November 11, 2021
More and more EV charging stations are networked. In other words, they are connected to the internet or a similar kind of communication network. So, why do we still see the local load management system for EV charging being used?
In contrast to data storage, energy management systems have often been installed locally. Usually, it was only simple control switches for generators that turn on or off. This was fine to begin with. First load management systems for electric vehicles simply rely on decisions such as, “If 3 chargers are connected, reduce all charging power by 30%”.
Modern systems go way beyond this. The modern Smart Charging system needs to analyze energy, grid, and vehicle data. The industry is moving towards AI-based optimization tools for Smart Charging. The systems use data and insights from previous charging events to identify charging patterns and even predict upcoming charging events.
The question is, can you run such a complex optimization on a local controller? Let’s compare the two options, i.e., cloud-based and local smart charging.
A cloud is a type of a server, which is remote (usually in Data Centers), meaning you access it via the internet. Smart Charging solutions use either their own or rented servers.
When talking about intelligent cloud-based charging, we are actually talking about EV charging stations connected to the internet and constantly communicating with a central system.
Decisions are made remotely on the cloud system rather than on the local charging equipment, then the instructions are sent back to the physical charging station over the network.
As the name implies, the local version of smart charging has all of its functions installed locally on-site.
Nearly all charging stations either lack or have very poor, decision-making systems installed on the hardware. Consequently, you often see a separate controller installed next to the chargers.
Prices of control switches usually start at around 100-200 USD and are limited to the connection of 5 or 6 charging stations.
The second argument in favor of local smart charging (i.e., remaining unaffected by internet problems) leads us to think about the general security of the cloud-based system.
Even though complete internet breakdowns are becoming less and less frequent, a system must still be protected from cyberattacks or server failures.
It’s similar to the concept of a bank. It’s usually safer to keep your money with other people in a bank rather than sitting alone in your dresser drawer.
The security protection of cloud systems has been devised by some of the world's best software developers and data security staff, and they’re pretty good at keeping things safe online.
For instance, in case of a server failure, the cloud system simply uses one of the multiple back servers. Your charging station won’t even notice any change.
We see a similar development regarding communication reliability. Although 5G and LTE systems become more and more reliable, thousands of experts are continuously improving these systems. Despite the constant security upgrades and network updates, the systems continue uninterrupted due to the use of multiple back servers.
The EV market is changing rapidly. The development is much faster than we can recognize from the energy and utility industry.
Local control systems are extremely slow to adapt. Local load management solutions will inherently limit development, rather than enable intelligent EV charging.
Consequently, local systems are often more expensive and time-consuming to implement on-site, and worse still, local Smart Charging Systems are quickly outdated.
On the other hand, smart charging systems are learning and adapting every day. New concepts such as the smart charging plug-in of ampcontrol.io suddenly become available for any charging point operator in the world.
They stay 100% up-to-date, contain multiple backup versions, and outperform other charing methods.
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