Meeting the need to deliver readily available energy for EV charging is essential to keeping the fast-growing population of electric vehicles (EVs) moving — and to sustaining the EV industry’s momentum.
Like any complex technology ecosystem, EV charging needs to be managed to make it efficient, cost-effective and reliable. This makes the topic of managed EV charging important to all stakeholders, from the utilities that generate electricity through all the EV fleet, building, and public charging operators that deliver it to the vehicles to the drivers.
What is Managed EV Charging vs Unmanaged EV Charging?
Unmanaged EV charging is when charge points connect to the grid without any connection to management software. When EVs are plugged into unmanaged chargers, the charging session begins immediately and electricity flows to the vehicle at the maximum rate at which it can be drawn from the grid.
Drivers using home or public unmanaged charging devices can charge at any time it’s convenient for them. For many, this means charging in the late afternoon after work, when demand for power is greatest and prices are highest. This can lead to high costs for drivers, penalties for a public charging operator if plugged-in EVs cause a spike in demand, and unmanaged demand that strains local grid infrastructure.
Managed EV charging encompasses a range of approaches to balancing driver preferences, vehicle energy requirements, and charging costs with site energy capacity, overall energy demand, and the risk of utility infrastructure loads. Overall, the goal of managed charging is to prevent or delay costly upgrades to the distribution grid by avoiding local grid overloading and simultaneously ensuring that EV owners have access to reliable and efficient charging.
Utility-driven managed EV charging
On the utility side of the meter, the most basic approach to managed charging and the easiest to implement is for utilities to shape demand away from peak periods through Time-of-Use (TOU) pricing incentives and customer education. Utilities can get greater benefits, however, with more advanced managed charging approaches such as event-based demand-response programs, which require customers to dynamically adjust their EV charging based on near real-time events affecting the grid.
In addition to these passive approaches to managed EV charging, utilities are experimenting with actively managing customers’ home EV chargers in order to control when EVs are charged and at what speed, based on available power and TOU pricing.
Operator-driven managed EV charging
On the consumption side of the meter, managed EV charging is handled by a cloud-based EV charging management software. This software enables charge point operators (CPOs), electric mobility service providers (EMSP), EV fleet managers, and commercial and industrial building owners to continuously monitor, manage, and adjust energy consumption to reduce operating costs, optimize the charging process, and ensure that vehicles will be fully charged when drivers need them.
This active approach to managed EV charging automatically adjusts the power drawn from the grid using advanced algorithms and demand-side response based on:
- Dynamic demand from plugged-in EVs
- Dynamic grid and renewable energy supplies
- Dynamic electricity costs
- Onsite energy from solar generation or battery storage
- Preconfigured policies
- Vehicle owners’ needs
Managed EV charging requires network connectivity (WiFi, cellular, or hard-wired) between the cloud software and the individual EV chargers located at one or multiple sites. The intelligence and automation behind managed charging come from the centralized software platform. The chargers themselves must be capable of two-way communications with the cloud and with the EV, plus have the ability to respond to commands issued by the software.
In addition to managing power use across all chargers at a location, including adjusting the distribution of energy and charging speed to meet available energy supply, EV charging management software can perform a range of functions related to charger availability and reliability
Managed charging also encompasses Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology or Vehicle-to-X (homes, buildings, or anything with large capacity storage batteries), also known as bi-directional charging. The idea behind V2G is to reduce power demand by sending the energy stored in EV batteries back to the grid to meet peak electricity needs. Similarly, V2X can send stored energy to homes and buildings to reduce draw on the grid, lower costs, and keep appliances or facilities running in the event of an outage.
The Difference Between Smart Charging and Managed Charging
“Smart charging” and “managed charging” are often used interchangeably, but in fact these terms refer to different sets of capabilities. Smart charging refers to the level of technology in the charger hardware itself. WiFi connectivity to a smart charger enables an application to passively “see” information such as the cost of electricity, the amount of energy being used, and the vehicle’s state of charge.
However, smart charging does not provide the ability to manage the charging device or the charging session other than basic on/off functionality. Any scheduling or balancing is performed manually and is limited to setting the time when charging will start or stopping individual charging sessions.
|Driivz Managed Charging
|Scheduled Charging (Time of Day, Day of Week)
|Error Alerts & Reporting
|Remote Error Correction
|24×7 Remote Monitoring
|Dynamic Scheduling and Fleet Energy Planning
|Dynamic, Policy-based Vehicle Prioritization
|Single Charger, Site, or Campus Load Management
|Advanced Energy Management Algorithms
|Integration of locally stored or generated energy
|Integration with Demand Response Systems
|Integration with Fleet or Building Management Systems
The Benefits of Managed EV Charging
To future-proof investments in EV charging infrastructure, fleets, building owners, and public charging network operators should look for software platforms that can deliver the benefits of managed EV charging:
- Operational excellence achieved through 24×7 charger monitoring and management, self-healing, remote problem resolution, and other capabilities for network stability and availability
- Energy optimization and reduced energy costs
- Increased efficiency with automation, visual management tools, and systems integrations
- Reduced need for costly site electricity service upgrades
- Better EV charging experience for EV owners and fleet drivers
Companies navigating this rapidly evolving landscape can implement all of the managed EV charging capabilities discussed here with the Driivz cloud-based, modular platform. Driivz has a proven track record for enabling large global networks to deliver highly reliable EV charging services and a seamless driver experience while scaling rapidly to capture growth opportunities.
To learn how Driivz can help your company thrive in today’s EV charging marketplace, reach out to one of our experts at [email protected].