If you’re getting an electric car it makes sense to charge it at home if you can. But with so many different chargers out there, how do you work out which one to choose?
We spoke to Ben Afia, who has just gone electric, about how he picked out the perfect charger and what he recommends to anyone who’s making that choice for themself.
Hi Ben – you’ve been driving electric for a few months. How much charging do you do at home compared to when you’re out and about?
I do almost all my charging at home. Before I’d even chosen a car, I did my sums: I knew I’d only really need to charge away from home every few months. The car’s range is enough to cover all our daily drives.
For longer journeys – like overnight work trips and going to visit family – I can either do it in a day on one charge or charge when I get there. In this first month I’ve only charged it up once on the go.
So how have you been getting on with your home charger?
I bought an Indra and it’s been great. I work from home so don’t commute but it wouldn’t worry me at all if I did. If I was doing 40 miles a day, I’d still only need to charge once a week.
I’ve been really enjoying the convenience. I just pull up and plug in, and the charger does the rest. Because it’s a smart charger it knows I’m on an energy tariff with an off-peak rate for four hours in the middle of the night. So that’s when it charges. I don’t need to do anything – I uploaded the details of my tariff in the Indra app and leave the charger to handle it, so I’ve always got enough juice in the battery.
The off-peak rate makes a big difference. It’s when there’s extra energy in the grid and it’s much cheaper than peak rates. I’m paying 7.5p per kWh at night compared to 37p – that’s nearly a fifth of the price!
Image of Ben Afia
So how did you choose your charger?
I started with a bit of research: reading, watching online videos and asking around. I know a few people who are really into their electric cars and there are some great charger reviews on YouTube. Then I started working out which features mattered most for me.
My first question was how smart it was. Different chargers do different things and I knew I wanted to charge overnight when energy is cheapest.
Next was whether to go for a tethered charger or not. Tethered chargers have fixed cables. If we end up with another electric car in the house a 5m cable wouldn’t necessarily reach. So I wanted an untethered cable so I could add a longer one later. Bonus points for being able to wrap the cable around the charger – it looks much neater.
I also wanted a charger that would work with solar panels. I’m thinking about adding solar panels at home and not all chargers let you top up directly from energy you’ve generated.
Last, I looked at the charger design. I wanted something really robust that would stand up to being outdoors. I also wanted something with a design that wouldn’t stand out too much on the side of the house.
With this list, the one charger that ticked all my boxes was the Indra – and I went for the Indra Smart PRO.
Who did you use to install it?
I went with a national installer – after checking the reviews first. I started by getting quotes from a few different people, including smaller independent companies and my local electrician. In the end, though, I needed the charger installed quickly and they were the only ones who could do it. They were really on the ball: it was hassle-free and everything’s working as it should.
Is there anything else you’d say to someone who’s trying to choose a charger?
Mostly I’d say it’s not something you need to worry about too much. I think almost all the chargers on the market will do the job. So just check it’s got the features you want and you can’t go too far wrong. And once it’s installed, it’s not something you need to think about again.
The Indra Smart Home PRO is now available through ElectriX.