Concept: Montreal startup Dcbel has launched r16 hardware that facilitates bi-directional power flow between an electric vehicle (EV), home, rooftop solar array, and the electric grid. The system can convert an EV battery into backup power at times of need. This makes it easy to turn a smart home into a mini smart electric grid.

Nature of Disruption: The r16 system can accept DC (direct current) power coming from solar panels to charge EVs more quickly and can also optimize EV charging from the grid. While there is a rise in peak power pricing of consumer electricity prices during high demand, the r16 can charge the EV when prices come down during low demand. Additionally, homeowners can avoid expensive grid power during peak pricing and harness stored power from the EV battery through the r16. Moreover, if the grid shuts down, the r16 can leverage the bidirectional nature of CHAdeMO, which is a quick charging system for EVs that use a special electrical connector to produce up to 62.5 kW by 500 V, 125 A direct current, to pull the power back into the home and get the user through the blackout. If the situation do not improve, users could even go down to the nearest DC fast charger and bring it back recharged.

Outlook: Dcbel claims that its r16 is not just an advanced solar inverter or fast residential bidirectional EV charger available, but the first smart home and EV energy appliance that can serve as a home’s smart energy controller. It can adapt to a user’s habits and provide optimized, autonomous, and clean power whenever needed. Presently, the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Outlander are the EVs equipped to work with bi-directional energy flow. Dcbel anticipates more EV models will hit the market which can take advantage of power management in between an EV, home, and electric grid. Currently, CHAdeMO is the only EV charging standard that accepts bidirectionality. However, CCS (combined charging system) does not accept bidirectionality, is increasingly gaining ground. Once the support is usable, Dcbel can include the required upgrade for the r16.

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