Getting an electric vehicle home charger
With the upcoming ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, you may be considering getting an electric vehicle.
Having an electric vehicle home charger installed can be a more cost-effective and accessible way to charge your electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid compared to relying on public chargers. Having an accompanying home charger fitted could make your life a lot easier and (depending on where you live) increase the value of your property.
A home charger can identify the most affordable times of the day to charge your vehicle, can communicate with your solar panels, and even be controlled using an app or voice assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google's home hub.
Whilst some of these features could offer enormous benefits for disabled motorists, careful consideration needs to be given to where to install it. Ease of access with or without mobility aids and the type of charger that would best support your specific access and energy needs should all be taken into account.
RiDC carried out research with our Consumer Panel to explore the experiences of disabled electric and hybrid motorists when choosing and installing an electric vehicle home charger. This research was funded through the Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme. You can read our full research report here.
Below we give some consumer tips and information based on this, including:
- Whether you can install one in your home
- Types of chargers:
- Rate of power/charging speed
- Smart chargers
- Fuse protection
- Protective locks
- Grants and funding support available:
- Government grants
- Where to shop around for one
- What to be mindful of when arranging and undergoing installation
Can you install one in your home?
To install a home charger, you will need off-street parking (co-located with the property or separate from it) such as a driveway or garage. Examples of where you can install your charger include inside your garage, outside on a wall, or mounted on a free-standing post. With these possibilities in mind, think carefully about the position that would best allow you to access the charger with (or without) any mobility aids you use now or in the future. Try to also think about positioning it somewhere it is easily visible to you and/or where there is sufficient lighting. Be sure to express and explain this to the installer so that you end up with a charge point that can be easily accessed and used by you.
The installer will need to route the charger through your mains fuse box. Depending on your wiring and mains fuse box set-up, you may need to have an isolation switch fitted before the installation takes place. This needs to be arranged through your electricity provider. The switch is fitted between your mains fuse box and electricity meter to isolate the flow of electricity from the mains and will need a qualified electrician to carry out work at your property.
What type of outlet will you need to plug your vehicle into?
To speed up the process of charging your vehicle, you will need to have a wall box charging unit installed. Using a standard domestic plug would take a long time to fully charge your vehicle (up to 30-35 hours). Wall boxes come in different forms and power ratings which will significantly reduce the charging time compared to a standard three-pin plug.
What type of charger should you be looking for?
To shop around and find the best charging units for your access and energy needs, you need to think carefully about the following charger features:
- Tethered or untethered?
Having a tethered or untethered charging unit determines whether the cable is permanently attached to your unit or not
Tethered has a cable permanently attached to it meaning it simply requires the user to pull up to the unit and plug the cable into the vehicle, as opposed to plugging it in at both ends. This would be the preferable option for those with mobility and/or dexterity difficulties and limited strength as it doesn’t require you to lift the full weight of the cable each time you want to plug it into your vehicle. The only downside is that you can only use the charger to charge a vehicle with the socket type fitted to the cable (Type 1 or Type 2).
Untethered has no attached cable making it more cumbersome as it requires you to plug the cable in at both ends. However, it gives you more flexibility in that it allows you to charge a vehicle with either a Type 1 or Type 2 socket.
Tethered cables are the recommended option for Type 2 vehicles and those with limited mobility and/or dexterity as they are less cumbersome and more manageable. Untethered cables are typically recommended if you have a Type 1 vehicle, as your next vehicle is likely to be a Type 2 vehicle and you don’t want to have to re-purchase a charger as a result. However, all plug-in vehicles have been Type 2 since 2014.
- The power/charging speed
There are different charging speeds on offer – typically 3kW (slow) or, 7kW-22kW (fast). Most homes have a single-phase power supply, whilst some have a 3-phase power supply. A single-phase supply can deliver 7kW to your charger, whereas a 3-phase power supply can handle up to 22kW.
The charging speed, however, can be limited by your vehicle. Some older fully electric vehicles and hybrids are limited to a 3kW charge which is considered slow, but these days most vehicles are capable of a 7kW charge, which is considered fast. Before looking for a charger, it’s important to think about what charging speed would suit your driving range, your vehicle’s battery capacity and, other vehicle adaptations you may have such as hoists, specialist hand controls, and swivel seats.
7kW is typically the recommended charging speed in terms of affordability and performance.
- Smart or not?
A smart charger can be accessed and operated remotely using an app on your smartphone or tablet or using a voice assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google's home hub .
A smart charger removes the need to reach and manually operate a charger which could otherwise prove challenging if you have mobility and/or dexterity impairments.
In addition, a smart charger can allow you to monitor the vehicle’s charging and schedule when it takes place – for example, during the night or at off-peak times when the cost of charging is cleaner and cheaper (i.e. 5p/kW as opposed to 16-18 p/kW during the day). This is provided you have a time-of-use tariff, such as Economy 7 which you would need to request from your energy/electricity provider.
You can schedule your charging times using the charger’s accompanying app, or the vehicle manufacturer’s or your energy provider’s app. We would advise getting your charge point installer to help you get familiar with using the app at the point of installation.
Whilst a smart charger is generally more expensive than a regular one, it works out as the cheapest option if you are eligible for the EV Chargepoint grant, as the grant is only applicable for smart chargers.
- Fuse protection
Many chargers come with fuse protection – meaning that they are capable of fast charging but will lower the power to your vehicle accordingly if your home is close to using too much power and blowing your fuse. This feature could be particularly beneficial to you if you have other independent living products that require electricity installed in your home such as a stairlift, homelift, powered wheelchair charger etc…
- Protective lock
If you are worried about unscrupulous people using or abusing your charger, you may want to consider getting a locking system for it. This can be a simple lock and key function or a more advanced system whereby it is unlocked using an app or facial recognition.
