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Tesla Universal Wall Connector EV Charging Station Review

Will this become the best EV charger on the market today?
Published on September 13, 2023

There's a new heavy hitter in town (well, almost), and it's poised to take the EVSE market by storm. The Tesla Universal Wall Connector stands unique among a growing crowd of charging stations with its integrated Magic Dock, which allows the unit to charge any EV in North America without the need for any additional adapters. There isn't currently another charging station out there that can do that.

With automobile manufacturers across the nation scrambling to adopt Tesla's proprietary charging connector –now dubbed the North American Charging Standard (NACS)– the upcoming release of the Tesla Universal Wall Connector couldn't have happened at a better time. With its high quality and four-year warranty backed by a household name in the EV industry, this charging station should be able to deliver a fantastic product.

Tesla graciously gave me exclusive access to the Universal Wall Connector two months before it plans to ship the product to other customers, allowing me to give the device my full, honest review.

TESLA
tesla.com
$595

Key Specs of the Tesla Universal Wall Connector

  • Charger: AC Level 2
  • AC Connector: Type 1 (SAE J1772), Tesla
  • Power Input: Hardwired
  • Rated Current: 48A
  • Adjustable Current: 12 – 48A
  • Maximum Power: 11.5 kW
  • Dimensions (without cable): 13.75" x 6.0" x 5.75"
  • Cable length: 24 feet
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Safety Certified: Yes
  • Hits

  • Innovative integrated adapter
  • Passed all tests
  • Aggressively priced
  • Misses

  • Adapter lock seems flimsy
  • App not functional yet
  • Not available as a plug-in model
  • Installation

    Nearly everything you need to get started comes in the Universal Wall Connector's box– the body of the unit, a mounting template with six different hole options, a mounting bracket, two wall-mounting screws, four screws for mounting the body to the bracket, a hex driver, and installation instructions.

    Now, the Tesla Universal Wall Connector is only available as a hardwired unit, meaning that there is some electrical work to be done in order to make it functional. I always suggest that folks have their hardwired charging stations installed professionally to reduce the possibility of a dangerous electrical failure. I personally recommend my YouTube channel sponsor Qmerit for this kind of job. As North America’s leading provider of installation services for EV charging, home energy storage, and other electrification technologies, you can count on them to get the job done right.

    But if you're prepared to tackle the project yourself, you'll want to start out by using the mounting template to drill your holes along the center of a stud (for extra stability) and attaching the mounting bracket in place using the provided screws. You can feed power from a dedicated 60-amp circuit to the unit from either the top or through one of two knockouts in the bracket. Then tighten the connectors to the proper torque. After that, slide the unit into place and use the provided screws to attach the charging station to the mounting bracket.

    After installation, you'll want to commission the unit and connect it to Wi-Fi. I'm not going to go into detail about the process since there are already plenty of resources for that online. Tesla even has an instructional video on the process that you can watch here.

    Unsurprisingly, the Tesla Universal Wall Connector shares the same specs with the Gen 3 Wall Connector. This high-powered, 48-amp, Wi-Fi-connected smart charger can provide your vehicle with up to 11.5 kilowatts of juice, though it can be adjusted down to 12 amps if necessary. At max power, Tesla estimates that you'll be able to recoup up to 44 miles of range per hour while connected to the Universal Wall Charger.

    One great feature of this unit is its ability to powershare with up to six other Wall Connectors, making it a great choice for commercial spaces and multi-car households. With the unit's smart features and app, you should be able to monitor your EVSE remotely, access over-the-air updates, and communicate with other Tesla products. Unfortunately, the app wasn't released at the time of my testing, so I can't comment on how well it does its job just yet.

    As stated before, the Tesla Universal Wall Connector comes with both a NACS and J1772 connector, meaning that it should be able to charge any vehicle sold in North America. No need to lug around additional adapters to recharge your vehicle.

    The Tesla Universal Wall Connector comes with an integrated connector holster and cable management system for your convenience. But if you prefer a remote holster and cable hook, you could always check out this one instead.

    Testing

    A huge part of my reviews center around testing– putting each EV charging unit through my own rigorous testing procedures that simulate situations you may experience during the course of everyday use. Why do I bother? Because EV charging stations aren't cheap, and the last thing you want to do is drop a few hundred bucks on a unit that fails or doesn't meet your needs. I put them through their paces so you don't have to. So how did the Tesla Universal Wall Connector perform compared to its peers?


    The Cable Deep Freeze Test

    An evergreen favorite on my channel is what I call the Cable Deep Freeze Test. I put the Tesla Wall Connector into a commercial ice cream freezer for over 24 hours to see how the charging cable performs in really cold weather. That may not seem important for people down in Florida, but for the folks charging an EV in North Dakota, cable flexibility could make a huge difference in their charging experience. The interior temperature of the freezer measured at -11° F (-23.8° C) when I finally pulled the unit out. The Tesla Universal Wall Connector immediately began to ice up after I reattached it to the wall, but the coiled cable ended up bending a lot more easily than I anticipated when I tried to straighten it out. While stiff, it remained manageable thanks to its thin profile, and I'd be comfortable recommending it for cold-weather usage.


