Tethered vs Untethered Charger - Which Is Better?

One of the major questions we get asked every week by customers.

What’s better, a tethered or untethered charger?

Well now we’re here to explain the key differences and how ultimately it’s down to you which charging station you prefer.

Let’s dive straight in…

What is Tethered?

A tethered charger is a unit that has an EV charging cable attached to it at all times. The tethered cable is always fixed to the charging point and no matter how hard you pull, it won’t make a difference.

It’s no different from going to get petrol for your car and the cable being fixed to the pump, they go hand in hand and that’s the same for the cable and tethered EV charging point.

When you purchase a tethered charger, the charging cable comes at no extra cost. The cable itself is usually between 2-10m but it all depends on the manufacturer you purchase the tethered charging point from.

Tethered units are definitely the more popular because it allows you to just park up and start charging without having to find your cable. You do have to make sure that you wrap the charging cable around a hook or the unit itself to make sure you don’t drive over it or it gets damaged in another way.

What is Untethered?

Untethered is when there is an EV charging unit but with no fixed cable so you have to plug in a separate cable into your car and then the unit or the other way round.

Think of it like a phone charger when you have to place the plug in the socket and then the cable into the plug and the plug into the phone.

A cable does not come with an Untethered so you need to buy your own charging cable separately but it does allow you to pick what sort of cable length you want, some prefer longer charging cables if they have a large drive, whilst others want short cables as they’re easier to hang up.

Tethered Charger Pros & Cons

Pros:

Better Quality & Durability 

Due to the cable being fixed to the unit, this provides much more stability and it’s because of the strength of the cable and unit. Compare this to an untethered EV charger which has a portable cable so the quality of build will be less.

Convenience 

Far less hassle than an untethered EV charger as you can simply pull up on your driveway and plug the charger in. With an untethered charger you have to remember the cable, then set it all up before you’ve even begun to charge.

One Price 

The cable comes as one with the tethered unit so you won’t have to pay an additional price to buy the cable. With all tethered chargers, the cable is part of the package so you don’t have to worry about additional costs.

Cons:

Costly to Repair 

If your electric car charger becomes damaged in anyway it can be far more costly. For example, if the cable got damaged, you may need to replace the whole unit, whereas if an untethered charging cable got destroyed, then you could just replace the cable which would save a lot of money.

Unable to Change 

If you need a different cable because you have a different connector type or require it to be longer, then this will be unable to happen as Tethered are not the same as Untethered chargers as we’ve established, you can’t take the cable out of the unit.

Untethered Charger Pros & Cons

Pros:

Accessibility & Flexibility

You can take your charging cable with you anywhere, so if you have to stop at a public charging station or maybe your charging at work, this is something a tethered charger can’t offer. You can also allow your family and friends to use your home charger provided they have a cable that fits in place (Type 1 or 2). Compared to a tethered EV charger, where you wouldn’t be able to do this because of the attached cable.

Longevity 

If you decide to change electric vehicle in the future, your electric car charging unit will still be accessible. You wouldn’t have to change your charging point as the cable is not fixed. It also offers massive flexibility with the charging cable, if you have a 3m one but decide you want to park somewhere else on the drive and now need a 7m cable. This type of flexibility is only available with untethered.

Cheaper 

Installation is up to 20% cheaper than Tethered, this is because the installers are not having to fix the cable to the unit. So once, the untethered charging station is set up, the cable is down to the owners.

Cons:

Remembering the Cable 

Seems pretty obvious but if you forget to take your charging cable with you wherever you go, then you’re going to have a serious problem when it comes to charging.

Less Popular 

As we said before, Tethered is, without doubt, more popular, so there is a limited range to pick from when it comes to Untethered. We expect this to increase in the future though as electric cars become the norm.

The Cost Between These Chargers

Usually, a tethered charger is more expensive as they come with a fixed cable and this requires more installation than untethered one, therefore you pay a higher price.

Whilst an untethered, you will have to buy the cable separately. However, this does offer more flexibility as you can choose the length. When you order an electric car, you can find out whether it comes with its own cable and if so, you will only have to pay for the unit itself. 

Which Has More Options To Pick From?

Tethered has greater options to choose from as you get the whole package rolled into one price. Installers would much rather that than come to install an Untethered which might be 20% less for the consumer.

However, with the EV market growing rapidly, we expect to see new brands and manufacturers enter the market for both a tethered EV charger and untethered EV charger.

Security For Electric Car Charging Points

A tethethed charger is much better for security as the whole charger is fixed to your home making it much more difficult for thieves to steal it. The only way to steal it would be to sever the charging cable completely or take the whole unit off the wall, which are both pointless as they then render the charging unit unusable. 

Compare this to untethered chargers, where the detachable charging cable is a lot easier to steal as it’s not permanently attached to the wall box, which then gives criminals an opportunity. However, there is more technology in recent years to try and avoid this, this includes pin protection and charging cable locking. If you want to make completely sure its safe, you are best off detaching it and hiding it out of sight, perhaps in the garage or even the house. 

What Are The Best Tethered EV Chargers

Some companies offer both tethered and untethered versions of the same charger, in our experience, these are a few of the top-rated tethered chargers:

  1. Andersen A2 Charger
  2. OHME Home Pro
  3. Pod Point Solo 3 Charger
  4. Wallbox Pulsar Plus
 

What Are The Best Untethered Chargers

For untethered chargers, we think these chargers are working considering:

  1. Sync EV Charger
  2. Indra Smart Pro
  3. Easee One Charger
 

Last Word

We hope that helped with the difference between tethered and untethered chargers and as you can see, they both have benefits and drawbacks.

Most people tend to lean towards tethered chargers as they offer more stability, convenience at home and the price is all wrapped into one. An untethered home charger is good for those who are on the road a lot and want a slightly cheaper upfront cost when purchasing an EV charging station at home.

It’s important that you weigh up the decision of both tethered and untethered chargers  and get all the necessary information beforehand as they are not cheap to replace if you change your mind later down the line. Overall, it comes down to what charger unit suits your needs more and how you intend to use the charger.

If you enjoyed this tethered vs untethered article, see our main page for more general advice on electric cars and how to look after them.

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Nick

Nick is the proud owner of a MG ZS EV and is an EV fanatic. He has been featured in notable publications like USA Today and The Times for his expertise in the field.