What exactly is the difference between a tethered and untethered charger? If you’ve just purchased or are planning to purchase a new electric vehicle, you must consider whether to opt for a tethered or untethered charger.
This will depend on your circumstances so it is important to be well informed about the matter. In this article, we will discuss and look at whether you should choose tethered or untethered charger.
Tethered and Untethered Charger
Home EV wallbox chargers come in two varieties: tethered and untethered car charger.
Tethered chargers have a cable attached, the other end of which you can plug to your vehicle. Untethered EV chargers are made for use with a cable with a plug on each end – one for plugging into your vehicle, while the other connects to the charger.
Prices between the two types also differ and it is important to know the pros and cons of each to help you decide whether an untethered or tethered charger suits your home.
Simply put, a tethered charger simply means that it comes with a charging cable attached to the device itself. Obviously, it won’t look so unwieldy because it is attached to your wall but the charging cable is built into the unit itself. In this way, it is more similar to when you’re using a petrol pump. Many people prefer the design.
Tethered chargers are more convenient to use than untethered chargers in some instances. Thus, it is the style that the majority of buyers opt for. There’s no need for you to find a cable to charge – just go home, park your car, grab the cable and plug it in to charge.
It’s possible that by using a tethered type you may wind up with a wall box you can’t utilize. It’s unlikely that something different from a Type 2 charger will become a norm in the near future, although advances in technology can render it obsolete – you may also purchase a car that uses a CHAdeMO charger depending on the technological changes.
You must also make sure to roll back and store the cable neatly, or you may drive over it or damage it accidentally. You may also require a longer cable someday, like if you purchase a car that has a charging port at a different position.
Benefits of Tethered EV Chargers:
One of the major advantages of a tethered EV chargepoint is its easy access – there’s no need for you to move around connecting or disconnecting a charging cable. This is quite beneficial in specific weather conditions like heavy rain and snow where efficiency counts.
The cable is there for you to use – just plug your vehicle in and charge – easy! Such convenience will prove quite useful if you’re in a hurry and every second counts. You don’t want to miss that very important meeting just because you lost valuable time trying to find a misplaced cable.
Tethered electric charging points are generally coiled about the unit, although some contain holders where you can put the cable for convenient storage. TSocketed cables are generally stored in garages or boots but your untethered cable can get dirty or damaged if used outside constantly.
- Theft Protection
Compared to untethered EV chargers, tethered EV chargers give extra protection to your EV charger at home. Since the cable is embedded into the unit, it can’t be stolen or removed. Electric vehicle cables may not be the most affordable, and replacing them can cost you £100-£200 in the background.
While the best untethered ev charger UK generally have smart features that offer security like a cable lock for pin protection. If you’re looking for security from theft, then tethered chargers are probably the right choice.
- Cable included
Obviously, it comes with a cable. Now, this is a slightly tenuous advantage because you can’t use that cable anywhere else other than in your home attached to the device. But you could look at it like you’re getting a free charging cable.
We recommend purchasing your own charging cable anyway because for using public chargers you will need your own charging cable as not all public chargers have a cable attached. Some of them are just a socket only.
Disadvantages of Tethered Chargers
- Cable can’t be used outside the home
The unit is obviously tethered so you can’t make use of it outside of your home in terms of the charging cable.
- Cable storage
You also need somewhere to store the cable. Some of the charging units will come with some form of dock or area to store the cable itself but not all of them do. So keep that in mind. If it doesn’t come with the charging dock, then think about where you can actually put those cables.
As we’ve said, some chargers do come with a storage area that comes into the design.
- You need to choose which type of charger you will need.
If your vehicle is Type 1, then you’ll need a Type 1 charger. If your vehicle is Type 2, then you’ll need a Type 2 charger. Most new electric cars are Type 2 anyway and we don’t see this changing any time soon. So it’s unlikely that you need to worry about this if you’re buying a Type 2 charger for your Type 2 car.
If this is still a bit confusing, then imagine installing a petrol pump at your home for your petrol car. That’s not a problem if you’re not thinking about changing from petrol to diesel. But the minute you do, then obviously your petrol pump isn’t going to work for your diesel car.
Likewise, if you have friends and family that want to come over and use your petrol pump but they have diesel cars, then obviously it’s not going to work. The same scenario applies to Type 1 and Type 2 cars and the corresponding charger. They need to match.
- Fixed Cable length
Tethered chargers also tend to have a fixed cable length. This means that you are effectively stuck with the cable length you choose upon purchase. So think carefully about where you’re going to park, how long you’re lead will need to be to reach your car, etc.
Obviously, just think about the positioning of whether you’re driving forward towards the driveway, reverse up, etc. As long as you plan it, this shouldn’t be a problem. Many of the manufacturers do offer upgrades so you can get a charger with a longer cable.
So with all those advantages and only slight downsides, why on earth would anyone want to choose an untethered charger? Well, let’s take a look at the untethered charger.
