Smart electrical panel maker SPAN has shipped the first deliveries of the SPAN Drive – a Level 2 EV charger that doesn’t require a home electrical upgrade – but the caveat is that it has to be paired with SPAN’s panel.
SPAN’s Level 2 EV charger
SPAN Drive charges at a maximum power of 11.52 kilowatts, is compatible with all EVs, and is now available in all 50 states.
Electrek asked a SPAN spokesperson specifically how the company’s panel enables its EV charger to work without a home electrical upgrade, or how it works for homeowners who might have 200 amps that’s taken up by other appliances. He replied:
The SPAN Panel enables SPAN Drive to dynamically modulate charging up or down based on real-time household electrical consumption, thanks to SPAN Panel’s smart circuit control.
Typical Level 2 EV charging solutions require an electrician to set a fixed maximum charging rate at the time of installation (based on worst-case peak demand scenarios) and is often limited to 24-40A (5.7-9.6 kW).
SPAN Drive delivers up to 48A (11.5 kW) of power to the vehicle. If SPAN detects your home energy usage is nearing maximum total system capacity, SPAN Drive will temporarily lower the rate of charge until that extra power becomes available again for fast charging.
So if a homeowner opts for the SPAN Panel/Drive combo, then that means avoiding a utility electrical service upgrade, which may take months to schedule and cost thousands of dollars.
SPAN Drive is sold as an accessory to SPAN Panel. In other words, Drive isn’t supported as a standalone charger, which means you have to invest in the $4,500 Panel in order to use the $750 Drive.
SPAN Drive owners who have solar panels will soon be able to use SPAN Drive to charge directly from their rooftop solar. In the near future, SPAN Drive will also enable customers who have battery backup power to charge their vehicle during a power outage. These features will be provided via over-the-air updates sent directly to customers’ devices.
Homeowners can purchase SPAN Panel and SPAN Drive from their local solar installer, local electrician, or via the SPAN website at www.span.io.
Incentives for SPAN products through the federal Inflation Reduction Act range from 30% of installed costs, with tax credits ranging from $600 to $2,500, or up to $6,500 as a rebate for low-to-moderate income (LMI) households.
Read more: Here’s how the US climate act will lower household energy bills
The Drive/Panel combo isn’t a blanket solution; it’s more of a niche solution. I’m going through this electrification journey now, as we are going to go solar and Powerwall storage, but we first have to upgrade our house from 120 amps, and fix some old hardware while we’re at it. We are waiting for the electrician to give us a price for all the cables, labor, digging, etc., and I’m holding my breath.
So, let’s say I didn’t have home EV charging already (we fortunately do) and that was a priority for us. Let’s say the electrician came back with a $10,000 quote to upgrade our amperage. Or, perhaps, say we did have 200 amps, but we wanted to get an induction stove and a heat pump, and those used all the pieces of our amperage pie, so to speak, and a further upgrade would cost more than what it would cost to install Drive/Panel.
Then it would be more cost efficient to get the Drive/Panel combo; this may prove useful for a lot of folks who own older homes and want to electrify, or folks who’ve used up all their juice on other things. Plus, you get to increase your knowledge of and control over your circuit-level electrical system with a very smart panel.
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