What is Vehicle to Home (V2H)?

Despite its huge potential to revolutionise the way we consume energy, Vehicle to Home (V2H) remains a fairly unknown term in the UK.

Vehicle to Home, or V2H, is a term that describes the process of an EV feeding power back into your home.

What exactly is Vehicle to Home? In this article, we delve into the topic of V2H technology, exploring how it works and how it is changing our approach to energy use.

White Tesla charging at home

What is Vehicle to Home (V2H)?

Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) is a system that enables EVs to transfer energy into a home.

The idea is that electric vehicles, when not in use, often have surplus energy stored in their batteries. Rather than letting this energy go to waste, V2H systems enable the vehicle’s stored energy to be fed back into the home’s power grid, powering household appliances and systems.

To make a V2H system work, you need bidirectional chargers. These chargers not only feed electricity from the home’s grid to charge the EV but can also reverse the flow, pulling energy from the EV’s battery back into the home. 

This becomes particularly useful during peak energy times when electricity demand is high, during power outages, or when the cost of grid electricity is high.

V2H is an element of a broader concept known as Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology, which also includes:

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), where electric vehicles can feed their stored energy back into the wider electricity grid to help balance supply and demand.

Vehicle-to-load (V2L), where electric vehicles can feed stored energy into specific devices or ‘loads’, such as mobile phones or camping equipment.

By leveraging V2H, homeowners with EVs can potentially reduce their electricity bills, increase energy self-reliance, and improve the overall resilience of their home energy system. 

This technology holds significant potential in promoting sustainability and shaping the future of energy use.

How does Vehicle to Home (V2H) charging work?

Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) charging relies on the concept of bidirectional charging. This is a system that allows electricity to flow in two directions: from the home to the vehicle and vice versa. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how this process works:

  • Charging the vehicle
    During off-peak hours, when electricity is usually cheaper and demand is lower, an electric vehicle can be charged from the home’s power grid.

    This process uses a home charging station, which is connected to the grid. The charger pulls AC power from the home, converts it to DC power, and charges the vehicle’s battery.

  • Storing surplus power
    If a home has a renewable energy source, like solar panels or a wind turbine, excess energy produced can be used to charge the EV.

    Instead of sending the surplus energy back to the grid, which usually happens in typical solar panel setups, the energy is stored in the vehicle’s battery for later use.

    This makes better use of the renewable energy generated and can be cost-effective if there’s a considerable difference in peak and off-peak energy prices.

  • Supplying power back to the home
    When the home needs more power – typically during peak usage hours, when the electricity from the grid is more expensive, or during power outages – the V2H system can draw electricity from the vehicle’s battery.

    In this scenario, the flow of electricity is reversed. The DC power from the EV’s battery is converted back to AC power, which can be used to run household appliances and systems.

The key to V2H is the bidirectional charger, which is capable of converting power in both directions. However, not all electric vehicles currently support bidirectional charging.

The EV’s onboard charger needs to be designed to handle the reverse flow of power without damaging the vehicle’s battery or electrical systems.

With V2H, EV owners can potentially save on their electricity bills and make more efficient use of their renewable energy resources, while also providing a backup power source for their homes.

Which EVs are compatible with Vehicle to Home (V2H)?

Not all electric vehicles support Vehicle-to-Home (V2H)  as they need to be able to be capable of handling bidirectional charging.

However, here are some models with bidirectional capabilities:

  • BYD Atto 3
  • Fisker Ocean
  • Ford F-150 Lightning
  • Genesis G80
  • Genesis GV60
  • Genesis GV70
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5
  • Hyundai Ioniq 6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia Niro EV 2023
  • MG MG4
  • MG ZS EV
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Nissan Leaf (Model Years 2013 and Up)
  • Polestar Cars
  • Volkswagen ID Buzz
Red nissan leaf charging
The Nissan Leaf has had bidirectional charging since 2013 – way ahead of its time!

