It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’re taking refuge inside your home. Then, suddenly, the lights are out without even a flicker, along with energy to the fridge, power chargers, and other essential devices. Sure, you can plugin that smelly, clunky generator that loudly tells the neighborhood you’re in blackout mode. Or, with bidirectional charging, you can utilize your electric vehicle’s onboard generator to light up the night.
Bidirectional charging is one of the many advantages electric vehicles (EVs) have over their gas-powered counterparts. It allows EVs to not only receive electricity but dispense it as well. How? Alternating current (AC) that travels from the grid gets converted to direct current (DC) for the vehicle. A properly equipped EV can then send DC power out, converting it to AC that energizes appliances, lights, etc., within your home.
With bidirectional charging, energy flows both in and out of your car. This energy can then be used for vehicle-to-home charging (V2H). It can also be used for vehicle to grid (V2G) charging to help balance local, regional, or even national energy needs.
HOW IT WORKS
V2H: Vehicle to Home
AC power is converted to DC via a system usually contained within the EV charger. Vehicles equipped with V2H capability have onboard power panels that are 120- and 240-volt capable, supplying power to your home through connected extension cords.
V2G: Vehicle to Grid
Idle EVs connected to an electrical source can draw power from the grid during off-peak hours and then send it back during peak hours. This process has the potential to save homeowners money. It also helps support the grid by stabilizing power during momentary spikes and returning power during extreme weather events.
2022 V2H/V2G-ready models include the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Nissan Leaf, and Ford F-150 Lightning. Some vehicles, like new Teslas, can also transfer power using an after-market charger. However, this hack is not supported by Tesla, and doing so may void your warranty.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIDIRECTIONAL CHARGING AND SMART CHARGING
Smart charging occurs when a device or app is used to control charging time and rate. This cloud-based connection controls how information flows between the grid and vehicle. Smart charging makes it possible to know when the power grid needs balancing. And it allows an EV owner or energy company to decide when it’s most efficient to charge based on demand and cost.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF BIDIRECTIONAL CHARGING?
Although the technology exists, compatible vehicles will need to become more widely available and affordable for bidirectional charging to become mainstream in the United States. And it cannot become commonplace without the support of the energy sector and utilities. Fortunately, managing renewable energy through bidirectional charging offers significant benefits to both consumers and utility companies. So if you’re an EV owner or thinking about becoming one, going bidirectional clearly pays off.