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Safe charging of electric vehicles (1/2): Hardware security

Access to operationally safe and reliable charging options is an essential basic prerequisite for the continuous expansion of electromobility. For this reason, the Charging Station Ordinance (LSV) has been in place in Germany since 2016. It defines binding minimum requirements for the technical safety of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles throughout Germany.

As an operator, you should carefully consider the topic of hardware security when setting up and operating a charging station. Here you can find more information on what needs to be considered for safe charging operation:

Planning and preparation

Already in the planning phase, it is advisable to place great emphasis on the safety of the charging infrastructure. Commissioning and maintenance of the charging stations should only be carried out by electricians specialized in eMobility to ensure safe operation.

Safety of the charging station

In newer wallboxes, the plug used can be locked by the station or vehicle to prevent theft and for security reasons. This prevents unintentional or unauthorized unplugging. For public or semi-public charging points, it is also recommended using a charging cable that is permanently integrated into the charging station to protect against theft.

To ensure trouble-free charging, it is important to ensure that the maximum possible charging power is not exceeded. For this purpose, the wallbox, charging cable and vehicle are in constant communication: inside the hardware, signals about charging readiness and information about the highest possible charging power are exchanged. Since the weakest link in this chain determines the maximum power, an overload of the system is thus prevented.

To ensure safety during the charging process, charging systems are also designed in such a way that voltage is only applied to the plug when the contact between the charging station and the vehicle has been established without error. Additional protection is provided by the use of RCD circuit breakers (also called FI switches) and miniature circuit breakers, which interrupt the circuit in the event of fault currents, overloads or defects.

Charging at home

In addition to public or semi-public charging points, it is also possible to install a charging station for private or business electric cars in one’s own home. In this case, it should be ensured in advance that the infrastructure available there is suitable for charging such a vehicle.

In principle, it is possible to charge electric cars at conventional household sockets. For safety reasons, however, this should be avoided, as these sockets are not designed for a permanently high output, as is necessary for charging electric vehicles. Overheating or even a fire could easily occur.

In the long term, it is therefore advisable to install a wallbox with modern fuse and communication technology even for charging stations in one’s own home. This can be permanently loaded with high amounts of current and also enables significantly faster charging processes.

Security of the electricity grid: charging and load management

In view of the current sharp rise in the number of e-vehicles, good charging and load managementis an important prerequisite for making optimum use of charging points and preventing overloading of the electricity grid. It balances the current flow between the grid and the charging station and thus ensures that no load peaks or overvoltages occur.

Compliance with Measurement and Calibration Law

Since 2019, charging infrastructure for eMobility must comply with the requirements for measuring devices according to German Measurement and Calibration Law: the electricity meters integrated into charging stations must indicate the actual electricity consumption in a uniform and legally binding manner.

Charging processes can thus be tracked with kWh accuracy and the costs can be calculated in advance with consumption accuracy. The calibration law thus ensures the safety and transparency of charging processes and provides confidence and security on the part of drivers.

Regular maintenance

According to accident prevention regulations (UVV), only charging stations in perfect condition may be put into service and operated. Therefore, operators should have their charging infrastructure checked for electrical safety at regular intervals.

Detailed maintenance, including a functional test, is recommended, during which the individual components of the charging infrastructure are checked for their condition. In this way, safety risks, such as the risk of fire or accidents when handling the charging station, can be excluded. The responsibility for this lies either with trained electricians or can be contractually agreed with the service provider of the charging solution.

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