Smart charging: what is it?

Smart charging - what it's all about

Imagine smart charging stations for electric vehicles, capable of adapting to energy availability, optimizing charging according to need and thus contributing to a more sustainable world. Smart charging is revolutionizing the way we charge our electric vehicles, using intelligent infrastructures and renewable energies for optimum efficiency. 

In this article, we'll explore in depth what smart charging really is, how it works and the benefits it brings in terms of both sustainability and energy efficiency.

Table of contents

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What is smart charging?

Smart charging avoids overloading the grid while optimizing savings. 

In fact, this intelligent charging system distribution of power between electric electric vehiclesrespecting the subscribed capacity.

It therefore takes into account various parameters, such as the number and type of vehicles to be charged, as well as the current state of each individual's charge. Thanks to this intelligent concept, users can adjust their consumption to advantageous time slots and benefit from reduced tariffs. 

On the other hand, companies can also manage and optimize the recharging of their electric fleet by evenly distributing the necessary energy to all the electric cars on charge, or "load balancing" as it's more commonly known.

This approach is often adapted for networked use, as is frequently the case in companies or apartment buildings. When a vehicle is being recharged, the charger communicates not only with the vehicle, but also with the recharging operator and the supplier, all via data connections. 

Not to be confused with bidirectional charging

Remote management of charging points via intelligent recharging offers optimize energy costs for network operators and owners.. Modulating your charging to take advantage of night-time tariffs is a concrete example.

 

Good to know According to the Observatoire de l'industrie électrique (OIE), smart recharging can reduce electricity bills by 30-35% compared with conventional recharging.

 

Bidirectional charging, on the other hand, represents the exchange of energy between an electric vehicle and the grid via a bidirectional charger known as V2G (or "vehicle to grid"). In short, this refers to a system system where electric vehicles can recharge, but can also re-distribute their electrical energy to the grid. For what purpose? To power the owner's home, and earn money in the process.

This implies a flow of energy to and from the vehicle's battery, demonstrating its practicality. This is not to be confused with vehicle-to-home (V2H), where an electric car is used to power a household. This method modulates the energy used from the grid, with the vehicle's battery being used. For example, during peak consumption, the V2H supplies the home's appliances to avoid the need for costly electricity from the grid. Then, during off-peak hours, the vehicle recharges at lower cost.

If you'd like to find out more about this topic, read our article on vehicle-to-grid may be of interest to you.

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Not to be confused with fast charging

On the one hand, smart charging gives owners, companies and networks control over the energy demand of electric vehicles and its timing.

On the other hand, fast charging aims to deliver more electricity to an electric vehicle battery more quicklythus accelerating the charging process via a fast-charging station.

To illustrate these points and clarify some of the grey areas, here's a table summarizing the different types of recharging solution on the market.

TERMINAL TYPE POWER OUTPUT CHARGING TIME
HOME OR PROFESSIONAL RECHARGING
3 kW maximum
between 6 and 12h
ACCELERATED (public charging station)
between 7 and 22 kW
1 to 6 hours
RAPID
from 50 to 150 kW
between 20 and 40 minutes for an 80% recharge
ULTRA-FAST
over 150 kW
battery between 75 and 100% in less than 45 minutes

Good to know The installation of a charging station with a power rating of 3.7 kW or more must be carried out by a qualified electrician with the IRVE(Infrastructure de Recharge de Véhicule Électrique) label. This certifies that the electrician is trained in the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. If not, your installation will be non-compliant.

How does smart charging work?

As soon as the vehicle is connected, a link is established. Via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the charging station transmits data to a centralized platform, including Internet servers and associated software.

This data includes, for example, charging time according to power requirements, charging speed, battery condition, etc. 

However, its capabilities don't stop there, as it can transmit data other than that relating to the electric car. In fact, it has the the ability to send information on the current status of the local network and current use of the recharging point.

For example, if you charge at night at home, the network is not overloaded, as fewer appliances are used than during the day. On the other hand, if you charge your electric vehicle during the day, the network is almost saturated, as several devices are in use. So the smart terminal is able to transmit data on the demand for electricity at that precise moment. 

After that, it's important to find out about the wattage of your recharging station and the electrical power subscribed to your home, so that the fuse doesn't blow. If you have any further questions in this area, please don't hesitate to contact one of our experts.

In short, top-up operators provide easy remote energy management via an online platform or app, enabling various functionalities. Users can monitor and pay for their recharges via the online platform, guaranteeing tracking and payment anywhere, anytime.

