(Pocket-lint) – Charging electric vehicles at home is going to become more and relevant as we switch from filling up cars at the local petrol station to charging them via electricity instead.
There are several EV charging solutions available for the home including simply plugging your car into an electric socket as if it’s just another gadget.
While that’s doable, it’s very slow. That might be okay if you don’t use your car all the time, but for many, making sure your car isn’t going to take days to charge becomes a necessity.
One company, Andersen EV, is hoping it’s approach will win favour with a design-conscious audience, happy to pay for wood panelling and a range of colours over a plastic box on the wall outside your home.
We’ve been living with the Andersen A2 charging system to find out whether those aspirations can be achieved.
It doesn’t look like a charger
The biggest difference to what’s available elsewhere on the market is that this doesn’t look like a charging box at all.
Available in a range of colours and materials including wood, the Andersen A2 charger is a waterproof rectangular box that measures 348mm wide x 494mm tall x 156mm deep. It hides all the electronics and the charging cable making for a sleek and slender addition to your home.
When it comes to colours there are eight different metal front panel colours to choose from and they can be mixed and matched with the body of the unit for an array of combinations. The colours are muted and consist of “grown up” greens, blues, and greys. There are no Smarties colours here an extrovert would die for.
If the metal colourways aren’t suitable, an upgrade will deliver a wooden front panel finish.
Again, it’s all serious looking stuff like French Walnut, but it’s certainly going to look the part against that modern or traditional house you live in, and because the cable is hidden you really couldn’t tell it’s anything more than a box on your wall.
Powering your car
Popping the large magnetic lid at the top of the box reveals the 7kW charging connector and cable – the maximum you can get for home charging for most people – although there’s also a 22kW version for those with three-phase power.
There are two cable lengths – 5.5m and 8.5m – so you can hopefully reach your car’s charging socket regardless of how you park. Rather than a recoil system to fight with, the cable manually coils around the box clockwise or anticlockwise, hidden behind brushes that knock off any dirt each time you put it back away.
The system has been designed so you don’t need to completely unwind the cable. Handy if you’ve only parked a metre away.
When we first came across EV chargers the recommendation was to not have an attached cable in case standards changed. But things are now much more stabilised on that front, so that’s not really an issue. It comes with a Type 2 connector.
The Andersen A2 connects to your wireless network and has an accompanying smartphone app. Not that you’ll need to use it after the initial install unless you want to tinker with reporting or usage.
The box is devoid of visible buttons and has three lights on the front to give you some idea of what’s going on. For the most part though, you’ll be controlling charging via your electric car.
If you just wanted to charge and be done with it, then the Andersen A2 allows you to do just that, but there are some smarts worth looking into if you want to get more from the system.
You can remotely lock the charger via the app, for example, if you’re worried about a neighbour stealing your electricity while you’re out.
When it comes to charging there are also some nice options that will give you ways of saving money. Several electricity companies in the UK, like Octopus Energy for example, offer an electric charging tariff for a set number of hours overnight allowing you benefit from lower rates.
The Andersen A2 allows you to schedule when the charger will begin and end charging to take advantage of that, and even though the cable is still physically connected to your car it won’t take any energy outside of those times you’ve set. Many cars also offer this sort of control, but at least here you have the option to manage it however you choose.
The EV charger also allows you to monitor your charging so you can see the costs via the app, handy if you are trying to keep a handle on those bills (at under £5 a charge for a long-range Tesla Model 3 its more likely out of curiosity than necessity).
For those who want to take things further, the Andersen A2 also only allows power balancing between energy-hungry devices in the home and your car. That’s something that is recommended but not essential, and ultimately means you won’t find yourself in a situation where there’s not enough energy to deliver a decent fast charge. Those keen to go off grid can also opt for the solar charging option, with Andersen offering the hardware to hook into your solar system.
The app is basic, but then it doesn’t really need to do any more than it does.
The Andersen A2 isn’t the cheapest EV charger on the market by a long way, but it is the most stylish we’ve come across so far, and for many, especially those that are worried about the design aesthetics, this is sure to fit in nicely.
Writing by Stuart Miles. Editing by Chris Hall.