7 things to consider before you buy an EV charger

Everything EV | 20 March 2023

If you drive an electric car, there should be one accessory at the top of your wish list.

No, not fluffy dice. A home charger.

It makes life so simple.

Get home, plug in. That’s it.

No searching for a supermarket chargepoint and hanging around for half an hour. And definitely no hunting for a petrol station (they’re so 2022).

Home charging is easy, convenient, and can – if you’ve got solar panels – be free.

Happy days.

To help you make the right choice, here are a few things to consider before you buy.

1. Where should I put it?

To get a home EV charger, you ideally need dedicated off-street parking.

Most people put their charger on an external wall on the driveway, or on an internal wall in a garage. These two spots work well because they tend to be near your electricity supply.

If you don’t have off-street parking things can get tricky. A cable running across a pavement could be a hazard for pedestrians or get damaged.

Once you’ve found a spot for the charger, your installer will check to make sure it’s safe. The unit needs to be at least 2.5m away from any metal object that’s connected to your electricity supply, such as an outdoor light.

2. How much power do I need?

Home chargers tend to range from 3kW to 7kW. Anything more powerful is usually only found in commercial properties.

More power equals faster charging. They’re more expensive though, so consider how much you drive and how important faster charging is to you.

For example, fully charging a 2018 BMW i3 with a 42.2 kWh battery would take:
About 12 hours on a 3.7kW charger.
About 6 hours on a 7kW charger.

3. To tether or not to tether?

When it comes to the cable, EV chargers come in two flavours: tethered and untethered.

A tethered charger is the simplest and most common. It comes with a cable fixed to it. You plug the other end into your car.

An untethered charger doesn’t have a cable permanently attached. You buy the cable separately. One end plugs into the charger, the other end into your car.

Tethered is simplest, but untethered gives you more options.

There are two types of charge connectors on electric cars: type 1 and type 2. Most cars nowadays have type 2, but older cars might have type 1.

An untethered charger means if you change to a car with a different connector, all you need to do is switch the cable. And if you ever need a longer cable, you can go ahead and fit one.

4. I’m a renter or leaseholder. Do I need permission to fit an EV charger?

If you own the freehold for your property, things are simple.

But if you’re renting or you don’t own the freehold, you need to get permission from either your landlord or the freeholder to install a home charger.

If you’re in an apartment block with communal parking, you might be able to club together with fellow residents and the freeholder to organise chargepoints in the communal car park. Better still, ask your Property Manager to consider installing EV charging for the block. After all, it’s only going to increase the value of the apartments. Find out more and copy our template to send to your Property Manager.

5. Can I get a grant to help pay for an EV charger?

If you own or rent a flat, the answer’s yes.

Through the government’s EV chargepoint grant, you can get 75% or £300 off the cost, whichever is lower. You must have dedicated off-street parking to qualify, and you can claim one chargepoint per eligible vehicle.

The grant won’t be around forever, so we advise getting in quick.

Unfortunately, in most of the UK, the chargepoint grants only apply to flats and apartments, not houses.

Domestic chargepoint funding still available in Scotland

However, if you live in Scotland, you can still access funding through Transport Scotland (an agency of the Scottish Government). The domestic chargepoint funding scheme is administered by Energy Saving Trust, and provides up to £300 towards the cost of purchasing and installing home chargepoints for electric vehicles. Find out more about the Scottish chargepoint funding scheme.

6. What about combining my EV charger with solar panels?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as free juice.

Pairing your home EV charger with solar panels means you can charge your car for nothing.

How good is that?

Charging when it’s sunny is a great way to store the excess energy your solar panels generate. Instead of selling it back to the grid, stick it in your car.

Your charger will run off your main electricity supply, so when it comes to the install, it’s straightforward to get it to work with your solar panels.

7. Should I get an EV charger with an app?

Modern chargers often come with a smartphone app.

You can see how long is left to go and toggle the charger on and off with a few taps. The app can also notify you when charging is complete.

They’re even more useful if you’ve got solar panels.

When the sun comes out, you can set the charger on to make the most of the free energy. If you have your solar charging feature toggled on, whenever you’re generating more electricity than you’re consuming in your home, the charger will automatically switch on to meet the solar generation that would otherwise be exported to the grid.

Or, if you’ve got a few energy-hungry household appliances hogging the solar, switch the charger off until they’re done to avoid it eating up any expensive grid-supplied electricity.

At Powerverse, we’ve accumulated decades of experience in solar panel installations, home batteries, and smart home energy systems. Keep an eye out for our home EV chargers, coming soon.

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