Earth Notes: Installing a UK home EV Charge Point: Case Study (2022)

Updated 2023-10-24 12:21 GMT.
By Damon Hart-Davis ORCID logo.
A case study for a typical UK home on the road to electrifying everything. #EV #netZero #futureReady
looped supply
Is it still pushing water uphill to get a home charger for an Electric Vehicle? How determined do you have to be, and what pitfalls were encountered for this suburban English home? This experience was pretty smooth!

Many thanks to Jeremy Lock for allowing me to relay his experiences here, installing an EV charger for his home near Gloucester in . Jeremy is no stranger to the energy industry, so knew some of the questions to ask from the outset, but there have already been some unexpected things popping out of the works!

(There is some light editing of words and tweaking of images: any errors are mine rather than Jeremy's!)

2022-11-01: The Story So Far

Here is the saga to date from Jeremy, who started this process :

Thinking of buying an EV?

Want to install a fast charger in advance of purchasing an EV?

Want to ensure that the choice of charger is future-proofed to facilitate charging of the EV from installed solar and/or home battery system (neither yet selected or purchased)?

I received a recommendation that I should go to Rightcharge to select the right charger for me.

This is a very well constructed comparison site that through guided questions narrows down the charger options and selection to suit the customer needs.

In my case, a charger that will support future integration of solar PV and home battery storage.

I chose myenergi's Zappi 2 charger.

proposed location of charger JL location of electricity meter JL location of distribution box consumer unit in garage JL indication of distance between meter distribution proposed charger location JL gas bonding connections JL water bonding connections JL

Before the cost was confirmed I was asked to upload a series of photos and/or videos indicating:

  1. Proposed location of charger
  2. Location of electricity meter
  3. Location of distribution box
  4. Indication of distance between these three units
  5. Gas bonding connections (earth connection to gas pipe)
  6. Water bonding connections (earth connection to mains water pipe)

(Click each image to enlarge.)

These details (in my case) were sufficient to confirm the standard installation cost of £1199 including VAT.

I then purchased the charger through the Rightcharge site and entered their process for installation.

It would appear that survey and installation services (in my case) are sub contracted to Charrrge (formerly "Sequential Dynamics").

I was then asked to complete an electrical load survey, apparently a compliance check mandated by the local Distribution Company see below:

Thank you for your recent purchase of your Electric Vehicle charge point. In order for us to proceed with the physical installation, we need some further information. In the UK before any EV charge point can be considered to be connected to the electrical network,This information is required by your local (DNO) Distribution Network Operator and allows our team to identify the correct type of safety components required to make sure your installation will be compliant with UK regulations and safe for use.

With this being said, could you go through the below questions and answer accordingly?

  • How many people live at the property?  Currently 2 plus 2 dogs but it is a 5 bedroom 3 bathroom dwelling (I assume the possible future use of the dwelling is also important).
  • Is there an induction hob?  No
  • Is there an electric oven? Yes double electric range oven with gas hob
  • Do you have a jacuzzi or hot tub? No
  • Does the property have electric heating?  No
  • Does the property have an electric boiler?  No
  • Does the property use mainly LED light bulbs? (Over 75%) Yes
  • Is there any workshop equipment?  No only hand tools
  • Do you use an immersion heater?  Not as a matter of routine, we have one installed but it would only be used if the gas boiler failed which is rarely. We do have a commercial type tumble dryer which is 45 amp I believe.

Then followed 2 to 3 weeks of no information or confirmation of installation date.

After a bit of chasing (back to Rightcharge) I received an update from Charrrge.

Loop / De-loop

Apparently my property has a looped electricity supply! Not known to me, but now I understand what a looped supply is. It is self evident from the survey photo I sent of my electricity meter.

It is clear I have 2 cables coming into my meter box, one feeding my meter and house and the other forwarding electricity to my neighbour.

looped electricity supply JL
Looped supply connection evident from two thick cables entering main supply fuse unit from below.

The Charrrge advisor explained that depending on the charger selected sometimes the DNO will allow installation to go ahead provided the charger can be configured to regulate draw of electricity (to prevent my neighbour being starved of electricity). In other cases the DNO will insist that de-looping takes place before the charger is installed.

It would appear that in my case the Zappi product was a good choice because I have now received a letter from the DNO saying installation can go ahead and they will de-loop my supply from my neighbours at a future date at their cost.

De-looping in general seems to be a widespread demand, presumably because looping supplies is a cheaper way to build houses. We are in a relatively new (1970s) estate comprising of mainly detached or semi-detached properties, to my mind it seems odd that each house does not have its own dedicated cable supply, like it does for gas and water. If you search for looped supplies on the internet it is clear this is a big barrier to Home EV fast charger installations and no doubt the DNO will have a large backlog of requests to de-loop home supplies.

On a personal note I worry about having to take this issue to my neighbours, who I am sure will be less than pleased that something I have chosen to do could result in their front garden being excavated to run a new cable from the main trunk to their home.

At this point the installer now has the go ahead to install, so I am waiting for an installation date to be scheduled.

