Car charging. Ensuring safety and reliability in home charging

September 23rd 2020

In recent years, the sales of electric vehicles (EV) in the UK have been on the rise as more people look to adopt new technology and reduce their carbon footprint.

Just as road users begin to adjust along the ‘Road to Zero’, the Government’s proposed emissions plan, so too should electricians be ready to support end-users on this journey as the requirement for safe and convenient EV charging also increases, says Dave Enefer at Electrium.

With a growing proportion of vehicles on the UK’s roads now powered by electricity, with record numbers of new electric car registrations last year, there is a growing need for the country’s infrastructure to support this shift.

In fact, EV car charging is becoming a common part of electrical installations – a trend which shows no signs of slowing as the Government encourages more drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles.

As part of the Government’s plans to reduce emissions, the demand for this type of electrical installation will only increase. This plan includes the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035 (recently brought forward by 2040); the release of its paper Decarbonising Transport: Setting The Challenge which is calling for respondents to the debate; and the publication of a full transport decarbonisation plan, which is expected to be released in November.

In the face of such demand – from end-users, homeowners and businesses alike – the challenge for installers is in installing electric car charging points safely and in-line with regulations.

So, it is encouraging to see the industry respond with the first amendment to BS7671, the 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations, which has been published with the inclusion of a new update on electric vehicle charging installations.

Unlike previous iterations, this update comes into place immediately, and will form part of a consolidated version of BS 7671.

As part of the updated Wiring Regulations, Section 722 now includes the use of technology which was not included in the previous publication, BS 7671:2018, which according to the IET enables a more practical solution for the installation of charging points.

The updated Section 722 is intended to make installing charging points quicker and easier and will reduce the cost of installations for both installers and consumers.

Safe and reliable installations

One of the main attractions to EV charging points at home or work is the convenience this offers road users, enabling them to fully re-charge their car before setting out on a journey.

To achieve this convenience, different charging facilities can offer faster charging speeds, built-in safety features, and even back-up charging functions.

Many EV chargers also feature intelligent smart charging, enabling them to charge an EV at times of off-peak tariffs and even monitor the charge remotely, allowing users to check progress, adjust settings, or switch the charger on or off without being present.

But while the charging unit itself may have been designed with user safety and convenience in mind, it is important to consider how this additional electrical unit interacts with a property’s existing electrical infrastructure.

To ensure correct, safe and reliable installation, EV charging points must be installed by a professional who can ensure that the unit can be accommodated without overwhelming the main household supply.

A professional installer can also check that there are adequate safety cut-outs in the circuit.

Without such safety features, any significant electrical component which draws additional current has the potential to cause damage, disruption to electrical service, or even electrical fires.

Delivering greater levels of protection

To install an EV car charger, it is important to have the correct circuit protection in place.

Using a Type A RCD device can help towards meeting this new amendment (depending on the charger type) and for those who have Crabtree Starbreaker consumer units a Crabtree miniature RCBO with switched neutral could be used.

However, there are a variety of chargers, and selecting the right type of RCD is essential. Therefore it is important for the installer to refer to section 722 of the Wiring Regulations and the equipment manufacturer’s instructions when designing the installation.

The Crabtree miniature RCBO devices, for anyone unfamiliar, measure one single module wide, and are just 90mm in height. This gives installers around 30 per cent more wiring space to work with in the consumer unit, saving time on tricky installations.

These two pole switching devices totally isolate any faulty circuit or appliance and provide a much safer environment while waiting for the emergency electrician when necessary, and having the faulty circuit fully isolated by a two-pole device provides a safe working environment for those doing maintenance or repair.

Crabtree Miniature RCBOs

Crabtree Miniature RCBOs are designed to fit into all Crabtree Starbreaker consumer units, whatever the age of that consumer unit might be. Crabtree Miniature RCBOs are fully retrofit / backward compatible and can be simply plugged into the fully insulated self-connecting busbar system.

Discover more about Crabtree Starbreaker Miniature RCBOs here.

Learn more about RCBOs, RCDs and RCCBs and how they are used within the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations here. 

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