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UK charging cable provided with your cars

Discussion in 'The UK and Ireland' started by andrewas, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. andrewas

    andrewas Member

    Jan 20, 2012
    Asker, Norway
    #1 andrewas, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
    As a Norwegian tourist with our Tesla to London this summer I had a chat with one of the natives :tongue: while charging at the SC in London.

    I discovered that the UK owners are only provided with a very simple UMC - with the standard UK power plug on it. Or at least the man I spoke with in London had not got anything else.

    Can someone confirm what cables you get / can buy extra? Do also see this thread: European Owners: which adapters come with the car?

    The UMC provided in Norway is the European UMC - which has interchangeable plugs. My plan was to visit a Tesla store in the UK and borrow/buy a UK power plug for our UMC. Looking at the UMC provided for British owners I realised this was not an option as it seems that yours does not have interchangeable plugs.

    We get:
    1 standard shuko plug (this is the standard power plug for most of Europe) - the UMC will draw max 13A using this plug.

    We can pay extra to get:
    1 blue CEE plug - the UMC will draw max 32A, 230V one phase using this plug.
    1 red CEE plug - the UMC will draw max 16A, 400V three phase using this plug.

    The local "aftermarket industry" have made adapters that combined with the red or blue above to connect to many other plugs - like the red 32A, 400V and the blue 16A, 230V. Of the more exotic is the one to connect to the standard household stove plug (handy if you are at a rented cabin and can just pull the stove forwards a bit, connect your plug and long (and thick) extension cord and get typically at least 25A for your car).

    Additionally many of us have purchased a type-2 cable (Mennekes) to be able to use 22Kw chargers. And of course a heavy extension cord for or 2 (I have one for 20A, 230V Shuko and one for 16A, 400V 3phase red plug - both 10 meters long).

    All of this gives flexibility for charging situations - especially when travelling. This summer model S cars from Norway has found their way to Spain, Italy, Croatia, Sardinia and many other strange places.

    Here is a picture of the Europe UMC (picture reused from another posting here at the TMC)
    European UMC.jpg
    The strange plug to the right is where we snap on the various plugs provided by Tesla (included or sold - it seems to differ from country to country).

    * In the United Kingdom, the CEE standard was first adopted as BS 4343:1968 and has since been replaced by its European equivalent BS EN 60309-4. In the UK these plugs are often referred to as caravan, Commando (a brand name used by MK Electric), CEE industrial, CEEform or simply CEE plugs.
  2. VintageMark

    VintageMark Member

    Jan 27, 2014
    Bristol, UK
    Hi Andrewas,

    So far I believe we have all been receiving a single Type 2 Mennekes cable with our Model S's in the UK.

    Most have been given 7.5m cables, I believe a few have requested shorter.

    (In the UK a government scheme means most EV homes have a Type 2 connector installed at home for free/low cost)

    I also understand that Tesla are now selling a UMC in the UK, and a few have bought them, so finding a UK 3 pin plug for your UMC should be possible.

    HTH, Mark.
  3. arg

    arg Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Cambridge, UK
    Yes, included with the car is just a type2<->type2 cable, no UMC at all.

    The 'very simple UMC' you refer to is actually a Mennekes-branded unit that Telsa offer for sale: hard-wired UK BS 1363 ("13A") plug to type2, limited to 10A. Note that this device has temperature sensing in the plug, hence the plug is necessarily hard-wired. Tesla charge £370 + VAT = £444.

    Tesla were initially very unwilling to sell any kind of UMC here; some early UK owners bought the european model UMC from Tesla service centres elsewhere in Europe, but I believe Tesla UK have now relented and will sell you a european UMC if you ask - but it will be exactly as sold elsewhere in Europe, no adaptor for UK BS1363 plug.

    It would require significant redesign of the UMC to provide temperature sensing in the adapter, and it seems like Tesla have decided they can't risk making a BS1363 adaptor without it (though no official reason has been given).

    In terms of what a visitor would want, the BS1363 ("13A") plug is the only UK-specific thing you would want. Such other sockets as you might find will all be CEE/Commando - we don't have "stove plugs" or anything else similar, so your european UMC will do just fine for those. Problem is that you will find a lot of 13A sockets and not many CEE/Commando. There's even quite a lot of public charging infrastructure with 13A sockets in it - complicated posts with a mechanism to unlock a cover over the 13A socket. So although it's a pathetic rate of charge, a 13A adaptor is critical to have. You can in principle make up an adapter 13A plug to Schuko socket and use that with your existing UMC, taking care to keep an eye on how warm it gets and dial down the current if leaving it unattended.

    I would suggest making such an adaptor with a good-quality 13A plug, a length of cable, and a schuko socket on the other, rather than use even the best quality moulded adapters. One of the reasons for this overheating issue in the first place is the heat coming from the fuse that is required by regulation in any 13A plug or adapter - so if you've then got a christmas tree of other adapters on top (13A->schuko->teslaUMC) then the heat has little chance to escape.

    Other things you might want when travelling are standard adapters for 16A vs 32A CEE/Commando sockets - while none of these sockets are particularly common, the 16A blue socket is often provided for caravan use.
  4. Steve Potter

    Steve Potter New Member

    Sep 4, 2014
    new Tesla Model S user (not owner, that's my wife gnash!).
    UMC ? not sure what that means, but your quite right, Tesla stuck a Blue cable with multi plug (socket really) which I assume is the Type-2 at both ends in the boot, at home we have the Chargemaster box with tethered cable and same plug on it.

