I work at a charge point operator, and I am a big open source fan and so I am trying to find a way to bring the awesome service that is OpenEnergyMonitor a bit of a revenue stream I guess, but I wanted to get some feedback from the community on the whole thing.
So please forgive me if I have picked the wrong thread, I am new to forums. We install charge points and to help customers we go through the Government subsidised OLEV grant scheme here in the UK. This helps people pay for the chargers and it helps us sell them. However, at the moment there is no centralised way of providing the reporting required by OLEV for workplace installations. This reporting is a simple .csv file that has to be emailed directly to OLEV and it proves the charger is being used etc. What I am thinking is that if you guys could make a product that is certified tamperproof that all the customers have to do is put their charger details and the unit, with a CT clamp, will report for them. So I am not sure if the ESP can do this alone, or if it needs the help from a RPi or something but I shouldn’t think so. What we would like to do is offer these devices as complete reporting solutions to our customers and we connect the device for them, put the details in and OLEV get their reporting and the customers get their grant and over all more people drive EVs and we help our poor planet - my overall goal always. At the moment, customers have to pay for a reporting service from a charger manufacturer and this is always inflated and at times clunky. This can actually be a barrier to customers going electric and I would like to try and get rid of that barrier.
We would need this device in a complete little package (tamperproof), maybe a few LEDs to show errors etc and then connection to the emoncms where we can enter details of chargers etc and go from there.
My idea is that a lot of commercial/workplace people want certain chargers for a variety of reasons like aethetics and so on. Our business model revolves around being agnostic so we can install any charger. My idea with the external reporter device and CT clamp is that this also keeps it agnostic so we can link it up in any place with any charger and ultimately get more people going electric.
As a community please give me your feedback and once again I am sorry if I have picked an inappropriate thread, it is not my intention to annoy anyone. All I know is that opensource needs funding and I would like to try help with that and due to my work environment I have observed a niche. If you think about how many chargers will be going in with the rise of EVs in the UK and the world this could be an ideal way to boost opensource hardware. If we get super excited we could get the RPi foundation involved and all sorts. I think green energy solutions harmonises so well with opensource and I would like to try and crack the commercial shield with this kind of partnership.
OK enough from me. Please let me know your thoughts as a community.
We’re very excited about EV’s and a low carbon transportation future. Both I and co-founder @TrystanLea Leaf drive Nissan Leafs.
The reporting niche is an interesting idea. We have the capability to to monitor the energy consumption and post the data to Emoncms. It was be trivial in software to be able to determine the charge start and end time based on the power consumption. The tricky part would be making it billing grade and tamper proof. This main issues I see are:
Our CT based monitors have not been approved for billing grade monitoring
Out system usually uses WiFi to upload, which may or may not be reliable depending on the installed location and being at the mercy of the companies IT infrastructure. GSM would probably be a better upload method, this increases cost and complexity.
How long do you think the OLEV grant and associated reporting requirements will be around for? My concern if we spend the next 12 months developing a bespoke solution only for the OLEV grant and reporting to be stopped! I personally think the benefits of installing EV charger are strong enough without any grant, especially as costs reduce. Do you think that the OLEV grants been helping to keep prices of charging station installations artificially high?
Recently we have been involved in developing the OpenEVSE charging station and software to link the station to our energy monitoring platform to allow the charging station to modulate the charging rate based on the excess solar PV generation as well as logging data to Emoncms directly from the charging station. The OpenEVSE is fully tested to USA standards, we would really like to get it approved here in the UK for the OLEV grant. We’re yet to publicise the solar PV diversion features since it’s still in beta but almost ready for a stable release, see forum thread:
Are you familiar with the OLEV certification process? I’m happy to have a chat please send me a PM or call our office, the phone number is on our website https://megni.co.uk
Thank you for your response. I think it’s awesome you guys drive Leafs, so do we here at work. We are really excited for the greener transport future as well and are trying to find clever ways to get the public on board with it all.
The reporting niche is basically something we spend a lot of time talking about somehow. We always start off our conversations with customers about EV cars, charging etc and we usually get quite far and then when they are told they have to pay annual fees for the chargers just to tell OLEV that they are being used they get annoyed. So, hence my getting in touch because it is so simple yet it is being made complicated.
