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Are Electric Car Chargers Safe? A Case Study Into the Hazards of EV Chargers

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Are Electric Car Chargers Safe? A Case Study Into the Hazards of EV Chargers

In this post, we want to explore the common hazards of electric vehicle chargers, more so EV chargers in the home, and what is required to avoid fatality.

What are the most common hazards with EV chargers?

EV charger operate on a high voltage circuit, which means they need to be properly wired to a mains power supply. As with any electrical appliance connected to the mains, there are a number of risks. Some of the most common risks associated with electric vehicle chargers are:

  1. Electric shock – while most EV chargers are IP65 rated, meaning they are suitable for outdoor use, there is still a risk of shock, if the system is not fitted or used responsibly.
  2. Falls – With any EV charger there are cables. It’s important that any loose or trailing cable is tucked out of the way of main walkways or paths
  3. Overloaded circuits – an overloaded circuit can result in electrical fires. This is a common issue in domestic environments

Have there been any accidents or near misses as a result of electric vehicle chargers?

Here, we will elaborate on the importance of notifying and applying to your local DNO (Distribution Network Operator) before installing an EV charging point.

What happened?

We were recently called out in emergency to a domestic property because the family could smell burning coming from the area near to where their mains electrical system was installed.

On arrival at the property, there was strong evidence (smell of burning) that there was a severe electrical fault.

On visual inspection of the consumer unit, there was proof of burning around the service head (the incoming electrical supply termination point). The mains tails were extremely hot and were close to ignition from the heat. For this reason, we immediately called out the local DNO, National Grid.

Overloaded Service Head due to EV Charger Installation

The background information:

The property in question is around 80 years old. The service head for the property is three phase, with a single phase service head, which feeds the next door neighbours property. There were no fuses for the neighbours house, just links. This means that the fault would have continued until the cables burnt out or started a fire.

What caused this electrical fault to happen?

The neighbours recently had an EV charger installed. When we spoke with them,  the occupiers said they had witnessed flickering lights, more so than usual. This means that the extra load of the EV charger and the length of time the charger is running for, was causing this problem.

Damaged service head as a result of poor EV charger install

Why did we contact National Grid (the DNO)

One of the reasons for contacting the DNO is for them to establish whether the mains installation at the property is appropriate to have an EV charger fitted to it. In this situation, it would not be. This is due to the fact that the service head was in another property. The outcome would be that the installation would be declined.

If an EV charger installation is declined, are there other options?

If the DNO declines an application to install an EV charger, it is possible for the applicant to pay for a diverted electrical main to run directly into their property. This may not be the case in all situations, but for the scenario above, this could be a solution.

However, the outcome on this occasion was a far more complicated fix. This is due to the nature of the mains supply configuration.

Our take: It’s important to reflect that this could have been very serious, both to life and the property. But because the homeowner acted intuitively, we were able to isolate the issue. It’s important to note that we were not responsible for this installation, and we hope the engineer that fitted this is not causing issues at other properties.

Remember, a qualified and experienced EV charger installer will assess and submit an application to the DNO on your behalf. If this step has been missed, you could be at risk.

If you need any advice regarding your EV charger installation, please get in touch with us today. Alternatively, learn more about EV charger installation procedures.


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