How to choose an EV charger guide

How to choose an EV charger – a beginner’s guide

Buy the perfect EV charger using this guide
Buy the perfect EV charger using this guide

Shopping for your first EV charger can be frustrating. There are so many options and most chargers have overlapping features. Thankfully, there are actually only a few things to consider.

This how-to guide filters out the noise to help you choose an EV charger based on what is most important:

  • Cost
  • Charging speeds
  • Tethered vs untethered
  • App/software experience
  • Smart features
  • Solar/renewables integration

Of course, we’ll also offer up plenty of charger recommendations based on our reviews (click here to jump to that bit!).

If you are looking to buy an EV charger for home or work, step on up. This guide covers everything you need to know about choosing an EV charger.

Let’s jump in!

Charger costs

How much does an EV charger cost? You will pay between £800 and £1,200 for a smart charger, including hardware and installation.

From March 31 2022, the OZEV grant ends for homeowners. This grant contributed £350 towards the cost of EV home charger installation, so prices will increase by £350 from March for homeowners.

After March, you will be hard-pressed to get a smart home charger + installation for less than £800. Feel free to thank the Government for that one!

Here are a few estimated prices for different chargers minus the grant:

Some chargers are more expensive than this, but in general, you should budget £800 to £1,200 for a smart home charger.

Note – The Government has shifted funding for the OZEV grant to rented accommodation. If you are a landlord, from March 31 2022 you qualify for the OZEV grant which will give you £350 towards installation.

If you are a business, you can apply for the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS). The grant covers up to 75% of the total costs of the purchase and installation of EV chargers, capped at £350 per socket with a maximum of 40 sockets.

Takeaway

You will pay between £800 and £1,200 for a smart home charger, and up to £2,000 for an expensive, luxury unit. This includes hardware and installation.

Charging speeds

This is the easy part of choosing a home charger!

Most houses with a single-phase power supply (most houses in the UK) can power a 32A circuit for a home charger.

A 32A circuit is sufficient for a 7kW to 7.4kW home charger – the fastest chargers available with a single-phase supply.

Easee One charger review
Easee One 7.4kW charger – a great option if you want something stylish and reliable

In rare cases, you might only have sufficient power for a 16A circuit (usually due to other energy-intensive appliances, like air source heat pumps and hot tubs).

A 16A circuit can power a 3.6kW charger, but nothing more. The good news is every charger we recommend supports a 16A and 32A feed.  

Charging speed comparison

Here’s a table showing how charge speeds correspond to range per hour:

7kW 7.2kW 7.4kW 11kW
Charge speed (up to)25 miles per hour28 miles per hour30 miles per hour38 miles per hour

As you can see, there is only a marginal improvement between 7kW and 7.4kW, so you shouldn’t split hairs over the decimal differences.

Ohme-Home-Pro-review
Ohme Home Pro 7.4kW charger – offers kWh price caps so you can use dynamic tariffs

If you want an 11kW home charger, you need a 3-phase power supply. Our linked article covers this in detail, but the gist of it is that the work is expensive and disruptive, and really not worth it unless you need very fast charging.  

There’s also a smaller number of 11kW smart chargers. Most are designed for single-phase only.

How to choose an EV charger based on speed? Look for a 7kW charger as a minimum.

Why does speed matter?

With a fast enough home charger, you can plug your EV in before you go to bed and wake up with a full charge in the morning.

The ability to charge quickly at home also unlocks journey flexibility, with 15-miles of range available every half hour with a 7.4kW charger.

Wallbox Pulsar Plus tethered charger
Wallbox Pulsar Plus 7.4kW charger – small, reliable and easy to use with a handy LED status rung

Compared to a 3-pin socket, home chargers are rapid. While 3-pin charging delivers up to 8-miles of range per hour, a 7.4kW charger delivers up to 30-miles.

Takeaway

A 7kW to 7.4kW home charger is all you need for overnight charging and fast top-ups during the day. The good news is all single-phase smart chargers are rated for these speeds, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

Tethered vs untethered chargers

A tethered charger is more convenient because the cable is built into the charger, while an untethered charger usually has a cleaner installation because there’s no cable tidy or loose cable trailing on the floor.

