New Toys that Won’t Break the Bank!

By Author: Paul Herrold, Date: Jan 28, 2024

By now, those holiday credit card bills are rolling in and you’re once again wondering, “How did I spend so much money?” Well, before you swear off buying anything else, allow me to show you two of the latest and greatest automotive products to hit the market that will elevate your vehicle ownership experience and are totally worth the money—don’t cancel that MasterCard just yet!

As anyone purchasing an electric vehicle is already well aware, with every battery comes the added issue of charging. While there are public Level 3 charging stations scattered throughout the country, fast charging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s expensive, for one thing, and the speed at which it charges a car actually puts more stress on the battery, potentially shortening its lifespan. To avoid this, most EV owners charge their vehicles overnight in their garage with a slower Level 2 charger.

For newer homes with a garage and 200-amp electrical service, adding a Level 2 charger involves nothing more than installing a 220V outlet and hooking up a smart home charging unit But for those living in older homes with only 100-amp service or less, things become a lot more difficult and expensive. Not only will your electrician have to install the 220V outlet and EV charger, but he’ll also have to upgrade your entire house to a 200-amp electrical service, costing you somewhere between $4,000 to $8,000—if not more. As attractive as a new electric vehicle may be, this major hurdle puts off many potential buyers.

Luckily, the engineers at Emporia Energy have come up with a brilliant solution that will revolutionize the way electric vehicles are charged in these 100-amp homes: the Emporia EV Level 2 Charger with Load Management. The system is set up to continuously monitor your home’s electrical service and adjust the EV charger accordingly. When you plug in your electric vehicle to charge, for instance, the system will begin charging at the maximum set rate. If, however, your air conditioning unit suddenly powers up, the Load Management computer will instantly reduce the car’s charging rate as needed to prevent your service capacity from overloading and tripping a breaker. Once that extra load is finished and the air conditioning unit cycles off, the system will automatically increase its charge rate once more. This all happens seamlessly: you’ll never know the charging rate was temporarily reduced. Best of all, the unit itself retails for only $599—this is a game changer!

The next “must-have” gadget has actually been out for some time, but now with the addition of AI technology and full 4G connectivity, the all-new Nextbase iQ is a dash cam unlike anything on the market today. In case you are not familiar, a dash cam (short for dashboard camera) mounts to the inside of your vehicle’s window facing out, recording everything from the moment you turn on your car to the moment you turn it off. The recording is stored on a memory card that keeps overwriting itself with new video until it either detects an accident or you manually push the “save” button which stores the last few minutes of data indefinitely. This is helpful for proving that an accident wasn’t your fault, documenting an episode of road-rage, or just recording a scenic drive down a mountain road.

Dash cams come in many different configurations. The higher the image resolution and the more features included, the higher the price. Up until now, however, the feature list was pretty short: Only a few higher-end cameras offered additional lenses to record inside the cabin (great for Uber drivers) and extra plug-in cameras to scope out the view from the rear. The new Nextbase iQ dash cam offers all of that—and much more.

Like Tesla’s built-in Sentry Mode, the iQ’s Smart Sense Parking uses proximity sensors to record when anyone is near your vehicle. It even sends updates to your smartphone in real time. Another feature, Witness Mode, discreetly records a 30-minute block of video to the cloud—while notifying an emergency contact—so that you never face a stressful situation alone or without evidence. Emergency SOS will automatically alert emergency services with your location and other potentially-lifesaving details following a serious accident—great for older or less-optioned vehicles that are not already equipped with SOS services. The most useful feature, however, might be Guardian Mode: it notifies vehicle owners or parents based on specific triggers, like speeding, erratic driving, and GPS boundaries, to keep you alerted when your vehicle is left with a valet, mechanic, or most importantly, a family member.

Perhaps even better than its many more features—too many to list here—is that you get all this starting at just $499 for 1080p resolution, $599 for 2K, and $699 for ultra 4K. For such a perfect travel companion that can go everywhere with you—how’s that for not breaking the bank?

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