The high-voltage technology in electric vehicles is an essential component of the drive train. The energy stored in the batteries is passed on to the electric motor. This allows the vehicle to drive with high efficiency and performance. However, the high-voltage technology in electric vehicles also poses a potential hazard to the occupants and the technicians who work on the vehicles.
In the future, the voltage level of the energy storage devices in hybrid and electric vehicles is expected to double. Technologies with operating voltages of up to 1,000 V are already being used in some commercial vehicles today. However, voltage values below 60 V direct voltage (DC) and 30 V alternating voltage (AC) are considered harmless with regard to an electrical hazard to human health or life. Since the voltages used in the high-voltage systems of electric vehicles are far above these safe limits, extensive risk analyzes have been carried out in recent years. The EU has therefore issued guidelines that oblige manufacturers to issue operating and work instructions in order to rule out hazards from electrical energy during the use, manufacture, development, maintenance and repair of high-voltage systems as far as possible. This is to ensure that there is an acceptable residual risk that is approximately comparable to the risk of using an intact household appliance.
For this reason there are extensive safety regulations that must be followed by manufacturers and service providers to ensure that all necessary protective measures are taken both during operation and during maintenance and repair of the vehicle. These safety measures include, for example, the labeling of high-voltage components, the use of special tools and protective equipment, and the training of technicians and rescue workers in handling high-voltage technology. Overall, the high-voltage technology in electric vehicles is an important part of electromobility and does not represent an insurmountable hurdle as long as all the necessary safety precautions are taken.
The danger when using high-voltage systems in electric vehicles arises mainly from the possibility of blood flow through the body, which can result from contact with high-voltage components or lines. Another risk is the possibility of arcing, which can occur if there is a short circuit or damage to the high-voltage components.
In addition to these direct hazards, electromagnetic interference and static electricity can also present potential hazards. In addition, improper electrical work on the vehicle by insufficiently qualified personnel and technical defects in the vehicle can lead to other avoidable hazards. It is therefore important that vehicle manufacturers and service providers provide specific training for employees to ensure they have all the necessary knowledge and skills to safely handle high voltage systems. In addition, clear operating and safety instructions for the use, maintenance and repair of high-voltage systems must be drawn up in order to minimize the risk of accidents.
The high-voltage battery is a central component of electric vehicles and stores the energy required by the motor to move the vehicle. The battery consists of several cells that are connected in series and can have a total voltage of several hundred volts. The maintenance/service connector and the newer service switches break the circuit between the modules of the high-voltage battery. This de-energizes the entire high-voltage system, making it possible to work safely on the high-voltage battery without being exposed to potentially dangerous voltage. The circuit is separated by interrupting the control current to the contactors in the high-voltage battery so that there is no voltage at the external battery terminals. This is an important safety mechanism that is essential when servicing and repairing high-voltage batteries and high-voltage systems to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.
It is important to note that handling the high voltage battery and HV service connectors requires special knowledge and experience as the high voltages and currents present a potential hazard. The battery and HV service plugs must also be inspected regularly, according to the maintenance and safety instructions set by the manufacturer, to ensure that they are functioning properly and do not pose any potential hazards. Overall, the maintenance and repair of high-voltage batteries and HV service plugs is an important aspect of electromobility that requires special attention to minimize the risk of accidents and damage.
According to international standards, high-voltage cables and wires in the high-voltage wiring harness must have an orange sheath. This is to distinguish them from other wiring and wiring in the vehicle and clearly indicate to technicians and emergency responders that they are high-voltage components that can be potentially dangerous. The orange sheathing is an important safety factor that enables high-voltage cables and wires to be handled safely.