EZ-Charge: Electric vehicle charging solutions made simple
23rd November 2021

Part of the award-winning Zeta Group, the world’s largest supplier of solar powered LED lighting in the transport and infrastructure sector, EZ-Charge was the inspiration of CEO Phil Shadbolt OBE. After investing in an Electric Vehicle (EV) himself, he became tired of all the confusing public EV-charging systems. Using the resources and knowledge of The Zeta Group, we launched UK based research, design, development and manufacture for an easy to use, high quality, very reliable charger.

 

Project & Partners

As an Oxfordshire business, we wanted rollout our product in a locally beneficial way. Working in partnership with the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford University and Urban Integrated, we agreed to deliver up to 250 22kW fast charge points across 20 public car parks within Oxfordshire.

 

What was the problem?

The main issue that could hinder the adoption of EVs: What if you cannot charge your car at home? Up to 50% of households in Oxfordshire don’t have access to off-street parking, therefore they can’t install a home charger [1]. This percentage of the population is unlikely to want to buy an EV.

 

Solution

Our solution is Park and Charge. Users can park for free overnight and collect their vehicle charged up in the morning for a low price. Users can arrive anytime, swipe their contactless card or use the app for a straight-forward charging experience. Using our intelligent site-location tool, we’ve identified the optimum car parks to provide the best service to residents. Chargers will be located in safe areas with low crime rates, council owned for ease of access and have CCTV at selected locations.

 

The Product

The EZ-Charge charger is the product of extensive UK research and development by Zeta engineers to create the perfect charger for this application. The key features of the charger are: simplicity for customer use, reliability to ensure high uptime and its smart load balancing and limiting features.

Simple

Our charger is one of the few on the market with contactless payment for AC charging. Rapid DC chargers often have the option of contactless but for most AC units you have to sign up to pay for your charge.

Reliable

Reliability is another important factor for public EV chargers. A public-charging survey by RAC stated reliability was the most important factor in their study [2]. To address this issue our charger was designed with reliability at the forefront of our priorities. Every component in the EZ-Charge charger has component monitoring wires connected to their own power supply. It sends a signal to our back-office system the instant faults are detected. The units also have a dual watchdog computer monitoring system, meaning there are 2 controllers within the charger which are constantly testing each other for faults, if any problem arises the computers will reboot each other, if this does not fix the fault, they will alert our central management system.

 

Smart

The impact on the national power grid from all this new EV charging equipment should always be considered as a priority. As stated in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “maintaining the balance of loads among phases, is crucial for power grid operation” [3]. Our Smart Load Balancing feature distributes the electrical load on each phase of the power grid dynamically, ensuring no phase is out of balance. This Load-Balancing feature is patent pending and unique to EZ-Charge.

A further load-management feature of our chargers is to limit the total power supplied to the charging hub. Each site connected to the electrical grid will have a restriction on how much power can be taken. Exceeding this can cause issues to the grid and would result in a penalty by the District Network Operator (DNO). Our chargers won’t reach this limit; therefore, we maintain a good relationship with the DNO.

 

Data management and analysis

Our smart back-office is another key aspect; along with Urban Integrated we’ve developed software that monitors all networked chargers and displays key data which councils can view anytime. This data includes total energy drawn, utilisation rates of chargers, most popular sites, times and days. Appealing to local authorities, they can keep track of our performance against the Charge-Point Operator Contract and make sure we’re upholding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Local engineers are being trained to support the project through routine inspections, planned maintenance and response.

 

Tariffs

Tariffs encourage maximum usage, ensuring the most competitive rates are on offer always. Overnight tariffs allow locals to charge at a discount. Extensive studies capture tariff charges across multiple EV charging schemes to develop the best system for our customers.

 

Reservations

A reservation feature allows users to book a charger for a specified time, they can charge when they need it. This is being introduced to reduce range anxiety amongst EV users.

 

Our Vision

Our aspirations are to grow Park and Charge Oxfordshire into a nationwide scheme; we believe we have developed the best end-to-end solution for local authorities (LA’s) to develop their own EV charging infrastructure. We can provide the consultancy, site evaluations, state of the art chargers, back-office software and charging hub installations for any UK county.

You can see the first of our locations at the Bicester Cattle Market Car Park. We have 6 EV Chargers installed, supplying up to 12 vehicles with power at any time.

 

 

References

[1] Statistics by University of Oxford using data from National Travel Survey and National Census Data.

 

[2] ‘The best and worst electric vehicle charging networks revealed’, RAC, Jan 2021, https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/revealed-uks-top-ranking-electric-vehicle-charging-networks/

 

[3] ‘Phase Balancing Using Energy Storage in Power Grids under Uncertainty’ IEEE, Nov 2015, multiple authors, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1505.03187.pdf

 

About the author

Peter
Shadbolt
EZ-Charge
EZ-Charge is part of the Zeta Group, one of the most innovative SMEs in the UK. With over 30 years experience in developing smart Electronic solutions, we are an award winning company that focuses on renewable energy solutions. We really care about the environment, our customers, and technology and will strive to give you the best solution for your application and pocket.

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