How do I choose a charger for my electric car?
9th Apr 2019 Smart Home Charge
It's an exciting time when you're buying your first EV charger. You'll soon be able to "fuel" your car from the comfort of your home and probably while you're asleep - no more trips to the petrol station or queing at the forecourt for slightly cheaper diesel! But there's so much choice when it comes to electric car chargers. With this guide, we're here to help you make that choice.
There are a range of devices available with different features. All home chargers should perform their basic function – charging your electric car. So, choosing a charger for your home ultimately comes down to a few factors as well as personal choice. In this guide, we will cover:
- Charger types
Budget will be key for most people. There are a wide range of price points to suit every budget and currently the OLEV Grant means you can buy an excellent quality charger thanks to a Government subsidy.
So it’s important to decide what you can or are willing to afford. EV Chargers can start from as cheaply as £262 and installed with the OLEV Grant, while other more expensive models fetch a higher price because of their advanced features, award-winning designs, higher quality materials and better quality components inside.
Before settling on a price for your first charger, you may want to consider the following:
- Make the most of the OLEV Grant now – the £350 contribution from the Government can be a sizeable chunk towards your EV charger, but it won’t always be around and we don’t know when the plug will be pulled.
- Buy the best you can afford – like many things in life, better quality costs more. This does not mean you should overstretch yourself, but try to purchase the best charger you can afford. They have a three-year warranty, but if the charger fails after this period then you will unfortunately need to fund the full cost of a charger next time. So it may be worth spending a little more now than a lot more later.
Tethered or untethered
There are two main types of home charger – tethered or untethered.
A tethered charger comes with a charging cable already attached. Many customers find this more convenient as the cable is readily available. It also means you do not necessarily need to purchase a charging cable separately (except for public chargers), which can cost around £150 - £200
You’ll need to select either a Type 1 or Type 2 charging unit beforehand to match your vehicle type, but you’ll be unable to change from type to type. For this reason, some customers prefer an untethered device as you’re able to plug in either Type 1 or Type 2. However, most electric vehicles are Type 2 nowadays so switching between cables is less of a consideration.
The benefit of an untethered charger (sometimes called “socket-only”) is it works with Type 1 and Type 2 charging cables and vehicles. Simply purchase the correct cable for your electric vehicle and plug it into your home charger and vehicle. This means it is future-proofed in some ways if you were to change from a Type 1 to a Type 2 EV for example, but it does mean a little more work when you want to charge your car as you will need to retrieve the cable from your boot (or elsewhere) and plug the cable in at both ends.
Ultimately it depends on which you think will benefit you most. If convenience is your main concern, then go for a tethered charger like the Ohme or Wallbox Copper. But if you want something that is a bit more flexible, then an untethered device such as the EO Mini Pro may be your best bet.
Although the charger is a functional device first, many people want it to also look nice – it is attached to your home after all!
EV chargers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, ranging from the positively tiny and discreet EO Mini Pro to the Andersen A2 which has sleek lines that even Kevin McCloud would be proud of, and everything in between.
When choosing a charger to suit you and your home, consider:
- The style – which types of chargers do you just like the look of?
- The location – think about where you’d like your charger to be located. This might affect your choice – if it’s out of sight, then perhaps you won’t be so bothered by the looks, but if it’s on the front of your house for all to see then maybe you’ll want something more stylish.
- Dimensions – some chargers are larger than others, so consider this alongside the charger location. For example, if it’s going in your driveway will you still be able to get your car (or other items) past once it’s installed?
All chargers sold and installed under the Government OLEV scheme must be “smart” (see below). This means all Smart Chargers have a basic level of functionality such as charge scheduling.
Many chargers include additional features, such as touchscreens, gesture control and face recognition, solar PV connectivity (for example in the Zappi) and even the ability to react to changes in electricity prices.
All charge points must be "smart" in order to qualify for the Government OLEV Grant. According to the Government, this means charge points must be able to be remotely accessed, and capable of receiving, interpreting and reacting to a signal. Smart charging can also reduce high peaks of electricity demands, minimising the cost of electric vehicles to the electricity system – and keeping costs down for consumers by encouraging off-peak charging.
To get an idea of what an electric charger at your home might look like, check out our own installations.
We carry out online site surveys before you pay us anything. This means you get an honest quote upfront without any hidden costs on the day of installation. To get started, simply select your charger and click “Request A Quote” – a member of our support team will be in touch shortly.