EV Charging

High Power Wall Connector (HPWC) or NEMA 14-50 Direct Plug – Which is Better?

High Power Wall Connector (HPWC) or NEMA 14-50 Direct Plug – Which is Better?
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After reading about charging your Tesla with a NEMA 14-50 outlet at home you may wonder if it’s better than a HPWC. Tesla’s High Powered Wall Connector (HPWC), now referred to by Tesla simply as wall connector, does what the NEMA 14 50 set up can do: charge your car. However, the two differ slightly in their execution so allow me to compare to help you determine which is better.

First for some background, it’s important to understand that the “C” in HPWC stands for connector, not charger. The same goes for the mobile connector that comes standard with the car. That’s because all Tesla vehicles are designed with the chargers on board. Per Tesla, when a HPWC or mobile connector plugs into the charge port it provides alternating current, also known as AC power, to your car. Batteries store energy as direct current, also known as DC energy. The on-board charger handles this by converting the AC power into DC energy so that it can be stored in the battery. What makes Tesla’s supercharger technology so impressive is that those chargers bypass the vehicle’s on board charger and essentially dump electrons directly into the battery at a high rate.

Source: Tesla

 

Tesla now sells different versions of the wall connector, all with a price of $500. You can choose silver with a 24′ cable, silver with an 8.5′ cable, or gloss black with a 24′ cable. The official word from Tesla is that this is the “most convenient” way to charge at home or the office, with the fastest charging speeds. When I ordered my Model S, a wall connector was $1,200 and was most beneficial for Model S vehicles outfitted with the formerly optional “dual chargers,” which I did not have. Those two facts (and the staggering price of the cars back then) led me to opt against buying one. At $500, the conversation is very different.

Photo: Tesla

We know the materials for a NEMA 14 50 cost less than that, even considering the additional cost of the required adapter that is no longer standard. Assuming the installation are costs equal, let’s explore some differences between the two options to see which is better:

  • Looks: the wall connector is sleek, with an LED indicator light that can indicate charging or trouble
  • Cable length: depending on your needs, the shorter 8.5′ or longer 24′ cable could both be better than the 20′ you get using your mobile connector with outlet
  • Convenience: leaving your mobile connector in the car means never having to unplug and pack it up for trips
  • Wear and tear: when your mobile connector is plugged in, the weight from the controller (the body piece) if unsupported may weigh on your outlet or drag on the floor
  • Tesla’s own recommendation: Tesla is communicating directly in their publications and indirectly by removing the NEMA 14 50 adapter as standard that this is the best option. I give a lot of weight to what they say because even though it’s easy to assume they just want your $500, they’ve proven to me as a long time customer that they actually care about what is best for us. They now have far more data than they did in the day of the Roadster and early Model S. They know which and how many batteries have needed service and how mobile connectors have held up from repeated use and relocation.

 

My verdict? The wall connector is the better option. It tucks the charge handle neatly into itself, holds a wrapped cable, and looks great! Today’s price of $500 is worth not having to delicately balance your cable on the wheel of a bike (or is that just me?), being confident you’re getting the best charge rate for your vehicle, and never forgetting your mobile connector while on the road in case you find yourself in a pinch.

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Electric Jen
Electric Jen is a long time Tesla owner and enthusiast who stumbled into a bit of YouTube fame when she recorded herself using Tesla's Autopilot software on the first day it launched. The only thing she enjoys more than talking Tesla is her hometown of Philadelphia. Jen is proud to have been born, raised and educated inside city limits, and doubly proud to have spent her entire professional career thus far serving the housing needs of low-income Philadelphians. She enjoys ice cream, Excel spreadsheets, Eagles football and goofing around with her husband and their son.