Creating Wi-Fi-enabled EV Charging Stations

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Spurring the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) into mainstream markets with the design of chargers embedding technologies like Wi-Fi and NFC.

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) is forecasted to rise over the next five years, with significant growth of over 50 percent globally. However, massive adoption has not yet occurred due to their high cost and vehicle range limitations. One solution to extend range is better batteries but that hasn’t happened yet. Thus, speeding EV growth, for now, requires the rapid development of charging stations and charging piles, as well as faster and easier charging methods.

Let’s clarify a few definitions on charging systems. A charging station is also known as an EV charging station, charging pile and charge point. It is part of an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for recharging EVs.

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EV chargers are broadly classified into three categories, Level 1, 2 and 3 chargers based on their power and charging capabilities. These three types can be further classified into alternating current (AC) chargers and direct current (DC) chargers based on charging technology.

  • Level 1 AC chargers employ a slow rate of charging, using low battery-charge currents to avoid damaging the battery cells; a slow charging rate also facilitates alignment with the energy capacity of the local grid connection.
  • Level 2 AC chargers, typically located at public charge stations, tap into the higher current connections available in commercial buildings.
  • Technology innovations have led to the advent of Level 3 DC chargers. A Level 3 charger contains its own high-voltage AC/DC power supply, bypassing the on-board charger (AC/DC) on the vehicle to provide very high power charge levels.
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EV charging reference designs

Here are two reference designs that help engineers develop equipment that accelerate the adoption of Electric Vehicles into mainstream markets.

Wi-Fi Enabled Level 1 and Level 2 Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE)

Although Level 3 chargers have relatively faster charging times compared to Level 1 &2 chargers, the former makes up for less than 10% of the total deployments worldwide. Such extended charging time (Level 3 chargers included) has been a major deterrent in the adoption of electric vehicles. Adding remote monitoring and control capabilities to EVSE can help alleviate the inconvenience caused to EV owners from such extended charging times. For example, being able to remotely monitor and reserve a slot with EVSEs in the office parking lot, or at a public charging station in a mall or a freeway can eliminate the uncertainty associated with finding an EV charger at your next stop. Automatic text message when an EV charging is complete can ensure that the user makes space for the next user without added delay. Being able to automate the charging times & conditions for your EV when it’s plugged in at home would allow for EV to be charged during off-peak hours when the grid tariff is lower.

TI’s Wi-Fi Enabled Electric Vehicle Service Equipment Reference Design (TIDC-EVSE-WiFi) is a perfect fit to meet the remote monitoring and control requirements discussed in the use cases above. Adding Wi-Fi to EVSE allows for monitoring of the EVSE from any Wi-Fi connected device by a standard web browser.

The TIDC-EVSE-WIFI implements a J1772-compliant level 1 and level 2 EVSE with added Wi-Fi functionality. The CC3100 network processor enables highly embedded devices like the EVSE to easily connect to an existing wireless network or directly to a device. to allow remote-power monitoring and control of the charging state of the connected electric vehicle.
See the news release: TI reference design adds Wi-Fi capability to electric vehicle stations

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NFC Authentication for an EV Charging Station (Pile)

The TIDC-EVSE-NFC reference design integrates TI’s NFC technology with an existing EVSE platform to enable user authentication. The NFC standard comprises many different sub-technologies and working groups, making integration into a specific system difficult. Using this reference design and certified software in this design, developers can ensure that the standards are met, as well as simplify the development process. An example software is included to show how simple it is to integrate NFC into an EVSE design.

Features include full implementation of J1772-compliant service equipment, ability to read and write NFC type 2, 3, 4A, 4B and 5 tag platforms, high current relay drivers for support of high current contractors and integrated utility meter-grade energy measurement.

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