12 considerations before you install a car charger at home

Electric Car Charging - Downtown Electrical

If you own an electric car and want to charge it at home the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVS) could save you money on installing an electric vehicle charge point.

If you’re one of the thousands of people across the UK converting to electric cars, you could install a car charger at home so you’re not relying on public chargers all the time.

Though public EV charge points are multiplying year on year, the regional distribution of public EV chargers is still extremely uneven, meaning that your nearest EV charger could be miles away.

If you install a car charger at home, you could save time and money on your EV costs and save time driving to the nearest public chargepoint when you’re running low.

We’ve compiled the answers to 12 common questions about EV home chargers below to help you make the best choices for you and your home.

1) Can I charge my electric car from a normal plug socket?

Technically, you can use a regular three-pin socket to charge your car, but it’s not safe.

Charging your electric car from a domestic socket could cause a fire if your home’s wiring can’t handle the demand.

Plus, the slow rate of charging could take a full day.

Dedicated home EV charging points have safety features built in to them to keep you safe. Plus, because they’re purpose built, they charge your car a lot faster than using the same plug you use to charge your phone.

2) How much does it cost to install a car charger at home?

Electric car charging units vary in price depending on their specifications, since there’s a lot of charger types with different designs and installations.

Prices can go from a few hundred pounds for the cheapest EV chargers, to a few thousand for the most sophisticated smart chargers, but there’s a suitable charger for every budget within that range.

The cost usually includes installation fees, but these can be higher if your installation requires extra work to like digging to lay new cables.

However, you won’t always have to pay the full amount, as there are government grants to pay for up to £350 of the EV charger and installation costs

According to the RAC, the average EV home chargepoint costs £800, so you could end up paying as little as £450 to install a car charger at home.

Of course, this is a one-time upfront cost, and using the charger will add costs to your home electricity bill, but it’s still cheaper on average than having to pay for petrol or diesel or relying on public rapid chargers.

Public chargers cost around 18p per kWh, going up to 30p per kWh for rapid chargers, compared to an average of 14p per kWh for charging at home.

There’s also time savings to consider when you don’t have to go out of your way to drive to the nearest public chargepoint and wait there for your car to charge.

Installing a home EV charger is an upfront investment for long-term savings, so it’s worth paying for the professional installation of a dedicated charging point.

3) Where can I install a car charger at home?

It’s best for the charger to be mounted on a wall beside your parked car, which is why one of the conditions for the government grant is to have your own private parking space.

You could install an EV charging point inside your garage or on an outer wall beside your driveway or off-street parking spot – they’re designed to be waterproof, so it’s fine for them to be outdoors.

Suitable places to install an EV charger depend on the distance the charging cables can reach and whether there are any physical obstructions or nearby metal objects.

That’s why it’s necessary for your installer to conduct a site survey first to check there’s a safe location for the charging unit and assess whether there’s any extra work required.

Remember to get permission from your landlord beforehand if you’re renting the property and connected parking space, or planning permission from your local authority if the charger will affect any public spaces.  

4) How much power does the EV charger need?

The type of EV charger you can install also depends on how much power your home can supply. 

If the charging unit needs more power than your home supply offers, it runs the risk of overheating and damaging the charger or even starting a fire.

During the initial site survey, your electrician will check your home’s system before agreeing to install your EV charger.

There are multiple wattages available for EV chargers, for example:

  • Slow charge – 3kW
  • Fast charge – 7kW (this is the most common)
  • Rapid charge – 22kW

You can work out how long it would take for a full charge by dividing your car battery’s kilowatt hours (kWh) by the charger’s kilowatt speed (kWh ÷ kW).

The faster the charger, the more it will cost.

Also, rapid chargers are only available for homes with a three-phase electricity supply (which has three 100 amp fuses) so you might have to pay to upgrade your home’s supply if you wanted the fastest available charger. 

Most UK homes only have a single-phase supply, so you would have to pay more to upgrade to a three-supply connection in order to get a 22kW charger.

5) Which plug connector does my electric car have?

There are two types of standard connectors for electric cars.

Type 1 –  have 5 pins and are single-phase only, meaning they can’t carry a 22kW charge.

Type 2 – have 7 pins and a built-in locking mechanism as well as being able to carry a three-phase power supply. 

Charge points have a universal Type 2 plug.

Electric cars usually come with the charging cable included.

If you’re installing an EV charger with a built in cable, check it has the right plug to match your car.

6) Tethered or untethered EV charger?

Tethered chargers come with a fixed charging cable that’s stored within the unit.

They’re convenient because you simply uncoil the cable whenever you need to plug it into your car to charge it. 

But, you can’t remove the cable if you need a different cable length or want to charge an electric car with a different connector type.

Untethered chargers simply have a socket that you can plug your own cable into. They can be used for both Type 1 and Type 2 electric cars.

But, they don’t have a place to store the cable when you’re not using it and you’ll have to buy your own cable.

The choice comes down to what you prefer and whether you’ll be using multiple types of electric cars or not.

7) Standard or smart EV charger?

