What is smart charging for electric cars?

What is smart charging for electric cars?

What exactly does smart charging mean? When is the charging process described as smart? And how relevant is the topic for electric cars? You can find out all this in this article.

A good starting point to explain smart charging is to compare "smart charging" and "normal charging". In "normal charging," the electric car is simply plugged into a charging station and charged at maximum power until the vehicle battery reaches 100 percent SoC (fully charged). The charging process is then stopped automatically. With "smart charging," on the other hand, the charging of the electric car is controlled and coordinated by an automated computer system, which makes charging processes much more efficient.

Smart charging for electric cars offers the following benefits in this regard:

  • Cost savings: Smart charging can save costs first and foremost, because the cost of charging the electric car can be controlled. With smart charging, charging can take place when electricity is cheap. This means that dynamic electricity prices and usage-based tariffs can be mitigated.
  • Energy efficiency: With the help of smart charging, energy storage and renewable energy sources can also be integrated into the charging process, making one less dependent on the main power grid. This has the advantage of making one's own electromobility even more economical and environmentally friendly.

For which areas is smart charging relevant?

Smart charging can be applied in many use cases. For example, for large and complex charging infrastructure, e.g. for fleet depots, parking lots for employees or residential properties, but also for individual charging stations in private households.

Electric vehicle fleet

Companies looking to electrify their vehicle fleet face a number of challenges. Possibly the most challenging question to ask is this: "How can you charge many vehicles simultaneously at one location?" And it is not unwarranted, as utilities limit the amount of electricity available at a site. As the number of charging infrastructure grows, there may not be enough electricity capacity to power the site, including the electric vehicle fleet. Building more transformers and power lines is a very costly project, so implementing a smart charging solution in return makes more sense not only from a financial perspective, but also from an environmental one.

A smart charging solution helps to balance the company site's electricity needs with the grid supply, keeping energy costs as low as possible and ensuring that the electric cars receive the optimal energy for their journeys in order to keep to their routes and schedules.

Charging by customers and employees

Employees spend an average of 8 hours or more at work - an ideal time to charge the electric car. In general, charging electric cars at the workplace is an important aspect for companies, because cost-effective charging creates an incentive for employees and contributes to the reduction of CO2.

Without smart charging management, a lot of electricity is consumed in the morning when all employees come to work, which puts additional strain on the power grid. Smart charging uses an intelligent charging algorithm to control charging processes in such a way that peak loads on the power grid are avoided and the charging of the electric car is distributed over the period in which the electric car is idle.

Residential properties

Smart charging also finds its application in the real estate sector. An optimal time window to charge the electric car is overnight, when residents are home from work. Intelligent charging management can help to distribute the charging processes optimally over this period, so that not all electric cars are charged at the same time.

How does smart charging work?

Smart charging creates a connection between electric cars, charging stations, energy providers and users. When the vehicle charges at the charging station, it sends important information about the charging process, such as charge level, charging power and battery health via WLAN to a platform that can be used to manage and control the electric fleet. Even more information can be sent to this platform so that charging can be managed even better, such as the local capacity of the power grid or the power consumption at the charging location.

Our intelligent charging management software IO-ELON analyzes building, energy, vehicle and weather data and displays it graphically in real time. This provides an intuitive overview of the charging progress of the e-fleet. Based on the collected data, an optimal driving and charging schedule for the next 24 hours is then calculated.

With the help of smart charging, you can control over which period and with how much energy your vehicle plugged into the charging station should be charged.

The following aspects make charging of electric cars intelligent

Monitoring of charging processes

All collected data of the vehicles and the charging stations can be viewed transparently via a dashboard. The special feature of the front end of our charging management software is that the availability, usage and health of the vehicles can be viewed. Thus, one keeps track of the charging infrastructure and the availability of the vehicles is ensured. Likewise, one can view the historical peak performance of the charging infrastructure.

Dynamic load management

With dynamic load management, the current power at the grid connection is measured and the available total charging power is adjusted to the power consumption. If the power consumption in the building decreases, more power is available to charge the e-fleet. Intelligent charging management thus takes into account other power consumption at the site during the charging process, allowing the building connection to be better utilized.

PV charging

A PV system including solar forecasting can easily be added to a charging management system. Our charging management software IO-ELON uses weather data to forecast the amount of solar output. The charging of the e-fleet can be advanced to maximize the self-consumption of the PV system. This reduces the electricity costs for charging the vehicles and prevents the solar power produced in-house from being fed into the grid at a poor rate.

Peakshaving

Load peaks can be quite expensive. By automatically and predictively shifting charging processes, peak loads are prevented and the most constant possible load profile at the grid connection is ensured. IO-ELON provides knowledge about the exact battery status of the e-vehicles and the charging time required accordingly. In combination with the planned vehicle usage and availability as well as the charging power, peak shaving for e-fleets is implemented as effectively as possible without reducing the availability of the vehicles.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

V2G is a concept of bidirectional charging, charging in both directions. If an electric car is equipped with bidirectional charging capability, it can act as an energy storage device and pass stored energy to other electrical devices. V2G technology allows electricity from the vehicle's battery to be released back into the public power grid. So when the power grid has bottlenecks, V2G can relieve them.


If you have more questions about smart charging or want to learn more about our charge management software, please contact us or send us an email to info@iodynamics.de. We look forward to hearing from you and will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Marie Hermsdorf
Marie Hermsdorf

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