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Commando socket charging

Procrastinate

Member
Jul 8, 2020
24
10
Leeds, UK
I plan to charge using a 3-pin plug and don’t want to invest in wall charger as we are planning to move house in the next 12 months. I’ve heard of reference to “commando” sockets, which as I understand it allows higher current. Car will be parked on drive and cable could either be run from our internal garage (cable under door?) or alternatively from our porch way cupboard which contains the electricity meter. Any suggestions/guidance regarding equipment, installation, usage etc?

thanks
 

tonyj01

Member
Apr 3, 2015
127
69
Manchester, England,
And I am replying as I am delaying doing some work . . . [smiling at OP]

I used a 32A commando socket for some years when i bought my car in 2016. The Tesla wallcharger had not yet been imported to UK at that stage.

I had this fitted by a competent electrician, the circuit needed is like an oven or aircon capacity, you cannot add this to an ordinary ring main. This will cost you quite a few quid.

There is also a 16A commando socket, smaller and red, not much faster than a 13A socket, but either way you will need to buy the correct fitting for your UMC. My car came with 32A commando male plug for the UMC back in the day. Search on, say, Screwfix, to get an idea of the socket you can fit. my guy fitted an "interlock" type.

My socket was under a car port - the UMC is not rated as fully waterproof.

Tony.

.
 
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Adopado

Active Member
Aug 19, 2019
4,165
3,131
Scotland
I plan to charge using a 3-pin plug and don’t want to invest in wall charger as we are planning to move house in the next 12 months. I’ve heard of reference to “commando” sockets, which as I understand it allows higher current. Car will be parked on drive and cable could either be run from our internal garage (cable under door?) or alternatively from our porch way cupboard which contains the electricity meter. Any suggestions/guidance regarding equipment, installation, usage etc?

Go for 32amp if you are doing commando. Speak with an electrician. This works fine if not outside:

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B077MZ749C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

Adopado

Active Member
Aug 19, 2019
4,165
3,131
Scotland
You will need the 32amp adapter for the UMC from Tesla (when I bought one it was £32 ... add delivery if you can't pick up from the SC)
 

Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
838
553
EDI
Lots of confusing answers here! Even weirder, I think they are all correct...

'commando' just means the circular sockets you see on caravan parks or for industrial use. They make better more reliable connections.

If you are installing one for charging a car it's subject to all the same regs as a charge point, at which point you may as well get yourself a cheaper charge point and claim the grant (Eo mini pro was going to be my choice).

That said, for a temporary install, or where the car isn't the 'primary' purpose, a simple install to code can be done. Only thing is it's not going to be as safe. I installed a 16A one (can be taken from a good ring main, blue, works out the box with my M3 UMC) for 6 months, but I knew about, and handled the UMC with appropriate care, not dragging it through puddles etc. A proper install by a sparky makes it safe in all circumstances, in the rain, after being run over by kids scooters and so on. That's the real difference.

32amp you are back to installing special spurs, buying adaptors etc. If you are calling a sparky to do that properly, you might as well do the whole job properly.

I probably wouldn't hesitate to put a 16a commando at my parents for occasional use, it does double your charge Speed for only ~£40, but you do have to remember then that it's not quite as safe in case of accidents or problems. Not recommended, but possible.
 

Mark-R

Member
Jan 28, 2020
301
496
Shropshire, UK
As well as needing to be 'interlinked', any 32A socket installed for regular EV charging should also incorporate an appropriate RCD (residual current device). EV charging circuits need an RCD that can detect both AC and DC residual fault currents ('regular' RCDs as used in consumer units only detect AC faults). Some 'chargers' include the DC protection, but Tesla's chargers (both the wall connector and the mobile connector) don't, and Tesla recommend a type B RCD for their wall connector (not to be confused with a type B RCBO!). Type B RCDs aren't cheap - typically £150 to £250. So by the time you have factored in professional installation, interlinked socket, type B RCD etc you aren't saving much (if anything) compared with a 'proper' charging point.
 
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tsh2

Member
Aug 27, 2019
301
85
Cambridge, UK
Don't you think we are nearly at the stage where a pre-installed EV charging point might be a selling factor in a house?
It's already a requirement in a new-build I believe. I'm seeing them in rebuild/retrofit planning applications (although both were insulation-focused retrofits, so maybe it was the owner's preference).
 

Gaz_

Member
Jul 26, 2019
142
42
UK
I think I can help here as I've just had this done.

I talked to 5 or 6 electricians as there is only a 16A feed to my garage and I needed another 40A supply run to charge. All of them said I regardless of whether I was to use the Commando or a charger I'd need an Earth spike and that the labour to get the extra power to the garage would be the same. The OLEV grant wasn't going to help me because of the property layout either.

I opted for just using the Commando socket and the UMC and am now happily getting 32A charging which is 23MPH for my car. The Electrician said if I decided to buy a charger (maybe when I don't have a Tesla) I could either move the wires for it or just hook the charger up with a commando and use the fitted feed.

Here is the interesting part. The Electrician that quoted me subbed the work out to another guy, who actually does EV charger installs. He said that the chargers have a lot of the earth leak protection in them now so it would have been less engineering to install it than the Commando. He reckoned that instead of the £500 for the work I was being charged, he'd have quoted me £800 with the charger.

