Local vs Cloud Control: Which Works Best for Smart EV Charging?
The ability to control electric vehicle (EV) chargers and, by extension, their energy consumption is essential for any size business operating EV charging infrastructure. Whether you are an EV fleet manager with hundreds of chargers or the owner of a handful of chargers located on your commercial, retail or residential property, smart EV charging allows you to optimize costs and increase charging reliability and stability.
Smart EV charging controls when and how an EV plugged into a smart charger will receive power for charging and plays a critical role in reliably charging EVs using intelligence, that ensures the safe delivery of power to EVs without compromising on delivering electricity to offices and homes.
EV charging providers have two main options for managing and optimizing EV charging: locally, or remotely via the cloud.
Local Control of EV Chargers
Local control is executed by an onsite programmable hardware controller or switch that is connected to a specified number of EV chargers as well as to the facility electric meter. Some of the limitations associated with local control are prompting operators and owners to consider transitioning to cloud-based control. These limitations include:
- Networking issues. Local controllers require wired local network connections to the EV chargers for data and control communications, adding to the complexity of installation and upkeep along with the risk of chargers’ downtime.
- Lack of real-time insights. Data available from the local control solution is limited, making it difficult to understand how the entire network is actually functioning. Without this data, the ability to monitor, control, and optimize charging operations in real-time is limited. The only way to investigate and resolve issues is with a site visit by a field technician.
- Poor driver experience. Chargers malfunctioning due to operational issues or energy constraints damage EV drivers charging experience and may perpetuate range anxiety.
- Difficulty upgrading and enhancing technology. Hardware-based solutions are difficult to upgrade when new technology advances become available either in the EVs or the charging stations.
Cloud-based Smart EV Charging
With cloud-based smart charging, EV charging stations are controlled remotely by EV charging management software that communicates over the internet with the chargers and the connected EVs. This approach enables real-time remote management of charging operations, with the ability to see issues and resolve problems remotely to deliver a better driver experience. Advanced operations management software goes a step farther, automating issue detection and resolution before problems become apparent to drivers. Cloud-based smart charging can also provide sophisticated energy management to efficiently distribute power between charging stations, vehicles, and even buildings to keep from exceeding a location’s power capacity. Advantages of the cloud approach include:
- Unlimited scalability. Cloud-based smart EV charging platforms can scale easily to accommodate business growth, fleet growth, and a growing number of new drivers and charging sites.
- Future-proof technology. With cloud-based software, the solution provider is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the platform, supporting industry protocols and standards, and adopting technology advancements and industry innovations as they become available, like vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and bidirectional charging. This is critically important in the rapidly growing EV industry.
- Insights and optimization. A cloud-based smart charging management system can capture a wealth of data streaming from the chargers and their connected EVs about the charger’s performance, charging patterns, each charging transaction, energy consumption, and the like. Dashboards for visual insights and analytics-driven reports deliver the detailed insights needed to optimize operations and driver satisfaction.
- Excellent driver experience. With rapid issue detection and resolution minimizing charger downtime, you can maximize chargers’ uptime and deliver a seamless charging experience for drivers.
The EV charging industry is changing rapidly. Cloud-based EV smart charging management systems are best able to adapt to the market’s evolving needs and address challenges such as scalability and business flexibility. Software-as-a-service usage-based pricing puts cloud solutions within reach of any size EV charging installation. Moreover, cloud-based management solutions outperform local control solutions by virtually every measure.