Safely Charging your Electric Vehicle Using a Granny Charger
When purchasing an EV, we would always recommend the professional installation of a wall charger. This ensures that the supply used has been tested to be safe and will achieve a faster charging time. When not at home, it is best to use a public charging point. Most EV manufacturers recommend that granny charger are not used as the sole means of charging.
There are two types of home charger - untethered and tethered.
Type 2 untethered chargers have a type 2 connector fitted to the unit itself, not to a permanently connected cable (left). They are common for both domestic and public chargers. A separate type 2 to type 2 cable, available in a range of lengths, is required to connect the charger to an EV.
In contrast, a tethered charger (right) has a cable permanently connected, with a type 2 connector on the end. A type 2 to type 2 cable cannot be used to extend the length of a tethered charger, as the international standard has a safety mechanism which prevents the charge from commencing if two cables are joined.
What is a granny charger?
Most electric vehicles (EVs) are supplied with a portable domestic charger designed to charge the vehicle when access to a charging point is not possible. Rather confusingly it is commonly referred to as a 'granny charger', as it is a lead to use when visiting relatives such as your granny!
The granny charger consists of a 13A UK plug, a box containing the charger and a socket which connects to the EV. The connector will either be type 1 or type 2 (see section below for details).
In the UK the charger is limited to draw no more than 10A (2.3kW). This is because whilst a UK 13A plug can supply 13A for short periods of time, it may overheat if that amount of current is drawn for longer periods of time. Some non-compliant models may have a button which changes the current from 10A to 13A; under no circumstances use the 13A mode, as it is likely to lead to damage to the plug/socket.
We recommend checking the tightness of the fuse clips in the plug every 6 months or if the plug appears warm using this guide, to reduce the chance of overheating occurring.
What's the difference between a type 1 and type 2 connector?
There are a number of international standards for EV charging sockets. Within the UK, connectors will be either IEC 62196 type 1 (left) or type 2 (right).
Type 1 - Designed by the Japanese manufacturer Yazaki, the connector has 5 pins. It was predominantly used on vehicles from Asia, and is mainly found on older EVs within the UK e.g. Vauxhall Ampera, Mitsubishi PHEV. It allows single phase charging at 3.7kW-7.4kW AC.
Type 2 - Designed by the German manufacturer Mennekes, the connector has 7 pins. It was adopted as the EU standard for EVs in 2014 and is therefore the most common EV connector in the UK. It enables single and three phase charging at 3.7kW-7.4kW AC.
When ordering a granny charger it is important to correctly identify charging connector fitted to the EV using the diagram above.
Can I use an extension lead with a granny charger?
Often the lead supplied with a granny charger is not long enough to reach a socket. The question of whether an extension lead should be used, and if so which type is best, is probably one of the most hotly debated issues on on-line forums. In addition, some manufacturers recommend that extension leads are not used to charge EVs. This is likely to be because when using domestic sockets there is no guarantee of the safety of the supply, including the appropriate RCD and PEN fault protection/earth rod protection which is required for dedicated EV sockets. Also, most extension leads available online and in DIY stores are:
- Manufactured from cable which is not sufficiently large in diameter (normally 1mmsq or 1.25mmsq) to handle the relatively high sustained 10A current required.
- Most are rather long. Think of a cable like a water pipe. If you want high pressure at the end of your 10m garden, you’re not going to achieve it if you use a hosepipe the size of a drinking straw! The longer the distance, the larger diameter you need to sustain the same flow. This principle is the same for electrical cables.
- Use PVC or blue ‘arctic’ flex, which despite frequent claims that it is ‘heavy duty’, the cable is far from it. It is prone to mechanical and UV damage and is not recommended for use outdoors or below 5°C.
There may be occasions when it is not possible to use a charging station:
- Whilst waiting for a charging station to be installed.
- Staying away from home.
- On holiday in the UK or abroad.
In such situations, it is down to the EV user to consider the manufacturers guidance, the safety of the supply and any other risks, before deciding whether to use an extension lead to extend the charger. Given varying advice from manufacturers and varying risks in a whole myriad of charging scenarios, we cannot make a blanket recommendation that an extension lead should be used. An extension lead must always be plugged into a socket; never plug an extension lead into another extension lead.
