CleanTechnica sat down with SolarEdge co-founder and VP of marketing and product strategy, Lior Handelsman, at SPI 2019 for a nice long chat about the company’s new Smart Home tech. Along the way, Lior mentioned that SolarEdge is also developing intelligent, connected EV charging tech that will allow multiple charging stations on a single circuit to load balance between themselves without exceeding the capacity of the circuit.
The concept of load balancing EV chargers on a single circuit isn’t new, but as with just about everything we are seeing in cleantech right now, it is the intelligence that serves as the glue to actually make the solutions fly. In SolarEdge’s case, Lior shared that the company is building out tech that enable site owners to choose how they want the load sharing to work. For any size system, they will need to define the maximum amount of power the system can draw first, then the customization begins.
“We will do a round robin type of charging scheme, or divide the power between all cars or first come, first serve or different types of solutions so you won’t over-consume, but you will still deliver power to all cars,” Lior said. These options let station owners determine what type of prioritization best suits their specific application. In a fleet application, fleet managers may want to charge the vehicles that plug in first the fastest, so they can get back on the road.
Workplace charging, on the other hand, may have the luxury of having 8-12 hours to get all the cars charged up and so can opt to simply split the total power available among all vehicles plugged in to the circuit. Finally, a public charging network operator may want to guarantee a specific charge that can be delivered to each vehicle when it plugs in, so may opt for a different configuration.
Having the flexibility to choose a different charging scheme lets the system adapt to the needs of the customer while still maximizing the utilization of the available power. “You get that managed at the system level or garage level,” Lior said.
The need for an EV charging load balancing scheme arose as businesses, employers, and fleet managers scrambled to make use of fading EV charging installation incentives that paid out a fixed amount per charger. The more chargers they were able to install, the more rebates they could rake in to lower the total installed cost. One way to make the overall project look a little nicer is to use a smaller circuit to power a bank of chargers, and that’s where SolarEdge came in.
Load sharing is also necessary in areas where the grid is constrained, with costly infrastructure upgrades making the addition of multiple chargers economic non-starters. “You need to do [load sharing] because the grid is still constrained,” Lior said. This is especially true in many multi-family dwellings that simply were not built to have a higher load from the parking area at night than they have from all of the residential units combined.
SolarEdge continues to innovate and Lior even noted that while the company does not have any DC EV chargers yet, there might be one in the works. A DC charger could make the Smart Home of the future a bit more interesting, opening up the possibility of charging an EV directly from local storage or even from rooftop solar without the need to run it through an inverter, increasing the overall roof to vehicle efficiency along the way.