Bi-Directional Charging: How to Make Money and Friends With Your EV
Bidirectional charging is the future of electric vehicles, as predicted by many EV experts and enthusiasts. The ability to supply electricity from the EV battery to a power grid or another EV paves the way for various opportunities. It enables you to earn extra income from a bidirectional charger, make new friends, and become energy self-sustainable.
In this guide to bidirectional charging, you’ll learn:
- What is bidirectional charging?
- How does peer-to-peer charging work?
- What are the benefits of bidirectional charging?
Let’s dive in.
What Is Bidirectional Charging and How Does It Work?
Bidirectional charging, also known as peer-to-peer (P2P) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) charging, refers to supplying electricity from your electric vehicle to another EV or grid. It’s known as bidirectional charging because it allows EVs to charge two ways:
- From the grid to the EV
- In the opposite direction from the EV to the grid or another EV
Now, how does peer-to-peer charging work? When you charge your EV, an electrical grid supplies alternating current (AC) to the EV. This AC converts to direct current (DC) in the car and is then used by the vehicle. If you use a DC charger, this conversion takes place in the charger.
In V2G charging, an EV converts the DC back to AC to send it back to the grid or another vehicle. Even though only a few EVs come with bidirectional chargers, the standard chargers can also facilitate DC-AC conversion and power control.
Aren’t Bidirectional Charging and Smart Charging the Same Thing?
New EV owners can sometimes confuse bidirectional charging with smart charging. However, they’re different concepts.
Before delving into the difference between the two, let’s understand what smart charging is and how it works.
Smart charging refers to unidirectional or bidirectional EV charging, where you can control the rate and time of charging with a smart device, such as a mobile phone. There’s no need for manually turning the charging on or off.
Several mobile apps for smart EV charging are available that allow you to control EV charging from your smartphone. This saves time and offers convenient benefits to the user.
Smart charging is possible only if there is a cloud data connection between the EV, charging operation, and a charging device. Bidirectional charging also has the same requirements. Hence, only smart charging can be bidirectional.
In other words, smart charging may or may not be bidirectional charging, but bidirectional charging is always smart charging.
Do I Need a Special EV Cable for This Future?
Yes, you’ll need a bidirectional charger to leverage V2G or V2V charging. EV chargers are of two types: AC chargers and DC chargers.
AC chargers don’t have a built-in converter to convert AC to DC. The conversion process takes place in a convertor located inside the car. On the other hand, DC chargers have a built-in AC-DC converter that converts AC to DC and then sends it into the vehicle. No conversion takes place inside the car.
Bidirectional chargers are a specific type of EV chargers with AC to DC and DC to AC converter systems. Hence, these chargers can extract DC from the EV, convert it into DC, and send it to the power grid or another EV.
For example, Hyundai Ioniq 5 is one of the recent electric cars to support V2G and V2H charging. The car comes with two onboard outlets to manage vehicle-to-load functionality. It provides up to 3.6 kW of power.
Which Cars Offer Peer-To-Peer Charging?
Although EV experts and enthusiasts consider bidirectional charging the future of EVs, it’s still in its primitive stage. Only a handful of EV manufacturers have started experimenting with V2V and V2G charging.
Let’s look at five cars that support V2G, V2H, or V2V charging.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Hyundai Ioniq 5 has gained a lot of popularity for its sleek design, eco-friendly interiors, ultra-fast charging, and V2G charging. The five-seater comes with a 58 kW battery and a maximum speed of 185 kph. When charged with a 350 kW charger, the Ioniq 5 can charge from 10% to 80% in less than 20 minutes. It has a V2L port under the second-row seats that allows you to supply power to a grid or another EV.
The new Nissan Leaf comes with a 40 kWh battery and an estimated range of 226 miles. It comes with both V2H and V2G technology. V2H allows you to store home-generated renewable energy in the car battery. It also allows you to fill your battery when tariffs are low or in times of electricity shortage. The V2G system allows you to supply the electricity stored in your EV’s battery to power grids.
Renault Zoe (1st Gen)
The Renault Zoe is a five-door supermini electric vehicle that comes with V2G technology. This enables V2G charging and allows you to return electricity to the grid. The car comes in two versions: R110 and R135. The R110 is a 52 kWh battery and 108 HP. The R135 comes with a 100 KW Li-Ion battery with 136 HP.
