EV Charging

Bosch Power Max 2 – Our Review

Bosch Power Max 2 Review
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The Bosch Power Max Level 2 charging station was revolutionary when it debuted in 2013. In addition to its sub-$500 price tag, the original Power Max was lauded for its compact size and stylish appearance. It also came standard with a 25 foot charging cord, a favorite feature of early buyers. In 2016, Bosch introduced the Power Max 2 and Power Max 2 Plus to its lineup of all-electric vehicle (EV) charging systems. In an effort to assist our readers who may be considering different level 2 home charging stations, today we bring you a Bosch Power Max 2 review.

That is the Question

To spring for it or not to spring for it? That is the question you have to answer for yourself. I am of course, talking about purchasing a level 2 charger for your home. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of our Bosch Power Max 2 review, we must ask ourselves if installing a level 2 charger is actually worth the cost. We took a look at considerations to make before installing a fast charger in your home back in August. If you haven’t done so already (and even if you have) I would be honored if you would be so kind as to take the time to read that article by clicking here.

One of the major drawbacks we discovered when researching that article is that level 2 chargers are expensive. While the Power Max 2 starts at under $700 to purchase the unit itself, you’re going to pay for someone to install it unless you yourself are an electrical pro. But don’t take my word for it…here’s what the Bosch Power Max 2 owner’s manual has to say about the subject:

“The Power Max 2 Charging Station shall be installed only by a licensed contractor, and/or a licensed electrician in accordance with all applicable state, local and national electrical codes and standards. Before installing the Power Max 2 Charging Station, review this manual carefully and consult with a licensed contractor, licensed electrician and trained installation expert to ensure compliance with local building practices, climate conditions, safety standards, and state and local codes.”

In other words, you ain’t installin’ it yourself! While costs will most certainly vary depending on location, you can expect to spend another $1,000 at a minimum for installation. This figure will undoubtedly rise if there are any modifications to your home’s existing electrical system that need to be made. A new level 2 charger is not cheap!

Can I Get By With a Level 1 Charger?

I drive about five miles to the train station and five miles back home on a daily basis. I will occasionally need to stray from my routine and head to the store, but for the most part I have about a ten mile round-trip commute. Do I really need to upgrade to a level 2 charger if I drive so little? Probably not. According to Consumer Reports, drivers with a 20 mile round-trip commute or less probably do not need to install a level 2 charger as a level 1 charger will get the job done just fine. Drivers with longer commutes may be in a different boat. If an EV driver has a 30 mile one-way daily commute and has no access to a charging station during work hours, a level 2 charger is a necessity.

The Improvements

The most notable improvement the fine folks at Bosch have made to the Power Max 2 over the original is its size. The Power Max 2 is about half the size of its predecessor, making it more convenient for home charging. Other upgrades include power output up to 40 amps and thermal monitoring. The Power Max 2 Plus features Wi-Fi connectivity, a capability that will no doubt appeal to the tech-savvy among us, but will certainly be lost on Luddites like yours truly. Like the first generation Power Max, the Power Max 2 will charge any vehicle meeting the SAE J1772 standard. In other words, nearly all EVs in North America on the road today. According to Bosch Automotive Service Solutions Product Manager Jeff Hudnut:

“The original Power Max has been a great product for us, having been selected by several OEMs as their station of choice. The second generation is even more powerful, with additional features to provide a greater value for our full spectrum of customers.” 

The (Potential) Issues

My regular readers know that I LOVE to peruse the various forums dedicated to EVs and EV technology for real-world opinions on products. While the information and opinions posted to these forums should always be taken with a grain of salt, they can be useful when making purchasing decisions. While just about every Bosch Power Max 2 review we were able to find was positive, there were a few that were not.  A user going by the name “modoca” posted the following to the Chevy Bolt forum and lodged the following complaint about the Power Max 2:

“Does anyone use a Bosch PowerMax 2 charger for their Bolt? I purchased one three months ago and I noticed that the power button on the side of the unit is beginning to stick. When the power button is pressed it does not always turn the unit on and off and I sometimes have to press the button several times. Has anyone else experienced this?”

This user did not receive any answers to his or her question, so this is perhaps an isolated incident.

A user on this VW eGolf forum using the handle “jiveman” posted the following:

“So… I called a couple of electricians who listed as doing EV charging station installations on their websites. One of them offers Bosch Power Max 2 through them. They also said that they’ve seen issues with other brands (like JuiceBox) when it comes to e-Golfs, since “Bosch is OEM for Volkswagen…” Seemed a little fishy to me, and brand-centric (maybe they have a deal with VW/Bosch or something). They also said that non-OEM charging stations might report 100% charge, but the car isn’t actually charged, while the Bosch units seem more accurate and “rock solid” and they supposedly haven’t had to fix any.”

The users who replied with their opinions seemed to think that this particular electrician wasn’t being 100% truthful with “jiveman” and that cheaper level 2 chargers would work just fine. This isn’t necessarily a problem with the Power Max 2 itself, but it should serve as a warning to any potential buyers to be weary of electricians who may have an ulterior motive…

If you’ve decided to pull the trigger on the Power Max 2 or Power Max 2 Plus, additional specs and pricing particulars can be found here. If you already own a Power Max 2 or a Power Max 2 Plus, please drop by the comments section below and let us know what you think of your charging system. Please also let us know what you think about our Bosch Power Max 2 review and note anything we may have missed.

Source | Image: Bosch

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Neil Brooks
Neil Brooks is an electric vehicle owner and lover currently based in the greater Washington D.C. area. Neil is a fan of all things electric and may be the only person in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to own both an electric leaf blower and an electric chainsaw. When he's not busy blogging about the latest on electric technology he enjoys grilling, rock climbing, and taking naps in his hammock.