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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I don't have an EV yet, my Tesla is on order and due to be delivered in June. I am now researching what kind of plug I should install at home to charge my car as it will rarely be charged anywhere else given where I live.

I am trying to figure out what the EV charging units do and what the advantages would be over, say, a suitably IP rated industrial socket or in my location even one of these unswitched units would be OK.

I already have a suitable spare block on my consumer unit which is located on the inside of the outside wall I want my socket, I would imagine any competent Electrician could fit it in a few hours. I believe my car already comes with the suitable cable to use it (at least that's what they told me!). My Tesla rep said there is no difference from a charging perspective.....

Even with the grant the EV charger boxes seem to come at a significant premium, what advantages do they have over a conventional socket?

Note : this is not a troll, I have genuinely not decided what to fit and may well end up with an EV charger from one of the approved vendors. I am just trying to understand my options.

Advice appreciated.

Jolltax
 

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As it happens I wrote something about this on the FB Group a couple of days ago.

I'll post it here, and if I also tag @arg he'll probably be along soon to correct my errors, after which we can probably turn it straight into a Teslapedia article :)

Here it is:

OK so various things worth saying here:

The Tesla UMC's purpose in life is to allow occasional, opportunistic, charging from outlets that were not installed with EV charging in mind. For this reason it has various kinds of protection built into it to try to ensure that charging is safe. So you can argue that a "plain commando outlet" is all you need in order to use your UMC, since that's what it was designed to do.

On the other hand a proper Type 2 charging point, installed by a specialist who understands the specific ways in which EV charging is unusual, will be more robust, safer, and less likely to cause issues or trouble down the line, especially if you are going to use it to charge your car every single day (rather than just once in a while as you would do when visiting a hotel or a friend's house).

The reason the OLEV grant funded points seem expensive is

  1. because OLEV insisted on monitoring, which adds a lot to the cost but also
  2. because only accredited installers can fit them, and there are non-trivial paperwork requirements, a mandatory 3 year onsite warranty (potentially a very large cost for a smaller installer who doesn't have a nationwide network), and because they have to do everything absolutely by the book in terms of EV charging.
Tesla have now blurred the lines somewhat, by offering a voucher to support the installation of a commando outlet, but insisting that any electrician who uses the voucher adheres to all the requirements (apart from monitoring) that an OLEV installer would be expected to meet for a dedicated EV charging point. Indeed most of the approved Tesla commando voucher installers also do OLEV supported charge points.

So... you absolutely can have any old sparky put in a standard commando outlet, and chances are everything will be just fine, but if you're going to use this every day, and entrust your £80k car to it, cutting corners and saving a few hundred pounds may be a little short sighted.

Also it's worth noting that if you want to carry your UMC around with you (in order that you can use it for its intended purpose - occasional opportunistic or emergency top ups away from home) then plugging/unplugging it every single day will quickly drive you mad. At which point you need a second UMC, and since they're £500 your cheap commando socket suddenly seems quite pricey. Also the UMC only has a 1 year warranty and based on my limited experience so far they're not ultra-reliable.

And finally, if you do go ahead and get your friendly electrician just to install a commando outlet, you should confirm with them that they know that they should:
  1. notify the DNO that a point designated for EV charging has been instaled
  2. fit an interlocked commando outlet
  3. fit a suitable size/profile MCB to prevent nuisance tripping, and protect the outlet with at least a Type A and ideally Type B RCD (most RCDs are Type AC which is not good enough)
  4. ensure that if the result of point 3 is that you end up with 2 x RCDs in series then discrimination is applied so that upstream nuisance tripping cannot occur
  5. fit an earthing rod to create a TT island if the premises earthing is PME and the outlet is located such that the car could charge while parked outside.
 

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I see no errors in the above, apart from the fact that I'm not sure whether the Tesla voucher scheme still exists - I heard rumours that it was withdrawn.

