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  • Writer's picture@Gill_Nowell

The art of smart with Ohme

It’s no secret that I’m passionate about electric vehicles. Turns out that I can now add electric vehicle charging equipment to the list.

How I discovered the world of electric vehicles

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with electric cars since 2012, when I embarked on an expression of interest document that became the My Electric Avenue project. My Electric Avenue was the first project in the UK, if not the world, to look at the impact of clusters of electric cars charging on local electricity networks. It was also the first project of its kind to trial a demand management charging solution (we’d call it a ‘smart charger’ these days) to manage the impact when a few electric cars are charging across the tea-time peak, and to understand how customers might accept having their charging remotely managed.

Thanks to My Electric Avenue, I had my first drive in an electric car – an early version of the Nissan LEAF. I loved it. Such an easy, smooth ride, and speedy too, thanks to the 100% torque. During my time setting up the clusters of electric car drivers for that project, I witnessed innumerable ‘EV smiles’ from other first-time electric car drivers. There was even a man in the New Forest who swore that driving a Nissan LEAF was ‘better than driving an Aston Martin DB7’. Although he did caveat this statement by saying that the LEAF didn’t beat the DB7 on aesthetics.

Fast forward to the fast lane

Fast forward through a number of electric vehicle events such as Cenex LCV, where I was lucky enough to drive many of the makes and models of electric car available on the market today – from the Tesla Model X to the BMW i8, the Hyundai KONA to the Renault Zoe. And many more. But what was I driving at home on an almost daily basis? Would you believe it, and much to my chagrin, a dirty diesel SAAB 93. However, like many would-be electric car drivers I suspect, I simply couldn’t justify spending out for a new (or second-hand car) when I had a paid for car that was in good working order.

Ditching the diesel

And then disaster with a silver lining struck. The SAAB was written off the week before Christmas, 2018, typically as I was out and about at meetings with my CEO from ElectraLink. With no-one hurt, I was nevertheless left car-less, with two young children to ferry about, and relatives to visit. I tweeted for support – whom should I speak with to find a second-hand electric car? The EV community came into its own, and thanks to Matt Cleevely of Cleevely EV, and Lewis Black from E-Cars Trading, my very own second hand 30kWh Nissan LEAF with a 6.6kW onboard charger, was hand delivered to my doorstep, on the Sunday just after Christmas. I won’t go into the detail of the excitement levels of both myself and my children, but you can imagine…

All good things come in Ohme-shaped packages

I need to rewind to the day after the write-off. I’d mentioned to my former colleague, Daniel Hollingworth, that I was planning on getting myself an electric car. As luck would have it, Dan had recently started working for a start-up company called Ohme. And as even better luck would have it, he was looking for people to beta test Ohme’s new intelligent charging cable, where the smart functionality happens in the cable, rather than in a box on the wall. I leapt at the chance of being a beta tester.

Ohme arranged for an electrician to fit a 32A commando socket to the outside of my house. This enables my Nissan LEAF to charge at 7kW, which is a pretty decent rate for at-home charging, adding about 25 miles of range per hour. One of the many benefits of Ohme is that they make cable versions that can be used with existing charge points or you can get a separate socket installed – so it’s ostensibly easier and cheaper to get it up and running. Or charging.

Smart charging with Ohme is child's play

In charge control

I use the Ohme app to schedule my charging, so that my car is 80% charged by 7am every weekday, and 100% charged by 7am at weekends. I can override this schedule at any time and opt for ‘max charging’ if I need a boost unexpectedly. It then reverts to the original charging schedule when I next plug in.

I can also choose to charge my car when it’s cheapest, or greenest (so when most renewables are on the system), or to optimise battery life. I don’t consider that there’s going to be any issue with my LEAF’s battery (Nissan extended the warranty on the battery from five to eight years way back in 2012/3), however as I own rather than lease the car, I’m inclined not to charge it to full every single day.

Ohme is really receptive of feedback and have taken some of my observations on the app into account, mainly around ease of use and ensuring that it’s not too technical for the non-technically minded among us.

Just plug and switch (to Octopus)...

I plug in every evening, regardless of my state of charge. I leave the rest to Ohme.

I’ve switched energy supplier to Octopus, as I know I’m getting the best deal when it comes to Ohme working in harmony with the Octopus ‘Go’ tariff. Once I have a SMETS2 smart meter installed through Octopus, I’ll look at switching to the Agile tariff to optimise my charging even further. What I do know, is that when it’s particularly windy, I can check my Ohme app and it tells me that I can charge for 2p per electric mile. That definitely puts a smile on my face. I’m cheap and I’m green.

Twitter: @Gill_Nowell and @EVclicks

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