V2L (Vehicle to Load) is a bidirectional power feature that lets you use the large battery in an electric vehicle to power or charge something else.
Vehicle-to-load enables an electric vehicle to be used as a mobile power source to supply electricity to an external device, such as a home, business, or public area.
The technology works by connecting the electric vehicle to an external device via a charging cable. The electric vehicle then acts as a generator, supplying the external device with electricity.
V2L enables bidirectional charging from an electric vehicle’s battery to power external devices. V2L converts the DC power from the battery to AC and outputs it through an adapter cable. Key benefits are charging other EVs, powering appliances while camping/traveling, and providing backup electricity during outages. Consider power limits, included adapters, and professional installation for vehicle-to-home connections. V2L differs from vehicle-to-grid (V2G) which feeds larger power back to the electrical grid. V2L provides local use cases while V2G enables grid services. Adoption is increasing in new EV models.
This technology can be used to power a variety of applications, such as providing temporary power during a power outage, or supplying power to a construction site.
Other scenarios where this is useful are plentiful, from helping a stranded EV driver with no power to whipping up a brew with a portable kettle.
Despite the clear value of V2L, only a handful of electric cars have it today, although more vehicles will adopt it in the future. Electric cars that have V2L include the MG ZS EV, Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6.
When purchasing an EV with V2L, look out for the maximum kWh the vehicle can output, and any adapters required to connect the car to the other device. For example, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 only includes the adapter as standard in the highest-spec Ultimate trim, otherwise, it is an option.
What is V2L?
In electric vehicles, Vehicle to Load transfers power from the vehicle’s battery to connected appliances and devices. V2L can charge another device, like a smartphone or another electric car, or power a device like a television or coffee machine.
The power draw available with V2L differs between electric vehicles, typically set at either 2.3kW (the same as a 3-pin plug) or up to 3.6kW.
Vehicle to Load makes sense as a feature because when an electric vehicle is parked or sitting idle, the batteries aren’t used, limiting the practicality of that energy.
This creates a few opportunities, but isn’t without its challenges:
- V2L technology creates new revenue opportunities for EV owners. In the future, EV owners may be paid for providing power services back to the grid through aggregator networks. V2L provides a pathway for EV owners to become prosumers.
- Widespread V2L adoption could help balance renewable intermittency. EVs can soak up excess solar/wind energy during peak production and discharge it when needed. Managed properly, it can turn EVs into dynamic storage assets.
- V2L can reduce demands for dedicated backup power systems. Rather than fossil fuel generators, EVs may serve as cleaner distributed energy resources during grid outages. This improves resiliency and reduces pollution.
- V2L enables new emergency response capabilities. First responders could use EVs to power critical equipment in remote locations or where grid infrastructure is damaged. It creates new operational flexibility.
- V2L technology still faces challenges like hardware costs, software integration, and consumer education. But the benefits merit overcoming these hurdles as EVs proliferate. V2L is a key step in unleashing the power of EVs.
How does V2L work?
Vehicle to load technology includes an onboard converter in the vehicle, which converts Direct Current (DC) from the battery to Alternating Current (AC) for V2L.
To use V2L, you need a V2L adapter. The V2L adapter plugs into the vehicle’s charge port and serves the purpose of providing a socket.
The adapter plugs into the car’s charge port, and the other end contains a female 3-pin socket to plug devices into.
When V2L mode is activated on the vehicle, power from the battery is converted and fed to the connected device through the adapter and cable.
The V2L technology is contained in the vehicle, not the adapter. The adapter handles the load and facilitates power transfer to the cable, but the conversion from DC to AC and power management happens inside the vehicle.
Can any electric car do V2L?
In theory yes, because the onboard charger in an electric car can work both ways (converting DC power in the battery to AC power for vehicle to load).
However, the car requires software to manage the conversion process, and not all cars have it, although cars with over-the-air updates are candidates.
In other words, electric cars have the power electronics to handle a DC to AC conversion for V2L, but most do not have the software to handle the request. It is down to manufacturers to embrace V2L.
What cars have vehicle to load in 2023?
There are several cars with vehicle to load:
- MG ZS.
- Hyundai IONIQ 5.
- Hyundai IONIQ 6.
- KIA EV6.
- KIA Niro EV.
- Nissan Leaf.
- Volkswagen ID Buzz.
- Ford F-150 Lightning (US only).
What are the benefits of V2L?
V2L opens up the stored energy in an EV’s battery to other devices. Without V2L capability, the batteries in electric vehicles are closed.
