how it can interact with your utility. This functionality is bundled into a suite of solutions called JuiceNet. JuiceNet is what takes the eMotorWerks JuiceBox to the next level in terms of forward-thinking, grid-connected features. JuiceNet is not available with my utility (Southern California Edison) yet, so we weren’t able to test that out.
JuiceNet also offers an upgrade to JuiceNet Green ($50) that automagically charges your plug-in vehicle when the grid is at its cleanest. That sounds great but I wanted more so I dug around a bit to find out how JuiceNet Green really works. The eMotorWerks team partnered with a subsidiary of the Rocky Mountain Institute, WattTime, to integrate JuiceBox into WattTime’s real-time (every 5 minutes) monitoring of how clean the grid is.
Tying JuiceBox into WattTime allows it to adjust charging dynamically as the grid gets cleaner (or not) throughout the night. With plug-in vehicles representing the single largest flexible load in an average plug-in vehicle household, the ability to align its usage with the cleanest energy is a powerful tool. It’s effectively intelligent demand response capability at the EVSE level that only wants to drink green energy.
To learn more about the JuiceBox or other eMotorWerks products, head over to the eMotorWerks JuiceBox site. After you’ve had your fill, stop by our listing on the fresh out-of-the-box CleanTechnica buying guide page for the JuiceBox to read reviews or write a review of your own about the JuiceBox or other cleantech gear.