What makes a charger a smart-charger?
The Grizzle-E by United Chargers is a high-powered, premium, electric vehicle charging station offered at a very reasonable starting price of $399.00. It's a new-comer to the EV charging industry, but its combination of robust design, high-power, and low price has definitely made it an EV charger to consider when shopping for a home charging solution.
However, the currently available Grizzl-E isn't a "smart charger"; that version of the Grizzl-E will be introduced in the near future. The Grizzl-E available for sale today does exactly what most EV owners want their charger to do: it simply charges their EV. It will charge any EV available in the US and Canada today, in fact, and it does so quickly and reliably.
Smart? Maybe not
There's been a lot of talk about EV smart chargers – maybe a little too much talk and not enough "smart" because some of the EV chargers that may call themselves smart chargers aren't really all that smart.
Does just having an app so you can view your charging sessions make an EV charging station a smart charger? We think not. Is the ability to schedule charging for time-of-use programs enough to call the charger a smart-charger? Not by our definition. That's because pretty much every electric vehicle available today can do that itself already; you don't need the charger to do it also.
Why then pay hundreds of dollars more for features that don't really enhance your EV ownership experience much or save you money? Many people find that after buying an expensive smart-charger, they rarely even use the features the app offers after the first couple of weeks. They're then left with an overpriced charger that simply chargers their car, no better than the lower-priced so-called "dumb-chargers".
Do you currently have a smart-charger? If so, please join the InsideEVs Twitter poll and let us know how often you use the extra features offered on your smart-charger.
Smart done right
So why then is United Chargers going to make a smart charger version of the Grizzle-E? Because the company is focusing on the features that properly define smart EV charging. To United Chargers, smart-charging means a charger has built-in OCPP compliance and is interoperable, and that it has power management and power control functions that utilize demand and response functionality.
Having the ability to participate in demand response utility programs will save electric vehicle owners a lot of money in the future. There are already pilot EV demand response programs across North America and Europe, and we believe it's only a matter of time before they become commonplace and offer EV owners substantial savings. Some chargers that are called smart-chargers are not OCPP compliant and cannot participate in utility demand response programs.
These programs help utilities better manage peak EV load in order to maintain grid reliability. The utility can then avoid using expensive peaker plants and expensive infrastructure upgrades. They instead incentivize customers to participate in these programs by offering lower electricity rates and everybody wins.
Smart EV charging helps utilities flatten the electricity usage peak. It does so by shifting the time the vehicle charges from peak hours when consumption is at its highest, to when the grid has less demand. This process is much more sophisticated than a simple time-of-use plan. In order to participate, the EV smart-charger needs to be connected and communicating with the energy provider for real-time load shifting.
There are very few truly smart EV chargers available today that can do this, and those that can cost much more than the price the smart-charging Grizzl-E will be offered at. For only $20.00 more than the price of the regular Grizzl-E, customers will soon be able to buy the WiFi-connected Smart Grizzl-E. The Smart Grizzl-E is currently scheduled to be available from United Chargers by the end of October.
Do I really need a smart-charger?
Need? Probably not. Does it make sense to consider one, especially if it doesn't cost much more than a non-smart charger? Absolutely. Non-smart-chargers still perform the basic duty of any EV charger: they charge the car. If you're a data-geek and want to record and analyze the charging history of your EV, then you may want the added functionality of WiFi connectivity and an app that displays such records.
There may even be some circumstances where remotely starting or ending a charging session through the app is useful, although most EV owners probably won't need that functionality very often. However, the prospect of being able to save on your monthly electricity bill because your smart-charger is OCPP compliant, and will work with any OCPP application like the Smart Grizzl-E is probably worth considering, especially when it only costs an extra $20.00 over the price of regular Grizzl-E charger.
Don't want to wait a couple of months for the Smart Grizzl-E to be available? The standard 40-amp Grizzl-E, which can deliver up to 10 kW of power, is available today from United Chargers at the low starting price of $399.00. It's an incredible value and compares with EV chargers from other brands that cost hundreds more. Customers that use the promo code INSIDEEVS7 will save $25.00 until the end of August when this special offer expires.