Since the clean car discount came into effect in 2021, New Zealand has seen a huge increase in registrations for electric vehicles. According to the Ministry of Transport, in the nine months since the clean car discount began, there were more than 14,000 EV registrations - an increase of almost 190% compared with the same period in 2021.
Whatever the reason you’re switching to electric, it’s important to consider a smart EV charger for your daily use. It’s a tool that presents many benefits both to EV drivers and to New Zealand’s electricity sector as a solution to shift large energy loads that are being created by rapid EV uptake.
What is a smart EV charger?
A smart EV charger is a charging device with an internet connection allowing capabilities such as remote configuration and monitoring. In contrast, a ‘dumb’ EV charger is a more primitive solution - often in the form of a portable wall plug - and does little more than connect a car to a power supply.
While dumb chargers are often a cheaper option, unfortunately, they do not provide important benefits such as additional safety features, integration with renewable energy sources (like home solar), or automated control to avoid shifting peaks of energy demand. For an additional cost, a smart EV charger can purchased, installed, and provide a range of future-proof features that better support a driver’s goals when investing in an electric car.
How can smart EV charging benefit me?
1) A smart EV charger can dynamically protect your property from electrical overload.
As the capacity of EV batteries continues to increase, AC fast charging methods are gaining popularity in the home environment. These can help EVs charge more quickly, but do so by drawing significant power from your property’s electrical supply.
A typical New Zealand or Australian home has a 63 Amp single-phase connection from the street. If a fast 7.4kW AC charger is installed for home charging use, it will allow up to 32 amps of electricity to be supplied to an EV. That’s about half of all the household’s capacity! This high power demand creates electricity supply constraints within standalone, multi-dwelling & high-density residential homes. Some properties will not have sufficient power available at certain times of the day to cope with these loads, especially if there are other power-hungry appliances such as inductive cookers, heat pumps, water heaters, or spa pools running in tandem.
Instead of using a slower charging method, Evnex smart EV chargers incorporate home overload protection features that monitor your home’s main power draw and dynamically adjust your rate of charge. This helps ensure the fastest rate of charge to your vehicle without the risk of it blowing a fuse or potentially damaging your home’s wiring.
2) Smart EV chargers will help reduce the risks of blackouts and higher electricity costs.
The electricity demand from home charging becomes significant when considered at a regional level. When combining the energy consumption of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of EVs charging at the same time, it’s worth considering how growing electric fleets could cause blackouts and grid failures to occur in the future.
For example, if it’s a cold winters night and the grid is already strained from the demand of heating appliances, the additional load from a large number of EV drivers charging right after returning from work could cause a grid emergency, resulting in blackouts.
One solution to tackle this pending issue is to upgrade and reinforce our electricity infrastructure. However, this is a costly, resource-intensive approach and in some cases can be avoided by reducing the peak demands of the network. With the right implementation, smart charging solutions can deliver the flexibility and control options electricity distributors need to alleviate increased strain on the grid by shifting EV charging away from times of high demand.
An EV may be parked for as long as 12 hours overnight until the next morning’s commute. Few need longer than 10 hours to fully charge with a dedicated 7.4kW charger, and far less if you’re not discharging your battery fully each day. This creates a large window of time that this charging can take place.
Smart charging technology can harness this flexibility by allowing (with the consent of EV drivers) for grid operators to shift charging demand away from peak times and spread the demand over this 12-hour window. It’s a benefit for grid operators and EV owners to avoid increased electricity costs and premature infrastructure upgrades.
If you woke up with your car ready to go, would you care at what hour it charged?
3) Smart EV chargers connect drivers with cheaper electricity.
A common feature available through many smart EV chargers is the ability to schedule a charging session via a mobile app during less expensive energy periods. In some cases, this could save you as much as 50% off the price of peak energy rates.
This is currently achieved by researching your electricity retailer’s tariffs to identify when the cheapest rates are offered and scheduling your charging sessions to match.
However, this process is becoming automated and available for some EV owners with smart EV chargers already. Local energy retailer Genesis is concluding a smart charging trial in collaboration with Evnex that connects smart chargers to Genesis’s Energy IQ app; enabling customers to automate their charging schedule to coincide with the most cost-effective times to charge.
Setting a charging schedule is a great first step, both for the grid, and your wallet. However, in the future smart EV chargers will optimise your charging session more dynamically. As renewable generation output varies over the day, they will intelligently adjust your charging to take advantage of real-time electricity pricing.
4) Smart charging helps you run your EV from cleaner energy sources.
If you’re entering the EV space to help lower your carbon emissions, smart charging technology is also an effective tool to help.
As more research is conducted about the sustainability of EVs vs petrol vehicles, it’s clear that the environmental impact of your EV over its lifetime is strongly linked with the cleanliness of the energy sources used to power it.
Smart features like export diversion help drivers harness sustainable energy like home solar to autonomously charge their EV when solar energy is available instead of having the energy exported to the grid.
The same technology that allows drivers to match charging times with cheaper electricity rates can also double for selecting times when the grid is delivering the highest percentage of renewable energy sources. For example, Genesis’s previously mentioned Energy IQ app can also assist with scheduling emission-friendly times to charge.
5) Smart EV chargers offer control and security.
Lastly, for smart chargers that are located in publicly accessible spaces, security and convenience can be a high priority. Charging network operators, businesses, or EV owners can remotely monitor their charging costs, carbon savings, and charger status while easily allowing or restricting access to a given charge point.
The future of Electric vehicle charging
Innovations in smart EV charging technology are already helping to reduce the strain on our grid and lower the environmental impact of charging.
At Evnex, we’re working hard to make sure that our smart EV chargers improve with age. We’re continuing to develop new features and industry partnerships to bring value to our customers and the environment, now and in the future. Will you join us on your EV charging journey?