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Amendment number 1 to BS 7671:2018+A1

Amendment 1 of BS 7671:2018 was published at the beginning of February this year and may be implemented immediately. The amendment concerns Section 722 of BS 7671:2018 (electric vehicle charging installations). In this article, we give a brief overview of some of the main changes to Section 722.

Protection against electric shock

Regulation 722.411.4.1 concerning the use of protective multiple earthing (PME) supply has been redrafted. Indent (iii) has been fully revised. In addition, Regulation 722.411.4.1 now includes an additional indent (iv) to cover single-phase installations and a further additional indent (v) has been added. Regulation 722.411.4.1 does not allow PME to be used to supply an electric vehicle (EV) charging point located outdoors (or that might be used to charge a vehicle located outdoors) unless you meet (i) or (ii) or (iii) or (iv) or (v) of 722.411.4.1.

A summary of the requirements of the indents to Regulation 722.411.4.1 is as follows.

Regulation 722.411.4.1(i) refers to a situation where a connecting point is supplied from a three-phase installation used to supply loads other than charging points and where the load is sufficiently well balanced.

Regulation 722.411.4.1(ii) requires a very low resistance earth electrode to mitigate the effects of an open-circuit (PEN) conductor fault on the supply.

Regulation 722.411.4.1 (iii) has been revised and refers to a voltage monitoring device (or functionality within the charging equipment) that detects PEN conductor failure. The informative Annex to Section 722 describes that suitable arrangements include measurement of the voltage between either:

   a. the circuit protective conductor (CPC) and a suitable measurement earth electrode, or
   b. the CPC and a reference point derived from the line conductors of a three-phase system provided that suitable precautions are also taken to disconnect the device when the supply to one or more of the line conductors is interrupted.

Regulation 722.411.4.1 now includes an additional new indent (iv) to cover protection by a device (or functionality within the charging equipment) for a single-phase installation.

Finally, Regulation 722.411.4.1 includes an additional new indent (v), which allows protection against electric shock to be provided by the use of an alternative device to those in (iii) or (iv), providing that it does not result in a lesser degree of safety than using (iii) or (iv). The indent states that equivalent means of functionality could be included within the charging equipment.

The touch voltage threshold of 70 V mentioned in Regulation 722.411.4.1 is on the basis that Table 2c (ventricular fibrillation for alternating current 50/60 Hz) of IEC 60479-5{ed1.0} gives a value of 71 V for both-hands-to-feet, in water-wet conditions with medium contact area (12.5 cm2).

Regulation 722.411.4.1 includes some important notes. Note 5 explains that BS 7671 does not deal with the safety requirements for the construction of electrical equipment. Where equipment to be used is not covered by a British or Harmonized Standard, the electrical installation designer should establish that the manufacturer of the equipment has ensured that the equipment satisfies the safety objectives of the relevant directive(s).

Note 6 states that creating a TT earthing system for charging equipment or for the whole installation, as an alternative to using a PME earthing facility with one of methods (i) to (v) above, may not be an appropriate solution, due to the inability to provide sufficient separation from buried metalwork connected to the supply PEN conductor.

What is protective multiple earthing (PME)?

The Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (ESQCR) (as amended) permit the distributor to combine neutral and protective functions in a single conductor, provided that (in addition to the neutral to Earth connection at the supply transformer) there are one or more other connections with Earth. The supply neutral may then be used to connect the CPCs of the customer’s installation with Earth if the customer’s installation meets the requirements of BS 7671.

PME has been almost universally adopted by distributors in the UK as an effective and reliable method of providing their customers with an earth connection. Such a supply system is described in BS 7671 as TN-C-S. However, whilst a PME terminal provides an effective and reliable facility for the majority of installations, under certain supply system fault conditions (external to the installation), a potential can develop between the conductive parts connected to the PME earth terminal and the general mass of Earth.

The potential difference between true Earth and the PME earth terminal is of importance when:

   a. body contact resistance is low (little clothing, damp/wet conditions), and/or
   b. there is relatively good contact with true Earth. 

Contact with Earth is always possible outside a building and, if exposed-conductive-parts and/or extraneous-conductive-parts connected to the PME earth terminal are accessible outside the building, people may be subjected to a voltage difference appearing between these parts and Earth.

Residual current device (RCD) protection

The requirements for RCD protection have been redrafted. The Regulation now contains further requirements for Type B and Type A or Type F RCDs, to take account of DC fault current, as follows (extract below):

“Except where provided by the EV charging equipment, protection against DC fault currents shall be provided by:

(i) an RCD Type B, or

(ii) an RCD Type A or Type F in conjunction with a residual direct current detecting device (RDC-DD) complying with BS IEC 62955 as appropriate to the nature of the residual and superimposed currents and recommendation of the manufacturer of the charging equipment.”

ANNEX A722 (Informative)

Annex A722 has been redrafted. This Annex now includes guidance on the voltage monitoring device described in Regulation 722.411.4.1 (iii). In addition, the Annex now includes an example arrangement of a separated system as described in Regulation 722.413. 

Conclusion

It is important to note that this article gives only a very brief overview of some of the changes in the Amendment to BS 7671:2018. For more information, please refer to BS 7671:2018, Amendment 1:2020.