EV charging cables: how safe are aftermarket leads?

Exclusive investigation reveals the potential dangers of EV charging cables bought from online marketplaces...

Home charging

Although most new electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) come with leads so you can use domestic and public chargers, this wasn’t always the case. If you buy a used electric car, you might need to get a new cable so you can plug it in. Many people also want additional cables so they can leave one at home and one at work for easier charging. And even today, few manufacturers include a ‘Mode 2’ cable that allows you to plug into a three-pin domestic socket.

However, EV charging leads are expensive. For example, a three-pin cable for a Volvo XC40 Recharge from a franchised dealer costs £338. That makes it tempting to opt for a cheaper product from an online marketplace, especially if it’s only for use as a back-up or if you’re on a tight budget.

Toyota bZ4X home charging

We’ve found, though, that doing so could put you and your family in danger. That’s because online third-party sales sites, such as Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish, are not legally obliged to check the safety of the products sold through their sites in the same way that high street retailers are. That makes it easy for companies to sell sub-standard or fake products via these sites.

Research by the Government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) found that, of the electrical goods in general offered for sale online, 63% didn’t comply with UK safety standards and 23% were unsafe. Meanwhile, in research by electrical product safety charity Electrical Safety First, 14 out of the 15 electrical items it bought from online marketplaces and tested were found to be unsafe.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “The latest figures from the Government show that online shopping is a minefield, with consumers unknowingly exposed to thousands of unsafe goods.”

This doesn’t bode well for buyers of aftermarket EV charging cables, with the number of potentially dangerous products for sale rising along with the growing demand for the cars themselves. There are already 850,000 EVs on UK roads, and this number is expected to shoot up to eight million by 2030.

Red Audi A6 Avant PHEV charging socket

“As items become more popular, there will be more related products in the market, and that’s when you’ll see an increase in sub-standard goods,” claims Giuseppe Capana, product safety expert with Electrical Safety First.

Danny Morgan from smarthomecharge.co.uk, adds: “With EV chargers, people often aren’t familiar with the brands, so it’s harder for them to make informed choices when buying. It’s also difficult to tell if an online seller is reputable or how good the quality of the product is.”

To find out just how safe (or otherwise) it is to use an EV charging cable sourced online, we bought three examples with three-pin plugs – two from Amazon and one from componentauthority. com. The cables were tested electronically in a laboratory, and assessed for conformity with other safety criteria by What Car?.

The EV charging cables we tested 

EVCARS Mode 2 EV Charger 

Price £169 

From Amazon Marketplace

EV charging cables test

Oasser Mode 2 Electric Vehicle Charger 

Price £130 

From Amazon Marketplace

EV charging cables test

Portable EV Charger

Price £108 

From componentauthority.com

EV charging cables test

EV charging cables tested: what we testing for

All three cables were lab tested to see if they met the safety requirements of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which sets international standards for EV charging cable safety. The standards cover a number of areas, but we looked at the two with the most serious potential consequences: protection from electric shock and protection from overheating. 

RCD tests 

The charging cables we bought were subjected to five different RCD (Residual Current Device) tests. The RCD is one of a number of safety systems built into a three-pin cable’s control box. It measures a range of electrical fault conditions that present a risk of electric shock, and when it detects this risk, the RCD switches the power off very quickly.

It is a legal requirement for this type of charging cable to have an RCD that’s rated for EVs. If it doesn’t, it has to rely on there being adequate protection in the electrical supply system that the cable is plugged into, so it’s unlikely to be suitable for EV use. 

Plug tests 

The lab also tested each cable’s three-pin plug. All were inserted into a socket to check that the pins made good contact. Electricity flows into the charger from the socket and into the plug, but if the connection between the plug and socket is poor because the pins aren’t the correct size or shape, the power has to pass through a smaller contact area, bringing a risk that the plug will overheat.

