Understanding EV Charging Platforms

Understanding EV Charging Platforms

What are charging platforms, - management software and OCPP? In this article we’ve clarified the actual meaning of some terms related to the rapidly growing EV market.

Reading time:

On the news and in the streets, electric vehicles are taking up an increasing amount of space as the transition to more sustainable power solutions progresses all over the world. With the rapidly growing number of EVs comes new technology and thus, words to describe it. Not only drivers, but also businesses have to learn quickly to not get lost when entering the EV market.  

With a long history in EV charging, we at Spirii can help sort a few confusions out. Below we’ve clarified the actual meaning of some terms related to EV charging platforms, based on common misunderstandings. But first let’s set the basics straight about EV charging platforms such as Spirii’s – what are they really?

Platforms and charging management software  

An EV charging platform is a cloud-based service that enables businesses to provide charging to their costumers. More specifically, charging platforms enable their business costumers to develop and manage their EV charging networks and solutions.  

Returning to platforms in their original sense, the business model of selling a “platform as a service” (PaaS) is technically defined as a kind of computing model. This can be understood as the systems or solutions that invisibly connect hardware as e.g. the charging stations with the costumers - and what enables the charging services they meet.  

Though some might simply call EV charging platforms “charging management software” this is not exactly right as platforms cover more than charging management. In Spirii’s case many services are involved, depending on the needs of the partner. More specifically, our platform covers all from a charging app for EV drivers to supplying and certifying hardware and the daily operations of charging networks. Plus we offer systems and tools to partners for selling and scaling their solutions. In other words, our platform offers much more than software solutions.  

EV charging platforms and systems

When people are asking “What are the three types of EV charging systems?” you could easily understand these as three systems that enable you to build, operate, and scale a charging business – meaning three aspects of a full-service EV Platform such as Spirii’s. Yet asking about “three charging systems” usually refers to something entirely different, and that is the three common ways drivers charge their EVs.  

Overall, EV drivers can do trickle charging and AC- or DC charging – though only the latter two describe actual charging systems. The reason why people refer to these as three systems, is that the three types of charging enable different charging speeds. Trickle is referring to home charging via a normal plug, which is slow and not recommended for safety reasons. Going back to the two actual EV charging systems that exist in electric vehicles, AC and DC, the latter enables the fastest charging speed

The car’s charging system is relevant when choosing a charging station on the go – at least if you wish to charge in the fastest way possible. Because of this, the next question that many ask is, what is the EV charging station called for e.g. DC charging? Public charging stations are simply named after the charging systems they support meaning “AC charger” or “DC charger” - although DC chargers are often called fast chargers.  

Why are protocols important to EV charging platforms?

While an EV charging platform provides the solutions for daily charge point management and for offering charging services, protocols have to do with technical compliance.  

Though many think the protocols have little impact on the average EV driving costumer, they play a big part in shaping the entire market of electric vehicle charging and the service for EV drivers. OCPP and OCPI are especially important protocols for Charging Providers and - platforms and are here to benefit both them and their customers.

What is the difference between OCPP and OCPI?  

OCPP is a global communication standard and means “Open Charge Point Protocol”. OCPP describes the charging hardware’s ability to communicate in a certain way with the backend. When hardware is OCPP compliant, it can handle the exchange of charging data with the backend and with the connected car.  

The great advantage of this communication standard is, that operators can integrate with OCPP-compliant hardware across brands. This means they can easily expand the charging network with new EV chargers, giving the EV drivers more and better options for charging.

OCPI on the other hand, means “Open Charge Point Interface”, and has to do with what many EV drivers know as roaming. OCPI is a communication standard between the charge point operators and the charging service providers (e.g. the provider of a charging app).  

The OCPI protocol ensures that the accurate information such as location, charger accessibility, and pricing is communicated and enables both billing and mobile access to charging stations. Basically, OCPI facilitates access and services between different charging networks, allowing the drivers to “roam” freely between providers. In short, OCPI ensures easy access to charging services no matter where the EV drivers go.

Ultimately, OCCP and OCPI are both communication standards relevant to any business wanting to work with charging. The difference between the terms is that while OCCP has to do with communication between charging hardware and backend, OCPI is about communication between the charging network operators and the charging service providers, with roaming-enablement as the goal.  

Are you curious to find out how businesses can build, operate, scale, and grow their charging services with the Spirii platform?  

Find more explanatory articles below or catch up with the latest Spirii news if you know your terminology in eMobility.