Bi-Directional Charging: Electric Vehicles’ New Secret Weapon?

You probably know that today’s electric cars all have powerful, high-capacity batteries. 

But did you know that you can use your EV’s battery to send electricity back to the grid or power lots of other things besides your car? You can if you have a bi-directional charger, that is. 

With multiple companies now offering two-way charging units in the U.S., bi-directional charging is shaping up to be the next big advantage of owning an EV. So let’s take a quick look at what it is and what it might mean for you.

Why Bi-Directional Charging Makes Sense

We know you love to drive electric. But still, think about how much time every day your EV just sits there with a full charge. It’s a huge, untapped source of electricity.

And that’s where a bi-directional charger comes into play. These units not only charge your EV’s battery from the power grid, but can also send the power back to the grid – what the industry has labeled vehicle-to-grid, or V2G – or to your home (V2H).

By sending power back or reducing demand, this two-way charging capability for EVs may help make the electric grid more reliable and efficient. If your utility has a V2G program, you might even be able to make some money back by supplying power to the grid!

Otherwise, V2H could give you valuable electricity redundancy. You can use your EV’s battery to reduce your electric consumption, which might save you a lot of money during peak-rate hours. And of course, the power would be there as a backup during an outage – no generator required.

More Wonderful Ways to Use V2G, V2H and V2L Charging

Bi-directional charging capability also gives you a potential portable power source. 

Maybe you’re headed to or putting on an outdoor event at a park. Your two-way charger could help you power lighting, audiovisual, foodservice equipment and more. Pretty much anywhere you want electricity that doesn’t have reliable power access is a potential opportunity to use bi-directional charging.

This capability, often called V2L (vehicle-to-load), is now available without a separate charging unit on some EVs – including the Ford F-150 Lightning, Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6. 

Or, do you have solar panels at home? Similar to a home battery pack, you might also use a V2G or V2H system to help store excess electricity for later.

Current Drawbacks of Bi-Directional Charging 

So, why wouldn’t you just run out and buy a two-way charger for your EV right now?

  1. Cost. As anyone who has bought a Level 2 home charger knows, electric car charging units aren’t cheap! Due to the hardware and smart tech required – for efficient DC-AC power inversion – two-way chargers can also be costly, to the tune of hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
  2. Limited options. The market is only now heating up, so there still aren’t that many different units available. Meanwhile, not all EVs are compatible with bi-directional charging, as it requires a certain level of battery and power electronics capabilities.
  3. Regulatory challenges. No standard protocols or regulations currently govern bi-directional charging. Policies on V2G also vary from utility to utility. 
  4. Battery degradation concerns. Tesla has been notably cautious about jumping into the bi-directional charging game, possibly out of concerns that V2G or V2H would put too much stress on their batteries. But most research shows the EV batteries perform better over time when used regularly, so it’s possible that bi-directional charging may actually be beneficial.

What’s Next for Two-Way Charging

Despite the currently limited options for V2G, V2H and V2L capabilities, the market is rapidly gaining momentum, with Ford, GM, Hyundai and Volkswagen all moving forward with bi-directional charging initiatives in one form or another.

As we look for ways to further reduce power demands (and thus reduce the CO2 emissions driving the climate crisis, widespread two-way charging appears to be a no-brainer once we sort out the technical details. 

Do you have bi-directional charging capability with your EV, and have you used it? Are you interested in giving it a try? If so, you can always earn cash back points when you buy a new bi-directional charging unit with your Bluedot Debit Card! 😉

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