• ElectricV

Selecting and Installing a Home Charger...

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Having had a nightmare experience trying to charge-up using motorway Ecotricity Chargers last week and then resorting to charging off the 3-pin plug at home over the weekend, it was with some relief that my Home Charger was installed today.

I found the process of selecting a Home Charger to be surprisingly frustrating. I’m typically an impulsive buyer and either follow recommendations from friends or simply follow the general principle of ‘you get what you pay for’ and go high-end with purchases that I know very little about. It quickly became apparent that this process wasn’t going to work for selecting the Home Charger; firstly, I don’t have enough friends with EV’s to get a trusted view and the friends I have were non-committal about the various models available. Secondly, price-wise they are all largely similar and in terms of useful functionality, they all appear to do broadly the same things.

The first decision to make was whether to opt for single-phase or three-phase. The majority of domestic properties in the UK have a single-phase supply but it’s possible in most cases to move to a three phase supply; and because my house was once used as a commercial property I have a three phase supply (unconnected) as well as a single phase supply; a quick call to Western Power confirmed that it would be pretty straight forward to connect up my three phase supply. Given that a three-phase supply would allow me to charge at a much faster rate, this was no-brainer…or at least it would have been had I been buying an EV with an option to charge at 22kw, which I wasn’t! I wasn’t aware of this when I started my search, but luckily I stumbled across this information on an iPace Forum, it never crossed my mind to check (might be obvious to some, but as a newbie to EV it wasn’t obvious to me).

So, with the first decision made for me, it was a case of me working out my key requirements and choosing a Charger that would meet those requirements. The first bit was simple, I wanted it to be unobtrusive and attractive, qualify for the government grant, be tethered (have a cable permanently attached), and have an App for my iPhone that would allow me to set charging times etc. I don’t have any solar panels so didn’t need solar compatibility, and I didn’t see any other functionality of any real interest. So, nothing terribly difficult, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, the immaturity of the market means that most of the websites for suppliers and installers are functional and commercially inclined, rather than customer focused or friendly. The second issue is that there is a huge amount of choice of devices that offer broadly the same functionality for broadly the same price, and not an easy-to-find list of all the options or the pros and cons of each; Google really is your friend when it comes to this bit of research. These issues paled into insignificance when it came to finding a device that met one of my key criteria, unobtrusive and attractive.

Despite extensive research, I found only one charger that ticked the Attractive box and that was the one made by Andersen which is configurable and cleverly conceals the unsightly charging cable. I say ‘cleverly’ but in reality it is very simple and I can’t understand why more companies are not making tethered units with a concealed cable. There were two downsides to the Andersen charger. Firstly, it is pretty expensive, although I think probably worth it. The big issue was the lead time, a minimum of twelve weeks which was a lot longer than I was prepared to wait.

Accepting that I was not going to tick the ‘Attractive’ box it was time to focus on finding an ‘Unobtrusive’ unit, which meant giving up on having a tethered unit. This didn’t make the search any easier, finding an unobtrusive unit is as hard as finding an attractive one, but the good news is that with such limited choice, the decision was pretty much made once I'd found one. In the end, I opted for the EO Mini Pro due to its relatively small size, and the ability to order it in plain black.

With the charger selected, I had to find an installer. Following some research I contacted Stratford Energy Solutions who responded immediately and were super helpful, decision made. All installers seem to ask for the same information to enable them to quote, this is quite detailed and involves sending in plans of your property, photographs of your consumer unit relative to where you intend to park the car, along with a drawing showing the route the cabling will need to follow. Preparing this was a nuisance, but once this information was provided it was plain sailing.

After the hassle of choosing a charger and then compiling the information for the installation quote, the actual install was painless. Stratford Energy Solutions committed to supplying and installing within two weeks of placing the order. This morning they duly arrived on site at 8am as promised and were finished by mid-day. Due to the location of my consumer unit relative to where I wanted the charger installed, and the fact that I have recently decorated and didn’t want to have to redecorate, the guys went to great lengths not to impact the interior of the property in any way, far exceeding my expectations. As with all these things, it's a shame about the cabling on the outside and it is made worse by the layout of my property, but some well position foliage will sort that out.

I cannot speak highly enough of Stratford Energy Solutions, hopefully I will be saying the same of the EO Mini Pro once I’ve had a chance to properly put it through it’s paces.

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