Roughly how much will it cost to buy and install a charger?
The cost range goes from about £300 to £1800 to buy and install a home charger. The cost of the charger and its installation will largely depend on the following factors: charging speed, whether or not the charger is smart, and whether or not any electrical equipment needs upgrading. 3kW chargers are the most affordable, while 22kW chargers are the most expensive (and in excess of most users’ needs and power supply). 7kW chargers typically cost between £400 and £800.
Charging cables are normally 5m long but you can get longer ones (e.g. 10m, 15m) at an additional cost.
If you move or plan to move home, you can remove and re-install your charger – albeit at your own expense. This also applies if you previously received a grant for your charger.
Are you eligible for the EV Chargepoint grant?
The UK government offers this grant to those living in rented accommodation and flat owners. This covers up to 75% of the cost of an electric vehicle home charger and its installation. It is capped at £350 (including VAT) per installation.
Since April 2022, this grant has been restricted to flat-owners and those living in rented properties. You can also only claim for this grant if you live in a retrofit (i.e. existing) property (not a new-build) and have not claimed against the scheme (or the Domestic Charge Scheme) before.
Permission from third parties (e.g. landlord, freeholder, managing agent, local authority) will also need to be sought before any installation can happen.
Additionally, not all home charging units qualify for this grant. As mentioned before, the charging unit must have smart functionality. The model of your vehicle and the charger you intend to get must feature on the following government approved lists:
- Eligible vehicles: Residential chargepoints: eligible vehicles - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Eligible chargers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/residential-chargepoints-eligible-vehicles
This grant essentially works by you choosing an installer to fit a home charger. They will then check whether you qualify for the grant and if so, will apply on your behalf. The installer will then bill you the cost of the installation minus the grant amount applied for.
For more information about the EV Home ChargePoint grant and how to apply for it, please visit Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme: guidance for customers - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Do you live in Scotland? Even better. The Energy Savings Trust Scotland will provide a further £300 in top-up funding, provided you use an installer that features on their list. An additional top-up of £100 is available to those living in remote parts of Scotland.
For more information about this, please visit Domestic chargepoint funding - Energy Saving Trust
Are you leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme?
If you are leasing or thinking about leasing an electric vehicle through the scheme, you are in luck! Motability can arrange and cover the cost of fitting a home charger at no extra cost to you when you lease your first fully electric vehicle (not hybrid) through the scheme.
However, there are a number of things to be aware of…
- If you require an isolation switch to be fitted, Motability will not arrange or cover the cost of this, and you will need to organise this directly through your energy/electricity provider.
- You will also be responsible for covering the cost of any additional work required to gain access to your electricity supply.
- Motability will only pay for the installation of the charger at the beginning of your first lease of a fully electric vehicle meaning that if you move to a new property, you will be responsible for paying the cost of installing a home charger there which could cost you about £750.
For more information about getting a home charger through the scheme, please visit: How to Charge Your Electric Car at Home | Motability Scheme
Any additional costs should be included in any quote received from an installer.
Where can you shop around for a charger?
Now you may (or may not) have a better sense of what type of charger might best suit your needs and how much it might cost, it’s time to start looking!
There are some useful chargepoint comparison websites you can use to help you find and compare home chargers online such as:
These websites allow you to tailor your search for chargers according to what features you’d like them to have; provide and direct you to a list of government-approved installation companies as well as help you find EV-friendly energy tariffs suited to your needs.
In your search try to also look at the chargers’ dimensions – some are larger than others – so it’s important to consider their size in relation to where you would envisage fitting it in your home - and whether you would be able to safely access it with or without any mobility aid(s) you may use.
You can also shop around for chargers on a number of energy provider websites.
What do you need to be mindful of before and during the installation?
Whether you find an installer through your charger or vehicle manufacturer or search for one independently, you need to make sure that they are an authorised installer i.e. a qualified electrician and trained as well as experienced in installing Electrical Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) in line with the IET Code of Practice and ideally approved by the chargepoint manufacturer to install their product(s).
The installer is required to survey your property and inform you what is possible before the installation can go ahead. They typically ask you to take photos of your house, including your fuse box and where you would like the charger to be installed, and upload them using an online form. They will then conduct a remote survey and provide a quote for the charger as well as installation. Some charger manufacturers do, however, offer in-person quotes. We would advise taking up any opportunity to get an in-person quote as this will involve a visit to your home and should further ensure that the installer understands both your property and your access needs.
Make sure you are present at the time of the installation so you can openly discuss your current and future needs with the installer, including any mobility aid(s) you use or dexterity, reaching or strength difficulties you may have. It’s important that the chargepoint is installed to suit you and not the installer! To ensure that the installation is done with your access needs in mind, make sure that the installer takes into account the following:
- The height of the charging unit and/or any control panels or plugs so you can easily reach them
- The space surrounding the charging unit (i.e. whether you can easily and safely access it with or without mobility aid(s) and around your vehicle)
- Potential trip hazards (such as trailing cables across pathways or doors) as well as any slip hazards
- Whether the charger will be visible enough to you at different times of the day and if there is sufficient lighting
- How to manually operate the charger and use any accompanying apps (if it’s a smart charger)
- Security and/or how to use the locking system, if you decided to get a protective lock
Prices were recorded before the recent energy crisis in 2022.
Prices are correct at the time of writing this guide (June 2022).
This work was funded through the Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme administered by the Energy Savings Trust.