Tethered vs untethered EV home chargers.

Tethered vs untethered EV home chargers.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle, you’ll no doubt be considering charging it at home with your own EV charger. A world of convenient charging awaits and all from the comfort of your own home.

But what type of EV charger to buy?

When it comes to having a home charging point fitted, the main choice will be between a tethered or untethered home charger.  Both types of EV chargers have their pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh up your options to see which best suits your needs.

This quick guide will help you understand the key differences between tethered and untethered home EV chargers, so you’ll soon be able to choose the right one for you, and live happily EV after.

What’s the difference between tethered and untethered EV chargers?

Tethered EV chargers and untethered chargers will both charge your electric car the same way, but for one key difference. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Tethered EV chargers have the charging cable permanently attached (a bit like a petrol pump), whereas untethered EV chargers do not. So, if you go untethered, you’ll need to plug the charging cable into your electric car and the charging unit each time you want to charge.

Can it be both?

Technically, it really needs to be one or the other, however some newer models of untethered EV charger now come with a cable lock feature. This allows you to lock the charging cable in place, giving the appearance and functionality of a tethered charger.

Connector cables: Type 1 and Type 2.

The connector plugs on your cable also come in two types: Type 1 or Type 2. The type you use will depend on your EV and the power rating of your home charger. The standard European socket is now Type 2 connectors, but always check compatibility with your EV before purchasing. 

Tethered EV chargers will come with either a Type 1 or Type 2 connector to plug into your electric car. This means you’ll always be restricted to using only that type. 

Untethered chargers can be used with Type 1 and Type 2 connectors. The cables used here however, will have connector plugs at both ends. One side will need to be compatible with your home charger. The other will need to be the correct connector type for your EV model. A benefit of having an untethered charger is that if you get a new EV that has a different connector type, all you need to do is replace the cable.

Type 1  - Type 1 EV connectors are typically a five-pin plug set-up and are mostly used with older vehicles (especially North American models). They’re not as common in the UK or Europe, and new EV models are now using mostly Type 2 connectors.

Type 2  - Type 2 connectors are the most used charger in the UK and Europe, and the one that’s usually used with untethered home charging units. In addition, type 2 sockets are more commonly found on untethered public charge points. Learn more about EV chargers and the different connector types.

Pros and cons of tethered chargers.

Benefits of tethered chargers.

·  Convenience. This is the main benefit of tethered EV chargers. When charging your electric vehicle, you don’t need to spend time connecting and disconnecting the charging cable. It’s all right there. Ready to go.

·  Secure. Tethered EV chargers are less vulnerable to theft compared to untethered EV chargers. With tethered chargers, the cable is permanently connected to the unit, ensuring it can’t be stolen. Replacing charger cables can be expensive, so this is a great benefit.

Potential drawbacks of tethered chargers.

·  Aesthetics. The cable always being there is great, but this means it will be on show all the time, either that or the unit itself may need to be bigger to contain it. Not as ideal if you’re a fan of minimalist design.

·  Expensive. Tethered EV chargers come with a built-in cable, but this does mean they are usually more expensive than untethered chargers. You’ll also need to buy a separate charging cable if you want to charge away from home.

·  Restricted usage. With a tethered charger, you’ll generally be set up to charge your own vehicle. Friends or family may not be able to use your charger if their vehicle is not compatible.

Pros and cons of untethered chargers. 

Benefits of untethered chargers.

·  Flexibility. Untethered EV chargers provide more flexibility than tethered units. You can use your own charging cable at home, when you are out and about, or at work.

·  Minimalist design. Untethered chargers are smaller, tidier, and neater than tethered chargers. If you prefer the cleaner look, without any cables showing, you can easily remove and store your charging cable out of sight.

·  Cheaper. Untethered charging units are generally cheaper than tethered chargers, but if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to buy a compatible cable to use, so the overall saving may be negligible.

·  Future proofing. Unlike tethered units, with an untethered EV charger you’re free to upgrade your charging cable whenever you like. So, if you want to change your electric vehicle to one with a different type of charging connection, you can do so without having to buy a whole new charging point. Also, if your charging cable is too short or too long, or gets damaged, you can easily replace it.

Potential drawbacks of tethered chargers.

·  Forgettable? If you easily forget things, you might be better off with a tethered charger. The fact that untethered chargers have detachable cables means they can be forgotten or misplaced. You don’t want to forget your cable and be unable to charge up.

·  Faff. It might not sound like much, but in your day to day, you’ll always have that added step of plugging in your charging cable when you’re charging your electric vehicle.

·  Security. Untethered charger cables are more vulnerable to theft. As mentioned previously, some have security features like pin protection or cable locks, but when it comes to security, a tethered charger is still usually better.

How safe are tethered and untethered EV chargers?

When used correctly both tethered and untethered chargers are completely safe. Modern units are designed to carry high loads of energy safely and be weatherproof for safe use come rain, wind, or snow. It’s worth noting however, that with untethered units, charging cables should be stored with care to reduce the risk of damage. Are public chargers tethered or untethered?

Away from home, Electric Vehicle charging can be found in a wide range of places, including public streets, petrol stations, and at workplace charging stations. These charge points will vary in pricing and there’s various options available with regards to charging speed.

Tether-wise, public chargers can be both tethered and untethered. However, the vast majority of public EV charging stations in the UK are untethered, meaning you’ll need to carry and use your own charging cable. The chargers themselves will usually have Type 1 or Type 2 AC sockets. Type 1 plugs are more common on older or American EVs. Newer EVs from Europe and Asia will usually have a Type 2 connection. It’s worth knowing that overall, the vast majority of public chargers in the UK use a Type 2 socket.

How to solve common EV charger issues.

Getting you back on the road quicker with a simple guide solving EV charger problems.

So which is best?

When it comes to choosing between tethered and untethered EV chargers, there’s no clear ‘winner’ so to speak, it’s all down to your personal preferences and specific requirements. As we have shown, each charger type has its own advantages and disadvantages so it’s really about seeing which is the best fit for you. Find out more about switching to an EV and why not check out our range of EV chargers.

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†Next Drive Fixed V2 offers fixed prices overnight EV charging 6.9p/kWh between 12am and 7am versus Next Flex standard variable tariff at 24.499p/kWh.

Published 18/03/2024