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Infrastructure | OCPP

EV charging hardware and software: The importance of OCPP

November 20, 2020 | Sam Bourne and Wesley van Barlingen

Electric mobility is undoubtedly on the rise. Today, there are over 10 million electric vehicles registered on the road, and according to the International Energy Agency, that number will increase to 145 million by the end of the decade.

As a result, more and more EV charging stations are being installed all over the world. While many business owners are looking into which EV charging station would fit their needs best, the software powering those stations is often overlooked. 

Generally speaking, EV charging stations are a long-term investment and you want to make sure you have an optimal setup that is flexible enough to adapt to your needs in the future. 

Consider the systems you connect with 

Lots of EV charging manufacturers prefer to connect their customers to their software. This, of course, makes total sense. Besides the obvious business benefits for the manufacturer, working with hardware and software from the same company usually comes with many benefits for the customer as well—they’re made for each other, after all.

A commercial parking space with EVBox chargers and a mockup of EVBox software showing an easy to-use and insightful dashboard.

However, while investing in hardware that only works with its brand of software might be an enticing idea in the short term, it can limit businesses tremendously in the long run. For example, when station owners want to connect their stations to existing systems already in place or when they wish to work with a preferred software network, this “single provider solution” can become very limiting, very quickly.

This is why OCPP-compliance and certification are so important.

What does OCPP stand for?

OCPP stands for Open Charge Point Protocol, 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 synonymous with interoperability among EV charging service providers. EVBox is a founding member of the Open Charge Alliance (the organization that established OCPP) and is the first hardware manufacturer to receive OCPP certification.

Flexibility in EV charging technology is essential

EV charging manufacturers that adhere to the OCPP standard ensure that their products will work with competing brands, for the benefit of customers and the planet. Working with an open-network solution makes it easier for charging station owners to protect their investment over the years. 

The freedom of choice

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 its prices? What if the network goes down entirely? These are things you don’t have to worry about when you choose hardware that supports multiple software providers and software that operates on multiple brands of EV charging hardware. 

A visual that represents the EVBox  charging solution ecosystem consisting of Hardware, Services and Software. In this image, the software element is expended with examples of software providers that EVBox works with: AmpUp, Chargelab, EVconnect, EVGATEWAY, Greenlots, Noodoe, SWYCHmobility, and more.

More choices today

Some EV charging companies are “closed-network,” which means their charging stations are designed to operate only on their proprietary network software. Some of these companies still describe themselves as OCPP-compliant, but what they mean is that their software can 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.

A profile picture of Megha Lakchaura Director, Public Policy & Utility Programs North America at EVBox.

 


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 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.


A mock-up of EVBox software solution. The dashboard shows the 'Static Smart Charging' feature. This allows the user to set maximum current usage per day (and/or on specific time-slots).

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 their wireless service doesn’t have to throw away their device in order to switch networks. They can keep the iPhone but switch the SIM card to another carrier for wireless service. Same thing if they liked their network but were unhappy with their phone. The device can work on multiple networks, and the SIM card can work in multiple phones. This is true hardware/network interoperability.

When you buy an EV charging station from a closed-network brand, you don’t get that flexibility. In addition, OCPP gives charging stations, and their owners, a leg up when it comes to keeping pace with evolving technology. When customers always have the option to switch to a new software network or choose different hardware when they add more charging ports, the companies providing those solutions are incentivized to constantly be looking for new ways to innovate and improve while keeping their prices competitive.

“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, Head of Product Marketing at EVBox. “Being OCPP-compliant gives us the incentive to always be improving.”

A profile picture of Erdi Tugmaner Senior Product Marketing Manager at EVBox.

 


Erdi Tugmaner

Senior Product Marketing Manager

 

 

A global map showing that EVBox has 65 OCPP-compliant networks integrated globally

EVBox and OCPP

EVBox’s customer-focused flexibility for integrated solutions prevents customers from being dominated by closed EV charging systems. All EVBox charging stations are fully OCPP-compliant, giving 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.

EVBox's portfolio of charging hardware that is fully OCPP certified by the Open Charge Alliance, we see (from left to right)  EVBox Elvi, EVBox BusinessLine, EVBox Iqon, EVBox Ultroniq.


Flexibility in many forms

OCPP is the best example of the flexibility that defines EVBox. But EVBox products are flexible in other important ways, too. 

EV charging stations designed for all people

Our EVBox Iqon, Troniq, Ultroniq, and Troniq Modular charging stations are user-friendly and designed to be accessible to anyone. The touchscreen display is at a wheelchair-accessible height. Our 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 our stations 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.

Customer-branded EV charging stations for businesses

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

An array of partners, ready to help

Choosing EVBox charging technology comes with customer support provided by our large partner network. EVBox has active reseller and field service partners worldwide 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. Globally, more than 65 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.

Find your flexible EV charging solution

Get more information about our OCPP-compliant solutions by speaking to one of our experts.

Talk to an expert

 

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