Jérôme Faissat 24th Apr 2018 3 Min Read
I’ve talked to many people who struggle to understand why installing an electric car charge point can take some time and why it can be quite expensive. I will explain in this post why it is critical that you have your charge point installed by a qualified professional.
Your electric car needs a lot of energy to run. Electric car batteries have to store a huge amount of power. This is because they need to be able to carry 2 tons of metal and a few kilograms of passengers and luggage. To give you a sense of scale, The BMW i3 has a battery of 33kWh. If you take your normal 60w incandescent light bulb, that’s like packing the equivalent of 550 light bulbs and switch them on for one hour. Or take 40 microwaves and let them run for one hour.
Where it becomes interesting is when you need to transfer the energy from the source (e.g.: your home, the grid, your power wall) to your car. You know now that we’re talking about a lot of power that needs to be stored in your car. Home charge points are usually delivering about 7kw of power (assuming 32amp and 230V). What makes a home charge point different from your other appliance is that it’s drawing a lot of energy for a long period of time. Your microwave is probably providing 700 to 800 watts of power. You use it for a maximum of 5 minutes at a time and usually only at mealtimes. On the other hand, your charge point will deliver 7000 watts for hours. A car with a big capacity (such as a Tesla) will need to be charged overnight for 10-12 hours. So you can see that the risk is greater. A greater risk of tripping the fuse box, a greater risk of fire and, in the worst case, a greater risk of injury.
On top of that, every installation is going to be different. The location of your charge point will dictate the amount of cable that needs to be drawn. The existing appliances in your home will dictate if you can use a 32amps or even a 3 phase supply. The number of walls there are between your controller and the charge point will tell how much drilling is involved. I could go on for a while, but you can see why you need a survey. Understanding the configuration of your home. What you want to achieve give an idea on whether it’s fairly standard. And Whether more time and effort is needed to make sure that the installation is safe.
Manufacturers have rules they have to follow. Ever heard about the CE marking? It means “Conformité Européene” and it’s the little logo that you can find on literally any items on sale in the EU (look on your computer, it’s on there). This mark means that the manufacturer adheres to standards set out by the European Union. Each type of products has a set of standard and electrical products have loads (ranging from safety to waste management). From an installation perspective, they’re also key regulations that electricians have to adhere to (e.g.: BS 7671 and BS EN 61851). So for a device that you’re going to use potentially on a daily basis, you will need to have your charge point installed by an electrician. The electrician has to be part of a recognised institution (e.g.: Napit, NICEIC). They also have to have followed a course on how to install a charge point. Again, these regulations are here to enforce best practices and make sure that you, your charge point, your car, your house and your pet are all protected.
Jérôme is the boss of Andersen’s day-to-day managerial and service delivery. With extensive experience of retail system development and property and financial services, Jerome has an eye for quality and control. When he’s not mapping the future, he loves to talk to customers, drink French wine or speak Mandarin. He even finds time to walk his two dogs in the evenings.