Is it worth getting a home charger for a plug-in hybrid?

worth getting a home charger for a plug-in hybrid

Plug-in hybrids offer the extended range and instant torque of an electric motor paired with the familiarity and range of a petrol engine. But to get the most out of your PHEV’s battery-powered capabilities, easy home charging is essential. Here’s a look at whether investing in a dedicated home charger is worthwhile for PHEV owners.

The convenience factor

The main benefit of getting a home charger is convenience. The onboard chargers built into PHEVs typically max out at around 3.6kW – faster than plugging into a regular socket but a fraction of the 7kW+ speed possible with a dedicated wall box.

That means a full recharge takes a few hours rather than six or seven. With compact PHEV batteries of around 10-15kWh, having a faster charger can make a full top-up after each trip viable, keeping you in emission-free electric mode more often.

Most PHEVs take 2-4 hours to charge from 0-100% at 3.6kW, or if you charge to 80%, you can expect even faster charge times.

For example, the VW Golf GTE has a 13kWh battery and charges at a maximum rate of 3.6kW. Charging from 0% to 80% takes 3 hours 13 minutes while a 100% charge takes a touch over four hours.

For comparison’s sake, a 3-pin socket can only draw 2.3kW, so that same charge to 100% takes 6 hours 17 minutes, or 5 hours 2 minutes to 80%.

The safety factor

Home chargers aren’t just faster than a 3-pin socket; they’re safer, too, because they have to comply with the Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021.

Drawing maximum power from a standard household 3-pin socket for extended periods risks overloading the circuit and causing a fire, something we readily explain in our charging with a 3-pin plug article.

The Regulations for smart chargers stipulate:

  • A charge point must be designed or configured in such a way that the owner or
    other end-user cannot carry out specific operations that may result in a risk to the
    health and safety of themselves or others.

Basically, the hardware itself has to be fit for purpose.

A dedicated PHEV charger regulates power draw, avoiding tripped fuses and potential fire risks. With tethered cables and weatherproof enclosures, home units are designed to live outside, protected from the elements. No more trailing an extension cord from the garage whenever you want to charge up.

The cost factor

The upfront cost of installing a home charger – around £500 to £1,500 depending on the brand and extras like Wi-Fi connectivity – may give some PHEV owners pause. But for high-mileage drivers who rely heavily on battery power and want to maximise their electric driving, the long-term savings could outweigh the initial investment.

Home charging overnight can also cost a fraction as much per mile as petrol, especially with off-peak electricity rates on an Economy 7 tariff or Octopus Agile.

Based on current petrol prices, once you start paying 50p per kWh, you start paying more per mile than for an equivalent petrol version of the same sized car. Which has an excellent guide on this.

Chargers like the Ohme ePod, Hypervolt Home 3 Pro, and Indra Smart Pro tap into off-peak tariffs to give you the cheapest prices.

The space factor

There’s one more consideration beyond simply weighing cost versus convenience – space. To make use of a home charger, you’ll need room both for the wall-mounted unit itself and to consistently park in the same spot for charging.

Urban dwellers in apartments rarely have dedicated outdoor parking. And even houses with garages or carports may find them too cluttered. Ideally, a home charger needs its own permanent, protected nook with ready access to your parking space.

Summing up

Ultimately, a home charger’s value depends on your driving habits and needs. Occasional PHEV drivers who rely mainly on petrol may not find it worthwhile.

But for anyone wanting to maximise their electric miles, convenient, fast home charging checks all the boxes for safety, efficiency and flexibility. And as more powerful PHEVs arrive on the market with bigger batteries, chargers will become vital to using their expanded EV capabilities to the fullest. Remember – the bigger the battery, the more convenient fast charging is!

Alfred drives a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus but has his eye on a fully-electric pick-up truck. He'd love an electric Ford Ranger, which should be a real thing in a few years!