Why EV-buyers shouldn't settle for 'dumb' charging
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As Kiwis swap petrol vehicles for EVs in record numbers, a New Zealand innovator is calling for better education on “smart” car charging - to minimise the environmental impacts from charging and ensure households across NZ avoid paying unnecessarily high electricity bills.
Kiwi smart charger manufacturer Evnex says many EV buyers don’t realise there is a world of difference between ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’ charging when it comes to powering up their vehicles. The first is an internet-connected tool allowing drivers easy access to cheaper off-peak energy rates and the flexibility to charge from renewable energy sources. The second is a more primitive solution - often in the form of a portable wall plug - and does little more than connect a car to a power supply.
While some power companies, like Genesis, offer programmes where drivers can tap into their network and potentially save up to 50 per cent on peak rate prices, a smart charger makes the most of this - for example, charging your car when the NZ grid is running on the cleanest power, says Evnex founder Ed Harvey.
“Smart EV chargers are a great tool for EV owners to save money and charge from renewable energy sources. If you’re buying an electric vehicle to save on fuel costs or reduce your carbon emissions, investing in a smart charger is a critical step to help achieve those goals."
“Smart charging will also ensure electricity users don’t end up paying more for power in the future. It does this by giving options to charge from renewable energy sources and shifting high energy demand away from times of peak usage. This will become an issue sooner rather than later with the growth we’re seeing in EV ownership. If every owner starts charging their EV when they get home, we’ll see a strain on supply and, in turn, higher prices,” he says.
Since the clean car discount came into effect in 2021, New Zealand has seen a huge increase in registrations for electric vehicles. According to the Ministry of Transport, in the nine months, since the clean car discount began, there were more than 14,000 EV registrations - an increase of almost 190% compared with the same time in 2021.
Harvey says each modern home EV charger installed has the same impact on the country's electricity grid as three new homes - so alongside cost considerations, it is crucial to ensure these chargers are smart to reduce potential risks to the country's network.
“As NZ’s electric fleet grows, so does the increased strain on the power grid at certain times of the day. Smart charging technology offers the flexibility and control to shift large power demands away from peak times and enable our local grid operators to prevent blackouts through flexibility services; a much cheaper alternative than overhauling our grid infrastructure".