Should Homeowners Avoid Charging EVs With A Standard Plug?

Whilst the modern history of electric vehicles started in the early 2010s, they have become exponentially more popular over the last five years.

Despite a perceived relative lull in EV sales which was the result of the downfall of just one company, electric vehicles are rapidly becoming the norm, which means that a big task for qualified electricians is to build the infrastructure that will enable that to happen.

Electric vehicles are at their most effective when they are charged at a dedicated charging station, whether that is one on the street, in a car park or the growing trend of EV homeowners having a charging station fitted on or near their driveway.

Part of the reason for this is convenience and speed, but another part is to avoid the potential problems that come with simply plugging an electrical vehicle into a mains electrical socket.


Can You Plug An EV Into The Mains?

Most EVs are supplied with an In Cable Control Box (ICCB), which is an adaptor that allows for an electric car to be plugged into the mains and charged from a standard plug socket.

Rather amusingly known as the “granny cable” amongst the EV community, ICCBs are the charging solution of last resort; if your car is parked away from a proper charging station, it can be plugged into the wall to ensure that a driver can charge essentially anywhere with an electrical supply.

Whilst this is useful as a backup, ICCBs and mains charging adaptors are not really meant to be used as a regular charger or for more than a few hours at a time. 

Most ICCBs are designed to draw no more than 10 amps from a 13 amp socket, because doing so for the dozens of hours it can take to fully charge an EV from empty on a mains socket can lead to dangerous overheating and a potentially dangerous failure of the socket, adaptor or both.

This is more of a concern with low-price third-party adaptors, especially those which have a so-called “13A” mode that overrides the 10A limit. This compounds with the cheaper components used by a third-party adaptor to lead to rapid degradation, overheating adaptors, melting components and potential fires.

Electrical fires are bad in any situation but they are far worse in the vicinity of an electric vehicle, given that whilst EV batteries are very securely shielded, if they do overheat or catch fire they could potentially burn for a long time or even explode in worst case scenarios.

Another issue is that even if the adapter is sound, they are often used in combination with an extension lead, given that most plugs are not within reach of a conventional charging cable if the car is parked outside and there are no outdoor or garage plugs.

Daisy-chaining multiple plugs makes this even worse if the leads in general are not designed with the excessive draw of EV batteries in mind.

Whilst it is useful as a contingency, particularly if on-street charging stations are not an option, EV owners should look into fitting a dedicated charging station as soon as possible after buying their new car.