When buying an electric car it is nearly always worthwhile to get a dedicated charge point installed at home.
It’s more convenient than an ‘occasional use’ or ‘granny’ (13 Amp) charge cable because you don’t need to reel it up and put it away each time.
It will also be significantly faster because a dedicated charge point can provide more power without the risk of overheating. Also some electric cars, such as the Renault ZOE, don’t come with such a cable and buying one yourself can be very expensive (£500+).
The good news is that the installation of domestic charge points is subsidised by the UK government.
There are 3 decisions to be made when selecting the type of charge point for your car:
- Tethered or Untethered
- Connector Types
- Power Level
Tethered or Untethered
There is usually the choice of a ‘tethered’ cable (it is fixed to the charge point) or an ‘untethered’ cable (it plugs into and can be removed from the charge point).
Untethered has the advantage of allowing different cables to be connected (for example you can use the same charge point for a Nissan Leaf and a Renault ZOE). However, most people choose tethered because it avoids the inconvenience of connecting a cable whenever you need to charge (usually daily). It also reduces the risk of the cable being stolen.
A charge point with a tethered cable will usually cost more than an untethered one (typically about £50 more) because of the cost of its cable.
If you choose untethered you will need to use your own cable to connect to the car; it is the same cable that would be used to connect to a public charging point. It may come free with the car, for example the Renault ZOE or the Nissan Leaf with the 6.6kW charge option come with one. Otherwise you will need to buy one (we can advise you on suppliers).
All untethered domestic charge points supplied in the UK come with a Type 2 socket on the charge point, just as all public charge points now have (or at least officially should have) Type 2 sockets. Similarly all charge cables have a Type 2 plug at the charge point end.
If the cable is tethered then you need to tell the installer the type of plug you want at the car end. This will depend on the car:
- Type 1 socket: Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Kia Soul EV
- Type 2 socket: Renault ZOE, BMW i3, VW e-Golf and Hyundai IONIQ
The Type 2 or ‘Mennekes’ connector is the official standard in Europe and should eventually replace the Type 1.
A dedicated charge point can provide higher powers than a typical occasional use charging cable which will run at 10 Amps, equivalent at 230 Volts to 2.3 kilowatts. The charge will take place at the highest power that both the charge point can provide and the car can use.
There are two common power levels:
- 16A = 3.5kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 3.3kW, the Mitsubishi Outlander and the VW e-Golf.
- 30A/32A = 7kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 6.6kW, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV and Hyundai IONIQ. The standard Renault ZOE can use this level, in fact anything up to 22kW.
The higher power reduces the charge time so a typical EV battery will charge in about 8 hours at 16A but in about 4 hours at 32A.
It may be best to install the highest power charge point you can afford; even if your current car can’t use all the power, the next one almost certainly will be able to.