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March 2, 2023

What is the Difference Between a Smart EV Charger and Dumb EV Charger?

The difference between a smart EV charger and dumb EV charger is its level of functionality and control. While dumb chargers are only capable of providing electrical charge to an EV, nothing more, a smart charger has the ability to provide additional functionality such as energy load management, restricted access, remote start / stop, status / session monitoring and much more.

For property owners installing several chargers, understanding the difference is crucial.

What is a dumb EV charger?

A dumb EV charger is an electric vehicle charging station that provides an electrical charge to an electric vehicle when plugged into the vehicle and connected to a power source. Like most electronic device chargers, its only function is charging an EV while plugged in – no monitoring, no controls, just charge.

It is also important to note that dumb chargers are not networked. This means the charger hardware is not connected to or in communication with a larger network. Because of this lack of communication, the charger is not capable of being monitored or tracked. While dumb chargers do not contain the hardware or software required to be connected to a network, smart chargers can be installed as non-networked chargers if desired.

What is a smart EV charger?

A smart charger is an electric vehicle charging station that has the ability to monitor, control, and report on its charging functionality to an operator via a centralized or cloud based network. Smart chargers contain hardware and software that can control its functions such as the ability to load manage available power, restrict charger access, report charger availability, relay charging session information, alert to hardware abnormalities, support and troubleshoot issues remotely, and much more.

Smart chargers are often referred to as networked chargers because they are usually installed and connected to a larger integrated network via Wi-Fi, SIM, or hardwired to an internet source. The network connection is what provides EV drivers and property owners the ability to control and monitor the charger’s functions from anywhere. While dumb chargers can never be smart / networked chargers, smart chargers can be installed as a dumb / non-networked charger if desired. This can provide the owner the ability to connect it to a network in the future and turn on networked charger functionalities.

Is a smart EV charger better than a dumb EV charger?

In most cases, yes, smart chargers come with more capabilities and controls which benefit EV drivers, homeowners, and commercial / multifamily property owners. The primary benefit of getting a dumb charger over a smart charger is they are typically cheaper to buy and install. While fewer capabilities translates to a lower price tag, for most, the benefits from the added software and functionality in a smart charger greatly outweigh the difference in price.

Also note that some EV charger rebate and incentive programs require properties to install smart, networked chargers in order to receive project funding.

How to choose the right smart EV charger

Finding the right smart charger for your property boils down to how much control and functionality is desired. While a single family homeowner might just be interested in seeing analytics on their charging sessions or be alerted when their car is finished charging, owners of commercial and multifamily properties often need much more. Commercial and multifamily property owners might want to charge EV drivers for their electrical usage, restrict access for private parking spaces, set up a charging valet service, load balance their power consumption, and more. Choosing the right smart charger means choosing the right network provider for your needs.

Join Chargie’s network of smart EV chargers

We are an industry leading EV charging network providing property owners with the installation, management, and support of their EV charging stations. Our turnkey solution makes it easy for property owners to get chargers installed quickly – from engineering and design to installation and support, our in-house team does it all. Reach out to our EV charging experts to learn the best configuration for your property.