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What is a Smart EV Charger?

March 12, 2024

What is a (home) EV charger?

The chargers we use for laptops, mobile phones and most other battery power devices all have something in common. They plug into a wall socket that provides AC power and convert it to DC power which they supply to the battery.

Even though we also call a home EV charger a “charger”, it doesn’t do any power conversion, AC power goes into the home EV charger and it supplies AC power to the car.

Smart EV chargers are more like smart plugs, they control the power supply, enable remote control and automation.

Onboard chargers inside of the car convert the power from AC to DC and manage the flow to the battery.

Basic chargers

The simplest EV chargers (like mobile chargers) plug into a regular wall socket on one end and the EV on the other. They always supply power when turned on and don’t offer any smart controls or connectivity.

Smart chargers

Smart charger capabilities vary between each make and model, some features you can expect to find include:

  • Smartphone app: for configuration and control of the charger. This may extend to all of the charger features.
  • Charging speed control: set the rate at which power is supplied to the car.
  • Schedule charging: set start and stop times for charging each day.
  • Reporting:  on energy consumption either via an app or on screen display.
  • OCPP support: allowing integration with third-party apps such as Charge HQ or other providers. These apps remotely control your charger to optimise based on solar production, and your energy tariffs, or avoid periods of peak load on the energy grid.
  • Load balancing: adjusts EV charging speeds in response to other energy use in the home to ensure the total home load does not exceed the capacity of the grid connection, or cause demand charges.
  • Solar tracking: monitors excess home solar production and adjusts EV charging to match it.
  • Access control: secure access to your charger via an RFID card or a smartphone app to control who can use your charger.
  • Internet Connectivity: via WiFi, Bluetooth or wired connection.

Vehicle controls

Most EVs provide some of the controls offered by smart chargers. They often include:

  • Charge scheduling
  • Reporting on power usage
  • Smartphone app for remote control
  • Charging speed control