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Electric Vehicles (EVs) have been steadily increasing in popularity especially as oil and gas prices increase, and as more people adopt this new vehicle technology the cost of EVs is beginning to lower, the need for the availability of efficient and safe EV charging solutions has become paramount. As more people transition to EVs, it is useful to have an understanding of the evolution and advances of the charging infrastructure, and the charging methods in use today, and it is essential to understand the safety concerns associated with battery-powered electric vehicles.

The Growth of Electric Vehicles

The UK has witnessed significant growth in the adoption of electric vehicles, driven by environmental concerns, government incentives, and advancements in battery technology. As the country strives to reduce carbon emissions and achieve its climate goals, EVs are thought to play a pivotal role in the transition to cleaner transportation and are quickly becoming the future of transportation.

EV Charging Infrastructure in the UK

The UK government, along with private enterprises, is actively investing in developing a robust EV charging infrastructure. A comprehensive network of charging stations, including both public and private options, is being installed across the country. From major cities to rural areas, the UK aims to provide convenient access to charging points, ensuring that EV owners have the confidence to travel anywhere.

Types of EV Charging

Similar to other regions, the UK offers three primary types of EV charging: Slow (or Level 1), Fast (or Level 2), and Rapid (or Level 3) charging. Each type has specific requirements and charging speeds:

  • Slow Charging: Slow chargers rated up to 3 kW, typically found in residential settings. They are suitable for overnight charging or when longer charging times are available. It takes around 8-10 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle.
  • Fast Charging: Fast chargers, commonly rated at 7-22 kW, require a dedicated charging unit. These chargers are found in workplaces, public locations, and some residential areas. Fast chargers can significantly reduce charging times compared to slow chargers, and take around 3-4 hours to fully charge an EV.
  • Rapid Charging: Rapid chargers are the fastest charging option, providing high-power charging from 43 kW or more. These chargers are mainly located at motorway services, petrol stations, and along major routes, enabling quick 30-60 minute top-ups during long journeys.

Safety Concerns with EV Charging

Due to the high-powered charging units and both the size and the materials with which the EV batteries are made, ensuring safety whilst EV charging is of utmost importance. Here are some key safety concerns and measures taken to address them:

  • Electrical Safety: UK regulations require safe installation practices, including adherence to the IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671). Charging equipment and installations undergo thorough inspections to verify compliance, ensuring a safe electrical system.
  • Overheating Prevention: Charging equipment and EV batteries incorporate thermal management systems to prevent overheating. Intelligent charging systems monitor and adjust charging rates to maintain optimal temperatures, enhancing safety during the charging process.
  • Battery Safety: EV batteries undergo rigorous testing to meet safety standards. Manufacturers implement safety features, such as overcharge protection, thermal runaway prevention, and short-circuit protection, ensuring safe operation and reducing the risk of battery-related incidents.

Nobody wants to consider the potential danger and risk associated with EV batteries when driving around in their new electric vehicle, and issues are thankfully relatively few with EV technology.Β  In fact, a recent study of standard fuel vs electric car fires by a US insurance company concluded that there were a total of only around 25 EV fires per 100k EV sales, compared to 1,530 for Petrol vehicles and 3,474 for Hybrid vehicles, however, EV fires do tend to be more publicised due to these being a newer breed of vehicle.

Fuel Vehicle Fires / 100k Sales % Total Fires %
Hybrid 3474.5 69.08 16051 7.44
Petrol/Diesel 1529.9 30.42 199533 92.5
Electric 25.1 0.49 52 0.02

2023 EV data courtesy of AutoinsuranceEZ.com

Similar data in the UK supports the fact that EVs are actually less risky statistically than driving a petrol car

Fuel Total Fires %
Petrol/Diesel 1898 97.23
Electric 54 2.77

2019 EV data courtesy of Bedford Fire and Rescue Service

Ensuring Safety in UK EV Charging

Several measures have been introduced in the UK to ensure safe and reliable EV charging:

  • Standards and Regulations: The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) sets standards and regulations for EV charging infrastructure in the UK. Compliance with these standards, such as the Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Installation Requirements, guarantees the safety of charging installations.
  • Safety Certifications: Charging equipment undergoes rigorous testing and certification by recognised bodies such as the British Standards Institution (BSI) and IEC to ensure compliance with safety standards. Certification marks, such as the CE mark, provide assurance of product safety and quality.
  • Public Awareness and Education: Public campaigns and educational programs aim to raise awareness about safe charging practices. EV owners are encouraged to follow guidelines provided by manufacturers and charging network operators, promoting responsible charging behaviour.
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance of charging infrastructure are conducted to identify and address any potential safety issues promptly. Network operators monitor charging stations in real-time to ensure efficient operation and address any faults or malfunctions promptly.

Be Prepared

If the worst was to happen, it’s always best to be prepared, as an EV fire can escalate quickly and can burn at up to 1000Β°C (1832 Β°F), and if you are a garage or MOT test centre dealing with EV cars on a regular basis, you should know what to do in the event of an EV fire.Β  The advice for vehicle owners and garages is to get away from the vehicle on fire as quickly as possible and call the fire service, but if you have time and it is safe to do so, isolate the fire using an EV fire blanket until the fire brigade arrives, it could save lives, damage to other vehicles or the destruction of your business premises.

EV fire blankets are specialised safety devices designed to mitigate the risks associated with electric vehicle (EV) fires. As EVs utilise high-voltage battery systems, the potential for thermal runaway or fire incidents exists, albeit rare. EV fire blankets provide an additional layer of protection by containing and suppressing flames in the event of a fire. Made from fire-resistant materials, these blankets are specifically designed to withstand high temperatures and prevent the spread of fire to surrounding areas. The blankets are typically equipped with fastening mechanisms for easy deployment and can be stored in garages, MOT Bays or charging stations for immediate access, or indeed within the car itself. By smothering the fire and depriving it of oxygen, EV fire blankets help to minimise the risk of further damage or injury until emergency services arrive.

Although EV fires are infrequent, having EV fire blankets on hand adds an extra safety measure to handle potential emergencies effectively.

Note: The information contained within this article is for informational purposes only. For specific safety concerns or inquiries, please contact Concept Garage Equipment or your EV equipment manufacturer, or installer or refer to the guidelines provided during your EV equipment installation.

Help with your EV Equipment Installation

If you are looking at EV charging for your garage, MOT Bay or home, please give Concept Garage Equipment a call, we would love to help you get your EV Charger set up and paying for itself as soon as possible.

We can offer you advice over the phone atΒ 0113 469 0572, we have EV Chargers and EV Fire Blankets for sale online and over the phone, including delivery, installation and staff training in the correct use of the EV Charging equipment and can offer any other garage equipment up to and including full project management of your MOT Bay build, installation and staff training.Β 

Call us today onΒ 0113 469 0572Β or use the website contact form today, we are here to help.