The lab also looked at the labelling on the three-pin plugs. Those used with EVs should comply with the relevant British Standard, BS1363 EV, and that code should be stamped on them. EV-rated plugs go through extra tests on top of those for other outdoor-use plugs; they’re tested repeatedly for long periods of time, potentially 16 hours charging, eight hours off and 16 hours charging again, and this is repeated for a number of weeks. This reflects the fact that the plugs have to work at close to full capacity for long periods. 

Visual tests 

The safety accreditation labelling was checked on the cables. All electrical goods should state the name or trademark of the manufacturer and have a CE (European conformity) or UKCA (UK conformity) logo on them, including on Type 2 connectors – the end of the charging cable that goes into the car.

There should also be a data plate on the control box, explaining its technical specifications, and there should be decent instructions for its correct use. Meanwhile, the online ads for the cables should be clear and state the regulations they comply with, as well as their technical specifications.

EV charging cables must be durable and tamper-resistant, too. The screw heads in the Type 2 plugs should be covered up so they can’t be undone, and the control units should be sturdy and situated fairly close to the three-pin plug, so they’re less likely to be lying on the ground, where they could accidentally be driven over or exposed to rain. That said, they should be water-resistant, ideally being able to cope with being submerged in water but at least withstanding a heavy splash. 

EV charging cables tested: the results 

The lab tests concluded that all three of our test cables were unsafe. They posed a risk of electric shock due to their failure to meet the RCD test requirements, and they were at risk of overheating, with none meeting the relevant British Standard. Overall, the cables failed to meet the requirements specified by IEC standards, British Standards and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016. In the RCD test sequence, the Oasser cable passed one of the five tests but failed the other four, and the EVCARs lead and Portable EV Charger failed all five.

In addition to these tests, a warning label on the control box of the EVCARS cable was noted; it stated that the lead could be used only with an electrical supply that has RCD protection. That in itself points to the cable being illegal, because it doesn’t have its own adequate RCD protection.

When the charging cables were tested in the plug socket, none of the plugs fitted in well enough to prevent overheating. A weight was put on each plug to help improve the connection, but this didn’t make any of them fit properly.

In addition, all three cables are designed to run at a little more than 13 amps, but their three-pin plugs should only operate at up to 13 amps. Although that additional current isn’t likely to cause the plug’s fuse to blow, it will generate extra heat. And if it’s in use for many hours at a time, it could get hot enough to cause damage or burn someone.

When it came to the labelling on the Type 2 connectors, none of the cables had the manufacturer’s name on them, but the Oasser and EVCARS ones did show the correct CE information. There was no information at all on the Portable EV Charger’s Type 2 plug. Although all three cables had data panels on their control units, the information was badly worded and did not clearly state the safety regulations that each device adhered to.

The control unit of each cable was close enough to the plug to prevent it from lying on the ground, but none of them felt very sturdy and it wasn’t clear what degree of water resistance they had. In fact, the Portable EV Charger’s control box label stated that it must not be used in ‘rainstorm’ conditions.

While most of the screws and fixing points were covered up, the Type 2 connector on the Oasser cable had a screw head clearly visible on it, meaning it would be easy for someone to open. The EVCARS and Oasser cables did come with limited instruction leaflets, but the Portable EV Charger had nothing.

Confusingly, the EVCARS cable’s leaflet states it shouldn’t be used in the rain, but its control box says it’s IP66 rated, indicating that it’s suitable for use in the rain. The Oasser cable’s control box is marked with a higher, IP67 rating, but the written instructions say not to use it in heavy rain. 

EV charging cables tested: the results in detail

EVCARS Mode 2 EV Charger

EV chargers test

The EVCARS charger has a note on its control box stating that it should only be used with an RCD-protected electrical supply, suggesting that it has inadequate built-in shock protection. Our lab tests confirmed this: the charger failed all five of the RCD tests. Additionally, its three-pin plug did not fit properly into the correct sized socket, and the plug was not EV-rated; these shortcomings mean it has an increased risk of overheating with prolonged use. The charger has the correct safety information on it, and the IP66 markings suggest it's waterproof, but the instructions advise against use in rain.

