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Vehicle-to-grid technology explained

By David Bonnici, 13 Oct 2020 Car Advice

Nissan Lea vehicle to home

V2G allows an electric vehicle to return power to the grid and even run home appliances

Electric vehicles can use the national electricity grid to draw a charge, but some EVs such as the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can return the favour by supplying their reserve battery levels back to the grid in times of high demand. 

The system, called Vehicle-to-grid (V2G), uses a two-way charging port connected to the home that can either draw or supply power between a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) and the electricity grid, depending on where it’s needed most.

MORE: Nissan Leaf V2G trial in ACT

This technology can help stabilise power supply during times of high demand and combat against blackouts, though the concept unlikely to have a real impact for several years or until there is a sufficient number of EVs.

How does vehicle-to-grid work?

Many EV drivers are only using a fraction of their battery capacity each day, and the growing number of them on our roads means there is an increasing amount of spare energy that could be returned to the electricity grid.

This could be of mutual benefit the power companies and EV owner - the companies won't need to invest as much in additional power generation sources to meet growing demand, and EV owners could be paid for their electricity.

Vehicle to grid

For V2G to work, a suitably equipped EV needs to be plugged into a two-way charger with an inverter, which can charge the battery or draw power from it.

When the EV battery is full you can allow the inverter to draw energy from it.

This will happen automatically when power is required from the grid and you can set how much power can be drawn to ensure you have enough battery charge for your driving needs.  

MORE Nissan expects power companies to pay EV owners for electricity

V2G is most effective if the EV has been charged via solar panels as there is no initial drain on the grid.  

What equipment do you need for V2G?

Unfortunately, you can't return battery power to the grid via the standard wall socket or charger. You will need a bi-directional AC or DC charger.

Wallbox Quasar

The main issue with V2G capable wall chargers, for now, is cost. While you can get a one-way wall-charger for about $1500 the bi-direction units cost several times more.

The good news is there are more options entering the market which will eventually see prices come down. 

MORE How much does it cost to charge an EV?

Is vehicle-to-grid the same as vehicle-to-home?

Vehicle-to-Home technology works the same way as V2G but charges a home battery or powers household appliances via a solar inverter unit.

This could be very handy during a blackout. 

Vehicle to home

For those with solar panels, a car could be used to store the sun’s energy during the day and then redeploy it to power a house at night.

Alternatively, you could charge your car at work, a shopping centre or a public site and then drive home and power your house for free.

MORE Mercedes-Benz EVs will power your home

What electric cars are capable of V2G

At this stage, the second-generation Nissan Leaf and 2021-model Mitsubishi PHEV are the only vehicles in Australia with V2G of V2H capability.

Other carmakers, including Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen are also working to introduce the technology. 

NOW READ WhichCar's EV Guide