Home EV charging is something we’ve written about countless times, but we continue to learn more about the topic. I recently interviewed the CEO & founder of Splitvolt, Dan Liddle, and although I went into it thinking I’d seen this kind of story before, I learned that I had not and that there were technicalities I was not even previously aware of.
First of all, though, let’s generally explain what SplitVolt offers. One common way to charge an EV at home is by using a normal electricity outlet like you use to charge your phone, plug in your computer, or power a lamp. However, this provides for very slow charging (adding just a few miles of range per hour). Another common option is getting a “level 2” home charging station that increases the charging speed several times over, but that comes with a variety of costs that can add up to hundreds or even often thousands of dollars. SplitVolt, on the other hand, offers the ability to safely split power with a 240V outlet like those used to power dryers, providing about 7 times more miles of range per hour than the slow 120V “tricle charging” mentioned above. Its product can just be plugged into that 240V outlet and then you can plug in your EV charging plug and your dryer (or whatever other appliance is using that outlet) and let the magic happen.
This may sound not all that special, but there are a few unique things about the SplitVolt product that do make it particularly noteworthy. In particular, the company has a deep and strong focus on safety.
It has an internal circuit breaker in its Splitvolt Splitter Switch. This limits the electricity current to a maximum safe rate (24 amps for a 30-amp circuit, 80% of circuit rating). I learned that this is not common among such products, but is very important since allowing the current to exceed that maximum safe rating by allowing an electricity splitter to pull power from the socket for two different devices (or vehicles) can lead to overheating, fire , or other problems.
In the interview, Dan explained in more detail why allowing the device to pull power for two needs was not so smart or safe. He also explained that even drawing power from a 240V circuit for a long time (7 hours, for example) can be a safety risk, because the electricity systems in many houses were not set up for that kind of continuous power flow at that voltage. Yes, plenty of devices in our homes pull 120V continuously for hours, but 240V puts a different level of pressure on the wiring, which is made to handle 240V, but not necessarily continuously for many hours. That’s where the internal circuit breaker is so helpful — if the current or the heat goes above a certain level, the Splitvolt Splitter Switch will stop the charging in order to protect your house. Again, you can listen to Dan’s responses in the interview to get more info on this. (Getting even further into the details on this topic, I also asked about long continuous power pull at 120V for EV charging — like I use at home — and Dan provided an interesting answer with information that hadn’t crossed my mind.)
Other features the Splitvolt Splitter Switch offers are real-time power status, so that you can see at a glance what is happening (in terms of volts, current, kWh) at any time. Other safety features that Splitvolt sees as critical for any such device is that the system be plug-&-play — no need to unscrew high-voltage faceplates, etc.) and that it has a pig-tail plug for correct, safe orientation. Dan explains why those things are so important, particularly the pig-tail plug, in the middle of our interview.
Tesla recently decided to stop including its mobile charging unit with new cars, something which created a lot of controversy among Tesla owner and fans. This is the charging device I use to charge at home on a 120V outlet, like many other Tesla owners. You now have to buy this charging device from the Tesla store if you want it — if it’s not out of stock. I asked about how Dan and his colleagues at Splitvolt were looking at this story and whether they saw their products as more competitive alternatives to that charging device for new Tesla owners. As I expected, he noted that any branded product is going to come with a certain markup (even Tesla products), and that Splitvolt does offer similar products for barely more than half the price of that Tesla charging device. Furthermore, its best and highest-priced product (which is what we discussed in most of this interview) is also much cheaper than that Tesla charging device while offering extra features and higher power charging.
Splitvolt says that the Splitvolt Splitter Switch is the “only product in this new category with thousands of units sold and safely operating across the USA, and hundreds of verified reviews with highest quality and value ratings.” It definitely looks like a top option to me for cheap, safe home EV charging.
Listen to the podcast — embedded above or on your favorite podcast network via the links below — for more expert discussion from Dan Liddle.
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