While generally safer than petrol and diesel cars, electric cars can still pose a safety risk if used incorrectly. At Blue Cars we take safety seriously and we want to bring attention to some unsafe practices we have witnessed in the EV market in New Zealand.
Electric cars are usually sold with a portable EVSE (‘Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment – also called a ‘Charging Cable’). Importers of used EVs must often modify this portable EVSE for use in New Zealand. Of the several options available, some importers use plugs that are unsafe and, in some cases, illegal.
PDL 56-Series Plug (15 A)
These plugs look similar to the 3-pin plugs you have around home. In theory, these plugs are rated for 15 A, as compared to standard 3-pin plugs, which are only rated for 10 A.
The main problem with these plugs is that electric cars draw high current for a sustained period. Testing by Blue Cars and others has shown that these plugs can be at risk of overheating from the continuous high load of charging an EV.[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
Standard 3-pin Plug (10 A)
These plugs are rated for 10 A and should not overheat if used properly, but some EV importers have been installing these on Nissan EVSE’s, which can draw up to 14 A. At this current they pose a real risk of overheating and catching fire.
If you have a Nissan EVSE, which has been supplied with one of these plugs – stop using it until you’ve had a qualified electrician check how much current it draws.[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
Blue “Caravan” Plug (16 A)
These plugs have larger pins that can handle continuous operation at their full rated current which are much less likely to come loose if bumped. Another advantage is that there are already thousands of caravan sockets installed in holiday parks and camp-sites across the country, many of whom offer charging to customers.
Our recommended portable charging solution – the “SPARK” cable from Charge Amps – has one of these plugs, giving you both maximum safety and convenience in one solution.[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
Charging EVs draw high current over several hours, so we recommend charging from a dedicated circuit. You may need to have a new one installed from your switchboard. Otherwise you risk tripping a circuit breaker or even starting a fire.[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
You will need to decide whether you want a hardwired EVSE or one you can unplug and take with you (on holiday for example). Most EV owners keep a mobile EVSE in their car and install a hardwired one at home and/or their place of work.[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
Power sockets come in different shapes and sizes (as in image above), depending on the amount of current they can handle. An adapter cable increases the number of places you can use your mobile EVSE – great for traveling or going on holiday.[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
EV Supply Equipment (EVSE)
An EVSE connects the power supply to you EV. It is sometimes called a “charging cable”, but it is really just a cable with some control and protection circuitry built in (the pictured SPARK cable has it built into the handle).[/three_fifth] [two_fifth_last] [/two_fifth_last]
Electric cars have an AC (alternating current) battery charger built in. This is typically rated for a current of 16 A, although some EV makes and models can draw 32 A or more. The charger converts AC power from your supply to DC (direct current) for charging your car’s battery. At fast charging stations, the fast charger is installed at the station and supplies DC power direct to your battery.