What is the difference between tethered and untethered Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers?

So, now you have an electric vehicle (EV), you need a home charging point and there are only two types to be had.  One is a tethered connection and the other is untethered.  The difference is simple: one has a charging cable permanently fixed to the charger (tethered).  The other has a separate cable that you need to connect when you want to charge your vehicle.  You then disconnect when you have finished charging (untethered). 

Neither a tethered nor untethered charging point is better than the other but there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider when having one installed.  Ultimately, the charger you choose will depend on personal choice and convenience.  Before we look at the differences in more detail, however, it is worth mentioning that there are also two types of charging sockets; simply referred to as Type 1 or Type 2.

Type 1 and Type 2 Sockets


Electric cars have either a Type 1 or Type 2 socket. Type 1 used to be the most common and older EVs will have this connection.  Newer vehicles will have a Type 2 connection.  Unless you buy an older vehicle, or already own a Type 1, then the chances are that the next EV you buy will be Type 2. 

EV Tethered Charger


The tethered charger has a permanent cable attached to it which cannot be removed.  Depending on the manufacturer, cable length can be between 2m to 10m.  Because it is permanently attached to the charger, you just unwind the cable and plug it into your car.  Some units have the cable coiled around them, whilst others have a holder fitted which makes for neater storage and aesthetics.

Advantages of a Tethered Charger


Aside from being easily accessible, one advantage of the tethered EV charger, is that because the cable is embedded into the unit, it cannot be tampered with or removed.  Loss or theft of the cable, therefore, is impossible, which makes this kind of charger more secure than an untethered one.  A tethered charger is also perhaps more convenient than the untethered kind, especially in cold, wet, windy conditions, as you don’t have to connect or disconnect the cable. 

Disadvantages of a Tethered Charger


Although a tethered charger is convenient in that you don’t have to disconnect the cable (in fact, you couldn’t if you tried!!), it does mean that you can only use this charger for either a Type 1 or a Type 2 vehicle, depending on which socket you have.  You cannot use this type of charger for both.

EV Untethered Charger


An untethered EV charger is one that does not have a permanently attached cable.  The cable would need to be bought separately, but you can choose the length that you want (up to 10 metres).  The untethered charger also comes with certain smart features such as a pin code or cable lock to prevent theft.  You may see this type of charger referred to as a socketed or non-tethered EV charger, but they are one and the same thing. 

With an untethered charger, you would need to attach the cable to both car and charger unit by plugging each end in respectively.  It’s like an extension lead (only a lot thicker) where you plug one end into the socket and the other into the car.  When you are not charging you need to disconnect it and store it somewhere (perhaps the boot of your car or the garage). 

Advantages of Untethered


With the untethered charger you have the flexibility to charge both Type 1 or Type 2 cars.  If you currently have a Type 1 car, then the untethered charger is the recommended option because when you decide to buy a new car, it is most likely going to be a Type 2 vehicle, so you would not have to replace the charger unit.

Disadvantages of untethered


The disadvantage of an untethered charger is that not only can the cable be lost or stolen if you don’t store it securely, but it can also get dirty, wet or damaged by being connected and disconnected in all weathers.  To replace a charging cable will set you back about £100 to £200 depending on length. 

Another disadvantage of an untethered unit is that it takes a little longer to start charging because of having to connect the cable and whereas with a tethered unit, you can just put the cable back when you have finished, with an untethered unit, you would have to disconnect and store the cable.

What if I live in a terraced house with no off-road parking?


There is no law stating that you cannot have an EV home charging unit installed if you live in a terraced house with no off-road parking.  It is, however, recommended that you check with your council before arranging installation.  Some councils may refuse permission as cables trailing across the pavement could be a health and safety issue.  You can buy a protective cover which is designed to cover the charging cable to prevent trips and falls, but it would still be advisable to check with your council first. 

Another potential pitfall for installation of a home charging unit in a terraced property is that if you do not have a designated parking space near your home, you may not be able to park close enough to charge your vehicle.  With the increase of EVs on the road, however, these sorts of issues will need to be addressed, so we will keep you informed of any updates.

To sum up


There are only two types of EV home charging points: the tethered or the untethered.  Whilst neither one can be said to be better than the other, as has been shown, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Which one you choose ultimately comes down to personal preference and convenience.  As well as this, if you live in a terraced property with no off-road parking, it would be wise to check with your council first before arranging such an install.

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