Tough Leads simply supply high quality extension leads for higher current applications; it is down to the user to determine what applications they are used for. Throughout the website, the term 'compatible' refers to the socket used being compatible with the larger 13A plugs used on EV chargers. It is does not infer compatibility with the EV charger itself. If in any doubt, consult an electrician. Tough Leads therefore cannot accept responsibility for any damage caused as a result of using an extension lead.
How are Tough Leads different to DIY store extension leads?
All of our extension leads are carefully constructed in our UK workshop from the highest quality and most robust cable and connectors available. Most DIY extension leads either have indoor only sockets, or splashproof covers which will not close shut around the EV granny charger cable because:
- The body of EV plugs are often larger than an average plug.
- The thicker cable prevents the socket cover from closing.
To overcome this issue, our leads are the only available in the UK which use a socket which closes shut with all EV plugs. Unlike other extension sockets which are only splashproof (IP44 or IP54 rated) for temporary use outside, our sockets are weatherproof (IP66) for prolonged use outside in all weathers.
The H07RN-F rubber cable is specifically manufactured for harsh environments and its safety and performance under extreme conditions simply cannot be beaten. When combined with heavy duty plugs and sockets, our leads will withstand tough daily use for considerably longer than any other type. H07RN-F rubber cable is perfect for EV charging applications:
- We only use 1.5mmsq cable, which is suitable for sustained high current applications. As the cable itself is rated at 15A, it can easily handle the max 10A load, even over longer lengths.
- Extremely flexible, bending to 6 times its overall diameter.
- Very good mechanical resistance to impact and abrasion, making it ideal for harsh environments on-site.
- Resistant to accidental exposure to a wide range of chemicals, including most oils and greases.
- Whist we would never recommend that you submerse an extension lead, it’s good to know that just in case it ends up running through a puddle, it’s actually submersible to a depth of 100m.
- Retains its flexibility and performance over a wide temperature range from -25 to 60°C.
Does the extension lead need to have an RCD?
Whenever you mix electricity, the great British weather and a metal car, it is absolutely vital to ensure that the entire lead is protected by an RCD. A residual current device (RCD) is a life-saving device which is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you come into contact with a live wire or current. RCDs offer a level of personal protection that ordinary fuses and circuit-breakers cannot provide. Further details are provided in this guide.
We are often asked the question of whether an extension should include an RCD and the simple answer is yes if ANY of the following apply:
- The lead if 20m or longer.
- The socket that you will use is not RCD protected/you're not sure (advice on determining this can be found in this guide).
- You may use the extension in various locations.
If an RCD is required, there are two types of unit:
Instead of a normal 13A plug, the lead has a larger plug RCD. It provides a more cost effective option when the extension will only be connected to indoor sockets.
Although it is IP55 rated and has a unique design with the plug pins at the top to enable it to fit into most outdoor sockets, the unit will stop the socket cover from closing. Where the extension will regularly be connected to an outdoor socket, the in-line RCD is therefore recommended.
|The unit is weatherproof with an IP66 rating. As the extension has a standard 13A plug fitted before the RCD, it fits all outdoor sockets and enables the socket cover to fully close.|
How can I take advantage of cheap off-peak electricity tariffs?
Many electricity providers offer off-peak tariffs, which are often significantly cheaper. Some EVs have a function to set charging times. However, where this is not available, we provide a number of options:
The onset of charging can be delayed by 1-12 hours from the button being pressed, with the limitation that a time cannot be set to stop charging.
Plug-in EV timer which will work when either a granny charger is plugged directly into it, or via an extension lead without an RCD. Where the extension leads is fitted with an RCD, the timer must be positioned at the socket end of the lead.
Control unit built into an EV extension lead, to enable charging start and stop times to be set using a manual timer or Wi-Fi control (with the added bonus of energy monitoring).
Standard domestic plug in timers and smart sockets use a relatively small relay. Whilst this is sufficient for normal use around the home, they are prone to damage or a shorter operating life when used with higher current appliances, such as EV granny chargers.
Can I accurately log the electricity used?
In some cases, it may be useful to be able to log the total amount of electricity used to charge your EV, to support charging back to your employer or to guests.
Plug-in meter , MID certified for sub-billing applications. Readings can be viewed directly from the unit.
Plug-in meter with Wi-Fi connectivity, providing live and cumulative kWh readings on the unit's screen and via the Smart Life app.