The advantages and disadvantages of smart charging for charging stations

Here, we take a closer look at smart charging for electric vehicle charging points. With its advantages and disadvantages, this technology promises unprecedented energy optimization, but still raises a number of questions. 

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The benefits

Intelligent charging offers a host of exciting benefits for users of electric vehicle charging stations. This innovation goes far beyond simple recharging, offering benefits such as cost optimization, more efficient energy consumption and enhanced safety. 

Initially, smart charging analyzes various data in real time to to avoid overloading the network and ensure the safety safety.

Secondly, optimized recharging avoids saturation of the electrical network and prevents simultaneous energy consumption by other devices. Charging can be deferred to off-peak hours to avoid exceeding the maximum capacity of the subscribed power.

In addition, for chargeable recharging solutions, the application automatically manages billingallowing users to track their consumption and pay online.

Finally, although speed is relative, adapting the charging station to the available energy optimizes overall recharging for all vehicles in a network.

In the case of charging stations in public or private parking lots, the information transmitted by the station to the cloud makes it easier to identify available and accessible charging points, and their charging capacity, in real time.

Disadvantages

Indeed, while this technology offers undeniable advantages, it also has a few drawbacks to consider.

Firstly, despite its economic benefits, smart charging is not suitable for every context. This is because its use requires flexibility on the part of the user. Opting for the most financially and energy-efficient moment, it may not meet immediate needs. For example, if a driver requires fast, uninterrupted recharging for unplanned use, the intelligent device may not be appropriate at that time.

Secondly, although simple smart charging is becoming more popular, reversible reversible solutions are not yet widespread. At present, not all electric vehicle models are compatible with this technology. Its development will take some time before widespread implementation, while keeping costs affordable for users.

The 3 types of intelligent management

This facet of smart charging includes three types of intelligent charging, the cornerstones of modern energy efficiency.

Power boost

The power boost, also known as a load shedder or load shedding system, is a system that balances the charging energy of the electric vehicle with that of the grid, stopping or adjusting the charging station in the event of an overload. It then resumes charging when energy is available again. 

For example, when you plug in your electric car at night, it joins a network already overloaded by various household appliances. As a result, a charging station equipped with this function will adjust the charging power according to the available capacity. In fact, if this capacity is reached or exceeded, the terminal will reduce or stop charging power, allowing the network to stabilize by deactivating certain electrical appliances.

Power sharing

Secondly, we have power sharing. The principle here is that the available energy is distributed proportionally among the chargers connected to the network, thus avoiding electrical overload if all the chargers are used simultaneously. This power modulation adapts to the number of chargers connected to a vehicle, aiming to optimize and regulate energy use.

This charger-based functionality optimizes parking facilities equipped with multiple chargers, without the need for major electrical adjustments. This advantage is particularly well suited to sites with multiple chargers, such as workspaces, residential parks or fleet depots.

Dynamic power sharing

This evolution of power sharing has created dynamic power sharing, an intelligent distribution of energy.

Dynamic power sharing monitors a building's energy demand, adjusting supply according to authorized thresholds. When demand remains below the maximum allowable, it allocates the available energy until the maximum of the charging network is reached. If demand is equal to or exceeds the maximum, no energy is delivered to the charging stations. By taking advantage of troughs in demand, it meets the needs of the network without increasing overall power.

 

Between power boost, power sharing and dynamic power sharing, each brings unique benefits, from load control to efficient energy management. The key is to choose the right one for your specific needs, whether you're a professional or individual.

Conclusion

In the fast-changing world of electric mobility, intelligent charging at charging stations represents the future. For consumers, this means more efficient, economical and flexible charging, tailored to their everyday needs. Professionals, meanwhile, can benefit from advanced solutions for energy management, cost-effective charging station services and a positive contribution to the electricity grid.

Indeed, this evolving technology offers much more than immediate benefits. It represents a step towards a sustainable energy future, in which electric vehicles integrate harmoniously into our daily lives. 

By providing better management of energy consumption, reducing costs and contributing to grid stability, smart charging promises a more sustainable and efficient future.

It's not just an evolution in the way we charge our vehicles, but a global transformation of the energy landscape. Smart charging is an opportunity for everyone to take part in building a more sustainable and efficient world.

Don't forget that Beevif you have a project to install an electric car charging solution, our experts are available from 9am to 7pm (excluding working days).

Our experts answer your questions with a smile

Monday to Friday
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Picture of Maëlle Laurent
Maëlle Laurent

Committed to sustainable mobility, a sector revolutionizing the way we get around, I contribute to the energy transition through my articles.

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