News from EVCC

The latest news from EVCC

Guest blog: Home charging – Fue-l for thought

General Posted: 9 August, 2021. Written by Scott Edy, Virta Global

On average, most charging will be done at work and/or at home. Sure, there’ll be other places, on the road (when travelling) like motorway service stations and where you might go shopping. You won’t plug-in with the goal to get back up to 100% either (you might not plugin at all!). But that's another important subject for another time. It's all about perspective. 


For those fortunate enough to be able to charge on their property by having their very own charging point installed, they still have a lot to think about. There are lots of articles on the dos and don’ts for having EV home charging equipment installed that are not considered. In fact, this is the case in general whether it be home, public, work, whatever really.  


So, what really is home charging? Well, what it isn’t is another socket or plug like you might power your lawnmower or jet wash from. This is fuelling your vehicle. You literally have your own fuel station. Cheaper and easier than a “wet fuel station” (petrol, diesel, etc.) to have, but still as “Life critical” to at least how you live your life and likely have been for some years.  


Not too long ago and yes, some still do exist, petrol stations went all out from a service perspective. A person would greet you on the forecourt, ask what fuel you would like then go ahead and pump it for you. They would take your payment and you’d be on your merry way. The odd few would go as far as washing your windscreen, some changing a wiper blade or even a light bulb. Refuelling and making sure your car ran at its general best. Something more serious, you might call a mechanic. Better yet, the person that just fuelled your car has a garage next door.  


Ok, where am I going with this? Your new home fuelling service, well, needs to be just that, a service.  

Sky television subscription. You pay a monthly price for some hardware to be installed. Enough channels to fuel anyone's imagination and 24 hours a day customer services. Just in case you need to change something, update, or advise of a problem. But rest assured, it’s likely they know there is a problem with

your box before you do, because they monitor it.  


While it isn’t easy today to go the same way with your vehicle charging point, you should consider what might happen tomorrow. The charger you liked the look of but thought “that’s a bit expensive”, that’s probably the one to go for. Energy companies, vehicle providers, even the manufacturers are manoeuvring themselves into a complete delivery of services with your vehicle, including fuelling it.                            


Having a smart charger allows you to take advantage of that.  


Like your smart phone, changing the network from EE to Vodafone, 3 to Tesco, there are reasons why you do it: save money, seamless payment options, rewards, etc.  


Charles Dunstone took this service approach when he started Carphone Warehouse. He went as far as giving you a tablet or laptop with your new smartphone. Hand in hand, right?  


Surely by now I have you thinking. “So, if my energy provider can see my charger and my charger can see them and their variable tariffs.” Yep, you got it! But at the same time these providers will make sure your charger is working, serviceable, updated and could make suggestions on how you can best run your vehicle (maybe a bit much but whatever). Better yet, they might even suggest the supermarket that gives you more while you shop and charge. Not forgetting best price energy unit costs for charging your car but in general powering your house while making sure it operates in a safe manner with regards to your total power load.  


Right, let’s cut the fluffy stuff for a minute. Where do we stand today? Without a mass of people shouting for their energy provider/vehicle lease/insurance/etc to provide you a charger to install, you are going to have to put your hand in your pocket and buy it. Of course, you could finance it in some way. (Some clever installers will do this too. “Customer retention services” anyone!?). We had to buy our own satellite decoder boxes once upon a time. Bush, Grundig, Thompson.  Then insert the service card! 


So, what does it need to be capable of? Running on its own two feet. Ideally with a SIM card rather than your own home broadband (but ask your installer about CAT5 in the power cable. Properly future proofing!). The ability to run agnostically connecting several service providers. If you leave for another energy provider for example, you want to know you can easily connect to a new provider, as well as other services. 


Multiple points of interaction for start/stop of the charge session is also a bonus. Maybe not RFID (contactless) so much but certainly an online portal of some kind. Whether that’s a smartphone and/or tablet application. A web page/portal as well as your smart home assistant. We’ll get to a point where you’ll seldom use it.  


My own home unit is milled from a block of aluminium, has a colour touch screen and gives me PIN, QR Code, RFID as well as being accessible via its onboard back office (“AI” learning that sees when I typically come n’ go and charges at variable kW rates). It also has a mobile network (GSM) SIM connecting it to charging platform application that allows me to use public charging points via roaming. Not to mention alternative hardware links and building energy management on board.  


The option to connect other hardware or at least be able to see the buildings incoming electricity supply and what is being used in real time. As well as other hardware such as energy storage, energy generation such as Solar PV even heat pumps is another thing to seriously consider. These things will be all part of your household EPC or similar at some point. And quite rightly! 


What if I told you, you can already do this, connect to platforms, subscriptions and other services such as maintenance with some washing machine manufacturers? Coffee machines, and so on. 


But what do they get out of it? Good question, nothing comes for free, right?! But mostly, the same as the social network you use, data! (that’s not to say the service should be financially free). By connecting they also keep you sweet by trying to make sure you’re getting the best experience. “we’ve just charged your car at a super low unit rate. No issues to report” “it will be cold tonight; your heat pump will be running 16% up so your car will charge a little slower while keeping to your minimum charge buffer”. Look, I think you get it now. It’s all about the bigger picture. 


In short, be smart! Or it could be the dumbest thing you do!! 


There is no doubt you have questions like, “but what about” and “I’ll never need that,” and there will be things I have missed here but nothing you haven’t likely taken from those other articles I mentioned. Feel free to reach out though.


Scott Edy, UK & IRE BDM for Virta Global.