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Electric vehicles (EVs) have seen amazing growth in recent years. In addition to being environmentally friendly, EVs offer several advantages over traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, However, many EV owners may not be aware of the potential benefits of using their EVs as a source of energy for their home. In this post, we discuss what EV home energy is, how it works, and the potential benefits it can offer to homeowners.
What is EV Home Energy?
EV home energy, also known as vehicle-to-home (V2H) energy, is the process of using the battery in your EV as a source of energy for a home. This is done by connecting the EV to a home's electrical system using a bi-directional charger.
A bi-directional charger is different from a traditional EV charger in that it can both charge and discharge the battery. This allows the battery in your EV to be used as a backup power source for the home in the event of an outage, or to offset energy costs during peak hours.
How does EV Home Energy work?
EV home energy works by using a bi-directional charger to connect the EV to the home's electrical system. When the EV is plugged in, the charger can both charge the EV's battery and discharge it to power the home.
The bi-directional charger is able to control the flow of energy between the EV and the home's electrical system. If the home requires more energy than it is producing, the charger can draw energy from the battery. If the home is producing more energy than it needs the charger will use that energy to charge the EV's battery.
Why Do I Need a Bi-Directional Charger?
One of the most common questions that a homeowner has when it comes to powering their house with an EV is “Why can’t I do this with the EV charger that I already have?”. The answer, while being quite simple, requires some technical dive.
Batteries inside an electric vehicle, just like any other battery, store electricity in the form of direct current or DC. At the same time, our homes operate on alternating current or AC. The process of conversion of AC to DC and backwards is performed by an inverter. Most electric vehicles carry such inverters on board. A typical home EV charger delivers AC power to the vehicle and the inverter does the job of transforming it into DC power to store in the vehicle's batteries.
Unfortunately, most EVs do not have the capability of doing the same transformation in the opposite direction. In other words, an onboard inverter cannot transform stored DC power back into AC and push it out into the home.
However, most EVs have a port that is capable of delivering DC power into the home. This is where a bi-directional charger is required as it would have a built-in inverter and the conversion into AC that will be distributed into the homes’ microgrid.
Examples of EVs that Support Bi-Directional Charging.
The Nissan LEAF is one of the most popular EVs that supports bi-directional charging. It is equipped with a CHAdeMO charging port that can be used with a bi-directional charger.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that also supports bi-directional charging. It can be used to power in the event of a power outage.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 are the new electric vehicle that was released in 2021. It is equipped with a V2L (Vehicle-to-Load) port that can be used with a bi-directional charger.
Tesla Model 3: While Tesla Model 3 vehicles do not officially support bi-directional charging, some owners have found ways to use their vehicles as a source of energy using third-party hardware and software( please note that Tesla voided warranty for these owners).
The Ford F-150 Lightning provides V2H capabilities for individual owners using its available Intelligent Backup Power charging system. The system features an 80-amp charger and can store up to 131 kilowatt-hours of electric energy, allowing it to power an average home for up to three days with a normal charge. Alternatively, when energy usage is rationed, it can power an average home for up to 10 days.
It is worth noting that not all bi-directional chargers are compatible with all EVs. Before purchasing a bi-directional charger, it is important to ensure that it is compatible with the specific make and model of the EV being used.
Here are some examples of bi-directional chargers with pricing:
The Wallbox Quasar 2 is a bi-directional charger that can be used to power a home during a power outage or to reduce energy costs during peak hours. It is compatible with a range of EVs and is priced at around $4,000.
The Emporia Energy compact 240-volt bi-directional charger that can be used with a range of EVs will be priced at less than $1,500 and available in the second half of 2023.
Ford Charge Station Pro, a bi-directional home charging station that works with the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck is priced at $1,310.
It is worth noting that these prices are subject to change and may vary depending on the specific model, installation costs, and other factors. Additionally, some manufacturers may offer incentives or rebates to offset the cost of installing a bi-directional charger. It's important to research and compare different options to find the best bi-directional charger for your needs and budget.
Potential Benefits of EV Home Energy:
There are several potential benefits to using EVs as a source of home energy, including:
Reduced electricity costs: By using the EV's battery to power the home during peak hours, homeowners can save money on their electricity bills. This is particularly true in regions with time-of-use pricing, where electricity is more expensive during peak hours.
Backup power: In the event of a power outage, the EV's battery can be used as a backup power source for the home, providing homeowners with an alternative to traditional generators.
Environmental benefits: By using the EV's battery to power the home, homeowners can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decrease their carbon footprint.
Increased energy independence: By using the EV as a source of home energy, homeowners can increase their independence and reduce their reliance on the grid.
Challenges of EV Home Energy:
While there are several potential benefits, there are also some challenges that must be addressed. These challenges include:
Battery degradation: Using the EV's battery to power the home can result in increased battery degradation. This is because the battery is being cycled more frequently, which can reduce its overall lifespan.
Cost: Bi-directional chargers are currently more expensive than traditional EV chargers, which can make the cost of implementing EV home energy prohibitive for some homeowners.
Compatibility: Not all EVs are compatible with bi-directional chargers, which can limit the number of homeowners who are able to take this advantage.
Regulation: In some regions, regulations may prevent homeowners from selling excess energy back to the grid or using their EVs as a battery.
Despite the challenges, EV home energy has the potential to offer several benefits to homeowners, including cost savings, backup power, environmental benefits, and increased independence. As bi-directional charging becomes more popular and affordable, it is likely that more homeowners will be able to take advantage of this technology.
To implement EV home energy, it is important to consider the specific components, EV compatibility, and cost-effectiveness. As bi-directional charging becomes more common, it is expected that the number of EVs and bi-directional chargers supporting this technology will increase, resulting in more cost-effective options for homeowners.
In conclusion, EV home energy is a promising technology for the future. While there are some challenges that must be addressed, the potential benefits make it a viable option for homeowners looking to reduce their costs and increase their independence. As the popularity of EVs continues to grow, it is likely that EV home energy will become an increasingly common and practical option for homeowners.