A standard EV charger is cheapest.

But, while ‘Smart’ chargers cost more on the face of it, they’re eligible for a government grant, which reduces the cost. 

They also have features that can help you better manage your EV charging, and reduce costs even more.

A smart charger can connect to the internet in your home, so you can monitor it and adjust its settings via Wifi by downloading the brand’s app on your phone.

These types of chargers make it easy to check your charging progress and energy use, and schedule charging for the best times according to energy supply and electricity costs if you have an off-peak tariff.

8) Does EV charger design matter?

Looks aren’t everything, but they do matter when you have to look at them every day.

Your EV charger is going to be a fixed appliance pretty much permanently on your wall, so you should choose something with a suitable design.

You take time to pick kitchen appliances that ‘look right’ in the space, so your EV charger should be no different.

Most people would prefer a sleek modern design with efficient storage over a big ugly box with messy cables, especially if the charger is on an outside wall visible to everyone.

Consider the dimensions, colour, and shape of EV charging units and whether they complement the architectural design of your house.

You might have to compromise when it comes to charger style if you’re not willing to pay a bit more for pleasing aesthetics, because function does come first.

9) Should I get an EV charger with special features?

Manufacturers develop new features and software for EV chargers all the time

Here are some of the useful features available:

  • Rapid charging mode (for those times you need to top up quickly instead of charging overnight)
  • Eco charging mode (uses energy from solar panels if you have them installed)
  • Automatic tariff synching (saves you money by showing you when electricity rates are cheapest)
  • Built in neutral failure protection (no need to drive an earth rod for the installation)
  • Built in SIM card (for a sturdy 3G or 4G data connection if your Wifi is unreliable, with 5G in the works)
  • Cable hanger (sometimes included with tethered chargers, can be added separately)
  • Key switch (requires key to turn the charger on for secure access control)

Not all chargers will have all of these features.

Some have a higher price, but if there’s something you really want from your EV charger then look for a unit with those specifications. 

10) Which EV charger brand should I choose?

There are many EV charger manufacturers out there. The best are OZEV-approved with high quality products that are popular among electric car drivers for their efficiency and value.

Here are some of the leading manufacturers to look out for when choosing your home EV charger:

  • Pod Point (Solo chargers have a pleasing round black and grey design, built-in protection, and come in 3.6kW/7kW/22kW and universal socket/Type 1 tethered 4.8m/Type 2 tethered 7.5m options)
  • MyEnergi (Zappi chargers have a distinctive shape and come with an LCD screen, built-in earth leakage protection, and three eco-friendly charging modes, available in 7kW/22kW and untethered/Type 2 tethered 6.5m options)
  • Rolec (WallPod:EV range offers an assortment of standard and smart chargers to suit different needs, available in 3.6kW/7kW or 11kW/22kW, with Type 1/Type 2 tethered or Type 2 socketed versions)
  • EO (offers the smallest smart chargers, with the EO Mini and EO Mini Pro 2 in 3.6kW/7kW and the EO Basic in 11kW/22kW, all available with a universal socket or as Type/Type 2 tethered)
  • EVbox (the Elvi charger has a compact white and black design with built-in protections and is available in 3.7kW/7.4kW and 11kW/22kW with a socket or 6m tethered cable)

Downtown Electrical is an OZEV-approved installation partner for all of these major brands, so you can contact us to discuss installing your preferred EV charger model.

11) What happens to my home EV charger if I move house?

If you move home after installing an EV charger you do have the option to take your charger with you, but at an extra cost. 

Firstly, if you already claimed the government grant for your electric car, you can’t claim it again at your new home, unless you’re claiming for a second eligible vehicle.

If you want to take the charger with you instead of buying a new one, you can contact your installer to get a quote for removing the charger and installing it at your new home.

There isn’t a grant to help with this cost, but it’s often the cheaper option compared to paying full price for a completely new charger. 

You don’t have to notify the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles to move your home charger, as your grant will be connected to the vehicle you claimed it for and not the specific address.  

Some good news is that the UK government is in the process of updating building regulations to make it mandatory for new build homes to have EV chargers installed, so if you move to a new build in the future there might already be an EV charger waiting for you.

12) Can I install my own EV charging point?

Some electric cars come with complimentary charger installation, but if yours doesn’t then you’ll need to contact a qualified installer like Downtown Electrical.

It’s not worth trying to cut corners to save a bit of money on the installation when you could end up causing problems that cost you a lot more, at the very least invalidating your warranty.

You’ll need to book a certified electrician with experience in fitting EV chargers to make sure everything is safely installed in compliance with all regulations, including driving an earth rod if necessary.

An expert electrician can properly assess the electrical system in your home and locate the best installation point, which you won’t be able to do accurately without the relevant experience.

Electricians on the list of OZEV-approved installers can also sort out the government grant on your behalf if you’re eligible, making the whole process much smoother.

If you’re looking for an installer to set up an electric charging point at home, Downtown Electrical can help.

Contact us today with your enquiries about installation and the EVHS grant to get started on your home charger journey.

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