EV Charger Thoughts

Anyone looked into EV card chargers? Do they all need an Android/iPhone device?

I’m asking more about for having one fitted on your house, but also for out on the road is interesting.

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I have an EV in the USA and most of the major companies (Chargepoint, EVGo, Electrify America) have a physical NFC card you can request to be able to pay and use their chargers. You can enroll and manage your account through their websites too. That way no Android or iOS app needed.

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Interesting. I’m looking into this more for the UK, and it seems a similar thing, the charging stations on the road, like Instavolt, will just take a contactless card payment, which is better than an app - https://www.whatcar.com/advice/owning/electric-cars-can-you-use-public-chargers-without-a-smartphone/n23398

For a home EV charger though, it sadly seems iOS and Android are mandatory. I even messaged one company who are busy disabling their web portal and moving customers over to an app.

I wondered: What is the function of an app in relation to a home charger?

But having looked into it, it seems that there are now regulations in the UK that require that all EV charge points sold for domestic use to be “smart”. In this case, “smart” is defined to mean that the charger has “Demand Side Response” features, which is to say that the charge point should connect to a communications network and respond to instructions from the electricity supply company to adjust the rate and timing of charging in order to manage the load placed on electricity supply infrastructure by the increasing use of EVs.

The regulations require a somewhat complicated user interface, including, for example, the ability to view historical energy consumption data. The user interface does not have to be implemented in an app, but I suspect apps were the path of least resistance for the manufacturers. Or perhaps the electricity suppliers are the ones providing the apps. I am not sure. They are not required to make apps; a web interface or something physically built into the charger would also be acceptable, but apps are clearly an easy option if you assume all your customers will have a compatible smartphone.

It seems as though one work-around, if you don’t like or can’t use any of the smart chargers on the market, is to use a so-called “non-smart cable”, which is defined to be an electrical cable, which is a charge point for charging an electric vehicle, but which is “not able to send and receive information”.

The types of non-smart cable I imagine are permitted to be sold would be the slow-charging ones that plug into an ordinary 13 amp socket, but also higher power ones that can be connected to, for example, an IEC 60309 socket outlet. Instead of getting an EVSE installed, you could have an IEC 60309 outlet installed and then purchase a separate “non-smart” EVSE cable.

There are also open source EVSEs in existence, but these regulations are very anti-hobbyist, requiring:

  • The use of secure boot methods to prevent the alteration of the software other than via security updates that have had their authenticity and integrity cryptographically validated.
  • That the charge point has “protection” against use or attempted use of the relevant charge point other than through the user interfaces.
  • That any logical or network interfaces that are not required for the normal operation of the relevant charge point, or otherwise to comply with the requirements in the Regulations, are disabled.
  • That software services are not available to the owner unless necessary for the relevant charge point to operate.
  • That any hardware interfaces that are used for the purposes of testing or development, but not otherwise during the operation of the relevant charge point, are not exposed.
  • A physical tamper protection boundary, attempts to breach which are logged

The regulations only apply to the sale of charge points, so if you build it yourself it doesn’t have to comply. Or, if it fits the definition of a non-smart cable at the time of sale then it doesn’t have to comply.

It seems to me that the statutory definition of a “non-smart cable” is contradictory, because any charge point suitable for a commercially-available EV will send and receive information – to and from the EV. However it is obvious that the intent of the regulation is that “send and receive information” means that the information is sent via a “communications network” and relates specifically to the control of charging times within a Demand Side Response feature.

What a can of worms.

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Hi. I have an EV. I use the cards the various vendors give out or I use Waydroid. I really haven’t had a problem since I got Waydroid going. Easy peasy.

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Wow, thanks for all the info there patch. So it looks as though I could buy a cable like this to use with a IEC 60309 wall socket - https://evonestop.co.uk/products/type-2-portable-mode-2-16amp-commando-3pin-evse-charger-10a-16a-5m

It says -Maximum power: 2.2 kW / 3.6kW which would appear to put it in the slow charge category?

I tried this APK on Waydroid on my laptop and it seemingly would not even install - https://apkpure.com/ev-energy-smart-home-ev-char/energy.ev.app

That’s for a Rolec WallPod, and the app is indeed made by somebody else.

Not sure on the APK. Did you install the Aurora store and other F-Droid alternatives? I cannot remember what they are called.

I could not get some APK’s to run until I installed everything from this post: https://source.puri.sm/-/snippets/1198

I am not saying every APK will run. I do not really know.

Yes, it looks like that would charge at 2.2kW on a normal 13 amp UK socket, or 3.6kW on a 16 amp ‘commando’ socket, both of which are “slow”. But, that might be enough. It depends how you plan to use it. If you’re going to charge overnight and you don’t drive long distances every day, it could be completely adequate.

That same site you linked to is also offering a 32 amp charger which would charge at 7.2kW on a 32 amp ‘commando’ socket. https://evonestop.co.uk/collections/type-2-cables/products/ev-charging-cable-type-2-to-32a-commando-7-2-kw-5-metre-mode-2

7.2kW is likely more than enough for a home charger. Not everyone actually needs a 7.2kW charger at home, but if you end up installing a new circuit, it might as well be a 7.2kW one, provided your supply can take it.

One of the benefits of a hard-wired charger is that they are often (usually?) capable of measuring the total power consumption on the incoming supply and self-limiting the charge current to keep the total power consumption below the amount that will overload the main supply cable. This might help the electrician to squeeze in the extra circuit if you already have a lot of other high-power circuits for things like a cooker, shower, large heat pump or large air conditioner. You probably won’t have this trick at your disposal if you are only getting a plain old socket installed.

If you are going to be charging the vehicle outdoors, in many cases you ought to have both RCD protection and PEN fault detection, either in the charge point/charge cable or in the circuit that is powering it. Alternatively, it might be necessary to install one or more extra earth electrodes outside. When you get a hard-wired charge point installed, the electrician is supposed to figure all that out and decide on the best solution in the particular circumstances. If you only get a socket outlet installed (whether 13 amp, 16 amp or 32 amp), you won’t necessarily end up with all the required protection, so you might need to specifically request it.

The specific earthing and protection arrangements for EV charge point installations is a relatively complicated topic that I am not qualified to advise on, but it is quite interesting to learn about it, if you are technically inclined.

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I just found myself looking into this and I came across the Ohme Home Pro charge point, one of the selling points of which is that it has an LCD screen so you can control it on the charge point itself, as well as through an app.

They don’t make it clear whether this means you can use it entirely without an app, though. Perhaps @biggaz could ask Ohme about it if the product is otherwise appealing.

It is a smart charge point, with all that entails. It uses a 3G/4G connection, so at least you don’t have to let it loose on your WiFi (on the other hand, if it were WiFi connected, it would be much easier to force it to disconnect and act dumb, if you wanted it to).

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Thanks for this mate, I have gotten myself a price for installation of one of these!

Its very intesting, and thanks again for further info mate. I am getting an electrician to price me up one of these to compare to the charger that you found, which does indeed not seem to need an app. So that’s great, I haven’t got to worry.

I was also worried my car wouldn’t work without an app, that’ll be the next bloody thing, but so far so good.