Untethered, sometimes called “socket only” is a charger without a cable attached, and neither do they come with a charging cable. That means you’ll need to buy your own charging cable separately, and these usually cost around £150.
Most new electric vehicles do come with the appropriate charging cables but please check with the manufacturer or dealer first. You don’t want your car to arrive and your charger has to be installed but you don’t have a charger to use it.
It is a bit less convenient to use an untethered than a tethered charger you will have to open the boot cables stored within the car, grab them out, and plug them on both ends. You will then have to do the opposite to set it off.
But untethered chargers look a bit tidier without the cable and you buy different cables as needed. They’re also a fantastic way to future-proof you unit, since you can easily upgrade the plug’s configuration as required.
The benefits of socketed EV charge points:
This is quite subjective but some people think it looks neater purely because there are no cables on the show and there are no cables that you have to store or find a way of making it look tidy. And as your charger may be situated at the front of your house, you’d want to make something really neat and discreet.
The untethered EV chargers are also more aesthetically satisfying if you’re not fond of thick cables on display. Just remove the cable if you don’t need it and put them back whenever it’s needed. Thus, you can also hide them from sight.
Socketed units may also entail messy cables in your garage if you haven’t tidily or securely stored them – so do take good care of your cables.
Some tethered units do maintain their sleek design by providing holders, or they’re designed in such a manner that the cable is neatly and discreetly tucked in. But not all of them do and remember where you’d set the attached cable.
Generally, upper-range EV chargers would have a holder for the cable so it also depends on your budget and personal style.
Untethered EV chargers provide more flexibility than tethered units. For instance, you can use the cable at home, and then re-use it when you’re out driving. Think about public charging stations, workplace EV charge points, or even your friend’s house – these are locations where socketed chargers are set (this will also depend on your connector type, i.e. Type 1 & Type 2). Flexibility isn’t feasible with tethered units.
Also, if your guests have their own electric vehicles, they can still access your charger at your house with a socketed EV chargepoint as long as their cable type fits into place (Type 1, Type 2, etc.)
This isn’t possible with tethered chargers if your unit’s cable isn’t compatible and your guests will have to go somewhere else to use a slow 3-pin charger to charge.
- Choice of Cable Length
You can choose how long of a charging cable you’ll need. Obviously, you’ll still need to purchase this separately but you have a bit more flexibility upfront because you can get the exact length of charging cable you need.
- Future Proofing Your Home Charging Needs
As the untethered cable is not fixed to the unit, you can ensure your EV charger remains futureproof. So, if you decide to change your EV in the future, you can, without worrying about repurchasing an entirely new EV charging point.
Furthermore, should you decide that your cable is too long or too short, or you just want a change, there’s no need for you to buy another unit, like that with tethered chargers? Thus you have other options besides the cable that comes with the purchase of the electric vehicle.
This can be particularly troublesome if you’ve had your driveway charged and redone where you’re parking, like a tethered EV charger where the cable may not reach the chargepoint.
Disadvantages of Untethered Charger
There are still some disadvantages of untethered chargers and they include:
Security is probably one of the biggest concerns some people have about untethered chargers. This is basically because the cable is more accessible that when it’s a tethered unit. Now some people find that more of a hassle because it means they have to open their boot, get the charging cable out, plug it into the charger itself and into the car.
If that’s you, then you’re probably better off with a tethered charger because that’s more convenient.
Is There an EV Charger That’s Both Tethered and Untethered?
Technically, the answer is no, but there are several methods to have an untethered EV charger serve as a tethered charger. For instance, there are smart chargers that have a cable-locking feature on their apps to lock your untethered cable into place.
While charging your electric vehicle, you have the option to either lock the cable or keep it in “Always Locked” condition, such that the cable is locked until you unlock it with the App. This gives your unit the look and feel of a tethered unit, and you can always shift back to the untethered mode if you wish.
Remember that features like the cable lock are not just for untethered home EV chargers – untethered chargers may not contain these features so you need to be careful.
Tethered vs Untethered Charger Varieties
When it comes to home EV chargers, there are more tethered than untethered varieties, especially from popular brands. While a number of brands provide untethered and tethered varieties from the same unit, others only have one version.
Tethered charger advocates may assert that life is easier if you reduce the steps needed to start charging, while untethered charger advocates would take those extra steps to have a tidier, cableless setup.
Another common argument is cost. Tethered chargers are at least 20% more costly compared to untethered chargers due to the 5m – 7.5m cable. You don’t have to spend more money if your car comes with a Type 2 cable.
One aspect where tethered chargers beat untethered chargers is the variety of chargers available. There are at least 10 tethered chargers for a single untethered charger and just a handful of manufacturers who produce great socket chargers.
All in all, the choice is up to you whether to opt for a tethered or untethered EV charger. We hope this article has helped explain the difference between tethered and untethered chargers and why you might choose one or the other. Let us know in the comments below which one you’ve chosen if you already have the best untethered ev charger installed. We’d love to know the reasons why you’re choosing one over the other.
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