This tethered vs untethered article explores the pros and cons in detail. Personally, I prefer untethered chargers for the cleaner look.

For example, here’s the tethered Indra Smart PRO:

Indra EV charger
Indra Smart Pro – one of the best EV chargers we’ve tested

And now, here’s the untethered Indra Smart Pro:

Indra Smart Pro EV charger full review
Indra Smart PRO

I’ll let you make your mind up as to which looks better!

Home EV chargers come in three flavours:

  • Tethered – permanent cable attached and built into the unit (e.g., Hypervolt Home 2.0)
  • Untethered – no cable attached so you need to use your own cable (e.g., Sync EV)
  • Untethered with a cable lock – no cable attached, but lets you lock your cable in place for convenience (e.g., Easee One).

Some home chargers are available both tethered and untethered. Examples include the EO Mini Pro 2, Zappi v2 and Indra Smart PRO.

Takeaway

Tethered chargers are more convenient because you don’t need to faff around with an EV cable when you want to charge. Untethered chargers look tidier and are smaller since there is no need for a cable tidy system.

Types of charger

Chargers are dumb or smart. Dumb chargers are glorified sockets that you control via your vehicle or vehicle companion app, while smart chargers have their own app and integrate with your EV tariff for smart scheduling

Dumb chargers

If you don’t need any smart features and just want a powerful socket, you can get a dumb charger like the QUBEV charger or a Commando socket.

The QUBEV is a glorified power socket in a black case. It’s well-made and a pure plug and play device. A Commando socket is a blue power socket that can charge your EV at 7.4kW on a 32A circuit, and again, it is pure plug and play.

QUBEV charger review
QUBEV charger – a dumb charger that’s cheap and gets the job done

Dumb chargers are off or on, so you can’t set schedules or control charging via the charger. However, you can use your EV’s companion app to control charging while the cable is connected to your electric car.

However, I still recommend getting a smart charger over these because they give you greater control of your charging experience.

Smart chargers

What is a smart charger? A smart charger is an EV home charger that connects to your smartphone over Wi-Fi, 4G, and in some cases Bluetooth, and lets you control the charger, set schedules, and sometimes integrate your tariff.

Smart chargers save you money by tapping into cheap tariff rates.

The idea is that you can set your smart charger to enable charging between certain times, letting you tap into cheaper energy prices on a dual-rate energy tariff (if you have one).

Black tethered Zappi v2 charger review
Zappi v2 – a great charger if you generate off-grid energy

We’ve covered EV tariffs before, but they are a fantastic way to reduce your running costs, with electricity priced as low as 4.5p/kWh.

Every smart charger lets you schedule charging times. Some chargers also let you set kWh price caps and integrate your energy tariff (like the Indra Smart PRO).

Sync EV smart charger
Sync EV – an excellent small EV charger

The best smart chargers provide session details after every charge, ideally with a graph so you can see how the load was balanced (if applicable).

Your session data will include total charge time and total kWh drawn, and the price of the session (if you were able to integrate your tariff information).

Hypervolt tethered charger
Hypervolt Home 2.0 – reliable, good app, stylish and built to last

App experience

The user experience of a charger’s app makes or breaks it.

You will interact with your smart home charger via the charger’s companion app, so it has to be good, otherwise what’s the point?

Chargers to avoid based on their apps are the Project EV Pro Earth and EO Mini Pro 2. These apps are the worst we’ve tested.

Indra Kaluza App
Indra app

The chargers with the best apps are the Ohme Home Pro, Hypervolt charger, Rolec WallPod and Indra Smart Pro – all were awarded 4/5 for software.

What makes a good app experience?

  • Fast and responsive
  • Real-time usage data
  • Historic data
  • Cost tracking
  • Connectivity stability
  • No missed schedules

Smart features

Smart chargers let you enable smart features in the app. Here’s a rundown of the key features available with smart chargers (available in their respective apps):

  • Scheduled charging
  • kWh price caps
  • Tariff integration
  • Usage data
  • Historical data
  • Locking and unlocking

Clearly, these features are beneficial for EV charging and they are all unavailable with a dumb charger or a power socket.