Is V2H the same as V2G or V2L?

Vehicle-to-Home (V2H)
As we now know, this technology involves using an EV to supply power back to a home. The stored energy in an EV’s battery can be used to power household appliances.

This can help homeowners save on their electricity bills, make better use of renewable energy, and improve the overall resilience of their home energy system.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)
V2G expands the concept of V2H to a larger scale. In this scenario, the energy stored in an EV’s battery can be fed back into the broader power grid, not just the home.

This can be used to help balance supply and demand in the grid, particularly when demand is high or supply from other sources is low.

V2G requires more sophisticated technology and grid infrastructure, and it involves more complex regulatory and economic issues compared to V2H.

Vehicle-to-Load (V2L)
V2L refers to using an EV’s battery to supply power directly to an electrical appliance or system (“load”).

This could be anything from a laptop or a mobile phone that you plug into your car to charge, to a campsite running off the energy stored in an EV’s battery. The concept is similar to V2H but on a smaller scale and with more direct, usually portable applications. Think of it as the opposite of plugging in your EV to charge with a portable EV charger, in effect, your EV becomes the portable charger!

All these technologies rely on bidirectional charging capabilities, which allow the flow of power between the vehicle’s battery and the external system. However, they each have their unique applications.

What are the benefits of Vehicle to Home (V2H)?

Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) technology offers numerous benefits to UK homeowners:

  • Energy efficiency and cost savings
    V2H allows homeowners to use electricity more strategically, pulling energy from their vehicle during peak energy times when electricity from the grid is expensive, and charging their vehicle during off-peak hours when rates are lower.

    This should result in significant savings on energy bills.

  • Backup power supply
    If you have a power cut, a fully charged electric vehicle could provide emergency power to a home. This feature could be particularly valuable in remote parts of the UK with frequent power outages.

  • Reducing strain on the grid
    By charging during off-peak hours and providing power during peak hours, V2H can help balance the load on the power grid.

  • Promoting EV adoption
    By providing additional benefits beyond transportation, V2H can make electric vehicles more appealing, potentially accelerating their adoption and the transition away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

What are the potential downsides of Vehicle to Home (V2H)?

While Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) technology offers many promising benefits, here are some of the potential negatives to using the technology:

  • Battery wear and tear
    Frequent charging and discharging of the EV’s battery could cause problems and reduce the EVs overall lifespan.

  • Limited availability of compatible EVs
    Not all electric vehicles are compatible with V2H technology. Only a limited number of models with built-in bi-directional charging capability are currently available.

  • Upfront costs
    Installing a bidirectional charging station at home can be expensive. These costs, along with the potentially higher price of V2H-compatible vehicles, may pose a barrier to some households.

  • Reduced vehicle range
    Using an EV’s battery to power a home could reduce the vehicle’s range for driving the next day, especially if the battery isn’t recharged overnight. This might not be an issue for short daily commutes but could cause the EV to break down on unexpected trips or longer journeys.

The final word on Vehicle to Home (V2H) charging

Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) technology allows us to tap into the unused power of EVs.

V2H can improve the efficiency of our energy use, which helps as part of an overall strategy to keep household energy costs down, it can also provide backup power solutions and reduce the strain on our power grid.

While the benefits are impressive, there are still plenty of challenges with this technology. From the limited availability of compatible vehicles and high upfront costs to battery wear and tear concerns, V2H is not without its hurdles. Owners need fixed home charging stations, it’s not possible to enjoy the flexibility of a granny charger and benefit from an EV’s V2H capabilities.

However, these are obstacles that can be addressed over time as technology improves, costs decrease, and regulations evolve to accommodate V2H.

The transition to V2H highlights the potential of EVs to do more than just replace petrol and diesel cars on our roads. As we continue to innovate in EV tech, V2H demonstrates that engineers are rethinking traditional energy systems in our quest for better energy efficiency!

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