Wi-Fi enabled control unit built into an EV extension lead, providing live and cumulative kWh readings via the Smart Life app. The unit also allows remote control and timers to be set.
Why do posts on many on-line forums say that only 2.5mmsq flex should be used?
The 1.5mmsq vs 2.5mmsq flex debate seems to be the most common one with regards to EV leads on on-line forums, and sadly the most uninformed. For lengths of up to 20m, our advice is that the 1.5mmsq flex used in all of our leads is the best option for the following reasons (apologies for getting rather technical!):
- BS 1363-1:1995 A4:2012 the British Standard for 13A plugs, specifically states that flex must not exceed 1.5mmsq with the line ‘having nominal conductor cross-sectional areas not exceeding 1.5 mmsq’. Therefore, other than manufacturer fitted moulded plugs, 2.5mmsq flex should not be terminated in a 13A plug.
- The IET Code of Practice for portable appliance testing allows a safe max length for 1.5mmsq flex without an RCD of 15m, and 30m with an RCD. When PAT testing an extension lead you check for the resistance of the earth- a 15m 1.5mmsq lead would be within the 0.2 ohm limit. Voltage drop on the same lead would be calculated according to the wiring regulations as 5.17v, again well within the limit.
- The data sheets for 1.5mmsq H07RN-F cable generally state a max current of 15A. If the cable is a sensible length, the manufacturers recommended max current is nowhere near exceeded.
- 1.5mmsq H07RN-F rubber cables do not degrade over time if used up to the full 13A, as this is well within their safe load limit.
- In contrast, 2.5mmsq is more expensive, heavier, and more challenging to manage.
Can I use a UK granny charger abroad?
Yes, although standard travel adaptors must never be used with an EV granny charger. Most are only designed to power low current appliances and some often dangerously do not connect the earth pin.
Our guide to Using UK EV granny chargers in Europe and Scandinavia will provide the support you need to select the correct adaptor from our range of heavy duty EV compatible adaptors. For ease of ordering, our range of adaptors for use in most of Europe are collated here.
Can a European 2 pin plug granny charger be used in the UK?
Yes, but only with the appropriate adaptor and if the charge rate can be reduced to 10A.
How do I know the electricity supply is safe?
Irrespective of whether an extension lead is used, it is important that you consider how safe the supply may be before plugging in your charger.
- Domestic electrical installations can deteriorate with use and age. It is therefore important that a periodic inspection is carried out every 10 years for an owner-occupied home and every five years for rented properties or HMOs.
- As sockets age the contacts can loosen, meaning that the contact between the socket and plug pins is not as firm as it should be, which may increase the risk of overheating. We would always recommend charging your EV from a relatively new branded socket, such as one manufactured by MK, Crabtree, Schneider, Hamilton etc.
- Carefully check the socket for signs of damage, such as brown marks around the receptacles or cracks.
- Only use either a single socket, or a double socket which has nothing else connected to it.
- We would always recommend that the supply is checked using a plug in socket tester. Whilst the unit does not provide the same level of testing or assurance provided by a periodic inspection, it does at least provide a simple check of the supply in order to identify basic problems. The unit simply plugs in, and a row of lights illuminate to confirm that the supply is safe to use e.g. there is an earth connection and the live/neutral are the correct way around.
What do the Wiring Regulations State for Sockets Installed Specifically to Charge an EV?
Section 722 Electrical Vehicle Charging Installations of the IET Wiring Regulations details a number of additional requirements for socket outlets which are installed specifically to supply an EV:
- The IET Wiring Regulations (718.104.22.168.201.1i) specify that 13A UK sockets which are installed to charge an EV must comply with BS 1363-2 and be marked ‘EV’ on the back of the plate. The marking on the back is required to demonstrate that it meets the British Standard. To achieve the new standard, sockets are subject to more demanding tests than a standard outlet, to ensure that they can withstand the long term supply of the continuous 10A load of an EV charger.
- We provide BS 1363-2 EV compliant 13A socket plates and weatherproof sockets.
- Except where there is no possibility of confusion, a label shall be provided on the front face or adjacent to the socket-outlet or its enclosure stating: ‘Suitable for electric vehicle charging’.
- Dedicated final circuit with over-current protection (e.g. you can't use or spur off an existing ring circuit).
- Protection from a Type B RCD.
- PEN protection device/detailed earthing requirements for certain types of supply (far too complicated to explain here!)