Autel AC MaxiCharger review


25 Feb 2022

With the number of electric cars growing on our roads and the deadline for all new cars to be powered by electricity getting ever closer, you might have your eye on a charger for home. Is the Autel AC MaxiCharger the one to have? SPONSORED

What is it?

It's an AC wall box, which you can have installed at home or at your business to charge electric or electrified vehicles via a Type 2 charging cable. It can be mounted on the wall, or on a standalone pole.

You can choose between 7.4kW, 11kW and 22kW power levels, but you'll need more advanced three-phase electrics at your home or workplace in order to have the 11 or 22kW models. Ours is the 7.4kW, which will be the most popular for home use.

You can also choose to have your MaxiCharger with its own cable attached or without, using your own car cable to charge instead. There are three colour choices for the box itself: black, silver or white.

Everything is controlled via an app (more on that later) but you also get two cards in the box that can be used by people who don't have the app and need to charge with your unit.

How easy is it to install?

As mentioned, like all home wall boxes, you'll need the Autel MaxiCharger to be fitted by a trained professional.

But that's no bother because once you've bought your MaxiCharger, Autel will arrange for it to be fitted. The cost of this fitting will depend on various factors such as how much cable is needed and how much time it takes to do the job.

The unit itself starts from £399, and you should expect a minimum fee of £250 for fitting, but no more than £500.

You'll have an appointment arranged for the fitter to assess what needs to be done, if your consumer unit needs to be upgraded and to discuss where you'd like the wall box to sit. After that, a second date will be confirmed for the fitting.

The installer will need to switch off your electricity for a short period during this, so make sure you plan for it.

For the installer, the Autel MaxiCharger has been designed to be extremely easy to fit. The technical blurb is that it doesn't require a ground spike for surge protection and is simple to screw whichever surface you choose it to be set against. All you really need to know is that means it's quicker and safer to fix, which saves you money.

And you needn't worry about it getting wet; the MaxiCharger is IP65 rated against dust, oil and water. Without going into specifics, that's a very good rating, and given it survived the worst storm in 30 years on our test (storm Eunice), we believe the claims.

How does it work?

Once the MaxiCharger is in place and fired up, the installer will bring it to life with their own version of the app you'll be using to control it.

They'll make sure it has the latest firmware installed, connect it to your home WiFi and then help you download the app onto your smart device and get you logged in. Then they'll take you through how to use the app.

We've used a range of different wall boxes, which all physically operate in much the same way. The real difference in your experience comes with the app and software you have to interact with on a daily basis.

We're pleased to say that Autel's app is one of the best we've tried. It's broken down into three main menus: Charge, Battery and Me.

The Charge menu deals with your physical charging. You can choose a MaxiCharger with a cable attached to it (tethered) or without – ours was the former. After plugging in (in our case, to a Volvo XC60 T6 plug-in hybrid) you will be asked if you want to start the charge.

It's as simple as hitting start and letting it get on with the job. The Charge screen will give you your charge duration, the volume of electricity that has been put in in kWh, the power of the charge in real-time and the cost of the charge so far.

On that last point, in the Me menu, you can input your electricity supplier's kWh charge (in our case around 22p) in order to get an accurate cost for each charge. In the Volvo's case, its 11kWh battery costs about £2.50 to fill up from empty.

Also via the Me menu you can find and adjust details about your wall box and its WiFi connection, see your charge history for past charging sessions and find help pages on how your charger works.

Lastly, the Battery menu requires you to input your car's details and via software unique to Autel, will not only give your battery a health check and full report, but will also assess how it is best charged in order to prolong its life.

The verdict

When it comes to wall boxes, but also running electric cars, it just needs to be simple. Thankfully, our experience with Autel's MaxiCharger has been just that.

The installation process was painless, setting up the app was no problem and it's as easy as plugging your car in and hitting Start.

After that, understanding all the information coming back at you about your charge is laid out clearly. For people starting life with an electric car, this is very important.

The fact that the wall box itself looks modern, comes in a choice of colours and there's the option of a tethered or non-tethered unit is nice to see too.

Our tethered unit isn't the tidiest to look at when not in use with its long cable wound around its body and we'd like to see a Type 2 cap supplied to avoid having to plug the cable into the unit itself for protection.

Aside from these minor points, the Autel MaxiCharger makes the move to life with an electric car as easy as possible.

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25 Feb 2022