Vehicle-to-home, or V2H, sounds like such a simple concept. That spiffy new EV you bought has a large battery pack that stores electricity. It can be charged from solar panels on the roof. When it’s not being used, it can send some of that electricity back to the home to run the lights and keep the heat on. Conceptually, V2H makes a lot of sense. In theory it could make it possible for lots of people go “off-grid” and decouple their lives from greedy utility companies.
It’s not quite that simple, however. Your battery and solar panels run on direct current. Your home runs on alternating current. To make everything work together you need an inverter that changes AC to DC and back again. Keep in mind that every time energy is converted from one form to another, there are losses in the conversion process.
There’s more. You don’t want electricity from the grid fighting with electricity from your EV battery when they both get to your electrical panel at the same time. You need a switch to shut off the power coming in from the grid before you tap the power in your battery and vice versa. Those transfer switches can be expensive, and installing them properly is not a job for amateurs. Electricians like to get paid for the work they do, so the cost of wiring up a V2H system can be rather high, particularly if you have an old circuit panel in your basement that hasn’t been updated since the Carter administration.
Emporia & BREK Partnership
Recently, Sunrun announced it has been chosen as Ford’s preferred EV charging partner and will provide an integrated vehicle-to-home system that will allow owners of a new F-150 Lightning to let the truck serve as a backup power supply for a home. In Colorado, energy management company Emporia Energy is partnering with power electronics company BREK Electronics to develop a bi-directional electric vehicle charger for the North American market. The EV charger would allow an electric vehicle to transfer power to the home and grid, regardless of EV brand. The two companies expect the charger to hit the market in 2023 and cost less than $1,500.
BREK will develop the power electronics core and hardware, and Emporia will develop the connector strategy and smart home integration system. Emporia already offers a line of energy management technology products like Level 2 EV chargers, energy storage systems, and smart plugs. BREK is re-imagining silicon carbide-based power electronics technologies in a variety of applications, including solar string inverters.
“80 to 85% of electric vehicle charging currently takes place at the vehicle owner’s home, so the EV should really be seen as an extension of the home energy system,” said Emporia founder and CEO Shawn McLaughlin. “This is critical to why we want to make a bidirectional EV charger readily available — being able to transfer energy from the vehicle back into the home or grid will enable widespread adoption of distributed renewable energy without taxing the grid, while generating substantial savings for the homeowner, but there isn’t a cost effective option on the market yet. Our collaboration with BREK will create that option.”
Volkswagen is planning to promote V2H technology this year. It’s an idea whose time seems to have come, although not all electric cars are candidates. Tesla, for instance, will void the warranty for any of its vehicles that are used in V2H mode. But for those who can take advantage of the idea, it’s a great way to get your electric vehicle to multi-task. Expect to hear more about V2H in the months and years ahead.