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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Rolec tethered wallpod was installed in September 2018. Since then the mode 3 controller has been replaced twice under warranty and the charger is out of action yet again with the same symptoms so I am assuming that the mode 3 controller has failed for a third time. Rolec say that the failures are:

“more than likely caused by an electrical surge knocking out a small fuse inside the component. The fact you now have another issue only reiterates that further. I have never seen a charge point have 3 separate issues in 3 years like your charger. I can only suggest that a new mode 3 controller is ordered via the wholesaler and an SPD is fitted by the installer to try and solve this problem once and for all.”

Does Rolec’s advice make sense ? Is it normal to need a Surge Protection Device (SPD) fitted ?
I had asked them to replace the complete charging unit as the frequency of failure is unacceptable.
 

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My Rolec tethered wallpod was installed in September 2018. Since then the mode 3 controller has been replaced twice under warranty and the charger is out of action yet again with the same symptoms so I am assuming that the mode 3 controller has failed for a third time. Rolec say that the failures are:

“more than likely caused by an electrical surge knocking out a small fuse inside the component. The fact you now have another issue only reiterates that further. I have never seen a charge point have 3 separate issues in 3 years like your charger. I can only suggest that a new mode 3 controller is ordered via the wholesaler and an SPD is fitted by the installer to try and solve this problem once and for all.”

Does Rolec’s advice make sense ? Is it normal to need a Surge Protection Device (SPD) fitted ?
I had asked them to replace the complete charging unit as the frequency of failure is unacceptable.
If it was fitted under the OLEV grant scheme, it will still be covered under the 3 year warranty. Ask that ROLEC fix the faulty charger and compensate you for you losses. If they refuse, escalate with OLEV and trading standards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Fred. Yes the charger is still under warranty and Rolec will cover cost of the parts ie for the controller. But my question is whether Rolec's suggestion that the failures are caused by voltage surges ? and that I should get an SPD installed. I'm not convinced, but I'm not an electrician.
 

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Thanks Fred. Yes the charger is still under warranty and Rolec will cover cost of the parts ie for the controller. But my question is whether Rolec's suggestion that the failures are caused by voltage surges ? and that I should get an SPD installed. I'm not convinced, but I'm not an electrician.
Do you have any other equipment failures?
Are you extremely rural, say at the end of a two wire overhead supply.
If no to both questions, I'm inclined to say they are clutching at straws to divert attention away from their supplied (poor quality) kit.

Best of luck!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Fred, our house is on a small 1970’s estate with underground cabling from a substation less than 100 metres away. I am not aware of any other appliance issues in the last 27 years, so the suggestion that we are having voltage surges doesn’t ring true.
 

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Pretty much every appliance that needs it should have built in surge protection, usually in the form of one or two MOVs (Metal Oxide Varistors) fitted to the incoming supply, on the circuit board. These are essentially smaller versions of the components used inside an SPD (Surge Protection Device). They do "wear out" in an environment where the equipment is subjected to a large number of spikes, as every spike tends to very slightly reduce the trigger voltage of the MOV, so that after many thousands of such spikes the MOV starts to conduct at normal supply voltages, and then blows the fuse.

This isn't a common issue, and the vast majority of appliances and bits of equipment that have MOVs on the input last many years without any problems, even decades. I would have thought that there would have been MOVs in the protocol controller, but we're talking about Rolec, and it's quite possible that they've cut the price of the module by leaving these out, saving maybe 20p on the component cost.

Fitting an SPD to the consumer unit isn't that cheap, and might even involve replacing the whole CU, as there needs to be enough spare space to fit both the SPD module and it's MCB. It may be possible to fit a stand alone SPD and MCB in a separate enclosure, they tend to cost around £70. An SPD costs around £30 or so, plus maybe £4 for an MCB, and it might be possible to re-jig the wiring in the CU if there's enough space, if not then it could be a bigger job, maybe even involving replacing the CU.

FWIW, I don't think that the problem is voltage spikes and am not convinced that fitting an SPD would be the answer, at least not without some further investigation. One thing to check might be the supply voltage, as if this is at, or over, the maximum upper limit it can create problems like this. If you can borrow a meter, and can use it safely, then checking the supply voltage several times a day, for maybe two or three days, might give a clue as to whether this could be the cause. The statutory upper voltage limit is 253 VAC, and if you see readings around 250 VAC or so on several occasions then you can request that the DNO fit a voltage recorder. They will do this free of charge, leave it in place for about a week, and if their measurements show that the voltage is out of spec they are required to adjust the tap on the local substation to bring it within tolerance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Jeremy, thanks for providing such detailed advice. This is very helpful. I have a multimeter and will carry out the voltage checks that you suggest over the next few days. In general the voltage here registers at around 235, but I haven’t checked it for a while. Your comments regarding surge protection reinforce the point that Fred made yesterday, i.e. that Rolec are trying to divert attention away from the underlying problems with my unit. The government website makes it very clear that the manufacturer and installer must honour the 3 year parts and installation warranty in case of any problems and provide contact details for escalation as necessary. So I am increasingly confident that I can exert pressure on Rolec to replace the complete unit.
 

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My Rolec tethered wallpod was installed in September 2018. Since then the mode 3 controller has been replaced twice under warranty and the charger is out of action yet again with the same symptoms so I am assuming that the mode 3 controller has failed for a third time. Rolec say that the failures are:

“more than likely caused by an electrical surge knocking out a small fuse inside the component. The fact you now have another issue only reiterates that further. I have never seen a charge point have 3 separate issues in 3 years like your charger. I can only suggest that a new mode 3 controller is ordered via the wholesaler and an SPD is fitted by the installer to try and solve this problem once and for all.”

Does Rolec’s advice make sense ? Is it normal to need a Surge Protection Device (SPD) fitted ?
I had asked them to replace the complete charging unit as the frequency of failure is unacceptable.
Most power supplies are fitted with a voltage dependent resistor (MOV = Metal Oxide Varistor) to arrest surge voltage spikes, one of the electromagnetic tests that should be conducted on ALL CE marked appliances is a voltage spike test (EN61000-4-5), this MOV performs the function of a class III SPD, class III is intended only to protect itself from damage. These MOVs are an expensive component (maybe 30pence) so it is not uncommon for manufacturers not to fit them and prey the equipment survives the test! Unfortunately CE is self declared so there is no guarantee it was even tested. these modules do have a design flaw in that the creapage distance between the Live input and secondary side of the module does not meet LVD requirements. The PCB track clearance distance should be 2.5mm or more for class 1 equipment, one of these modules I have seen had clearances too small to measure accurately (<0.5mm), I would expect this to result in RCD tripping as it breaks down but potentially a voltage spike could jump the "gap "and damage the module? If other equipment is also dying at the same time maybe you need a Class I SPD to be fitted at the supply source? (Class II and III are supposed to provide the same level of "surge" protection so a class II may not be of any benefit?)
 
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