At its most fundamental level, all an electric car needs to recharge its battery pack is a source of power such as a wall outlet or a simple charging station. As with so many other seemingly simple devices however, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has seen the official debut of several different charging stations with enough technology inside to turn it into the latest must-have Internet of things accessory for anyone with an electric car.
Earlier this week, we shared details of BMW’s new intelligent i Home Charging Services, which leverage cloud connectivity to give BMW customers more control than ever before over when and how their electric car charges — and where that power to charge the car comes from.
But alongside BMW, charging station manufacturer and network provider ChargePoint unveiled a new home-based charging station that it says will help owners of any electric car save money, reduce range anxiety and even help them become greener too.
Called the ChargePoint Home, the Internet-connected charging station looks like any other 6 kilowatt home charging station on the market today. In addition to offering basic charging functionality however, it works alongside the companion ChargePoint smartphone app to let users manage their car’s charging cycles remotely, starting or stopping charging of their plugged-in car, even if they happen to be away from home.
Tying in with users existing ChargePoint accounts, the charging station records how much energy you’ve used, but also allows users the ability to set their charging preferences to ensure that their car only ever charges when electricity is at its cheapest. Meanwhile, customisable reminders can be set to remind you to plug in if you’ve forgotten to do so, either as a one-off reminder or on a regular schedule.
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In addition to offering remote connectivity, ChargePoint says the ChargePoint Home will work in tandem with the Nest Thermostat, giving users the ability to tie in their charging station use with their overall home energy consumption. Like users of the Nest Thermostat, ChargePoint Home owners will be able to earn Nest “Rush Hour Rewards” for not using their charging station during peak times, like just before the morning rush hour or in the evening, when energy demand is at its peak.
In the case of ChargePoint Home customers, Rush Hour Rewards enables participating local utility companies to dial down or shut down charging completely when energy demand is at its peak, reducing demand on the utility grid. And every time an energy company activates the feature, it will pay customers money back for the inconveninece. Just as Nest Thermostat users can override their participation at any time however, so too can ChargePoint Home customers override default rush-hour smart grid requests to ensure they’ve always got enough charge to make their next appointment.
Which brings us nicely to Charge Points’s final feature. While most cars will give you a charge time estimate to full, ChargePoint says its interface is designed to quote miles per hour charge rates to customers, making it easy for them to figure out how much charge they’ll gain in the time they have before their next meeting or errand.
While many of the features offered in the ChargePoint Home system are already offered by many plug-in manufacturers — like remote charge control and timers, for example — this system could be good for those who have multiple plug-in cars to charge every day or schedules which aren’t always predictable.
There’s no word on price yet for the system, but ChargePoint says it will launch later this year and can be plugged into any appropriate 240-volt wall outlet.
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