NeoCharge Smart Splitter – $499? WTF?
I firmly believe that there are no bad products, only bad prices. The NeoCharge Smart Splitter falls is the perfect example of what I mean. The concept is great in its simplicity. A fantastic use of basic IoT “smarts” to deliver something that can make using a single 240V receptacle much more convenient. But let’s be honest, it’s also something that a motivated hobbyist could throw together in an afternoon, given the right parts. It’s not even safety certified, and they want $499 for it. 🤯
So what would it take for one of these motivated hobbyists to build this thing? First, let’s break down how the Smart Splitter works, it’s not actually that “smart”. There are two outlets on the box, one has priority and when it is pulling current, the other one is switched off. So building one of these yourself should be pretty simple, you need something to sense current (SCT-013-050) and a little IoT intelligence ($5 ESP32/ESP8266) to make decisions around whether that load meets a high enough bar to flip a relay disabling/enabling the second receptacle. The basic parts (NEMA 14-50r, IoT with Wi-Fi, enclosure, etc.) aren’t that expensive, especially in volume. Yeah, there are some expensive components (e.g. a 240V/50A capable relay) that make DIY more complicated, but in volume the price should drop significantly.
The bigger factor is that at $499, they’re not just competing against the DIY enthusiast. They are competing against pulling another circuit, if the distance from the panel and complexity isn’t that great. Cool concept, but yeah… that price is bonkers…
The NeoCharge splitter ships in a cube-like, Sustainable Forestry Initiative-certified-sustainable and recyclable cardboard box, and getting it out of said box will immediately bring back memories of unboxing a PowerMac G4 Cube (that’s assuming you had a PowerMac G4 Cube, but we don’t know your life). Once in your hands, the splitter is almost deceptively simple to understand.
Translation: it’s a box with an electrical plug sticking out of the back. If you’ve ever plugged anything into a wall, you already know what to do.