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What's a Networked EV Charger?

If you have spent some time looking for commercial or multi-unit residential EV chargers, you have probably seen terms like Networked Charger, OCPP, Load Management, etc. So what do these mean and are they important?

Differentiating between real, important features and marketing jargon can be difficult when EV charging isn't your main business.
Differentiating between real, important features and marketing jargon can be difficult when EV charging isn't your main business.

Standard vs. Networked Chargers

Standard EV chargers simply take energy from a power source and charge the vehicle's battery, this works when there are only a few chargers needed but creates problems when charging demand increases or when the electrical capacity is limited.

Beyond charging the vehicle, networked chargers communicate with each other and the building for greater control and monitoring. This is very important not just for immediately large charging demands but also for expanding systems. The method of communication may differ depending on infrastructure, but in general networked chargers feature the following:

  • Status monitoring: check for faults and diagnose problems remotely

  • Power measurement: check system usage and potential billing for regular users

  • Load control: ensure energy use does not exceed system limits

Why Should You Care About Networked Chargers?

Many buildings that we have been in are interested in EV charging but do not know where to start. Although their current demand for charging may not be significant, we recommend considering networked chargers along with scalable electrical infrastructure to prepare for future demand.

Condo Example

Networked charging solutions are perfect for retrofits where buildings were not designed with EV charging in mind. Lets take a look at a typical condo building as an example. Right now there may be 1-3 EV drivers that are requesting chargers in their parking spots. The easiest thing for property management to do would be to let the residents hire an electrician to find an existing panel with some space on it and run some wires from it to each of the parking spots and then install some standard EV chargers in those spots. While this may work for now in the future as more residents request their own chargers and charge their vehicles simultaneously, the building may run into electrical capacity issues, tripped panels, and ballooning installation costs.

By preparing for future charging demand with networked chargers and well thought out, scalable infrastructure we can avoid all of those issues. Starting with infrastructure, property management can control costs by planning out strategic dedicated EV charging panels to guarantee a range of installation costs for residents regardless of parking spot location to onboard them. On the charger side, networked chargers can be controlled and monitored to avoid tripping panels while ensuring every charger is operational.

Types of Networking: OCPP

Not all networked EV charger systems work the same. Depending on the networking method connectivity may happen at the charger level or at the panel level. The most common and arguably most versatile type of networking is OCPP.

OCPP stands for Open Charge Point Protocol, which is an open source communication standard for EV chargers. Generally OCPP compliant chargers are controlled at the charger level by OCPP platforms to make use of the features mentioned earlier regardless of manufacturer/platform provider. Effective use of platform features and analytics allow charging system operators to optimize available power for charging and schedule maintenance to minimize downtime.

End-to-End Solutions

Whether you are a property manager looking to get EV chargers in your building or an EV driver trying to get a charger in your parking spot, we can work with you each step of the way.

Backed by decades of experience with energy retrofit and alternative energy projects in commercial and multi-unit residential buildings, DashCharger is well-positioned to engineer a scalable EV charging system that will meet present and future energy requirements.

Contact us today to learn more about our solutions, how we can work together, or what we can do for you.


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