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What Is Bidirectional Charging? Which Electric Cars Have It?

  • EV Charging
  • Renee Martin
  • 9 minutes

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Let’s talk about the newest kid on the EV block – bidirectional charging. What is bidirectional charging, what’s the big deal about it, and which electric cars have it?

Electric Vehicle Technology, something that merely a decade ago seemed like a pipe dream, is now progressing quicker than ever. New vehicles and brands are being launched even as the stalwarts of the automotive industry are scrambling to go green. Charging is getting quicker, and EV chargers are available in more places than before.

Still iffy about where the nearest EV charger is? Way.com makes it super easy for you to find EV chargers near you, wherever you are!

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We also help with your parking needs, give you affordable car insurance and refinancing quotes, tell you where the closest car wash is, show you how to get cash back on your gas, and give you the best insurance rates for your most valuable asset, your home.

What is bidirectional charging?

The most prevalent form of EV charging now is unidirectional charging – a method of charging a car’s battery where alternating current from the grid is converted into direct current.

As the name indicates, Bidirectional charging is EV charging that goes both ways. This makes charging work in both directions. The grid can send electricity to the EV, or the EV can send electricity back to the grid or your home, office, or any appliance.

Hyundai Ioniq charging

With bidirectional charging, DC power must be turned back into AC power by a dedicated charger or an inverter inside the vehicle.

This new technology could change the way our power grids work. Tens of thousands of electric cars could provide power at the same time during times of high demand.

How does bidirectional charging work?

A bidirectional charger is a comparatively advanced EV charger that can charge in both directions. This may sound easy, but it’s actually a complicated power conversion process from AC (Alternating Current) to DC (Direct Current).

Regular unidirectional EV chargers charge using AC power. Bidirectional chargers are different from standard EV chargers in that they work like an inverter and change AC to DC when charging and DC to AC when discharging.

Types of bidirectional charging

Your car can send energy to different destinations with bidirectional charging. However, the most common uses right now are sending energy to the grid or sending it to your home, business, appliances, or another vehicle. We’ll explore these options in a little more detail.

V2G or Vehicle to Grid

V2G, or Vehicle to Grid, as the name suggests, is when a two-way EV charger sends power from an EV car’s battery to the grid through a DC-to-AC converter system that is usually built into the EV charger. Through smart charging, V2G can be used to help balance and settle the energy needs of a city, region, or country.

It lets EVs charge when the energy demand is low and give energy back to the grid when it is high. This is actually a sound concept since cars are parked most of the time.

With careful planning and the right infrastructure, plugged-in parked EVs could become mass power banks that help keep the electric grids stable in the future.  You can consider EVs as these large batteries on wheels that help make sure everyone has enough energy at all times.

V2H or Vehicle to Home

V2H or Vehicle to Home is when the bidirectional charger sends electricity from the battery of an EV Car to a house or possibly another type of building. This is done by a system called a DC-to-AC converter, which is usually built into the EV charger. Like V2G, V2H can help balance and settle local or even national supply grids on a larger scale.

It could work like this. You charge your EV at night when there is less demand for electricity. You then use that electricity to run the electrical appliances in your home during the day. This helps reduce consumption during peak times when there is more demand for electricity and more pressure on the grid.

So, V2H can help ensure that our homes have enough electricity when they need it the most. As a result, it can also make the electricity grid less stressed as a whole.

V2L or Vehicle to Load

This is most probably the most common form of bidirectional charging currently available. You can use your EV battery to power appliances and tools on the fly with V2L charging. This charging method depends on automobiles with built-in converters and 120-volt ports for charging appliances and electronics, both of which are becoming more popular.

V2V or Vehicle to Vehicle

One other use of V2L charging is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), which involves transmitting power from one automobile to another. This will help EVs that run out of juice avoid being stranded. All that needs to happen is for another EV to trundle along, and voila, all charged up and ready to roll. No more range anxiety! But until that happens, you have Way.com to help you find an EV charger near you before your run out of charge.

Here’s¬†a guide to different types of EV Chargers.

Advantages of bidirectional charging

You’ll use less energy and save money

Vehicle owners can save money in two different ways with bidirectional charging. First, bidirectional charging and smart charging can turn your car into an efficient power source for your home or business. You can set up your car to charge during off-peak hours or when renewable sources are available when utility companies charge less for energy. You can then use that energy to power your home during the day.

Also, if you have “vehicle-to-grid” technology, you can sell energy back to the utility company to use it elsewhere. This can cut your utility costs even more. One study from the University of Rochester found that V2G chargers can save EV owners $120 to $150 per year.

You can keep extra power on hand for your home or business

Bidirectional charging can save homeowners and business owners money and give them peace of mind. If your power goes out, V2H charging lets you use your car as a backup power source while the power company fixes the problem. A typical electric car battery can hold about 60 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is enough to power a home for about two days.

You’ll have a portable source of power

Thanks to bidirectional technology, sometimes the same battery that can power your home can also go with you on the road and serve as a mobile power source. You can use your EV to power things, for example, while camping or at work. You could even use it to power someone else’s car if you had to.

Cons of bidirectional charging

Not all EVs support it

Bidirectional chargers don’t work with all EVs. It only works with cars that support two-way DC charging. For instance, your Tesla does not support bidirectional charging. As of now, only a very small number of electric vehicles can do this. We’ll get to that later in the article.

They are quite expensive

The other problem with bidirectional chargers is that they are more expensive because they are much more complex than regular EV chargers. This is because they use advanced power conversion electronics to control the flow of energy to and from the vehicle.

What EVs have bidirectional charging?

Only a limited number of EVs offer bidirectional charging as of now. Here is a list of EVs that are already on the market or will be soon that can charge in both directions, using V2G, V2H, or V2L.

Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford F 150 bidirectional charging

Using its Intelligent Backup Power charging technology, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning provides V2H for its owners. The car company predicts that the system, which uses an 80-amp charger and up to 131 kilowatt-hours of electric energy storage, will be able to power a typical home for three days at full charge and up to ten days at a reduced charge. This charging station comes standard on the F-150 Lightning Long Range and is available as an option on the regular Lightning.

Nissan Leaf ZE1

Nissan Leaf bidirectional charging

In a recent partnership with service provider Fermata Energy, Nissan has certified a V2G bidirectional charging system for the 2013 and later Leaf. When the electric vehicle connects to a Fermata Energy charger, the charger will keep tabs on the electric load in the building. It draws power from the Leaf’s battery during peak hours when electricity is the most expensive. The manufacturer claims it aims to make the technology suitable for home usage, but for the time being, it is only for business buildings and fleet cars.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Although not a fully electric vehicle, the top-tier GT trim of the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV comes with standard V2L charging and two 120-volt AC power outlets. They can deliver 1.5 kW of electricity to items like camping equipment or domestic appliances.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and KIA EV6

Kia EV6

The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 each offer V2L capability with high-current outlets that can provide power to appliances or backup power when needed. Their shared vehicle platform uses an Integrated Charging Control Unit that supplies up to 3.6 kilowatts to charge large items like electric bikes or camping equipment. The system can operate a 55-inch television and air conditioner simultaneously for over 24 hours. There is a 220-volt outlet behind the back seats, or you can use an adaptor with an external socket to power electronics.

You might also be interested in our Hyundai Ioniq 5 Review.

BYD Atto 3, BYD Han EV, MG ZS EV (2022), and VW ID Models are some of the other EVs that offer bidirectional charging.

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