How do you charge an electric car at home? The best option is a home charger. A regular three-pin plug will work but is too slow to fully recharge most electric cars in a useful amount of time.
Most EV owners install a home charger. But with dozens of brands, and even more features and options, getting the right home EV charger can be more confusing than buying the car. That’s why we’re here with an ultimate guide to home charging your electric car.
And, far from being just another chore to get sorted, charging at home is one of the best things about going electric. Waking up to a fully charged car with an off-peak electricity tariff can save you well over £300 per year. Savings are even bigger if you have solar or a home battery. So, it’s worth getting the right home charger for your set-up.
Home chargers compared
What is a home electric car charger?
A home EV charger is basically an external plug (usually a box on your wall). It’s usually 2.5 times more powerful than a home socket. As well as reducing your charge times, some chargers are also able to:
- reduce your cost and carbon by calculating the best times to charge
- protect your home’s fuse by monitoring by automatically reducing power if you’re drawing too much
- switch on when you’ve got spare solar coming from your panels
There are more and more high-tech features to choose from, like facial recognition and links with a Google home assistant or Alexa device.
Tethered or untethered?
Home chargers can either come with a cable attached (tethered), which you just plug into your car. Or, they can come with just a socket (untethered), which are smaller, may cost a bit less, plus allow older ‘Type 1’ cars to charge.
Can I get a home charger?
If you have off-street parking at your house you will almost certainly be able to get a charge point installed. A home charger can be installed in your garage, on a wall, or mounted on a free-standing post.
If you don’t have off-street parking, plugging in to an on-street charge point can be a good option. It’s best to avoid laying cables across the pavement to charge.
How to install a home charge point
Until March 2022, domestic charge points were mostly all installed by government-approved installers, in order to claim the £350 OZEV grant. After March the scheme will still be open to electric-car drivers in rented accommodation, including both houses and apartments.
In order to get you a accurate quote for your installation, Love my EV asks you a few questions before asking the right installer to generate your quote:
- If you have already claimed a OZEV grant (It’s one per household)
- Whether you own the EV or have one on order
- Is your fuse box up to current regulations (If it has an RCD test button it probably passes this test)
- The relative location of your fuse box and the charger
- The length of outside cabling needed between the fuse box and charger
Your installer may also ask for a couple of photos, including your fuse box, and the spot where you would like the charger to go.
Once you’re happy with the quote, you will book a date for your installation. Installs usually just take a half-day, but could take up to a full day.
How much does a home charger cost?
If you are eligible for the OZEV grant, the cheapest charge point starts from around £500 fully installed, after the grant.
There can be extra costs, for example, if more external cabling is required to reach the fuse box. Most of the time these extra costs will be included in your tailored ‘remote’ quote from your installer.
In Scotland, you could also be eligible for up to £300 from the ‘EST’ grant, administered by the Energy Saving Trust. In order to claim the EST grant, your install must be completed by an EST approved installer.
Save using a smart home charger
The cheapest and cleanest way to charge your car at home is to switch to an EV-friendly 100% renewable electricity tariff.
Your home charger can help you make the most of an EV tariff by only charging off-peak. Plug in when you get home, your smart charger will only switch on when electricity is cheap
As well as costing you less to charge off-peak, your charger may be able to track the carbon intensity of the electricity grid, prioritising charging when the grid is at its cleanest. During the night, when low demand means wind or nuclear meet most of the energy needs, it’s 25% cleaner in the UK. Both wind supply and demand varies so the best tariffs for cutting cost and CO2 have active management or agile pricing.
Differences in home electric car chargers explained
You will want to think about a number of things when choosing your charger. The Love my EV comparison tool allows you to filter by these and other features.
- Fuse Protection
- Solar integration
Let’s look into each in a bit more detail…
Speed of charging
Most homes will be capable of delivering 7kW (kilowatts) to your charger. There are slower chargers, and these cost a bit less. Most PHEVs (hybrids), are limited to charging at a rate of 3kW at home.
Some properties have a ‘3-phase’ power supply, which means your home can deliver 22kW to your charger. If this applies to you, check the maximum AC power your car can draw, as many can’t charge at 22kW unless you use DC.
Size of the unit
Most chargers are available both ‘tethered’ or ‘untethered’, your choice means a small difference in terms of convenience and size. If you are using the charger most days, you’ll probably want a tethered charger. It saves you from storing the cable in your car or elsewhere and retrieving it to plug in both at the car and the charger each time you charge. But, if you’d rather have a small charger, you may prefer untethered.
For older houses, and heavy power users (hottub, swimming pool or two EVs) a charger with ‘Load balancing’ functionality may be a good investment. Removing the risk of reaching your fuse limit. These are capable of 7kW charging, but they will lower the power if needed.
If you’ve got solar panels then you’re surely going to want to make the most of the clean power that you generate. Of course, you can time when you plug in manually – you’ve at home and the sun is shining – but many people like to work their solar energy to the max.
Indra’s Smart Pro and Smart Pioneer can use surplus solar output to charge your EV, increasing your self-consumption. This can be set up within the Indra App by navigating to “More” and then “Microgeneration”.
The Zappi is a more expensive option, but works with your solar in two modes:
- ECO mode – the zappi diverts excess solar into your vehicle. If the available solar falls below 1.4kW, the supply is topped up to this amount by the grid. This ensures your vehicle does trickle charge
- ECO+ mode – the zappi relies solely on the excess solar for its charging.
Note that many cars have a lowest charge rate of 5A – that’s roughly 1.4kW, so unless your solar is producing this level of surplus consistently, you might not make as much use of the ECO+ mode as you may like.
Some chargers come with a locking function, so that only invited EVs can plug in and charge. In some cases this is a lock and key, but it can be a bit more advanced, such as from your mobile phone or with facial recognition.
Your charger needs to be earthed by UK regulated requirements. Some chargers require a metal spike, known as an ‘earth rod’ to be driven into the ground on your property. This isn’t always possible, so some chargers are built with technology that replaces the need for an earth rod.
Remote control and diagnosis
‘Smart’ means controlling your car charging via an app or home assistant. It also means chargers can report to the manufacturers, or manufacturers can access your charger remotely to spot problems or fix errors.
How to compare the best home charging points
You already have a lot of the answers, but our comparison can help you check you’ve considered all the right chargers for your set-up.
If you have any questions about choosing your home electric car charger give us a call on 0330 311 0918 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org