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ZigBee certified electric vehicle charger communicates with smart meters

An Australian-produced ChargeIQ electric vehicle charger has been given the green light by a Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial participant, with the innovation receiving high points for user-friendliness, flexibility, cost-savings and sustainability.

Developed by Australian technology company DiUS Computing, ChargeIQ is the only electric vehicle charger used in the Victorian Department of Transport’s recent Demand Response Load Control Electric Vehicle Trial.

What sets ChargeIQ apart is that it is the only ZigBee certified electric vehicle charger with the ability to communicate with smart meters.

ChargeIQ also features a web interface and smartphone application that allows drivers to take advantage of flexible pricing to reduce the cost of their electric vehicle charging.

As part of the trial, which ran from June to December 2012, motorists used grid-friendly charging – allowing their vehicles to be charged according to the needs of the electricity network provider and demands on the grid at any given time.

Vehicles were charged in peak, off-peak and emergency charge management times, testing the premise that if cars can be charged when demand for electricity is lower, drivers will save money and help avoid electricity price rises for everyone.

Engineer-turned-primary school teacher Howard Elston tested out the capabilities of ChargeIQ on a Mitsubishi iMiev loaned to him for the three months of the study.

A ChargeIQ unit was installed in the backyard of the home he shares with his wife in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.

Elston says he was thrilled with how easy ChargeIQ was to use, not to mention how much money he saved.

“It costs me about $2 to $2.50 per charge, and you get about 100 kilometres on a charge. It’s great because you simply plug it in and turn on the mode you want it to charge in,” Elston said.

Flexibility was another major advantage. “If I came home I knew I had to go out again in the evening, I would plug it in, it would give me a few hours of charging and away we go,” Elston said.

“Alternatively, if I had been driving around for a few days and I knew it had been getting low, I would simply plug in ChargeIQ and put it on the off-peak mode. I could be confident it was minimising my charge costs because it was sitting there overnight waiting for the price to drop and then it would charge up,” he said.

Howard Elston tested out the capabilities of ChargeIQ on a Mitsubishi iMiev loaned to him.[Howard Elston installed a ChargeIQ unit in the backyard of his home in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.]

DiUS founder and co-director Joe Losinno said Elston’s commitment to a sustainable future made him an ideal trial participant.

Along with his job teaching Year 5’s at Kingswood College, he also has the role of Sustainability Co-ordinator at the school.

“Elston represents the future environmentally and economically, he is typical of the future energy and cost conscious householder.”

“He is an early adopter of solar, flexible tariffs, smart energy technology and is an active contributor to the trial participants EV forum. In future many more householders will follow in his footsteps,” Losinno said.

So enthused was Elston about his experience using ChargeIQ that he has now signed up to participate in a second three month trial, this time with a Nissan Leaf.

Hearing of Elston’s experiences with ChargeIQ confirmed to Losinno that electric vehicle charging was ready to be taken a step further.

“DiUS has spent more than three years developing ChargeIQ and in addition to the cost saving benefits, that participants found it easy to use and a flexible aspect of their everyday lives confirmed a key design objective for the product,” he said.

Losinno said he looked forward to sharing the results and further insights from the Demand Response Load Control Trial, due to be released in the coming weeks.

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