Vehicle-to-load (V2L) is a feature available on some battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that lets them use their stored energy to power external devices, such as electrical camping equipment, power tools and a variety of consumer devices.
Typically, BEVs do not use a significant portion of their battery’s capacity in day-to-day travel, which means their most valuable asset — the battery — sits idle during most of its life. V2L technology lets consumers get more from a vehicle, even when it is turned off, improving consumer appeal.
User control is an important facet of V2L. The vehicle owner can set a battery discharge limit by selecting the state of charge at which they want the system to stop supplying electricity. For example, a contractor can set a 60 percent battery limit when powering tools at a remote worksite. When the vehicle’s battery charge drops to 60 percent, the system will notify the user and stop supplying power to the V2L system, ensuring that there is plenty of power left for the drive home.
Innovations that enable V2L
Several important innovations allow newer EVs to support V2L capabilities, including an internal power converter that is capable of pulling DC power from the battery and converting it to the AC current that consumer devices use. The onboard charger (OBC) enables this function by switching from drawing power to supplying power at the appropriate regional voltage level for the device — 120V for most North American devices and 220V globally. However, OEMs can reduce costs by limiting their V2L systems to one voltage standard if desired.
The OBC facilitates system-level battery management and is an essential component to achieve the functional safety demands of consumer-facing devices by acting as a fail-safe to prevent an overload — shutting off power if the load exceeds operating limits and mitigating the risk of electrical failure by creating a separation between external hardware and internal components. The OBC also helps ensure a cyber-secure connection.
One piece of the power electronics roadmap
V2L goes hand-in-hand with other recent power electronics innovations, such as vehicle-to-grid, which enables consumers to sell power from their EVs to the grid, and the HomePlug standard, which facilitates faster data speeds and improves security by enabling a vehicle to connect to the internet over a house’s internal power lines.
Each of these technologies follows different standards, but Aptiv’s onboard charger technology complies with them all and switches between the appropriate modes accordingly. We design our high-voltage solutions with modularity in mind to provide OEMs with maximum scalability and reuse potential.