AeroVironment Unveils Small Format $599 Portable Charger

By · January 30, 2014

Aerovironment Turbocord

AeroVironment, a leading supplier of electric vehicle charging equipment, today unveiled TurboCord, a portable charging cord that weighs less than five pounds and plugs directly into electrical outlets. The availability of TurboCord follows a trend of EV charging equipment becoming smaller, simpler, and more affordable.

The dual-mode version of TurboCord that accommodates 240-volt 16-amperage as well as 120-volt charging sells for $649, while the 240-volt only version is available for $599.

When the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt first went on sale in late 2010—and throughout 2011 and 2012—some sellers of EV charging stations offered hardware with special branding, connectivity features, and other bells and whistles. Some long-time EV drivers complained that these products were unnecessarily expensive. But since that time, as the EV market matured, and after-market products such as EVSEUpgrade emerged, the price and complexity of charging stations have been reduced.

See our Quick Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger, which indicates that consumers should not spend more than about $600 for a home charging station.

Aerovironment Turbocord

It is generally advisable for charging equipment to be rated for 30 amps—so that EVs with relatively large battery packs can take full advantage of the capabilities of the 6.6-kilowatt charging rate used on most of today’s EVs. However, the TurboCord and other 16-amp cord sets are portable and especially well-suited for plug-in hybrids.

“Research shows that plug-in hybrid owners are charging wherever they can to squeeze out more electric miles to avoid using gasoline,” said Wahid Nawabi, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s Efficient Energy Systems business segment. “ TurboCord’s portability and power are perfect for these drivers because they now have the option to charge faster with our dual-voltage cordset.”

Aerovironment said that if owners already have a NEMA 6-20R 240-volt outlet near their desired charging location, then TurboCord is as easy as plugging in and charging. No installation required. If they do not have a NEMA 6-20R outlet, an electrician can install one for as little as $250. TurboCord is now available for purchase on Amazon.com or AeroVironment’s website TurboCord.com.

AeroVironment is a well-respected supplier. TurboCord comes with key safety features, such as waterproofing for indoor and outdoor charging, all-environment operation and built-in thermal sensors for protection against faulty wiring or inadequate power.

Comments

· · 3 years ago

Brad - good article. You left out one small detail: at 120V it delivers 12A from a standard NEMA 5-15 plug. It cannot take advantage of a dedicated NEMA 5-20 socket at 16A. This looks like a nice little unit. The only problem I have with it is that NEMA 6-20 outlets are almost non-existent because there is very little use for 240V at such a low current. An adapter from NEMA 14-30 (common electric clothes dryer outlet) would be almost mandatory for charging in the wild.

I think the most interesting way to use this would be to convert an existing dedicated garage outlet from 120V that uses live and neutral plus ground to 240V using L1, L2 and ground. As long as the wire in the wall is 12ga not 14ga, it should be a very inexpensive installation to change the breaker to double-pole and the outlet to the required NEMA 6-20R.

· · 3 years ago

I have one issue with this design. The plug is too big. Sometimes, it won't fit the outlets you are trying to plug in.

So, a NEMA 6-20 extension cord or a standard 120V extension cord would have to be carried with this cord....

· · 3 years ago

I was contemplating getting a second cordset to keep at a friends house or in a small bag in the trunk...this is an awesome deal, it may be my permanent replacement for my BLINK unit (no issues just like the plug n play ability)

Sweet Deal AV!

· · 3 years ago

"it may be my permanent replacement for my BLINK unit."

One of the Clipper Creek LCS-25 variants is cheaper than even the 240V-only version of TurboCord. It's available at 20A, 16A, and 12A all at 240V only so you can match it to the available circuit. The ones pre-fitted with a plug are all the 20A version.

· · 3 years ago

"I have one issue with this design. The plug is too big. Sometimes, it won't fit the outlets you are trying to plug in.

So, a NEMA 6-20 extension cord or a standard 120V extension cord would have to be carried with this cord...."

I disagree. The NEMA 5-15 plug (120V) will probably only block the lower outlet of a duplex receptacle. This is the left side of the first picture above. Presumably, the black locking thingy just slides off so that whole unit sits flat against the receptacle. The adapter provides the NEMA 6-20 plug (240V). All the NEMA 6-20 outlets I saw at Homedepot.com were single sockets, so the central location of the plug in the adapter is appropriate.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-20-Amp-Double-Pole-Single-Outlet-Whit...

· · 3 years ago

@Mike I,

We have a lot of EVs at work and Work installed one of those dual 120V outlets (up and down) that have seperate 15A line to each outlet. Something like this won't fit into the bottom one due to the metal box stand frame around it. If it plugs into the top outlet, then it will block the bottom outlets for others.

Like I said, a single extension cord will fix that. But portable LEAF and Volt EVSE already has this issue at my work where the 90 degree plug limit the location of the outlets that you can use.

· · 3 years ago

@MMF,
That is an unusual arrangement that does not ordinarily pose a problem for the provided 120V EVSEs. If they were really clever they would wire the two halves of the duplex outlet to different phases so one could use a Quick220 if needed. It may only come out 208V, but still useful.

· · 3 years ago

@Mike I,

They are wired on different phases. But with 8-9 hours there, it is better to have 2 cars charging than one car charging faster since that one car migh be a "hog" anyway so others can't charge.

The problem is really that there aren't enough outlets for the number of cars that we have at work.

It is a "frequent" problem at many high tech company in the SF Bay Area....

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