In the meantime I have started to search for suitable solar PV and home battery installers.

Jeremy's DNO, that runs the electricity power wires to his house, is National Grid Electricity Distribution, previously called Western Power Distribution.

Jeremy also notes:

... the absence of reference to installing a smart meter, which I intend to do soon possibly with a change of supplier. I am fighting shy of this because of the many stories of installations that do not work, but clearly I need to get in a flexible tariff to make the economics work.

And:

I am speaking to solar PV battery installer next Tuesday, local company Forever Green Energy in Cheltenham. Orders now will not result in install until late spring or early summer 2023.

2022-11-03: Update

I guess I need to chase Charrrge again for an installation date. I suspect it is a demand thing again. I have contacted four regional installers of solar PV and battery systems. One responded and I have an initial interview-based survey on Tuesday. Another declined and put me on a wait list. I am still waiting for the other two to get back to me. I have resisted going to national franchises and I am trying to get a locally-based independent to quote.

And then...

I chased Charrrge today and have an installation date of .

Hurrah!

2022-11-30: Installed!

Installation was pre-booked with Charrrge (agents for rightcharge.co.uk). It was scheduled for 30th November 2022. Charrrge is based in Doncaster and because of a batch of installs in my region Charrrge had sent its own engineers to do the installation. I understand that sometimes Charrrge subcontracts to more local installers.

I called a couple of days before to establish the visit time and was told mid-afternoon. I had anticipated the engineers requiring access to distribution box (in the garage) and therefore wanted to ensure free access (things to clear in advance). Based on the survey requirements I had assumed some kind of interconnection being required between meter, distribution box and charger. In the event the installation was much simpler and did not require access to the garage or drilling of holes through walls.

The engineers (team of two) arrived early, and had the job done within an hour. Admittedly my installation configuration was as simple as it gets, the location of the charger being very close to the electricity meter box.

20221130 myenergi zappi EV charger installed with tethered charge cable wrapped around 1 JL 20221130 myenergi zappi EV charger installed with tethered charge cable wrapped around 2 JL
Views of the installed Zappi charger with 6.5m tethered charge cable wrapped around it.
20221130 meter box with new equipment installed JL 20221130 meter box with new equipment installed annotated JL
New equipment installed in the meter box, annotated. (Click each image to enlarge.)

You will see from the photos that the installation comprised:

  1. Fixing the charger to the wall
  2. Fitting a new circuit breaker in the meter box
  3. Cutting a hole in the meter box to allow a cable to be run between meter and Ev charger
  4. Connecting up
  5. Installing an independent power flow sensor on the feed cable to the charger (also connected to the Ev charger)
  6. Commissioning

The power to the house was isolated for 15 minutes.

On resumption of power the engineers needed to connect the charger to the home Wi-Fi, which was achieved within a few minutes using the WPS button on the Wi-Fi router. This is necessary to allow the myenergi App to be connected to the charger.

20221130 myenergi mobile phone app display Home Grid Charger JL

The engineers guided me through the downloading of the App (iPhone in my case), registering an account and they completed the configuration linking my account to my new Zappi charger. Immediately I was able to see the power flows in the App, currently three nodes, House, Grid and Car all courtesy of the power flow sensor installed with the EV charger. Note: this is entirely independent of any smart meter (which I don't have and have just ordered to be installed in January 23).

A few other points...

The App requires other basic account information which can be populated after install.

I had to remind the engineers to give me the guarantee paperwork and boxed paperwork for my records before they disappeared into recycling.

The charger comes with a three year guarantee. I noticed the validity date in the App was wrong (a couple of weeks earlier than install) presumably when the Zappi was passed to installers rather than the installation date. A quick email to myenergi customer services had this corrected.

The guarantee can be installed through the App to 5 years for a relatively modest payment of £115, which I duly did, and the App now carries the extended corrected validity date.

I had to remind the engineers that the DNO had advised throttling the feed prior to de-looping. I'm not sure this would have happened if I hadn't raised it. I quick call back to Charrrge headquarters verified this fact and I assume this was set up accordingly. (I need to understand how this gets adjusted post de-looping, presumably remotely via a maintenance routine.)

My charger is a tethered type (fixed cable rather than removable cable). You can specify tethered or untethered at point of purchase.

The tethered cable is 6.5m long. Initially I was a bit concerned about this but it looks like the cable will reach either side of a vehicle reversed onto either side of the drive.

The charger is physically robust (strong rigid materials), the box is designed to allow the cable to be stored by wrapping around it, typically the electronics in the box occupy a very small part of its volume.

After installation I did consider whether my choice of install location was sensible. It's certainly the right location for the drive and vehicles, but the house faces south so gets full sun during the day, whilst the wall it is located on is not south facing it will nonetheless see a degree of direct sunlight. On reflection I could have pushed it further under the portico but it's done now, so I will see how well it weathers going forward.

In summary, despite the stop start nature of the process, I only have good things to say about the product and the installation service provided by Charrrge. The two engineers were polite, courteous, knowledgeable and efficient. Overall customer experience was very good.

~2185 words.