Why should anybody be building or developing a cheap open source smart meter for EV charging?
Here are some reasons why I think it’s important:
1. EVs will rule
Electric vehicles (EVs) should gradually replace all gasoline/diesel vehicles, at least let’s hope that is going to be the case.
Tim Urban made a very nice blog post (not really a blog post, it’s more like a short book) about Tesla and all the intricacies of EVs. If you have a couple of hours, read it: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/06/how-tesla-will-change-your-life.html
Tesla has already sparked a movement towards electro-mobility and as Tesla Model 3 enters production (right now, July 2017), let’s hope things will move even faster. If other car companies start to produce reasonable priced EVs for the masses, that actually aren’t ugly and don’t suck, I think we’ll see a huge rise in EVs around the world.
2. EV would be nice, but I live in an apartment
EVs need an source of electricity to get charged. Currently most of the EVs that people are buying are being charged at home (mostly at night), in their garage or in their front yard, plugged into a electric socket that they own. That’s all very nice, but what about the vast numbers of people that don’t own a house with a garage or a front yard?? Where do these people charge their EVs safely, securely and with relevant billing and metering?
As a matter of fact huge number of people live in apartment buildings (I don’t have the statistics yet, but I’ll find out and update).
This would be very nice if everyone lived like this with a Tesla parked in your luxurious mansion with a solar roof (yes, Elon Musk already figured out how to do solar roofs.. check this Youtube video)
But ordinary people in cities tend to live like this:
The harsh reality is that many people live in fact in apartment buildings with shared parking spaces. The pictures are from a simple google search and include apartment buildings in US (Boston, Chicago, San Francisco), Western Europe (London, Paris, Berlin) and Easter Europe (Prague, Bratislava). But I think I don’t need to pull out a picture of every city in the world to illustrate that this is a universal phenomenon.
3. Modern apartment building story
People keep telling me: “Electric cars are just for geeks, dorks, IT dudes, technocrats or rich people. How the hell am I supposed to charge my EV if I don’t have a private garage or yard? I live in an apartment building.”
Well I got frustrated with this argument mainly because they are right. Currently there is no way how to solve this problem. Nabito – the open socket seeks to tackle this problem.
One friend of mine moved to a new apartment building (construction finished in 2015) in Brno, Czech Republic (Hi Fra! 😉 ). They have a private underground parking for residents of that apartment building. As it happened someone was charging their EV (probably a Nissan Leaf or a similar vehicle) in this underground parking lot and after a few weeks/months, the manager of the building realized some serious power is being drawn from the publicly shared electricity outlets that are in the underground. The kilowatt-hours (kWhs) drawn amounted to some serious cash and the manager’s decision was to that ALL residents had to share the bill!! And he prohibited all EV charging on the premises and bolted the sockets.. :-/
I’m sure this story, although as illustrative as one can get, is not a unique occurrence. If we want to make EVs universally plausible, we need to build the infrastructure for them.
4. The thing about EV charging
If you think about the way the majority of us use their vehicles, they tend to be stationary for extended periods of time when we are either sleeping or working. That means the main charging times for any EV should be during night or next to your workplace. The list of places where your car sits idle:
- parked in your garage
- your front yard/driveway
- private residential parking area
- private workplace dedicated parking area
- public parking area near your workplace
- public parking “in the street”
- hotel parking
These places have various security concerns, in the beginning this Nabito covers only private residential parking and hotel parking.
Nabito – the open socket as the solution
The aim of “Nabito – the open socket” project is to create an inexpensive (yet, safe and secure) way, how to create a smart meter with user authorization from any electricity outlet.
If we manage to create a cheap solution that is easy to install and manage and that actually creates incentives for people to install on their own, then we could speed up the electro-mobility revolution by a huge factor.
The “Nabito – the open socket” project does not cover fast charging. To build a fast charging station requires heavy-duty equipment and substantial power supply with high voltages and amperage.