    The Connector Drop Test

    Immediately after a deep freeze, I subject charging connectors to my 'Drop Test', where I test their durability by dropping them five times from about waist height to the concrete floor of my garage. The NACS connector performed beautifully without any cracks or damage, thanks in part to the fact that it doesn't have a protruding locking mechanism. The J1772 Magic Dock adapter did just as well, though I do worry that the locking tab may not be as robust as it could be. All in all, the Universal Wall Connector passed this test.


    The Extreme Heat Test

    My viewers know that I like developing new trials to put EV charging stations through, so it shouldn't be any surprise to hear that I'm introducing a new test. The Cable Deep Freeze Test is great for those in cooler climates, but it's also important to know how units will perform in hotter climates, too. I've heard stories of chargers shutting off completely or derating the power when they get too warm, which isn't optimal, either. So with this new test, I'll bake a charger under a heat lamp for about two hours, aiming to get the unit to about 120° F before seeing if it can still deliver maximum power to an EV. After roasting the Tesla Universal Wall Connector for a bit, I measured the temperature of the unit at 118° F (47° C) before plugging it into a Rivian R1S. After charging for two hours, the Universal Wall Connector measured at a toasty 152° F (66° C) but had no problems delivering the maximum possible charge to the vehicle. That's a big pass for this charging station.


    The Automatic Restart Test

    Imagine suffering through a temporary power outage only to discover the next morning that your EV never resumed charging after the power came back on. Frustrating, right? These days, most EVSEs are supposed to resume a charging cycle as soon as power is restored, but the feature doesn't always work as intended. I simulated a power outage with the Tesla Universal Wall Charger on three different vehicles, and each time it re-engaged. That's a pass on the Automatic Restart Test.

    I score every EVSE that I review on a 15-point categorical system before tallying up a final score out of 100, that way it's easier for you to compare multiple EV charging stations. The Tesla Universal Wall Connector scored well across the board, maxing its score in the Construction & Durability category and walking away with the highest ChargerRater score that I've ever handed out. Overall, the Tesla Universal Wall Connector scored a total of 97 points and a rating of 4.85 stars out of 5.

    Because some things just can't be measured on a chart, I also give the units I review my own personal score. I gave the Universal Wall Connector 4.9 stars out of 5, because I was extremely impressed with this charging station. After combining the ChargerRater score with my score and averaging them, I was pleased to give the Tesla Universal Wall Connector a final score of 4.875 stars– the highest overall rating I've ever given a charger. I'd like to see the inclusion of a sturdier adapter lock as well as a plug-in option, but overall, this is a fantastic charging station.

    The Tesla Universal Wall Connector is currently available for preorder for $595 on Tesla's website, and deliveries are expected to begin in October. Check out my full review in the video above, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

    4.875 / 5
    Tesla Universal Wall Connector

    By: Tom Moloughney

    Tom has been covering the electric vehicle scene since 2010 and has written for Forbes, Plugincars, GreenCarReports, BMWBLOG, and InsideEVs. He's a former director at Plug In America and specializes in the North American and Chinese electric vehicle markets, with a strong emphasis on EV charging and charging equipment. Tom is also the host of the EV charging YouTube channel, State of Charge.

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    4 Comments

    1. Victoria

      Universal charger is too small to charge my Toyota RAV4

      Reply
    2. Punit

      Tesla universal charger seems to have problems charging my Rivian. If I use the adapter it comes with it does not work but if I use a third party adapter then the same charger works. Something is wrong with the universal adapter but Tesla is not ready to help. I have seen others having the same problem.

      Reply
    3. Rob Bond

      NJ and other states (I presume) have home charger incentive programs, typically as part of a so-called “Demand Response Program” strategy. In NJ, for instance, JCP&L has their EV Driven Program” that includes both a make-ready incentive (to help with installation costs) and rate credit program for off-peak charger usage. Both programs seems to only apply if you are installing from a list of eligible chargers, which does not include Tesla. The charger eligibility criteria is not clear (beside being Energy Star rated).

      Any idea of what makes a charger eligible for such State utility incentive programs and if there is a way to capture this in your charger reviews?

      Reply
    4. PeterO

      As far as I can tell, the lack of an Energy Star Rating means that this is not eligible for the federal energy efficiency tax credit of up to $1000 on equipment and installation. This seems like an oversight since a similar Tesla-specific wall-connector has this rating.

      Fortunately, right now, Colorado PVREA offers a rebate of up to $1000.

      Reply

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