Electric car charging company Ecotality has integrated its Blink car charger with Cisco’s home energy management systems. The Cisco-Ecotality parntership will allow electric car charging status and electricity rates gathered by the Blink charger (pictured, above) to be viewable on a Cisco home energy controller (pictured, below).
Given that a charging station is already something of an in-home energy metering and display device, integrating it with a home energy manager is a a logical next step as electric vehicles mark one of the first smart-home ready products.
The partnership reflects the increasingly connected world of electricity management, thanks to the growth of the smart grid and the high-tech approach needed by electric car users.
Electric vehicles pose a concern for utilities and customers because of their potential to overload the grid and the possibility of running out of battery while driving. So automakers and charging companies have worked to solve those problems with solutions that allow customers to remotely view best times to charge (reflecting discounted rates for charging in off-peak hours), pre-program charge times, check in on charge status remotely, locate charging stations and pre-heat or pre-cool the car while it is still plugged in.
The Cisco/Ecotality combined service will be rolled out as a part of Ecotality’s EV Project, a $230 million rollout of about 15,000 public and residential electric car chargers and a study of charging habits supported in part by US Department of Energy dollars.
As more and more utilities plan to convert to the smart grid, billions of dollars in smart grid opportunities are expected to open up in the next few years. Major players like LG, Intel and GE have all launched home energy management and smart home, smart appliance-related products.
Cisco is one of many major technology companies moving forcefully into the smart grid. Last year, it acquired Arch Rock Systems, a wireless network technology provider for IP-based smart grid systems, and also partnered with smart meter maker Itron.