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Infrastructure | OCPP

Why flexibility should top your EV charging checklist

November 20, 2020 | Sam Bourne

At EVBox we’re on a mission to build a world where everyday driving is fully electric and emission-free. We know that to succeed, we have to make sure everyone can use our EV chargers and adapt them to their unique, evolving needs. 

Our flexible approach has its roots in Amsterdam, our hometown, where we built the city’s public EV charging infrastructure. Over the past 10 years, we’ve installed more than 150,000 charging ports across Europe, North America, and around the world.

Across the pond, flexibility in EV charging technology is a given. Companies ensure that their products will work with competing brands, for the benefit of customers and the planet. This open-network environment makes it easier for charging station owners to protect their investment over the years. Such openness and flexibility has made it easier for locations to install EV charging with confidence, enabling Europeans to switch from gas cars to EVs at a faster pace (compared to the U.S. and Canada). 


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Flexibility means freedom

If you’re thinking about adding EV charging stations to a public or commercial site, flexibility should top your checklist. EV chargers (the hardware) run network software that allows you to control user access, set pricing, and even monitor and adjust your energy consumption — all important features for a commercial charging location. 

When you invest in EV charging, you don’t want to get locked into a setup that can use only one kind of network software. What happens if that software doesn’t work the way you’d hoped? What if the provider raises their prices? What if the network goes down entirely? These are the questions you don’t need to worry about when you choose hardware that supports multiple software providers. 

With the new Iqon Level 2 charging station, EVBox is taking the same customer-focused flexibility that Europeans have enjoyed for years and bringing it to a North American market that has been dominated by closed EV charging systems — until now.

How? With four letters: OCPP, which stands for Open Charge Point Protocol. Yep, it’s a mouthful. The important part is this: 

Iqon and all EVBox charging stations are fully OCPP-compliant. That little detail is what gives you the freedom to choose the hardware and software combination that works best for you. OCPP also gives you peace of mind that your investment in EV charging will hold its value for years to come. 


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Just the basics on OCPP

OCPP is an open-source communication standard for EV charging stations and software. When stations and software are OCPP-compliant, they can talk to and work with each other, even if they’re created by different companies. 

Used by some of the industry’s biggest players, OCPP has become the global benchmark for interoperability among EV charging service providers. (Check out this blog post for more details). EVBox is the first certified hardware manufacturer of the Open Charge Alliance (the organization that established OCPP), as well as a founding member.


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More choices today

Some EV charging companies are “closed-network,” which means their charging stations are designed to operate only on their own proprietary network software. Some of these companies describe themselves as OCPP-compliant, but what they mean is that their software can be run on third-party hardware — not that their hardware can run third-party software. 

In contrast, charging stations that are fully OCPP-compliant (both the hardware and software are interoperable) are a customer’s “gateway to choice,” says Megha Lakhchaura, our policy director for EVBox North America.

Megha

 


Megha Lakchaura

Director, Public Policy & Utility Programs

North America


OCPP gives charging station owners the ability to choose among a growing number of software vendors. This is important, Megha says, because the software that works best for a large retail store and its stadium-sized parking lot may not be the right fit for an 80-unit apartment complex or a hair salon that wants to add three parking spots for EVs. 

Also, if your charging stations are OCPP-compliant, you can shop around for the best service and price on software. Different network providers will each offer their own pricing packages and features, so finding a match that fits is important. Because they know customers have a choice, companies are motivated to improve their offerings, and keep prices competitive and fair. 


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Future-proof for tomorrow

If you decide you don’t like your software or want to try a brand that offers different features or a better value, OCPP gives you the freedom to easily switch to a new platform — without needing to buy new charging stations. 

To make an analogy: an iPhone owner who grows dissatisfied with AT&T’s wireless service doesn’t have to toss the device and buy a new brand of phone. The customer can keep the iPhone but switch to T-Mobile, Verizon, or another carrier for wireless service.

When you buy an EV charging station from a closed-network brand, you don’t get that flexibility.

“You’re stuck with that charging station for the life of the product,” Megha says. 

OCPP also gives charging stations, and their owners, the flexibility to keep pace with evolving technology. For example, OCPP enables charging station software to be continually upgraded to take full advantage of the growing benefits of smart charging — to profits, the power grid, and the planet. 

Across the board, the open-network environment made possible by OCPP stimulates innovation and rewards companies that serve their customers well.

“I need to make my hardware the best, I need to make my software the best, so my customer will stay with me,” says Erdi Tugmaner, a product marketing manager at EVBox. “I have an incentive to improve.”  

 


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Flexibility in many forms

OCPP is the best example of the flexibility that defines EVBox and the new Iqon charging station. But EVBox products, including Iqon, are flexible in other important ways, too. 

  • Designed for all people — Iqon is ADA-compliant right out of the box, which means anyone can use the station and feel confident they will be able to interact with it easily. The touchscreen display is at a height that works for everyone, including people who use wheelchairs. Iqon’s counterweighted charging cables are easy to reach and maneuver. Up to four languages of your choice are available for the display instructions. And rigorous testing ensures that using Iqon will be an easy, intuitive experience for drivers, whether they are EV veterans or newbies, old or young, no matter their language or ability.

“We are democratizing this EV charging technology because we don’t want to exclude anyone on the EV journey,” Erdi says. 

Erdi-Tugmaner

 


Erdi Tugmaner

Senior Product Marketing Manager

 

  • Customizable for companies — Businesses that install our new EVBox charging stations can have them branded with their company colors, logo, or name, Erdi says. 

  • Array of partners, ready to help — Choosing EVBox charging technology comes with customer support provided by our large partner network. EVBox has more than 40 active reseller and field service partners throughout the U.S. and Canada who can assist with installation, service, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

  • Expanding options for software — The number of software networks that work with EVBox charging stations is growing rapidly. One year ago, customers in the U.S. and Canada had only two choices. Now they can choose from up to eight OCPP-compliant networks that integrate with EVBox hardware, with two more options coming soon. Globally, 58 networks are formally integrated to work with EVBox. And should you choose to use an OCPP-compliant network provider with whom we are not currently integrated, let us know and we’ll do what it takes so that we can work together. 

Ready to find your flexible EV charging solution?

To find out more about Iqon or other EV charging solutions, reach out to our EVBoxers. They’re available anytime to answer your questions. They can also explain available rebates and tax credits that could help you save thousands on your investment in EV charging. 

Reach out

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