Personally, I think it makes sense to pair an EV to a smart charger because an EV by definition is smart.

Untethered Solo 3 review
Pod Point Solo 3 – a decent smart charger

Also, only smart chargers are available under the OZEV grant. While this grant ends for homeowners on 31 March 2022, it opens for landlords on the same date.

Takeaway

The greater the level of control you have over your charger the better. All smart chargers let you schedule charging times, while even smarter chargers let you set kWh price caps and integrate your energy tariff.

Solar integration

With solar panels on your house, you can charge your EV off-grid or supplement grid power with solar power to lower your energy costs.

Hypervolt Home 2.0 review
Hypervolt Home 2.0 7kW charger – the black version is very sleek

If you want to charge your EV with solar, then you need a charger with solar integration, i.e., a charger that has terminals for a solar feed.

There are plenty of good chargers with solar integration:

  • Zappi v2
  • Indra Smart PRO
  • Hypervolt Home 2.0
  • Rolec WallPod:EV SolarCharge

Of course, you also need a solar system.

Our complete guide to solar charging covers everything you need to know, but basically, if your solar system is 7kW or more, it can charge your EV fast.

Solar panels on a house
Charging with solar panels is a great way to go off-grid

If you have a 1-4kW solar system, you can either charge your EV slowly with 100% solar power, or you can supplement grid power with solar power to lower your energy costs (this is what most people do).

A solar panel installation will set you back £5,000 to £10,000 for a 4kW to 7kW system, but prices can go higher with an energy storage system like the Tesla Powerwall, which you need if you intend to store surplus energy for use anytime.

Takeaway

Solar charging gives you free, off-grid energy and miles, with a solar system capable of charging your car with 100% green energy. All you need is a solar system and a smart charger with solar integration.

Best smart chargers in 2022

Our EV charger rankings page provides a complete list of the chargers we’ve reviewed ordered by score. But since you’re here, we’ve embedded the top 8 chargers below. Just click on any of the links to read the full review.

ChargerRating
Indra Smart PRO Indra Smart PRO 4.5/5 🌟
Hypervolt Home 2.0 Hypervolt Home 2.04.5/5 🌟
Ohme Home Pro Ohme Home Pro4.4/5 ⭐
Easee OneEasee One4.4/5 ⭐
Zappi V2Zappi v24.3/5
Wallbox Pulsar PlusWallbox Pulsar Plus4.2/5
Sync EVSync EV4.1/5
ICS W7CICS W7C 4.1/5
Our favourite chargers in 2022 are the Hypervolt Home 2.0, Indra Smart PRO, Ohme Home Pro, Easee One and Sync EV.

Also, here are some mini lists:

Best chargers with a screen/display

  • Ohme Home Pro
  • ICS W7C
  • Zappi v2
  • Indra Smart PRO

Best chargers with RFID

  • Easee One
  • Sync EV
  • Rolec WallPod

Best small chargers

  • Wallbox Pulsar Plus
  • EO Mini Pro 2
  • Sync EV
  • Ohme Home Pro

Overall

Choosing an EV charger isn’t all that complicated. All smart chargers let you schedule charge times and some let you add your tariff to track charging costs.

It boils down to this:

  • Costs: You will pay £800 to £1,200 for a smart charger.
  • Speed: 7kW to 7.4kW is the fastest speed on single-phase.
  • Tethered or untethered: Tethered is more convenient, untethered usually looks cleaner.
  • Smart: Scheduled charging is the minimum standard. Tariff integration is useful to track costs.
  • Solar: Only necessary if you want to charge your EV with solar panels.

Hopefully, this guide helps you choose an EV charger.

Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Further reading

Next up: Can you install your own EV charger?

James Lewis
James Lewis is our resident electrical head. He drives an MG ZS EV (2018, which he loves) and plans to get the new one soon. James is much more excited by the lower end of the EV market and is looking forward to the Ora Cat.