Since electric vehicles store an enormous amount of energy, V2L capability can replace small electric generators powered by petrol, diesel and oil.
V2L for powering appliances
V2L unlocks the ability to power external appliances with the energy stored in an electric vehicle’s battery. Any device powered by a 3-pin socket is fair game, and some V2L cars can power more heavy-duty devices that draw 3.6kW.
V2L for camping
Remote camping trips are bread and butter work for V2L technology, letting you drive anywhere and power devices like lights, portable heaters, coffee machines and cooking apparatus. Clean and green! Plug in an extension cord and you can power and charge multiple devices.
V2L for charging other cars
However, the greatest benefit to V2L is the ability to charge other electric vehicles. There are so many scenarios where this is handy, like assisting an EV driver who has run out of range or is running low and isn’t near a charger to top up.
V2L for powering a house
A great example of this is from Speak EV forum user stageshoot, who says “Next Door Neighbour and I are both using our MG4s to power the house by V2L. (Car wired back to house via a Breaker that islands the house when the car is discharging), so 3 position switch between mains and consumer unit P1 Main P0 All Off P2 Car.”
Considerations before buying a car with V2L
To use V2L, you need an adapter that plugs into the vehicle’s charge port. Adapters don’t always come as standard with a vehicle and can cost hundreds of pounds, as is the case with the Hyundai IONIQ 5 which only gets it as standard in Ultimate grade.
The power draw is limited to 2.3kW or 3.6kW, depending on the vehicle. 2.3kW is good for anything with a 3-pin plug, while 3.6kW is the same power as a 16A Commando socket. When it comes to charging other vehicles, 3.6kW is 44% faster.
The Difference Between V2L and V2G Charging
Vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging is not the same as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging. Let’s break it down.
What is V2L?
V2L allows you to power appliances and devices from your electric vehicle’s battery using an extension cord. It converts the DC power from the battery into AC power that your devices can use.
V2L is simple. Just plug your phone, laptop, or other devices into the AC outlet in your vehicle. Most EVs have power ratings from 2.4-3.6kW, similar to your home outlets. V2L is meant for powering things while traveling or as a backup during outages.
What is V2G?
V2G allows bidirectional power flow between your vehicle and the grid. With the right equipment, your EV can send electricity back to the grid to help balance supply and demand.
V2G requires special bidirectional chargers, connections to the grid, and software to coordinate with utilities. The power capabilities are much greater than V2L, often 25kW or more. V2G is complex but can provide grid services and value for EV owners.
- V2L uses the onboard AC inverter to supply basic power needs. V2G requires external bidirectional chargers.
- V2L power is limited, while V2G can transfer large amounts of power.
- V2L is simpler as an extension cord supplies power. V2G requires hardware, software, and grid coordination.
- V2L supports traveling and backup uses. V2G is about grid integration.
Both are useful innovations, but serve different purposes!
Using V2L for Backup Power
During outages, V2L can power essentials like lights, phones, and small appliances. Here are some tips:
- Know your EV’s power rating to avoid overloading it. Use lower power devices.
- Have a backup circuit for key loads like fridge, lights. Avoid the whole house.
- An EV-powered transfer switch makes it easy to supply backup power.
- Monitor energy use to conserve vehicle range.
- V2L provides protected power, removing protection risks damage.
With some planning, V2L can provide useful outage backup. Just beware of power limits and protect your EV.
Charging A Home Battery with V2L
It is technically possible to use V2L to charge a home battery system. But it requires special equipment:
- Most hybrid battery inverters can’t distinguish V2L from grid power. Don’t connect V2L to a regular hybrid inverter!
- Use an inverter with dual AC inputs like the Schneider XW Pro or Deye SUN-SG04LP1. This keeps V2L separate.
- Only qualified solar pros should attempt connecting V2L to home batteries.
With the right gear, V2L could charge batteries as a grid alternative. But be cautious and get professional support.
Does V2L have a future?
V2L definitely has a future because electric cars are fantastic energy storage devices. By making the energy in an EV battery available to external devices, such as other vehicles, the mobility of that energy is transformed.
For example, a 50kWh battery can power a house for several days – this is known as Vehicle to Home. The potential use cases really are enormous.
V2L is an exciting technology that lets you power and charge other devices with your electric vehicle.
Bidirectional EV charging is set to become common to increase the practicality of EVs, opening up the energy stored in their enormous battery packs.