The Honda E has a 35.5 kWh battery and a 170 km range. It can reach from 0 to 100 kph in 9 seconds and has a top speed of 145 kph. It supports 56 kW DC fast charging and can fully charge in 36 minutes. The car supports V2G charging, allowing you to sell electricity at the power grid at higher prices.
Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 comes with an AWD dual-motor. It comes in two versions: short-range and long-range. The short-range version has a range of 422 km, and the long-range version has a range of 568 km. Tesla Model 3 initially didn’t have the V2G charging capability, but the company has recently added it to the vehicle.
What Are the Benefits of Bidirectional Charging?
Peer-to-peer charging brings a lot to the table for EV owners. Here’s why you should opt for a car that supports peer-to-peer charging.
Save Money by Reducing Charging Costs
Owning an EV is generally less expensive than a petrol or diesel car. The cost of fuel is rapidly increasing, making it costlier than ever to maintain a car. You can save a substantial amount of money by owning an EV.
V2G charging helps you save even more money. You can charge your EV during off-peak hours for cheaper rates and use it to power your house during peak electricity hours when the tariff is high. Hence, cars with V2H functionality can help you reduce your electricity bills.
Earn Money and Make Friends
You may not have realized, but you can even earn money with an EV that supports bidirectional charging. You can sell excess energy in your EV back to the power grid. As discussed, the electricity tariffs vary throughout the day. They’re the highest during peak hours and the lowest during off-peak hours.
You can fully charge your EV for cheap during off-peak hours and sell the excess energy back to the grid during peak hours. Though the earnings can vary, estimates suggest you can gain up to €400 a year and €3,700 throughout the lifetime of an EV by selling electricity back to the grid.
Besides, bidirectional charging allows you to become more social. If you see an EV owner whose EV has run out of battery, you can offer them a few miles for free. You can even charge people for this and build an additional source of income.
Bidirectional charging also helps you become energy self-sufficient. If you have solar panels installed and they’re full, you can store the extra power in your EV and use it in your home at night. Or, you can use the stored energy when you drive your EV. This way, you can become energy self-sufficient and reduce your energy expenses.
Besides, some countries have introduced programs to help EV owners implement such self-sufficient systems. The UK has introduced the demand-side response (DSR) program. It provides homeowners with smart meters and enables them to generate energy using renewables like solar photovoltaic and wind energy.
Bi-directional charging is revolutionizing the EV space. Many EV manufacturers like Hyundai and Tesla have introduced V2H, V2G, and V2V charging capabilities into their vehicles. However, please note that EV owners need a bidirectional charger to use this feature. The present technology is in the research phase and requires a lot of development in the upcoming years.
What is an example of bidirectional charging?
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is the most common example of two-way charging. Cars that support V2G can also supply electricity back to the power grid. If these cars have excess power, they can supply it back to the grid to help grid operators manage load during peak hours.
What cars can do V2G?
Most manufacturers with CHAdeMo vehicles are introducing V2G charging. All Nissan Leafs support V2G, along with Nissan e-NV200. Tesla has recently added V2G capabilities to the Model 3. Honda e and Renault Zoe come with EV charging capabilities too. Mitsubishi has also announced Outlander PHEV with V2G capabilities.
Can you make money with an EV charging station and bidirectional charging?
Yes, you can. Many power grid operators, like Jedlix, IoTecha, V2G EVSE, and Fuergy, allow EV owners to supply energy back to the charging station in exchange for money. The rates depend on the charging tariffs. EV owners can charge their EVs when the tariffs are low and supply electricity to the grid when the tariffs are high to make a profit.
Can anyone install an EV charger?
Anyone is allowed to install an EV charger, but you can’t do it by yourself unless you are an electrician. It’s essential to hire a qualified electrician who knows what they’re doing. Even though hiring an electrician may be a bit expensive, it’s a safer option. Taking a DIY approach to install an EV charging network can be risky.
Does V2G reduce battery life?
Yes, V2G can impact battery life. An electric vehicle’s battery has a finite number of charging cycles. Charging and draining the battery too frequently can degrade the battery life and performance. Hence, it’s essential to not overuse the V2G function in your EV.