How to choose a home wallbox charger

If you're going electric, a wallbox charger is a must-have item. We give you the lowdown.

If you are thinking of buying an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), one of the things you need to consider is where to charge it. Both electric vehicles and PHEVs need to be regularly topped up via a charging cable to ensure their batteries have enough energy to power the car.

For those with a driveway, garage or any other form of off-street parking, the obvious answer is that you will charge your car at home. This is what the majority of electric vehicle owners currently do.

While the UK’s public charging network is growing at a rapid pace, with over 6,500 charging points nationwide, most people still decide to charge their car at home – often overnight, so it’s ready for use the next morning.

But then there is the question of exactly how to charge your electric vehicle. A regular three-pin plug will draw a maximum charge of 3kW, but that’s if you’ve got one nearby. A better option will be to install a home wallbox charger near your car so that you don’t have to run extension cords through the house, leaving windows and doors open. A wallbox will also help charge your car quicker.

To find out how to choose the right one, read on.

What is a home wallbox charger?

A home wallbox charger is simply a box that’s often installed either in your garage or outside your house – whichever is nearer to where you park your electric vehicle. This is connected to your home’s mains electricity. It will charge the car at a rate of roughly either 3kW or 7kW, although there are faster, 22kW, home wallbox chargers available, too.

The idea is that instead of running an extension cord from your home, you can simply plug in your car via the home wallbox. The good thing is that these are weather and rainproof, so you don’t have to worry about harsh weather ruining your charging in the future.

Different types of home wallbox chargers

As of September 2018, there are around 40 different companies that provider a home wallbox charger. However, this doesn’t mean that you have 39 wrong choices for your vehicle and only one right one. Instead, most companies work with the majority of electric vehicles and PHEVs currently sold, so picking the right one comes down to factors such as price, ease of installation, charging speed, compatibility with your home – and even how the wallbox looks.

Some of the biggest providers include Rolec, Chargemaster, Pod Point and Wallbox. There are many others, though, so it’s worth shopping around for the right one.

Also consider the type of connector you need. In 2014, the European Commission ruled that all public charging points should feature Type 2 connector compatibility. This is why new electric vehicles and PHEVs often feature Type 2 plugs – and why most home wallbox chargers are also intended for vehicles with Type 2 plugs.

You can then choose whether you want a socketed or a tethered wallbox. A socketed one comes with a standard plug to which you have to run your own cable. These are often supplied with the car but, if not, they can be bought from suppliers such as Chargemaster for around £149. However, the benefit is that if you swap cars or new charging technology comes along, you should still be able to use the socketed charging point.

A tethered point means the wallbox comes with the charging cable attached. You can plug this straight into your car. While some argue that this isn’t as future proof as a socketed wallbox, there is always the possibility of purchasing an adaptor later on.

Charging speeds

Once you’ve picked out a provider, it’s time to start thinking about the charging capacity of your home wallbox charger. They typically start at 3kW to 3.7kW, moving to 7kW and then to 22kW. The price of the chargers goes up as you move through the power bands.

In terms of charging speeds, a 3.6kW system will fully charge the 40kWh battery in a Nissan Leaf in just over 13 hours. A 7kW system will do so in less than six hours, while a 22kW will take less than two hours.

Think about your daily mileage and driving requirements. If you drive only a limited amount each day, bringing the car back with a healthy amount of battery left, it’s perhaps wiser to invest in a 3.6kW charger to slowly recharge the vehicle overnight.

If you do a lot of driving, often bringing the car home with little or no battery charge, and you need to use it regularly throughout the week or at weekends, then a faster charger may be a better option.

Wallboxes also differ in both design and features. Some come with built-in WiFi for over-the-air updates, while others can communicate with your smartphone or tablet.

OLEV grant

It’s also important to mention that all of the prices above reflect the current Office of Low Emissions Vehicles Electric Vehicle Homecharging Scheme (OLEV EVHS). The grant is a Government-provided subsidy to reduce the cost of home wallbox installation, covering up to 75% of the purchase price with a maximum contribution of £500.

To be eligible for the OLEV grant, you need to meet the following points:

  • You have dedicated off-street parking
  • Your plug-in vehicle was purchased after 1 October 2016
  • You have not already claimed the grant for your vehicle
  • By claiming the grant, you are not exceeding the limit of two OLEV-funded Chargepoints per house.

How long does it take to install a wallbox

Most charge-point providers will supply and install the home wallbox within a week. Many of the providers include the installation costs in the purchase price, with the installation done by a qualified technician.

However, yours may not always be installed for free. Certain special circumstances may mean you’ll be charged extra for the installation, but this is unlikely. One company says that 90% of customers have their home wallbox installed free of charge.