Blink is a leading manufacturer of charging products for commercial charging stations and home EV consumers. At CES we caught five of their new commercial products. But on the residential side, we got the opportunity to unbox and install the new Blink HQ 200 smart EV home charger in my garage. Here’s how it went:
[Editor’s note: I wasn’t able to review Blink’s charger at my family’s house, but thankfully, my brother Jared wrote this up with some light edits from me.]
Out of the box
The Blink charger was delivered by FedEx to our home in NE Ohio a few days later than expected because of winter storm Elliot. The 20 pound package includes the charging unit, 23-foot long NEMA black J1772 plug, and one small hex drill bit for taking off the front panel. I took the box outside with my drill and iPhone ready to get started.
Back in October of this year, we had a Qmerit electrician install a 240 Volt 14-50 plug. With a quick look at the instruction manual, I learned this at-home charger has up to 50 amps of charging power, but only if it is hardwired to the circuit box and there is a 60A breaker. Here, we have a 50A breaker and dedicated 40A circuit for the 240V garage outlet. That’s still a lot of Level 2 power for our 2023 Chevy Bolt and about 20% more than Chevy’s 32A charger.
Mounting to the wall
This is really the only difficult part of the entire process and was made more so by the decision to make the Nema 14-50 plug cable so short. For some reason, Blink only gives you less than a foot of cable from the outlet to the charger, which means you have to mount the entire thing near or actually just above your outlet.
The problem here is that outdoor outlets often have a top hinged door making it almost impossible to plug this thing in without removing the door and eliminating some of its weather protection.
Luckily our socket is inside and we were able to curve the thick cable enough to mount it very close to the outlet. But this is far from optimal. Chargers like the Enel Juicebox give you a lot more room between the plug and the box.
As for the 23-foot charging cable, it is quite thick but very flexible, even in cold weather. The J1772 Plug is super premium and feels like it will take years of plugging in and out, dropping, weather, etc. The length means we can park the car inside or out of the garage and still reach the charging slot. Additionally, it can reach multiple parked cars.
Maybe the nicest thing, coming from Chevy’s included charger, is the design of the holster. Where we’d just leave the Chevy J1772 handle on the ground or hanging before, it is now securely fastened into the charging box when not being used. That should aid in the longevity and it looks a lot nicer too.
Speaking of good looks, I think the Blink HQ200 is one of the best looking chargers out there, but I wonder if wrapping the cord around the unit makes the most sense here. I’d like to see a retractable cord on one of these home chargers.
If we ever decide that we are going to need the extra amperage, we can hardwire this same charger for up to 50A of power. That’s 12kW of power.
Additionally, it has enough smarts to add a second charger on the same circuit. I obviously didn’t have the opportunity to test this.
After I downloaded the official Blink charging app, the initial setup was a little frustrating. Let me explain: It first asks you to connect your phone to the charger’s built-in Wi-Fi, but when you attempt to enter the password for it, the default password is a long string of numbers separated by dashes followed by the text @Blink_GEN2. That’s 10 minutes I’ll never get back. Luckily that’s a one time setup thing.
After setup, the app lets you set charging schedules for off peak times, turn on/off charging manually, and it even has smart speaker controls (Alexa, Siri, and Google). The app also lets you check some analytics, including your EVs energy consumption over time.
The big takeaway for me here is that Blink has taken its learnings from commercial EV charger deployment and put that into the ruggedness of its home chargers. That means this is going to last a lot longer than the generic chargers you find on Amazon.
And, you get the benefit of a Wifi controlled charger that will let you initiate charging from a smart speaker or your phone, anywhere in the world. Blink’s smart charger goes for $749.99 on the website.
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