Safe domestic EV charging
Many electric vehicle owners have admitted to dangerously charging their vehicle at home using extension leads. So what are the dangers of this approach? And what else should EV owners be aware of when charging at home?
A survey from charity Electrical Safety First has revealed that 74 per cent of EV owners believe that a lack of public charging points near their home has led them to use domestic multi-socket extension leads, not suitable for outdoor use, to charge from the mains in their home.
This is despite almost nine out of ten respondents admitting they’re aware these should not be used outside. Over half of EV users who charge with the aid of an extension lead, meanwhile, have left cables running to their vehicle when it’s been raining.
The research also found that 75 per cent of those who charge using a domestic extension lead even admit to ‘daisy-chaining’ extension leads to reach their vehicle; a method whereby multiple extension leads are plugged into one another to cover a longer distance. Daisy-chaining is advised against in all circumstances due to the heightened risk of electric shock and even fire that it brings about.
The public charging network
One in three EV owners have said that in their opinion, the current accessibility of charging points in their area is ‘not adequate at all’.
The number of charging point locations ranges from 147 per 100km2 in London (and 2.6 per 10,000 residents) to 1.55 per 100km2 (1.03 per 10,000 residents) in Wales. Not only does this inconvenience EV users who live in areas with few charging points but also creates problems for those driving to these areas for business or to visit friends or family.
The Charity’s consumer research suggests that nearly three quarters of respondents, when taking long journeys away from home or work, have been forced to use extension leads from a domestic mains socket to charge their vehicle at their destination.
With the government’s aim for all cars to be effectively zero emission by 2040, Electrical Safety First believes public infrastructure for electric vehicles must be adequate to cater to the needs of owners in order to avoid dangerous charging habits in the home.
EV users, meanwhile, need to be well-informed on how to charge their vehicles safely.
How to charge safely
Users are urged never use a domestic multi socket extension lead when charging their electric vehicle. If an extension lead is needed, only ever use one that is suitable for outdoor use such as a reel cable.
Never ‘daisy-chain’ extension leads. The method of plugging more than one extension lead into another in order to reach a greater distance increases the risk of an electrical fire as well as electric shock.
EV drivers should always buy their charging cable from a reputable retailer or directly from the manufacturer who will put such products through rigorous tests to ensure they meet UK safety standards.
Charging cable must be frequently checked for wear and tear and replacd if any damage is evident.
If charging from a 13A mains socket from home, ensure the wiring in the property has been checked prior to doing so. Old wiring may not be able to cope with the demand from charging your vehicle overnight and risk a fire in your property.
The safest and most convenient way to charge your vehicle at home is through a dedicated wallbox charging point. Ensure this is installed by a qualified, registered and competent electrician only.
Government grants for home charging
The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides grant funding of up to 75 per cent towards the cost of installing electric vehicle chargepoints at domestic properties across the UK.
To help reduce the strain of electric-car charging on the grid, from 1 July 2019, the EVHS will only support smart chargepoints. The smart chargers must be able to be remotely accessed, and capable of receiving, interpreting and reacting to a signal.
Charge points at workplaces are also subsidised through the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS). It is a voucher-based scheme that provides support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charge-points, for eligible businesses, charities and public sector organisations.
A direct link
Martyn Allen, technical director at Electrical Safety First, commented: “Our research shows a direct link between a lack of electric vehicle infrastructure and vehicle owners charging dangerously. A modern Britain also needs to be a safe one and Electrical Safety First is urging the government and local authorities to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support the rapid increase in numbers of electric vehicles on our roads.
"With regards to consumers, we warn EV users against giving in to temptation to use standard domestic extension leads to charge their vehicles outside, and never to ‘daisy-chain’ them together.
"We recommend taking advantage of the Government’s grant scheme which will contribute towards the cost of a specially designed home charging point. This is safer than charging from the mains, using a standard extension lead. For more detailed information on how to charge and use your EV safely, the Glovebox Guide available on the Electrical Safety First website is a great place to start.”