Ask a Safety Officer: Electrical vehicle

Electric vehicle safety

 

As electric vehicles become increasingly popular in British Columbia, so do the electrical safety risks associated with them. Whether people are running an extension cord to power their vehicle, or using charging stations in their apartment buildings, there are electrical safety risks electric vehicle (EV) owners will need to be aware of to prevent injury.

We asked one of our electrical safety officers to answer a few commonly asked questions about electrical vehicle charging safety and installations.

What is Electric Vehicle Management System (EVEMS) technology and is it safe?

EVEMS technologies are designed to reduce demand on the electric grid by intelligently distributing power to multiple vehicles over the course of the day, rather than all at once. In BC, many municipalities have set requirements for new buildings to be “electric vehicle ready.” However, with an EVEMS installed, they are not required to calculate electrical load based on 100% capacity.

Technical Safety BC is in the process of reviewing installation permits related to EVEMS, including tracking non-compliance issues to help prevent risks caused by overloading charging stations. Technical Safety BC has also initiated discussions with other electrical regulators in the province to ensure consistency in regulation application.

I just purchased an electric vehicle and I’m running an extension cord to charge it. Why isn’t it charging?

EV manufacturers are insisting that their vehicles only be charged with the charge cords they come with. Some manufacturers have vehicle computers and their vehicle cord sets are able to sense an extension cord or whether it’s overheating, and may shut down the charge session.  Make sure to read all relevant manufacturer specifications to ensure you’re using the right charge cord.

My apartment building is having electric charging stations installed – how do I know they’re safe to use?

If an electric vehicle charging station is being installed in an apartment building the work must be performed by a licensed contractor. A licensed contractor would be required to apply for an electrical installation permit prior to starting work. Use the address function on our permit search tool to check if a permit is was pulled.

I live in a multi-dwelling complex. I have hired an electrical contractor with a permit to install a new EV charger in my unit. Do I need to ask the strata permission to do this work?

Yes, it would be a good idea to contact the strata. Since EV chargers are becoming more prevalent in BC, these types of installations could potentially increase the capacity of the main complex service. The electrical contractor will need to know the characteristics of the existing main service, so they can provide Technical Safety BC with an updated load calculation. This ensures the main service of the complex will not be overloaded prior to the installation of the EV charger.

 

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