My conclusion is for a Tesla when you have the commando, an easy electric run and indoor parking, use that, if you have a plan for another EV, shop around LOTS to find an EV installer who might save you a bundle on the install work because he knows the end product as more than an appliance.
 
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LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,204
Wales
I’m putting one of these on the house (limited to 20A additional max fusing on old consumer unit / older main fuse setup) - to use with 16A adaptor and UMC for occasional use. Main 32A charger will be slightly away from the house and on a completely different supply, but not accessible 100% of the time so need another top-up option.

You can get £30 versions but this one is higher specs than you normally see and we live in a very wet/unpredictable weather area.

https://www.screwfix.com/p/abb-switched-socket-16a-2p-e-250v-6h-ip67/4415f
 
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Artiste

Member
Jun 17, 2019
439
339
Lancashire
I’ve been charging with a commando socket for the last 8 months. I went down this route because I’m not eligible for the OLEV grant. I did 90% of the installation myself and just got an electrician friend of a friend to wire it into the consumer unit. It cost very little and has been 100% reliable.
 
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NorfolkMustard

Active Member
Apr 18, 2019
2,214
2,186
M3P w/FSD
Here is the interesting part. The Electrician that quoted me subbed the work out to another guy, who actually does EV charger installs. He said that the chargers have a lot of the earth leak protection in them now so it would have been less engineering to install it than the Commando. He reckoned that instead of the £500 for the work I was being charged, he'd have quoted me £800 with the charger.

Yeah, the zappi for example, doesn't need an earth rod.

 

Adopado

Active Member
Aug 19, 2019
4,165
3,131
Scotland
I probably wouldn't hesitate to put a 16a commando at my parents for occasional use, it does double your charge Speed for only ~£40, but you do have to remember then that it's not quite as safe in case of accidents or problems. Not recommended, but possible.

It is quite interesting is that though we (correctly) start worrying about regs when talking about the safety aspects of earthing and RCDs when anybody mentions commando sockets the reality is that the lesser safety is a similar level of safety as using a UMC with a 3 pin plug in a standard 13amp socket... yet that is rarely acknowledged and we are all ready to plug in a 13amp wherever we go! You have the same lack of DC protection and possible RCD "blinding" issues and earthing issues using a 13amp plug as using a commando socket. (This is assuming that the overall capacity of the cabling and breaker is suitable for 16amp or 32amp ... I'm just referring to the additional EV regs elements.)
 
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Bexon

Member
Mar 22, 2020
10
0
Barnsley
Hi I have had 2 x 32amp commandos fitted one at home one at work electrician fitted £240.00 total
Go with this all day 30miles/hour charge
Keith
 

Mark-R

Member
Jan 28, 2020
301
496
Shropshire, UK
It is quite interesting is that though we (correctly) start worrying about regs when talking about the safety aspects of earthing and RCDs when anybody mentions commando sockets the reality is that the lesser safety is a similar level of safety as using a UMC with a 3 pin plug in a standard 13amp socket... yet that is rarely acknowledged and we are all ready to plug in a 13amp wherever we go! You have the same lack of DC protection and possible RCD "blinding" issues and earthing issues using a 13amp plug as using a commando socket. (This is assuming that the overall capacity of the cabling and breaker is suitable for 16amp or 32amp ... I'm just referring to the additional EV regs elements.)

That is a very good point. Approaching this from a risk assessment perspective, the worst case consequence of failure is major (death) but the probability of this happening is very low for an occasional use UMC, so the overall risk is low. But when you start using the charger every day, the probability increases, so the risk increases, and it makes sense to incorporate other measures to reduce the risk (appropriate RCD and earthing).

There is a 'shocking' tweet from Artisan Electrics that only 21% of installations in an OLEV audit were 'satisfactory'. The vast majority of problems (81%) were with the RCD.
OLEV-audit.jpg
 
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Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
838
553
EDI
That is a very good point. Approaching this from a risk assessment perspective, the worst case consequence of failure is major (death) but the probability of this happening is very low for an occasional use UMC, so the overall risk is low. But when you start using the charger every day, the probability increases, so the risk increases, and it makes sense to incorporate other measures to reduce the risk (appropriate RCD and earthing).

And there's your key (emphasis mine).

On one hand I wonder how it compares to pumping flammable liquids from an underground tank to an unsealed mobile tank, on the other hand, I know I accidentally ran my lawnmower over my command extension last week (no damage, mower was set to highest setting, just forget the cable was there), and I'm supposed to be being careful with this stuff...
 

Adopado

Active Member
Aug 19, 2019
4,165
3,131
Scotland
And there's your key (emphasis mine).

On one hand I wonder how it compares to pumping flammable liquids from an underground tank to an unsealed mobile tank, on the other hand, I know I accidentally ran my lawnmower over my command extension last week (no damage, mower was set to highest setting, just forget the cable was there), and I'm supposed to be being careful with this stuff...

I have done a quick search occasionally on people electrocuted by electric vehicles and amazingly I have yet to come across a single report of this happening despite there being about 5 million electric vehicles across the world. And this is with an acknowledgement in various articles of a high percentage of vehicles being charged in unsafe circumstances! It's also surprising because a news story of such an event would undoubtably be "front page" interest ... you can just imagine the hullabaloo!

Though you have a good point about running over an extension I suppose it's no different to mowing your power lead when using electricity for any other purpose. I also have experience of mowing a power lead (for the electric mower itself) thankfully nothing bad happened!
 

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