In the Electric Nation project, smart chargers are being used, but what is a smart charger and what are the benefits?
A smart charger is essentially a charge point which is connected to the internet. There are a number of advantages of such devices:
Insight into charging data: you can view the details of your charging history remotely e.g. in a web portal or an app.
Reimbursement of energy costs: if you’re using your car for business use, you can easily claim back the costs for ‘refuelling’ at home from your company.
Cheaper, greener charging: charging can be controlled remotely, e.g. when electricity is cheaper or when more renewable energy is being produced.
Load management: chargers can be controlled dynamically to optimise charging speed based on the (instantaneous) available capacity in the local power supply.
Fast support: if you have an issue with a charge point, this can usually be diagnosed and often fixed remotely, without having to wait for a service engineer to visit the charge point and hoping that the issue can be fixed first time.
Software updates: you can benefit from the latest functionality of the charge point as software updates can be carried out ‘over the air’, just like with your smart phone.
Access control: potentially you can also see the charging activity of different users or even limit access to your charge point to certain individuals.
In the Electric Nation project, the smart chargers allow the electricity grid operator, Western Power Distribution, to manage charging if the local electricity grid in a particular neighbourhood is getting close to capacity, usually in the early evening when people come home from work.
Alfen is one of the suppliers of the charge points in the Electric Nation project. It was one of the first EV charge point manufacturers to support such smart charging, where charging speeds can be controlled dynamically, and has thus been an obvious partner for a number of smart charging projects in different countries.
Projects which Alfen has been involved in include ramping down charging speeds on public chargers between 5pm and 7pm as standard, as well as linking charging speeds to the availability of (locally-generated) renewable energy.
A key lesson learned from Alfen’s projects was that there was very broad acceptance amongst drivers of having their charging transactions delayed or slowed. They did, however, find it important that they have the option to override such reduced charging speeds, even if in reality this option was very rarely used. They also found it useful to have feedback on their charging transactions, e.g. how much money or CO2 emissions they had saved.
The Eve Mini is the latest addition to the complete line of Alfen EV charge points. The Eve Mini has a single socket or tethered cable and is suited for any electric car thanks to its wide range of charging capabilities including charging capacities from 3.7kW up to 22kW.
Smart technology enables the Eve Mini to support the settlement of charging costs whilst ensuring your car is charged at optimal speed. The housing of the Eve Mini is extremely robust, compact and has a modern design with a full colour LED display. This makes the Eve Mini the smart choice for both home and the workplace.
Founded in 1937, Alfen is also a market leader in other smart grid solutions including large-scale battery storage, transformer substations and substation automation. Alfen is dedicated to building the electricity grid of the future: reliable, sustainable and innovative.
We hope that participants in the Electric Nation project will also have a positive experience of using smart chargers as we help shape an efficient and reliable electricity grid for the future.