For all the talk we’ve heard of using EVs to share power back to the power grid, earning car owners money from utility companies (!), or as de-facto extra batteries for storing excess solar-generated home energy, there exists no affordable option for making this possible. Until now, bi-directional chargers, which can take energy from a home’s solar array or link to the power grid to charge up an electric car as well as suck energy from said car’s battery when, say, the power goes out or the grid needs help, have been expensive and rare. Spanish EV-charging device company Wallbox is about to change that with its Quasar bi-directional charger.
After launching in the U.K, the device is being launched at the 2020 CES in Las Vegas. It will be reconfigured for North American use by converting the plug from CHAdeMO spec to our CCS standard. It is no larger than typical level-2 chargers, yet is designed to provide up to 7.4 kW of power flow at 32 amps when charging your car or powering the grid. That size is a huge improvement over today’s much larger commercial bi-directional chargers, which have mostly been installed by fleet operators. Wallbox CTO Eduard Castañeda Mañe notes that this downsizing was made possible by advances in materials and a rework of the internal inverter—note that giant finned aluminum heat-sink just behind the unit’s visible grille. Those big commercial units also cost about triple the anticipated $4,000 selling price of the Wallbox Quasar.
Sure, four thousand bucks may still be about ten times the cost of a level-2 charger you could find on Amazon, but with any luck you may not have to pony up that full amount. In the Quasar’s initial U.K. test market, utilities Octopus Energy and ScottishPower both offered the units to customers for little or no money out of pocket with the proviso that the utility be allowed to draw energy back out of the customer’s car for two hours per day.
You may be wondering, “what if the power company sucks my EV battery “dry?” Naturally, the onboard intelligence and smart-phone controls allow you to set parameters to prevent this, and they also allow you to program charging and discharging so that you can sell battery power and/or power your home from the car battery during peak energy-cost hours, and recharge off-peak, thus saving or potentially earning money overall. The unit also features facial recognition, gesture control, and Bluetooth-proximity authentication so you can authorize family, friends or neighbors to control your Wallbox. Secure! Californians might be uniquely interested—without sounding unsympathetic, we’d suggest Golden State EV owners get their hands on a Wallbox in time for this summer’s near-guaranteed Pacific Gas and Electric scheduled blackouts.
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