New research highlights recommendations to improve installation of home EV chargers

Research from RiDC (Research Institute for Disabled Consumers) which looks at home charging for electric vehicles highlights a lack of accessibility for disabled people and puts forward recommendations to improve installation of EV chargers.

The report reveals a lack of awareness amongst installation engineers of the specific access needs of disabled motorists, including the appropriate charger models and the positioning of them, resulting in access issues and remedial works when equipment is installed in the wrong location. 

Disabled motorists taking part in the research also experienced difficulty in identifying suitable charging equipment, installers and in comparing prices. Information was confusing and difficult to access. 

The report calls for clear standards and codes of practice and makes six recommendations to ensure that both the product and installation of home chargers are accessible and meet the needs of all motorists, including those with disabilities and older people. 

Main recommendations

  1. Installers and equipment suppliers’ code of practice and staff training should specifically address the needs of disabled and older users  
  2. More detailed consumer information and guidance should be made available to assist motorists when choosing and installing equipment to make sure it meets their needs 
  3. All providers of consumer information should ensure their websites and apps meet basic accessibility standards 
  4. Installers should offer pre-installation customer visits to assess motorists’ needs 
  5. Best practice for the installation of accessible home charging units should be included in the new BSI standard that has been developed for public electric vehicle charging 
  6. More research is needed to understand and improve the user experience of disabled motorists 

The research study is part of a broader RiDC research programme investigating whether disabled and older consumers can easily access and use low carbon energy products and services. The research programme is funded by the Ofgem Energy Redress Scheme (managed by Energy Saving Trust) and is being led by RiDC and delivered in partnership with Energy Systems Catapult (Living Lab). 

Kate (a pseudonym) is a wheelchair user and took part in the research. She would have preferred the positioning of the charger to be more accessible to her needs, but the installation engineer only talked to her carer rather than her, she says: “I wasn’t given a great choice about where it could go, which I get around as I have a full-time carer. But [my car is] at the end of a concrete drive and there’s a bit of a drop, and I can’t get to it as I’m in a wheelchair, so I can’t charge the car myself. [It] isn’t an inconvenience as I have someone who can do it for me, but I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have a carer.” 

The full report is published alongside a guide to home charging, which covers the types of chargers, costs and the grants and funding available, as well as things to consider when arranging and undergoing installation. 

Gordon McCullough, CEO at RiDC said: “The home electric vehicle charging market is relatively new, but it is vital that no one is left behind as it grows over the coming years. There are 14 million disabled people in the UK and with an aging population, the number of people with additional needs will only increase. Electric vehicles are an important source of independence and connection for many disabled and older people. It is vital that this technology is accessible to all.”  

Graham Ayling, Senior Project Manager of the Energy Redress Scheme added: “Projects like this help to ensure that people living with disabilities have access to low carbon energy products and services like electric vehicles – everyone needs the opportunity to share the benefits of a just transition to a net zero future.” 

This report follows earlier research work by RiDC into the accessibility of public electric vehicle charging points, funded by Motability, which identified significant accessibility failings of both equipment and supporting infrastructure. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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