“Convergence” is a big word in the consumer electronics field, notably with new technology blending the Internet with conventional television. But the network technologies giant Cisco has a different form of convergence in mind with its new Home Energy Controller.
Cisco has inked a partnership with San Francisco-based ECOtotality, which is overseeing the installation of 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations. Dubbed the EV Project, it covers 16 cities dotted across six states and the District of Columbia, and is supported by a $115 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The new alliance will let homeowners control their rapid, 240-volt battery-car charging system, known as Blink, through the touchscreen Cisco Home Energy Controller. That will allow a user to sit back in the comfort of their home and program charging to take advantage of the lowest possible utility rates, for example, or to ensure a battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, is fully charged by a specific time of day.
Choosing the right time to charge can make a big difference in the cost of owning and operating a battery-based vehicle, such as the new Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt. While the average cost of energy around the country is around 11 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to industry data, many utilities are expected to offer electricity for less than half that amount during off-peak hours. Considering a battery car might double a typical home’s energy consumption, that can add up to a significant difference.