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  • Writer's pictureRJA Electrical Services

Should I get a tethered or untethered charger?

There are two main types of home EV charger - tethered and untethered - and there are pros and cons to each.

Tethered EV chargers A tethered EV charger simply means the charging cable is permanently attached to the charging unit. Most customers find this more convenient as the cable is always at hand - you just need to uncoil it and plug it in to your vehicle. In this way, it is very similar to the petrol pump experience. However, a tethered charger does mean you are limited to the cable lengths offered by the manufacturer. The standard length is usually five metres, but you can upgrade to a longer cable in some cases for an extra cost. This is one area where an untethered charger may come in handy if you want more flexibility when it comes to choosing cable length. There are even some chargers that give you both options, like the Easee One, so you don't need to choose between tethered or untethered. This is a great option if you aren't sure which to choose. Choosing a tethered charger can also restrict which "type" of vehicle you can charge. This is because EVs have different connections on them for charging at home - either Type 1 or Type 2 - so you have to make sure the tethered charger will "fit" your electric car in advance. It's a bit like the different charging connections on an iPhone versus other smartphones. Or VHS and BetaMax if you're old enough to remember those - VHS tapes only work with a VHS player and vice versa with BetaMax. Luckily, almost all modern electric cars are Type 2 so this issue does not affect most drivers. However, if you do happen to have a Type 1 electric vehicle (such as the older Nissan Leafs) then you will need to specify a Type 1 charger if you want a tethered unit. Keep in mind that if you have visitors with a Type 2 vehicle or you decide to change your EV in future to a Type 2 vehicle then your existing unit will not be compatible. For drivers of Type 1 vehicles, an untethered unit may be best for future proofing. Advantages of a tethered charger

  • More convenient - simply uncoil the cable and plug in.

  • More secure - the cable is part of the unit so it's not possible to remove it.

  • Cable included - which may mean you do not need to purchase a charging cable separately.

Disadvantages of a tethered charger

  • Lack of flexibility

  • Restricted to charging Type 1 vehicles only or Type 2 vehicles only

  • Limited choice of cable lengths

Untethered EV chargers

An untethered EV charger means it is just the socket, with no cable permanently attached to the unit itself. This is why they are sometimes called "socket-only" EV chargers. A good example is the Sync EV.

This means you will need to supply your own charging cable and you'll have to plug it into both the charging unit and vehicle when you want to charge. You will also need to find somewhere to store the cable, such as in your car boot or in the house.

Some vehicle manufacturers will give you a cable with the car, but beware as these cables are not always rated at 32-amps (the full rate of the charger), which may mean your car does not charge at the full power the charge point can provide.

You may be wondering why someone would choose an untethered electric car charge point. After all, it sounds a lot less convenient.

An untethered charge point offers more flexibility. It can charge any electric vehicle because the socket is universal and you are also not restricted by the charger manufacturer when it comes to cable length as you can simply buy your own.

Some customers also prefer them because there are not any cables on show when the charger isn't in use. Of course, this does come down to personal preference - would you rather bundle the cable into your boot and get it out each time you use the charger (but have an arguably neater look when not in use) or need to coil/uncoil the tethered cable on each use, but save time plugging in and not needing to place a potentially wet cable into your car?

As we mentioned earlier, some chargers like the Easee One do away with this choice by allowing you to have a tethered and untethered unit in one charge point.

Advantages of an untethered charger

  • Flexibility because it is just a socket.

  • Works with Type 1 and Type 2 cars.

  • No Cables permanently on display.

  • Option to change your charging cable length.

Disadvantages of an untethered charger

  • Potentially less secure as the charging cable itself is easier to access

  • You have to supply your own charging cable

  • You need to store the cable somewhere after each use

  • The cable may be wet or dirty before storing away

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