March 29, 2023

The ultimate guide to smart charging for electric vehicles

JuiceBox Pro outside of a multi-unit development

The future of driving suddenly looks electric. Battery Electric Vehicles have grown from barely 1% of all US car sales in 2018, to well over 5% in 2022. Looking forward, experts predict that EVs will make up at least 50% of U.S. car sales by 2030, and California recently announced a ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars, which will take effect in 2035.


This is great news for the planet, but it’s also good for consumers. Over 95% of EV drivers say they won’t go back to gas, because they prefer the electric experience. One reason is that improvements in EV technology have made their batteries, engines, and charging infrastructure more convenient than relying on fossil fuels. Another is that EVs cost about $1,000 less per year to use than gas-powered cars do, mostly thanks to savings on fuel and maintenance. Plus, there are plenty of generous tax incentives for going green!


However, the biggest questions that many people have about going electric pertain to how charging works. For example, what do the “levels” of charging mean, and which one is “best”? When should someone install a home charger, and when should they fill up at a commercial station? What’s the deal with “smart charging”? As demand for EV charging systems grows to power the world’s electric vehicles, these questions will only become more important. And the benefits that smart charging can provide to drivers, to the grid and to the planet will only grow.


Leveling up: The basics of EV charging

There are three different “levels” of EV charging. Most new EVs come with free Level One chargers, which you can plug into normal 120-volt sockets. However, these only provide your battery with 4 to 5 miles of driving range per hour. Because the average new fully-electric vehicle can now travel about 217 miles on a single full charge, Level 1 chargers often take at least 24 hours to completely fill up an EV battery. For many drivers, this is too slow.


JuiceBox Level 2 chargers provide a much faster 12 to 60 miles of driving range per hour of charge, depending on a variety of factors, including the amperage of your charger. For example, the high-performance JuiceBox 48 charges you up the fastest, but needs to be hardwired into your circuitry. Meanwhile, the best-selling JuiceBox 40 works with standard 14-50 and 6-50 sockets, and still charges faster than the JuiceBox 32. Because these options can often completely fill up an empty EV battery each night, almost all EV drivers install a Level 2 home charger.


Level 3 charging—often called DC fast charging—provides the quickest charging rate. However, the high installation costs, the need for a licensed electrician, and complex infrastructure requirements make this charging method impractical as a home charging unit. Level 3 DC chargers are typically found at public charging stations. They can often fill your battery up completely in under an hour, so they’re convenient when you’re on the go.


Which level is right for you?

Surveys suggest that Level 2 charging is generally the best way to refuel by far. All of Enel X Way’s JuiceBoxes use the standard J1772 plug, which works with every EV on the market. And they’ve been rated the “Best Overall EV Charger” by CNET, Popular Mechanics, Car & Driver, Road & Track, This Old House, and others!  Plus, the federal government offers a tax credit for chargers that covers 30% of the costs when census tract requirements are met, and rebates are also available from other sources like state governments and local utilities. Starting January 1, 2023, installations must meet specific census tract requirements to qualify, including being located in a low-income or non-urban area.


If you can’t install a charging station at home, there are still plenty of other viable options. For instance, charging at employee or tenant charging stations can give you more freedom and cheaper energy costs. Employers and landlords should consider offering chargers like the JuiceBox Pro for a variety of reasons. Governments, local utilities, and other organizations offer incentives to make installation of these chargers affordable and effortless. Furthermore, having these chargers can be beneficial to social responsibility goals. Last, but not least, it is a great perk that will become more valuable as more people switch to electric vehicles. If your workplace or apartment building doesn't have these benefits, you should consider suggesting it.


What is smart charging?

Smart electric vehicle charging is the process that allows electric vehicle owners to manage charge time, rate and consumption by connecting their vehicle to the grid. Drivers are then able to easily optimize their charging needs through a software platform like JuiceNet


At any level of EV charging, you can use “traditional” or “smart” chargers. Traditional chargers simply let electrons flow through a given charging cable at its listed voltage level. In contrast, smart chargers allow you to control this flow. For example, the JuiceBox is equipped with WiFi and an app that lets you keep track of your battery's condition and arrange when to charge it. 


The JuiceBox also informs you when your electric vehicle is ready to be charged and when it is finished, which takes the guesswork out of the process. Furthermore, it will remind you to plug your EV in when you are due for a charging session. And it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home gadgets for voice command capability, making it more convenient to use.


Charging smarter: Why it’s a good idea

Smart chargers account for the cost of electricity, its availability and the driver's needs. They also enable users to observe, control, and adjust energy consumption. This is a critical, because it empowers you to tweak your energy consumption based on a variety of factors, such as grid constraints, energy pricing, renewable energy availability, locally stored energy, preconfigured EV owner preferences, and driver needs. This optimization of the charging infrastructure allows for the delivery of available power to EVs in a safe and efficient manner, while also taking into account the power requirements of buildings, homes, and other energy consumers.


By installing a JuiceBox with smart charging capabilities, you can gain access to a range of benefits. Monitor your charge, set schedules, and receive notifications to ensure that your car is never overcharged. We recommend keeping the charge between 20% and 80% of capacity, because this is the best way to maintain your battery. Furthermore, you can pick when to charge your car, taking advantage of off-peak electricity times when energy is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.


As demand for renewable electricity grows to power the world’s electric vehicles, smart EV charging is critical to economically and sustainably updating our energy and transportation systems. By utilizing smart, grid-connected charging stations as flexible energy services, we can meet the needs of today’s EV drivers and provide vital infrastructure needed to meet ambitious sustainability goals across North America.


How you can benefit from smart energy management

By utilizing advanced algorithms and demand side response (DSR), smart energy management software can calculate the ideal time and source to charge vehicles. This near real-time load balancing helps to distribute energy effectively between the grid and vehicles, reducing the risk of exceeding grid capacity during peak usage periods. 


The JuiceNet IoT platform was created to provide intelligent vehicle chargers and value to all stakeholders alike—from EV drivers and businesses to utilities and automakers. With JuiceNet software, EV drivers can charge when electricity rates are low, saving them, their neighbors and the grid precious electricity resources. 


JuiceNet allows drivers to control and manage their electric vehicle’s charging schedule, electricity costs and renewable energy mix. See how your organization can benefit from smart EV charging.


We’re “amped up” for the EV future: Are you?

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, annual passenger EV sales will rise to 10 million in 2025, 28 million in 2030 and 56 million by 2040 globally. And it’s not just cars—trucks, buses, scooters, drones and even planes are going electric, and they’ll need to be charged. And the more intelligently that they’re charged, the more savings we can enjoy from saving money, to saving time, to saving batteries, to saving the planet.


Our JuiceBox chargers already help households across the country power their EVs. If you’re one of the millions of people who plan to get their very first electric car in the near future, get started with a smart JuiceBox charger today.

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