How to power your home with ‘vehicle to grid’ technology?

We all know about plugging in your electric car to charge it up. Now if you’re lucky enough to be able to do that at home, at some point it may occur to you that you have a pretty large, fully charged battery regularly sitting outside your home. Particularly should you encounter a domestic power outage of some kind, “Now if only there was a way to run your home off the car?” you’d no doubt find yourself pondering.

It’s not actually as fanciful an idea as you may think. Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology not only revolutionises the utility of electric vehicles (EVs) but also offers innovative solutions for home energy management.

What is Vehicle-to-Grid Technology?

Vehicle to Grid is as exactly as described, and the crucial bit of information you would be interested in is that it could save you money!

The tech allows electric vehicles to interact with the power grid in a two-way fashion: EVs can draw energy for charging and return energy to the grid or homes. This interaction is made possible through the EVs’ battery capacity, which, when not in use, can serve as an external ‘spare battery’.

In addition to taking the place of the backup generator should there be an interruption in the grid, it could also be beneficial should you have a multi-rate energy tariff. In order to save on your electricity bill, you could charge your car when the rates are low, and then use it to power domestic appliances in your home at peak times when rates are more expensive.

Factor in adding solar panels to your home, and using them to charge your car, and potentially you could cut your energy bill to pretty much negligible!

Your car can become a power source for your camping trip. Picture from WapCar.

Pioneers of V2L Technology: BYD ATTO 3 and Beyond

Many manufacturers are developing or have already enabled their electric cars to be used as power sources. Always ask the dealer and look for terms like V2G, V2H (Vehicle to House) and V2L (Vehicle to Load).

One of these is the BYD ATTO 3, equipped with “Mobile Power Station,” technology. This V2G-enabled car is a potential power source for your home. With V2L output capabilities, the BYD ATTO 3 can supply electricity back to your home or power devices directly – you can plug devices into your car, say for example a fridge or an electric cooker during a camping trip.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its sister car, the Kia EV6 also have V2L functionality. Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickup truck also provides both V2L and V2H which adds to its considerable functionality, along with several other EVs currently available.

The BYD ATTO 3 is equipped with “Mobile Power Station,” technology. This V2G-enabled car is a potential power source for your home, with the right bi-directional charger.

How does it work?

For V2G functionality, a compatible EV and a bi-directional smart charger are essential. Once installed at home, this charger allows electricity to flow both to the vehicle for charging and from the vehicle back to the power grid or home. Homeowners can utilise their EV battery as temporary energy storage, drawing energy during peak hours or outages.

In this way it affords residents the ability to enhance their homes’ energy independence, reducing reliance on the grid. Meanwhile cutting your bills is a tangible bonus in these times when we have to be more careful with our finances; it’s also a boon for the environment, optimising renewable energy use and reducing the need for additional fossil fuel-based power generation.

“V2G” charging explained. Video by Wall Street Journal video journalist George Downs on YouTube.

Is this tech available now?

The availability of the V2G smart home chargers varies according to region and depends on market demand, technical feasibility and regulatory frameworks.

In countries with advanced EV infrastructure, like parts of Europe, the United States, and Japan, smart home chargers compatible with V2G are more readily available. Companies in these regions are actively investing in and developing V2G-compatible charging solutions.

However, in emerging markets, the availability of V2G chargers is less widespread, due to infrastructure still in the nascent stages in many of these regions, which affects the availability of advanced charging systems like V2G chargers.

Keep in mind that not all EVs are currently V2G compatible, plus the V2G chargers are generally more expensive and the installation involves more complexity than a standard charger.

Nonetheless, the outlook for V2G is positive, with growth expected as the market for EVs continues to expand and renewable energy integration becomes a higher priority worldwide.

Also, as renewable energy sources become more prevalent, the need for effective energy storage solutions like V2G increases, effectively storing excess renewable energy and addressing intermittency issues.

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16 Jan, 2024