How smart EV charging stations can make the most of site power 

by | Nov 14, 2023 | About

As EV charging stations are increasingly added to the grid, some challenges arise to building a reliable electric fueling network. A major one is the limited amount of electricity that sites at different points along grid infrastructure can access. Charging sites must be careful to not overconsume grid energy and trip equipment—losing power all altogether—while making use of all available electricity to turn profits.

Careful balance enabled by smart solutions can help charging sites maintain reliable operations while generating revenue.

Optimize available power use

Utilities cap the amount of power that can be drawn at a certain point on the grid for many reasons. For example, grid infrastructure is designed for a specific capacity to handle power distribution. Drawing too much power from the grid can not only cause overheating and damaged equipment but also create safety hazards. Limiting site power helps maintain voltage levels and grid stability.

With only so much electricity to work with on your grid-connected site, every kilowatt must count, so you’ll need to ensure you’re making the most of each. This requires accurate detection of where power is available and consideration of all site loads.

Smart EV charging stations use onsite meters to collect data from site equipment like EV chargers, batteries and renewable assets. The electronic connection allows an energy management system like Sparkion’s SparkCore EMS to control them as managed loads. Unmanaged loads—like HVAC systems, pumps or car wash vacuum cleaners—are not smart devices. While they can’t be controlled by the EMS, onsite meter data can still inform when these loads are not drawing power via real-time measurements. As the SparkCore EMS discovers available energy, it automatically puts it toward good use at charging ports so that nothing is wasted.

Avoid system shutdowns

When you draw more power than the grid can provide, you risk tripping the site breaker. The circuit breaker is a safety device designed to protect electrical circuits from overcurrent damage so it immediately shuts down your site power while you wait for a technician to manually reset it. This is not an ideal situation as all the while your business sits idle as you lose out on income while likely facing fines from the utility.

Adding a battery can help prevent shutdowns by providing backup power when the grid isn’t enough. It can even reduce costs when charged strategically from renewable energy or the grid during off-peak hours and discharged when the demand for EV charging exceeds the grid’s capacity or energy costs are peaking.

While battery backup power can avoid breaker trips and lower costs, it must be properly managed to kick in at the right times. Again, an EMS can use real-time, meter-fed site and grid data on a smart EV charging station to determine when additional power is required and direct the battery to discharge. In this way, our fully autonomous SparkCore energy management software and controller solution ensure that you are always charging the battery and using its stored power for the lowest electricity cost.

Even in the event of a communications error with the battery, meter or other component, its automated recovery feature lowers the EV charging limit below the grid limit so the system draws grid power to avoid a breaker trip and keep chargers online.

With smart electronics, EV charging sites can work within their grid limits to ensure power resilience, take advantage of all available power and build profit margins while also establishing a reputation for reliability that will foster EV adoption.

Read more about our smart EV charging solutions here.