While the electric vehicle industry was created in part to reduce the impact on energy sources, as time goes on this goal has become even more possible with the evolution of smart charging.
Smart charging — essentially, optimizing energy usage while charging electric vehicles — relies on digital communication with the EV itself, the charging station and the energy supplier. An EV charger with smart charging functionality comes with a higher price tag than a traditional charger, but for many drivers the benefits outweigh this up-front cost.
Not only does smart charging allow drivers to stay in control of the charging process, it can help reduce their electricity bills by enabling more informed decisions on when and how to charge.
Smart vs. Traditional Charging
To understand exactly how smart charging works, it’s helpful to think about traditional charging. When you plug in a cell phone, for example, the phone indicates its charge level, but the phone is not communicating with the power grid and the charging implement to adapt its power usage. It draws a steady amount of power until the phone is fully charged.
EVs contain large batteries that require frequent charging for frequent use. If drivers relied exclusively on traditional charging, there would be a significant toll on the power grid at peak times, as well as a decrease in cost effectiveness. Smart charging optimizes energy consumption based on power grid congestion and power usage peaks, giving EV drivers control over how and when electricity is used.
Benefits of Smart Charging
Consider the following benefits of smart charging at home:
The ability to choose the charge time and amount leads to control over the total cost of owning an EV. After determining how often you charge your vehicle, how much energy you consume, and at which times, you can make more informed decisions about when and how to charge. Many utility providers offer cheaper off-peak prices at times when electricity demand is lower, such as at night or during the weekend. Charging during these times offers considerable savings in the long run.
Improved Battery Life
Leaving a car plugged into a traditional charger longer than necessary can be detrimental to its long-term battery health. Like all lithium-ion batteries, EV batteries age with every charge-discharge cycle, and lose some of their capacity over time. By setting a start time and maximum charge level, smart charging can ensure your EV is charged in a way that maximizes its battery lifespan.
Thanks to a built-in internet connection, smart charging stations often can be updated remotely, making it easy to add new features or improve existing ones after your initial purchase. Having access to the latest security patches can also safeguard privacy and data.
Dynamic Load Balancing
A smart charger continuously monitors the power load on the circuit and intelligently distributes the available capacity to avoid overloads. This allows an EV to charge at home without tripping circuit breakers, even if other power-intensive appliances are turned on. It also can allow you to keep using your existing meter box and electrical system without having to upgrade to more powerful versions.