What type of networks are in place in Brussels?

The 230 V network represents 88 % of the cable lengths.  These cables have 3 wires for the 3 phases. You get 230 V single-phase power by connecting across two phases.

The 400 V network represents 12 % of the total.  This network has 4 wires for the 3 phases and one wire for the neutral conductor. You get 230 V single-phase power by connecting between one of the 3 phases and the neutral conductor.  400 V power is available between two phases.

How to install a quick or semi-quick charging point on a 230 V network?

In all cases, a semi-quick or quick charging point requires a three-phase 400 V connection with a neutral conductor. 

If you are connected to a 230 V network, you can always charge your vehicle at these higher current ratings simply by having an autotransformer fitted. However, to do so you need to have three-phase 230 V power. In some cases, Sibelga will therefore need to adapt your installation to switch it from single-phase 230 V to three-phase 230 V power.

What is an autotransformer?

An autotransformer is an electrical piece of equipment that enables you to raise or reduce the voltage of an electrical power circuit. This enables you to go from a 3 X 230 V circuit without a neutral conductor to a 3 X 400 V circuit with a neutral conductor in your home.

The benefit of an autotransformer is that it is cheaper and smaller than a conventional transformer although it delivers a considerably lower yield.

How much does it cost? Where do I find one? Who handles the installation?

Please raise all your questions regarding the autotransformer with a qualified electrical engineer or your charging point installation company. They will help you get one and handle the installation for you. 

Why is the Brussels network largely 230 V?

230 V networks are not specific to the Brussels region. They are in place in all regions around the country. They are a legacy from the past.  In the early 20th century, with the arrival of the electrical power networks supplying three-phase alternating current, different technology choices were made. As such, Belgium went with 230 V whereas France decided on 400 V.

Each type of network has its benefits and drawbacks.  At the time, these choices were made for technical, economic and even geographical reasons.

  • The 400V network has the benefit that it generates less energy leakage due to cable heating for the same quantity of energy carried.
  • On the other hand, a century ago copper and aluminium prices were such that the gains effected by cutting back on one wire (the neutral conductor) on the 230 V networks were considerable. 

Flanders and Wallonia have decided, for perfectly valid economic reasons, to progressively switch their 230V networks into 400V networks in the rural areas, as the cable lengths that need to be laid in these areas are significant, and - consequently - so is the energy leakage. The urban areas are to keep their 230 V networks.

In Brussels, where the network is dense and distances are short, the level of power leakage is very low. Which in turn does not warrant the kind of investment involved in such a major switchover operation, all the more so as customers’ indoor installations would need to be adapted as well.

As such, the fact that the vast majority of the Brussels networks are 230V and the fact that they will continue to remain 230 V for the foreseeable future is a decision that is based on historical grounds and sound economic reasons.