Home EV charger buying guide

Home EV charger buying guide

If you’re looking to purchase a home EV charger, our buying guide provides a high level look at the core features and specifications to consider.

Type

Mobile charger

Mobile EV chargers are often supplied with the EV at the time of purchase. They normally plug into a regular wall outlet and offer a charging speed of 2.4 KW (10 amps), although some may support faster rates.

Many EV owners will keep these in the car and only use them when they’re away from home, but in some cases a 2.4 kW charger may be fast enough for home charging needs and can act as the primary charger.

Tesla mobile chargers (UMC) are a special case as they can be configured to operate at up to 7 kW (32 amps) when used with a different tail and power outlet. Some Tesla owners install a 32 amp power outlet and use the UMC instead of installing a dedicated wall charger.

Wall charger

Wall chargers, as the name suggests, are installed by an electrician and permanently mounted to the wall.

Compared to a mobile charger, they typically run at higher speeds (7kW+), usually have a cable holder and may offer more control (scheduling, charging from solar, security features).

Socket vs Tethered

A tethered charger comes with the cable and plug that connects to your EV hardwired into the charger.

A socket charger has a socket (usually type 2), to which you connect a type-2 to type-2 charging cable, which you need to supply yourself.

You may want to consider a socket charger if:

  • You think you might purchase an EV in future with the charge port in a different location and would like to be able to change the length of the charging cable.
  • You’re happy to invest in a charging cable which you can take with you and use on public charging infrastructure which doesn’t include a cable.
  • Your wall charger is installed in a public access area and the cable may be susceptible to vandalism.
Delta AC MAX in Socket configuration

Cable length & holder

The location of the charge port varies between different makes and models of EVs: it may be located on the front, rear or side of the car.

Consider the length of cable required from the location that you’re able to install your wall charger to your EV's charge port (or location on future EVs you may own).

Check what’s included with the charger to keep the cable organised: some include a separate hook and receptacle for the connector whilst others rely on the cable being looped over the charger itself. If using a mobile charger you may need to purchase a holder separately to mount it to the wall and keep things organised.

Speed

Home EV chargers commonly come in four speeds

  • 2.4 kW or 3.6 kW (10 or 15 amps, mobile charger)
  • 7 kW (32 amps single phase)
  • 11 kW (16 amps 3 phase)
  • 22 kW (32 amps 3 phase)

This represents the maximum speed that the charger can supply power to the EV. The maximum speed that the EV can charge at is limited by its onboard AC charger. In many cases this is 7 kW or 11 kW. The ability for an EV to charge at 22 kW is fairly uncommon.

What speed do you need?

  • 2.4 kW - if you don’t do much distance, don’t need to solar charge or have a small solar PV system
  • 7 kW - recommended for most users, and may be the limit of your EV
  • 11 kW - if you have 3 phase, or you have (or might buy) an EV which can charge at 11 kW
  • 22 kW - because you’d like to have the fastest charger you can

See our more detailed article on what speed EV charger do I need.

Single Phase vs 3 phase

Your home may be connected to the grid via either a single phase or 3 phase connection. If you have a single phase connection, you can only install a single phase charger. If you have a 3 phase connection you can choose to install either a single phase or 3 phase charger.

Single phase chargers commonly have 2.4 kW or 7 kW maximum charge rates.

Three phase chargers commonly have 11 kW or 22 kW maximum charge rates.

For most EV drivers 7 kW (32 amps single phase) is comfortably enough to meet their home charging needs. 3 phase charging at 11 kW is more of a "nice to have".

Unlocking the charge port

Once you connect an EV charger, the charge port on the vehicle will lock the cable to the car.

Tesla chargers include a release button on the cable which will unlock the charge port, but if a different brand of charger is used unlocking must be done either via the mobile app or from the vehicles dashboard.

Other vehicles which are supplied with a key fob often include a button for unlocking the charge port removing the need for a release button on the charger.

Size and appearance

Home EV chargers vary quite significantly in their physical size and appearance. Check the dimensions and consider inspecting your preferred model in person if size or appearance is important to you.

Status indicators & controls

Most home EV chargers use coloured LEDs to convey their status such as stopped, charging or fault. Higher end models and those geared towards commercial environments may also include a display with more detailed status information and controls.

Smarts

Beyond the basic ability to charge your EV, many wall chargers offer additional smart features.

OCPP

OCPP is a standard protocol which can be used for controlling EV chargers. It is very commonly used in commercial settings and DC fast chargers to control access and billing, and is becoming more popular for residential charging.

Some models of wall chargers you can purchase for home charging include support for OCPP, which allows you to connect your charger to supported OCPP services.

Charge HQ is a great example of such a service, which can enable solar charging from any of the OCPP enabled chargers which are supported.

Buying a charger with OCPP support may future-proof your EV charger purchase.

Solar aware

If you have rooftop solar, or you think you might install a solar PV system in future, a solar aware charger will let you charge your EV from any excess power you’re generating.

A solar aware charger does this by continuously varying the EV charging power to match the amount of excess solar. This minimises the amount of energy drawn from the grid and also the amount of energy sent to the grid.

Solar charging your EV can save you money as excess solar energy is usually the cheapest source of energy at home. Feed in tariffs (the rate you’re paid for the energy you export) are usually lower than the cost of buying power from the grid - even in off-peak periods.

Schedules

Look for the ability to set up scheduled charging times in your charger. This will allow you to plug your EV in when you get home whilst ensuring charging only starts later in the evening when power is less expensive.

Some electric vehicles provide this control from the car itself whilst others don’t.

Smartphone app

Smartphone apps for EV chargers can provide you with:

  • Control to start and stop charging
  • The ability to make changes to scheduled charging
  • Reports on and the ability to download charging history
  • An interface for making configuration changes to the charger

Connectivity

If the charger has a smart phone app, check what connectivity options are included.

  • Bluetooth - only works when your phone is near the charger
  • WiFi - allows pairing with your home WiFi network, check signal strength near the charger
  • 4G - less common and often in combination with WiFi, allows access if the WiFi network is unavailable
  • Ethernet - provides a more reliable connection, but requires a network cable back to your home router or powerline device.

See also our list of EV wall chargers available to buy in Australia with a summary of the core features.