There are several alternatives for what to install:
  1. Commando socket installed by local electrician
  2. Commando socket installed by specialist installer, possibly subsidised by Tesla voucher.
  3. Type2 chargepoint installed by local electrician
  4. Type2 chargepoint installed by specialist installer, subsidised under OLEV scheme
  5. Tesla Wall Charger (when available - has long been coming soon, but at least a couple have now been seen in the wild). Not clear if Tesla will offer these 'naked' or supply only through their installers.
Note that legally all of these have to follow EXACTLY THE SAME regulations - this is notifiable work under Buidling Regulations Part P (at least in England/Wales), and the requirements are covered in section 722 of BS7671 ("Wiring Regs") and the IET Code of Practice for Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Installation. These are the rules summarised above by @mgboyes list of 5 points; the full thing is a 90-page book.

Everything up to the "box on the wall" is therefore exactly the same for all the options - unless you cut corners on safety and legality (which you surely wouldn't do deliberately, but might accidentally do by taking a cheaper quote from a less competent installer).

The different options for what that "box on the wall" can be are then:
  • Commando socket. Just a socket, with safety ensured by a mechanical interlock. Very cheap because they are built in millions. Requires additional electronics - in the form of the Tesla UMC - to tell the car what to do and to provide extra safety protection to the trailing cable.
  • Type2 chargepoint. Contains similar electronics to the UMC. Fundamentally should cost only about £20 more than a commando socket, but at present they are made in thousands rather than millions, so costs about £300 more. Also gives you the option of tethered cable or socket for you to plug in your own cable.
  • Tesla Wall Charger. This is identical to a standard type2 chargepoint with tethered cable, except that it has a special connector at the car end with the "tesla button" to more easily open the charge port on the car. Don't yet know how this will be priced.
So, ignoring subsidies, about £300 more for a proper chargepoint but you don't then need to buy a second £500 UMC, or use your existing one and have to take it in and out of the boot so you have it for travelling. Note that using your only UMC as your main home charging option means that if anything goes wrong you have no backup (with dedicated chargepoint, your backup in case of emergency would be to use the UMC with a 13A socket).

Using a local electrician is bound to be cheaper than a specialist installer as they have less far to travel, but they may not be adequately competent (equally, they may be). With the OLEV subsidy capped at £500, and all the added costs to actually receive the subsidy, it may be worth only £200 or so compared to having the job done off-subsidy by a local electrician.

----

Aside from all these technical/legal/financial arguments, there is a political one.

While most of us early adopters either have a technical background or are prepared to do some learning, for the mass market charging needs to be simple. Charging from a properly installed EVSE is straightforward and safe - the plug can only be used for one purpose, the available current is determined automatically, and you can simply plug in knowing that it's an EV charging facility. Charging from standard sockets is not necessarily unsafe - if installed specifically for EV charging, it can be equally safe - but it takes some considerable skill and knowledge to be sure of identifying a random socket (13A or commando) as being suitable and the level of safety that it offers. So by installing commando sockets we are making things more complicated - this commando socket is completely safe for regular use, that one is not too bad to use occasionally but has small risks associated, that other one should never be used. I like to make the comparison to using a jerry can of petrol - yes you can fuel your car that way adequately safely if you do it carefully, but it's not what we want when everybody is doing it.

So I strongly advocate dedicated chargepoints over commando sockets.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your very helpful post, really good stuff.

Personally I am not that worried about the electrical side of the installation which I doubt would trouble most competent sparkies, it is after all ..... a wall mounted socket of one type or another.

I'm not sure installing an industrial outlet is "cutting corners" is it? It is actually recommended by Tesla on their website, I can't help feeling this kind of language has a whiff of installers wanting to baffle the chumps (like me) by making things sound rather more complicated than they actually are and justify selling what appears to be rather over-priced equipment.

That doesn't mean I won't buy a dedicated Type 2 charging point, however, as I can clearly see the appeal of a captive cable rather than constantly fishing around in the boot.

Its sounds like I may have some trouble with an OLEV install as I think it requires a GSM connection - I live in a 'not spot' area for mobile reception, we have no data network anywhere near my house and I can only get a mobile signal in one room of my house (it's brilliant!) something I will need to check out with any prospective installer.