Oasser Mode 2 Electric Vehicle Charger

EV chargers test

The Oasser charger failed four of our five RCD tests, meaning it could pose a risk of electric shock to users. It also has an exposed screw on the Type 2 plug, leaving it susceptible to being tampered with, and to water ingress. While the control box says it has an IP67 waterproof rating, the written instructions warn against use in heavy rain. The three-pin plug did not fit into our test socket correctly and it is not rated for use with EVs, so could overheat if used for many hours.

Portable EV Charger

EV chargers test

The Portable EV Charger had no brand name on the cable or the packaging it was sent in, making it impossible to know who to complain to if you had a problem with it. There were no written instructions supplied, either. The instructions on the control box are unclear and in poor English, and the fault-finding advice on the control box says to contact “your local distributor” while not providing details of who to contact.  This charger failed all five of our RCD tests, and its three-pin plug did not fit properly into the socket. Like the other chargers tested, it is rated only for general outdoor use, not with EVs.

EV charging cable test comparison table


Mode 2 EV Charger

Oasser Mode 2 Electric Vehicle Charger

Portable EV Charger

RCD Test

FAIL - failed 5/5 tests

FAIL - failed 4/5 tests

FAIL - failed 5/5 tests

Plug Test

FAIL - non-EV rated and poor fitting into socket

FAIL - non-EV rated and poor fitting into socket

FAIL - non-EV rated and poor fitting into socket


Correct CE info, but no clear safety regulations

Correct CE info, but no clear safety regulations

No clear CE info, no clear safety regulations




Not provided

Weather Resistance

IP66-rated but states don’t use in rain

IP67-rated but states don’t use in heavy rain

No IP rating





EV charging cables tested: retailers’ responses 

We informed the companies that had sold these cables about our findings and asked if they would stop selling these potentially dangerous products.

A spokesperson for Amazon said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon. We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.” The retailer said that it had removed the charging cables from sale while it investigated our findings.

Componentauthority.com didn’t offer to remove the product from sale. It simply said: “This product has been sourced from overseas factories that meet strict quality standards. Our EV charging cables are designed and manufactured to handle the specified current safely. We ensure that the cable’s capacity is well-matched to the plug and vehicle’s requirements, preventing any risk of overheating during usage. Until now, we have received minimal reports of any post-sales issues related to our EV charging cables.”

We’ve reported componentauthority.com to Trading Standards, asking it to stop sales of the Portable EV Charger.

What Car? says…

Our research shows how easy it is to buy unsafe EV charging cables online, and highlights the importance of choosing electrical products such as these with care.

It’s best to buy from reputable high street or online retailers and to avoid online marketplaces, because it’s difficult to assess the quality of products sold via these third-party websites. Don’t simply opt for the cheapest cable you can find; pick one from a brand that you’ve heard of if possible, and check the online advert and the images of the cable, plug and socket to ensure that they carry the correct safety regulation marks. This isn’t a foolproof solution, because some cables are printed with fake accreditations, so it’s really best to stick with products sold by shops that you know and trust.

We believe there needs to be stricter regulations for third-party sellers. They ought to be legally responsible for the safety of any products they sell, checking that they meet the relevant standards up front rather than retrospectively, following a complaint or investigation.

About the author

Claire Evans has been a motoring journalist for more than 30 years, and has been What Car?'s consumer editor since 2016. Before joining What Car?, Claire was the motoring editor for Which?, where she specialised in undertaking investigations, writing features and reviewing cars. She has overseen a wide range of automotive-related products tests, including tests of child seats, car accessories and tyres.

At What Car? Claire investigates many aspects of EV ownership, including rating the best home EV chargers, and the varying costs of using public EV chargers supplied by electric car charging networks

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