Yes, the billing grade and tamperproof are issues I thought you might mention. I think it would be worth our while helping you get the CT base monitors approved so we can set this up. Perhaps we can talk more on this as we go.
The WiFI issue isn’t as bad as you may think. At the moment we use all forms of communication for the reporting. Some charging companies already use WiFi (EO Charging). We can also get the grant for people even if they don’t have the reporting going by proving that they don’t have communication capabilities. For example, we have installed chargers in peoples’ cellars where the WiFi doesn’t make it. The issue of the ISP is another one that requires thought, but OLEV do only want an email and I feel we could chuck in some encryption or something to make the communication hack proof. I am not sure, your thoughts would be valuable to me on that one.
We think the OLEV grant will not stop for at least 5 years because it will run until the gap between EVSE and EVs in general and normal cars is small enough to allow most of the public to access the goods. The time it is going to take for an EV to be as cheap as a petrol (earth killing) car at about £500, is going to be a while and we feel the Gov. will not stop the grant until this point occurs. In the meantime, we will continue to install chargers and build the infrastructure the UK needs to meet the GOV’s claims about 2040 etc and again I reckon we could capitalise on the niche we are discussing. I think you could be exactly right in that the OLEV grant has been helping charger manufacturers to keep their prices up, however, we try to operate within the reality of the coal face and that is that chargers aren’t that cheap and so to help we offer to do all the paperwork and claiming of the grant for our customers all in the aim of getting them to drive with zero emissions. It is a stupid capitalist loop, I agree with you, but again we have to deal with the fact that OLEV market their grant well and they actively use it as a lever to encourage people into going EV. So I figured we might as well help reduce costs and fund opensource all at once.
The Solar PV stuff you are working on is awesome. I have been watching it. We have been also watching the Zappi which has made lots of promises and is still not available and I feel your tech is so much further ahead and at least you aren’t lying to the public saying it will be ready when it isn’t. I think the RPi/Arduino combo is also more robust but anyway, I am biased like you so moving on. To give you some background, the other company I help with, the one that started the company I work for, is called East Green Energy and they do PV, Biomass, Ground/Air source heat exchange pumps etc and the whole integration of PV and we also do battery storage, the integration of the two into charging is something that so makes sense and we have been dying to offer a holistic green solution. The kind of ‘charge your battery storage with Solar and then charge and run your EV with the battery storage’ and of course run your home etc. The truth is the potential is huge and if you guys get your chargers OLEV approved we would love to start installing them for you as well. A lot of the people we do heat exchange pumps for and Biomass boilers also love to monitor their cool green tech and we have been working with MeterOnline and I think you guys could make something equally, if not better for us to install as well and the emoncms is lovely to look at (I love the slight adafruit MQTT interface vibe).
We work with the likes of Sonnen and Tesla battery storage and ETA for boilers and Kensa for heat pumps and all sorts and I am guessing some beta testing might be useful for you. I would be happy to assist with this. We use EVs at work and we could try some prototypes if you are keen, as you mentioned the coding required is super simple (I wish I could code, I admire you guys) and I think it would be great to develop the stronghold of OpenEnergyMonitor some more and we can with tailored devices.
I am unfortunately not familiar with the OLEV certification process but our friends over at EO Charging are and I would be happy to put you in touch with them if you like.
Interesting thread - I’m looking at installing chargers where I work.
For metering/billing purposes, it would be easier to install an in-circuit meter/amp counter of which there are many that support modbus or other types of communication - these meters are already certified as accurate, so only the communications would need to be sorted out.
I am not too pro at the technical side of this but if we can do it with existing infrastructure and only need to add something small that would be great.
I was looking at the Iota wifi energy monitor, this could be the product we need. Just CT clamp the charger’s cable and have the meter export data in the specified config for OLEV. With regards to it being tamper-proof, I was thinking we could introduce a downtime corollary. So once an electrician commissions the meter, then any downtime experienced by the meter after that date and time can work as a flag for tampering?