So you’ve decided to buy an electric (or hybrid) vehicle, or perhaps you’ve already bought one. It’s a great move either way. Equally as important, and often overlooked, is the decision about which home charging unit to buy.

We’ve prepared a report outlining the features offered by the leading five manufacturers so you can choose the best car charger for you. As an installer, we have our favourite suppliers that we work with, based on the quality of their units, unit efficiency and unit price. That said, we always try to give transparent, unbiased advice to our clients based on their personal circumstances, regardless of whether we offer that particular model. In this article we aim to provide a balanced comparison of domestic chargers, including their varying features.

What is a smart charger?

Previously, some manufacturers have claimed to have smart units, based merely on the unit’s ability to provide the customer with energy usage data.  However, from 1st July 2019, in order to qualify for the home charge grant, OLEV rules state the following:

‘Chargepoints must be able to be remotely accessed, and capable of receiving, interpreting and reacting to a signal. Smart charging can reduce peaks in electricity demand, reducing the impact of electric vehicles on the electricity system and keeping costs down for consumers by encouraging off-peak charging’.  

What does this mean for you as a buyer? The communication system located inside the unit is what enables smart functionality, so don’t expect the appearance to change. The unit will communicate with a computer (or ‘back-office system,’ as they are referred to). This allows the unit to be remotely accessed and capable of receiving commands.

In most cases, this communication will happen via your home wifi. You should advise the installation company of the location of your router and check the wifi signal strength at the charger’s location, as connection will be required for the OLEV grant. If your signal strength is weak, you may want to install a wifi booster in the house to ensure the charger connects. Most units will come with an app, designed by the manufacturer. This app will connect to the charger, via internet or Bluetooth, to enable communication and additional functions to be accessed.

Units with connectivity have two additional benefits that should increase your charger’s reliability:

  1. Wireless updates are often possible, so no installer visits are required to upgrade the charger.
  2. As some units are monitored by a back-office system, the manufacturer will be able to ensure any issues are identified and resolved before you are even aware of them.

Overall, a connected, monitored charger allows faster fault resolution and future-proofs the unit using software updates.

Comparing our recommended smart chargers

Andersen EV Zappi EO Mini Pro Pod Point Rolec
Cost(1) £ 895 £ 590 £ 495 £ 359 £ 295
Warranty(2) 3 Years 3 Years 3 Years 3 Years 3 Years
Charge Rate(3) 7 & 22kW 7 & 22kW 7kw 7 & 22kW 3.7 & 7kw
Lockable With app With app With app Key switch required Key switch required
Type(4) Tethered Type 2 only Type 2 and untethered Type 1 / 2 and untethered Type 1 /2 untethered Type 1 /2 untethered
Cable length 5.5 / 8.5 or 6.5 22kw 6.5 4.8 4.8 4.8
Solar charging Optional extra Standard Optional extra No No
Client app Yes – Konnect Yes – Zappi Yes – Juice Net Yes – Pod Point Yes – EV Energy
Colour options Multiple Black/white Black/white/silver Silver standard Black and green
Load management(5) Yes Yes Yes (with ALM) Yes No
OLEV smart approved
Over the air updates
Monitored unit
  • Andersen EV

    The home charging point that has it all. The most aesthetically pleasing on the market, with a lifetime guarantee on the chassis, and build quality and components to match the price tag, this is the unit of choice for those not on a budget.
    Unique feature – hidden cable system and night light.
  • Zappi

    Loved by the eco community, this brand has a great cult following. Myenergi, the manufacturer, specialise in energy-saving devices for the home. Zappi 2.0 is the latest version of their home charge unit, which works with the myenergi hub to ensure communication to their app. The unit can be used in conjunction with other energy-saving devices such as Eddi to reduce your home energy costs.
    Unique feature – solar charging; charge your car for free when the sun shines.
  • EO Mini Pro

    If you want a compact charger, look no further than the EO Mini Pro. Filled with tech, this little box should not be overlooked. What it lacks in size it makes up for in software, with its connection to the JuiceNet platform allowing integration with Amazon Echo as well as a bunch of other smart features.
    Unique feature – smallest fast charger available.
  • Pod Point

    The preferred supplier for Audi, Volvo, Jaguar, Peugeot, Citroen, Hyundai and Nissan (to name but a few). If it’s a high-quality wifi-connected unit you require, backed up by a 4.8/5 rating on reviews.co.uk, then this is the charger for you.
    Unique feature – constantly monitored units mean any faults are fixed immediately.
  • Rolec

    With over 125,000 charging units manufactured, these guys know a thing or two about how to refill a vehicle. The modular units mean any upgrades or service calls are quickly and easily carried out. This is the most competitively priced charger on our list, ideal for those on a budget.
    Unique feature – best budget option.

We hope this article helps differentiate between the different charging systems available.

Get in touch you are still unsure and want more information.

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Footnotes

(1) Cost

The prices stated above are for that manufacturer’s 32 amp unit. This includes a standard install of around 10m of cabling, modern fuseboard with spare fuses, all cabling clipped direct or in trunking, and no ground works. For units fitted externally that require the installation of an earth electrode an additional charge of £60 plus vat is payable per earth electrode required.

(2) Warranty

All OLEV units come with a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty under the OLEV homecharge scheme. Additional warranties may be available – your installer can supply more details. Andersen EV offer a lifetime guarantee for the unit’s back plate.

(3) Charge rate

Standard charge rates for domestic installations are as follows:

  • 3.7kW offering 10 miles per hour range
  • 7kW offering 20 miles an hour range
  • 22kW offering 60 miles an hour range

All units apart from Rolec have power rating adjustments built into them, so 7kW units can be derated on-site by the installer to 3.7kW if required. For clients looking to order 22kW units, we would advise they check they have a 3 phase connection in the property, which is required for this charge rate. These units can be connected to a single phase supply but you will not benefit from an increased charge rate.

(4) Type

Tethered units are units with a fixed cable attached, which is normally around 5m in length. They have either a 5-pin connection (Type 1, mainly used by vehicles in the Far East) or a 7-pin connection (Type 2, used by European manufacturers and Tesla). For single-vehicle households, most drivers find it more convenient to have a tethered unit as it is quicker and easier to use. Tethered cables also offer greater security, as they cannot be removed from the unit.

Untethered units come with a 7-pin socket fixed to the unit. The end user must provide the cable. With charging cables costing over £125, it’s a good idea to factor this expense into your purchase if you choose an untethered unit. The advantage is greater flexibility, as you can use an untethered unit with any kind of electric vehicle providing you have the right cable – so they are ideal for multi-car properties. It’s also worth noting that untethered cables can be easily removed, so a DIY fix may be required to ensure it is not removed unduly.

(5) Load management

The energy required to charge an electric vehicle typically exceeds a household’s other energy usage. The charging therefore increases the peak demand, and for houses with high-load appliances, such as electric showers, double ovens, electric heating or annexes, this increased draw can potentially overload the incoming supply fuse. A unit with added load management software will prevent this by reducing the charger power or turning it off totally when a peak limit is met. These devices are often referred to ‘fuse savers’ in the industry, and are essential at properties where 2 chargers are connected to a single supply.