What is OCPP?
OCPP stands for Open Charge Point Protocol, which was originally formed in 2009 in the Netherlands and is maintained by the Open Charge Alliance. It’s an open source protocol that regulates how Electric Vehicle charging stations (or charge points, as they’re called in Europe) and EV charging networks use to talk to each other. This is important because not every Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment vendor programs its stations and networks to be on the same playing field. Some companies use proprietary programming languages that can only communicate between their own branded charging stations and networks. Their stations are not interoperable with other charging networks.
Charging stations that use or can enable OCPP can communicate with other networks because they follow the same programming rules. The big advantage of OCPP to you as the property manager is that you’re not locked into one vendor for the life of the product. Let’s say, for example, that your station provider goes out of business. If your charging stations use OCPP, you can connect to the SemaConnect network. As another example, let’s say that your current network provider increases its cost or doesn’t offer a certain feature. You can switch from that network to the SemaConnect network, because their charging station software communicates in the same way.
One warning though: not all EVSE vendors use OCPP. Some choose to use their own protocols that only communicate with their own products. Others might have software which uses OCPP, but they still require proprietary extensions that close their charging stations off from other networks. Their charging stations are hard-coded to only communicate with specific networks, so if you want to switch to a different network vendor, you have to replace the entire unit.
How does OCPP benefit my property?
First, because OCPP is a standardized protocol used by many charging station vendors, you have options. As mentioned before, if your charging station vendor goes out of business, and their stations are OCPP-compliant, you can connect to another OCPP-compliant network using your original charging stations. As another example, if you dislike your current vendor because of the fees or the service they provide, you can just connect your OCPP-compliant stations to a new OCPP-compliant network.
Second, because it’s so easy for a station owner to switch vendors, we have to make sure our charging stations and the SemaConnect network are the best that they can possibly be. We constantly innovate so you can get more features that bring you value. You have the freedom to switch to a different network if you have to.
Third, OCPP allows you to mix and match stations and networks from different vendors. If you’re thinking of expanding your stations at your property but prefer the network capabilities from a different vendor than your original one, you have the freedom to combine your old stations with new stations on the new vendor’s network and easily manage your mix of stations through one portal.
Remember: Not everyone offers OCPP. Make sure you verify that your EVSE vendor is OCPP-compatible.
How does OCPP benefit drivers?
OCPP benefits drivers in two ways. First, they reap the benefits of you using the best charging stations and network. When you have the freedom to switch to the vendor with the best features and management tools, they get to use stations that will give them the best charging experiences.
Second, the entire goal of OCPP is to make it possible to build a network of EV charging stations. Part of the reason why EV adoption has taken off in Europe faster than in the US is that there is more standardization across the EVSE industry. Widespread adoption of OCPP leads to interoperability between devices and networks from different brands, which leads to the freedom to switch to the best network for a property’s needs, which leads to even more places to charge your car!
Drivers want to be able to charge their vehicles everywhere they go, whether it’s their home, work, or vacation spots. They expect to find premium charging experiences from stations that don’t use proprietary protocols and proprietary payment systems.
How do I get OCPP?
Because we want to provide you with the best solutions for your EVSE needs, SemaConnect is currently working on the software update that will make the SemaConnect network and all SemaConnect charging stations OCPP-compliant. SemaConnect is already testing OCPP in the stations in select beta sites, and we plan to deploy the protocol in our next over-the-air update to your stations.