    Not ventured far from home yet, so what is the advice regarding adapters to enable us to charge up around the UK, and hopefully next year across Europe?

  5. arg

    arg Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2012
    Cambridge, UK
    #5 arg, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
    Yes, that's your type2 cable. You will use that at many public charging stations that don't have a tethered cable. It is purely a cable (no electronics inside), but a hefty one - it can supply up to 22kW when connected to a suitable charging station (about 60 'typical' miles of charge per hour), but equally usable with lower-powered stations (you'd be using it at home if you hadn't opted for the version with tethered cable there).

    The UMC is what Tesla supply with the car in many other countries; you can choose to buy it as an optional-extra in the UK. 'UMC' is Tesla's product name, their version of what would be technically called a 'portable EVSE' (the portable equivalent of the Chargemaster box you have on the wall at home). It has a plug for the car on one end, a plug for a standard mains socket at the other, and an electronics box in the middle containing safety circuitry and a means of signalling to the car how much power it can safely draw from that kind of socket. Tesla's UMC is particularly neat in that it has adapters for several different types of 'standard' mains socket, and those adapters signal to the electronics box so that the car knows automatically which adapter you are using and hence how much power it can safely draw - you don't have to set anything. There are lots of portable EVSE from other manufacturers, but they typically need you to press buttons to say which adapter you are using.

    Limitations with the Tesla UMC are:
    • No adapter for UK 13A plugs (only 32A 'blue' and 16A 'red' CEE/'commando' sockets, plus the Schuko plug used for ordinary domestic sockets in much of Europe). {nov 2014 edit: this is no longer true: Telsa have now introduced a 13A plug adapter for the UMC. However, so far as we know, it doesn't have a temperature sensing facility}
    • Maximum 11kW, so you can't take advantage of dual chargers if you have them.
    • No adapter for 16A commando socket. Not a big deal you can make your own adapter from one of the other sockets, but does then nullify some of the advantages of the UMC.

    The other thing that Tesla will sell you if you ask is the Mennekes 13A plug portable EVSE (Tesla staff seem to refer to it as a 'Mennekes cable', which is confusing since the Type2 cables supplied with the car are also manufactured by Mennekes!). This lets you charge from a standard UK domestic socket, albeit at only 10 amps (resulting in a charge rate of only about 6 miles per charging hour). This Mennekes unit is the 'gold standard' for 13A plug charging - it has multiple safety features, is well made, and Tesla's price is competititve. However, it's not much use for anything else.

    First thing you need is not adapters but access cards for public charging points.

    Ecotricity is a must - free, and loads of fast charge points at motorway service areas, specially useful if you have dual chargers.
    There's numerous other schemes, mostly regional: Source East, Source London, Charge my car, Polar/Chargemaster, Podpoint. Most of these are £10 or so to get the card (or open an account on a mobile app), then some points are free-to-use, others have quite stiff charges. There's a summary of these networks over here.

    Suggest you check the places you are likely to want to go and see which scheme(s) are worth your while joining. If you look at and click through to the info page for a given point, it (usually) tells you which scheme it is in. Almost all the non-Ecotricity points are 7kW (or even worse), so think overnight stops rather than en-route charging.

    Finally, there's the question of what sort of portable EVSE you feel like buying to charge from ordinary sockets you find in the wild. There's lots of choice here; opinions vary as to what is important - it does depend what sort of person you are and the sort of places you go.

    I think almost everybody would agree that you need a solution for charging from ordinary british 13A sockets - although 10A charging is painfully slow (6 mph), overnight it does give you a useful amount of charge, and you can find them almost anywhere. Think charging to cover your local travel once you've arrived at your destination, rather than the charge to get you there; also emergency use to get you to the nearest better charging point if you've screwed up your planning.

    Going beyond that, you might want to cover 16A commando sockets (often seen at campsites or elsewhere to supply caravans or outdoor power generally). If you regularly visit industrial sites, farms etc. you might know of places where you can find 32A blue commando, or the holy grail of red commando sockets (16A or 32A, 3-phase). Personally, I know very few places that I visit where I could find these (and even fewer where I could get the car close enough to plug in), but your circumstances may be different. For Europe, you might decide you need to cover Schuko domestic sockets too.

    Having decided which sockets you need to cover, you can then look at the available EVSE.

    UK 13A plug is the most difficult issue: standard sockets are only barely good enough for EV charging, and there is a risk of overheating at the socket, especially if you try to take the full 13A rather than restricting it to 10A. If you've decided that 13A is all you want, then the Tesla-supplied Mennekes unit is probably the one to go for - it is foolproof (can't be set above 10A), has temperature sensing in the plug for safety, and is robustly built, and is no more expensive than any of the alternatives.

    If you want mainly 13A but occasionally might want 16A commando, you could do this by building a commando->13A adapter and using the 13A Mennekes unit as above: quite safe, but doesn't let you take advantage of the 50% faster speed potentially available from the commando socket. Alternatively, you could buy a commando EVSE and a 13A->commando adapter, but then you will need to remember to turn the current down when using 13A and keep an eye on the temperature of the plug (and can you rely on all family members to do this?). Here is one example if you want to go this route:

    If you want more than that, you are then into either the Telsa UMC (but there's no really good solution for british 13A plugs with the UMC - Tesla don't make an adapter), or if you want the full monty, there's the Juice Booster, though not ideal for non-technical users.

    Also check out TesLowJuice for an EVSE rental option.

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