Portable electric vehicle (EV) chargers can help electric car drivers stay ready for the road ahead.
For EV enthusiasts, the constant quest for convenience, charging speed—and above all—defeating “range anxiety” is all too real. A portable EV charger could be a great addition to your EV toolkit.
In this guide we’ll get into the nitty gritty of how these chargers work, and how they can give you peace of mind when you get behind the wheel.
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- What a portable EV charger is and how it works
- Why you should get a portable EV charger
- How much portable EV chargers cost
- Best portable EV chargers
- Pros and cons of portable chargers for EVs
- Car insurance coverage for portable EV chargers
What is a portable EV charger?
A portable EV charger is a mobile charging solution for your EV. Unlike a fixed EV charging station that’s installed at home or in public places, portable chargers can be transported and used anywhere there’s a suitable power source.
Think of it as your EV’s emergency backup: If you can’t find a charging station, you have your portable charger as a reliable alternative.
These chargers are designed to be light and portable (hence the name), usually weighing about five to fifteen pounds.
How does the portable charger work?
Let’s take a look at the different parts of a portable EV charger.
The plug that connects to the power source—such as an outlet in your garage. Most adapters use the model “NEMA” (National Electrical Manufacturers Association), which also has a number that indicates the type of plug the adapter is compatible with, for example:
- NEMA 5-15 (aka Level 1 charger): Requires the standard three-prong household outlet—the most common type you’ll find in the U.S.—which delivers 120 volts.
- NEMA 14-50 (aka Level 2 charger): Requires a 240-volt outlet, generally used to power large appliances such as electric ovens, and sometimes used for home EV charging stations.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)
This is the small box in between the cables of the portable charger. The EVSE controls the flow of energy from the grid to your electric car’s charging technology, helping keep the charging process safe and efficient.
The charging cable
Ranging about 15 to 25 feet in length, the charger’s cable helps you connect your car to the nearby power source. It acts as a bridge between the adapter and the connector, with the EVSE located somewhere in between.
This output cable connects to your EV and the charging cable. The SAE J1772 connector (aka J Plug) is the standard for most electric vehicles in the US, with the exception of Teslas, which have their own connector.
How long does it take to charge an EV with a portable charger?
A portable charger is probably going to take more time to charge your EV than some other options. For instance, it won’t charge as rapidly as a DC fast charging station—which you can find using tools like the US Department of Energy website and Green Car.
Some portable EV chargers can match the charging speed of Level 2 home and public charging stations when connected to a 240-volt outlet—but it might be tricky to find that voltage on the go.
If your charger is relying on the standard 120 volts, it could take even longer to fully charge your ride.
Not all EVs are the same, but here are some approximate figures to keep in mind for an EV with a 82kWh battery:
DC fast charging station: 45 minutes to full charge
Level 2 portable charger: Around 6 hours to full charge
Level 1 portable charger: 48 hours to full charge.
Why should I get a portable electric car charger?
There are several scenarios EV drivers might find themselves in where a portable charger could really come in handy.
The overcrowded charging station
On a road trip, you pull into a popular rest area with about 10 miles of battery left, only to find that all the dedicated EV charging stations are occupied, with a long line of EVs waiting, and the next closest charging station is 20 miles away.
Instead of wasting time in line, you whip out your portable EV charger and connect to a regular outlet at the rest area, then continue your journey with a more replenished battery that can get you to the next charging station.
The free spirit
You’re out running errands and notice your EV’s battery starting to run low, then your friend invites you out of the blue to join them at an escape room on the other side of town. This will drain your battery even further. And on top of that, you’ll have to park somewhere for a few hours that doesn’t have a designated EV charging station.
You’re relieved you have your portable EV charger in the trunk, so you can plug into a standard outlet and ensure you’ll have enough charge for the ride home.
The extended visit
You’re visiting your cousin at their cabin on the lake for what was supposed to be a fun day trip. But then unexpected heavy rains make the roads too dangerous to drive, so you decide it’s safer to stay the night.
With no EV charging stations nearby and your car battery on low, your portable EV charger saves the day, allowing you to charge your vehicle in your cousin’s garage overnight.
How much do portable EV chargers cost?
On average, portable EV chargers range from about $150 to $350, but can run upwards of $1,500 or more. Prices vary based on factors like:
- Charging speed
- Built-in smart features such as wi-fi connectivity, mobile app integration, scheduled charging, energy consumption tracking, or thermal sensors
- Cable length and flexibility
- Types of adapters included
- Durability of materials and waterproofing
- Warranties included
- Portability features such as carry handles, compact design, or carrying case
What are some of the best portable EV chargers available?
If you’re looking for a charge on the go for your electric car, these portable chargers might be the right fit.
Full disclosure: We aren’t partnered or sponsored by these brands. Consult with an authorized dealer to make sure you choose a portable charger that’s most compatible with your EV and lifestyle.
|Charger||Charging speed||Connector||Cable length (feet)||Special features||Average price|
|Lectron Level 2 EV Charger||Fast charging with 240 volt||J Plug||21||NEMA 14-50 plug includedLED indicator lightsHigh-grade, rugged materials1-year warranty||$320|
|J+ Booster 2||Fast Charging with 240 volt||J Plug||21||NEMA 14-50 adapter includedMilitary-grade aluminumWaterproof and dustproofCarrying case||$650|
|Tesla Mobile Connector||Up to 3 miles of range per hour with the NEMA 5-15 Adapter, or up to 30 miles of range with the NEMA 14-50 Adapter, depending on your Tesla model||Tesla||20||NEMA 5-15 and NEMA 14-50 adapters includedStorage bag||$230|
|ShockFlo G1 40A||36 miles per hour with 240 volt||J Plug||20||NEMA 14-50 adapter includedIncludes a wall-mounting bracket and carry bagWaterproof, Dustproof, and Impact-resistant||$350|
Pros and cons of portable chargers for EVs
|Flexibility to charge your EV anywhere there’s an appropriate outlet, reducing range anxiety||Charging speeds often slower than dedicated home charging stations and public chargers|
|Can come in handy during longer trips or in an emergency||Not a plausible option if you’re looking to charge your EV to full capacity|
|Potentially cheaper than installing a permanent home charging station||Can still come with a hefty price tag|
|If you buy a new electric vehicle, a portable charger will likely be compatible with your next ride||Being portable might expose the charger to more wear and tear compared to stationary units; it also makes it susceptible to theft|
Does car insurance cover portable electric car chargers?
Lemonade Car’s goal is to be the best car insurance for electric vehicles. That’s why we offer special coverages for EV drivers—like for your portable charger, or your home charging station.
If you’re worried about your portable EV charger being stolen, remember that renters or homeowners insurance can help protect your personal property against theft—whether you’re at home, or on the road.
Before we go…
The electric car revolution is already here. But until electric car charging infrastructure is more accessible across the US, getting a portable charger for your EV can be a real game changer.
And if you’re looking for car insurance that protects your EV and its accessories—and rewards your eco-conscious driving choices—why not take Lemonade Car for a spin?
Click below to start your free quote.
A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.