EDIT : arg's post came in as I was writing mine so I didn't see it, again it's very helpful and I can see the argument for a chargepoint being a much stronger one than I first thought

Cheers!

Jolltax
 

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Its sounds like I may have some trouble with an OLEV install as I think it requires a GSM connection
In theory, you can do a site survey and apply to OLEV for special permission to get the grant without monitoring if there is no signal - see Q.21 on page 49 of this document:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/503614/electric-vehicle-homecharge-scheme-guidance-installers-2016.pdf

However, it sounds sufficiently hard work that it may not be cost-effective.

OLEV have the nerve to say "We wish for vehicle users to charge safely and securely at home, and this is the
priority for us.
" at the head of the paragraph where they go on to make it unnecessarily difficult....
 

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You could always solve the "not spot" with a femto-cell connected to your broadband (assuming you're not in a black spot for that too!). Would be handy for your mobile too.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You could always solve the "not spot" with a femto-cell connected to your broadband (assuming you're not in a black spot for that too!). Would be handy for your mobile too.
A good idea, I do have a Vodafone one I can switch on but I rarely use it as we also have very slow internet and when I had it permanently connected it caused a lot of problems, it also drops out during calls.

One further question : Is there any guidance on whcih Type 2 chargepoints are 'best' or any reviews. It seems like there is very little to choose between them other than the looks, I imagine they all have exactly the same function and performance. I would be looking for a weather rated, unobtrusive wall mounted one with a captive lead of 3-5 metres.

Is there anything online comparing the different options? Google hasn't found anything yet

J
 

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Is there any guidance on whcih Type 2 chargepoints are 'best' or any reviews. It seems like there is very little to choose between them other than the looks, I imagine they all have exactly the same function and performance.
They're much of a muchness. I've heard some cars (Amperas I think?) have had trouble with Rolec chargepoints with frequent switching on and off, but otherwise they're fine. I have a British Gas-branded Chargemaster unit that's always worked perfectly and is a neat little unit. The PodPoint home chargepoint works fine from what I've heard, but is quite large and requires a separate holder to be screwed to the wall for the tethered lead.
 

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It seems like there is very little to choose between them other than the looks,
That's probably largely true. The Chargemaster ones are only 30A rather than 32A - not a huge difference, but a negative point. Chargemaster and PodPoint have the communications ("BigBrother") integral to the unit; Rolec and ABL units are typically installed with a separate smartmeter for the monitoring.

The Rolec units are cheap and cheerful (and easily serviceable); the ABL units look to be 'built-like-a-tank' but I don't know if there's actually evidence to show greater reliability.

Based on the apocryphal evidence of people posting on forums, reliability seems to be good overall and problems are fairly evenly split between issues with the installation as a whole vs faults in the chargepoint itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Cool, given they are all mostly the same I have fired out a few emails. I'll get a few quotes in and have a ponder.
 

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The Vodafone SureSignal is 3G only and needs client devices to be on Vodafone, and individually opted-in with a known telephone number, almost all the cheap metering for chargepoints are 2G only (GPRS). I think that Pod-Point use EE by default.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm gathering quotes at the moment, the going rate for a 7kW charger with an OLEV grant seems to be around £490

J
 

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I'm gathering quotes at the moment, the going rate for a 7kW charger with an OLEV grant seems to be around £490

J
And the going rate without the OLEV grant is £330, plus installation, which would probably be about £120 from any decent electrician.

(Rolec 32A type 2 socket, sourced from RS £330 inc VAT, £120 inc VAT is what I was charged for an exterior dual RCD socket install, all-in from a local electrician), with the same spec cable as was used for my chargepoint, tethered chargepoints cost a bit more.
 

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£120 inc VAT is what I was charged for an exterior dual RCD socket install, all-in from a local electrician)
While I agree with your overall point, £120 sounds remarkably cheap for a 'typical' install - maybe your socket was very close to the consumer unit? Not for EV charging or not PME so no earth rod reqd? I'm also struggling to see how you'd use the same cable for a twin 13A socket as for a 32A chargepoint, though unless it's long the difference is only a couple of quid. Perhaps £120 is a good figure as the minimum sort of price an electrician might charge in an 'easy' case.

But another shot against OLEV for Tesla drivers at least in the short term is the prospect of getting hold of one of the new Telsa wall connectors - as I've written in another thread, assuming the EU price isn't wildly different to the USA variant that has just started shipping, it's now the clear choice for any Tesla owner. Presumably the paperwork will eventually be done to get them installed on the OLEV scheme too, but that seems unlikely to be in time for @Joltax June delivery.

New Wall Connector (HPWC) - a game changer for home charging?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
But another shot against OLEV for Tesla drivers at least in the short term is the prospect of getting hold of one of the new Telsa wall connectors
I would love one of these and asked my Tesla rep about getting one, she advised me that they are not yet available - sadly.

J
 

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I would love one of these and asked my Tesla rep about getting one, she advised me that they are not yet available - sadly.
Well, they have been seen in the wild (couple of people have reported seeing them installed at hotels as part of the "destination charging" programme), so getting one by end June seems at least within the bounds of possibility.

Or of course, to go completely against my own argument, you could have a commando socket installed temporarily with a view to simply swapping it over for the wall connector as soon as you can get your hands on one.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Trouble at mill !

My mains incomer has a fuse size of 80A, incriminating exhibit "A" :

And my Wattson power monitor occasionally shows our domestic power peaking at 12kW, exhibit "B"


and that's before my wife fires up her Large Hadron collider ......

By the awesome power of 'O' level Physics (yes, I am that old) I get 12000/240 = 50 A add 32A for car and I sense trouble. I doubt my wife wants to follow a load management procedure, er, I lied told her it would all be simple

Sooo, I have been in touch with my Power company - how have other people dealt with this? Do you have to pay to upgrade your supply?

Jolltax
 

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Trouble at mill !

My mains incomer has a fuse size of 80A, incriminating exhibit "A" :

And my Wattson power monitor occasionally shows our domestic power peaking at 12kW, exhibit "B"


and that's before my wife fires up her Large Hadron collider ......

By the awesome power of 'O' level Physics (yes, I am that old) I get 12000/240 = 50 A add 32A for car and I sense trouble. I doubt my wife wants to follow a load management procedure, er, I lied told her it would all be simple

Sooo, I have been in touch with my Power company - how have other people dealt with this? Do you have to pay to upgrade your supply?

Jolltax
Well, first things first I wouldn't panic. A few daytime short-term peaks in load (for example when the kettle and electric shower are both running) paired with vehicle charging isn't going to cause any major grief. And you can always use the charge scheduler to charge overnight, at which time I am assuming your domestic load is much lower.

While I would never advocate regularly exceeding your supply fuse rating the reality is that a standard 80A supply fuse would take many hours to blow if it had 100A flowing through it. Very short term demand surges are not a major issue, so if your 12kW usage peaks are short then I would not agonise about them.

Also just because you have an 80A fuse doesn't mean you couldn't be trivially upgraded to 100A just by switching the fuses.

When we moved into our current house we had 60A fuses (3 phase) but UKPN happily came and upgraded them to 100A without needing to do any additional work. I booked the job online through their website and there was no charge.
 

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It's a good idea to charge overnight anyway if you can. The load on the grid is lower and as the cost of generating and transmission plant is based on peak demand, it's only responsible not to contribute to the peak if you shift to a lower demand time.
 

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.... = 50 A add 32A for car and I sense trouble.... how have other people dealt with this? Do you have to pay to upgrade your supply?
I had no idea what my fuse rating was when I wanted a Rolec 32A charger - no labels or anything. The supplier's electrician told me to shut down the house, snip the wire holding fuse in, take the fuse out & unscrew the 2 screws to check - and it turned out to be a 50A. He'd already seen photos of my electricity panel etc, so was confident that my wires were up to a 100A fuse without any expensive rewiring needed - house was built in '70s. So I phoned my supplier as per his instructions, and they sent round an electrician about a week later who spent 15 mins changing the fuse to 100A. Cost £50 I think for the callout. Job done, and Rolec & House now very happy together.
 
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