What is OCPP and Why is it Important for EV Charging Stations?

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are an emerging technology. As such, charging station site hosts and EV drivers are quickly learning all the various terms and concepts. For example, the J1772 at first glance may seem like a random order of letters and numbers. However, over time it will be seen as the standard, universal plug for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. 

In recent years, charging station manufacturers and charging networks have worked together to offer an easier way of providing charging services to EV drivers. These advancements enable the entire charging experience to be easier and more affordable than ever before. 

The latest standard in the world of EV charging is OCPP. 

What is OCPP?

OCPP stands for Open Charge Point Protocol. The charging standard is regulated by the Open Charge Alliance. In layman’s terms, it is open networking for EV charging stations. For example, when you buy a cell phone, you get to choose between a number of cellular networks. That is essentially OCPP for charging stations. 

Open Charge Point Protocol

Before OCPP, charging networks, which control pricing, access, session limits, were closed and did not allow for site hosts to change networks should they want different network features or pricing. Instead, they had to completely replace the hardware (the charging station) to get a different network. Continuing with the phone analogy, without OCPP, if you bought a phone from Verizon, you had to use their network. If you wanted to switch to AT&T, you had to buy a new phone from AT&T. 

With OCPP, site hosts can rest assured that the hardware they install will not only be future-proofed for the upcoming technology advancements, but also remain confident they have the best charging network managing their stations. 

What is the Difference Between OCPP 1.6 and OCPP 2.0.1?

OCPP 1.6, adopted in 2015, includes open networking plus a handful of other features such as load balancing management support. Load balancing is a great feature as it allows site hosts to daisy-chain several charging stations to each other while using a single circuit. The charging stations intelligently share the circuit depending on how many EV drivers are plugged in. Load balancing is a great way to reduce installation costs as you only need a single circuit for 2-4 charging stations. 

On the other hand, OCPP 2.0.1, adopted in 2020, includes everything in OCPP 1.6 plus a lot more. New features such as improved transaction processing, added security, plug and charge further improve the charging experience. 

Most significantly, plug and charge greatly enhances the charging session. With plug and charge, EV drivers simply plug in to begin charging. All of the access and billing is all handled between the charger and the car seamlessly. With plug and charge, there is no need for credit card swiping, RFID tapping, or smartphone app tapping. In fact, Tesla has been doing this with their charging stations for many years. 

What Charging Networks Do Not Feature OCPP?

Charging networks such as Tesla, EVgo, Electrify America, and Chargepoint do not feature OCPP. Instead, they are considered closed networks. The hardware and software are forever locked for the life of the charging station. Should site hosts want to switch networks, they will need to switch hardware, too. 

Freelance EV writing
Volta EV Charging Station

That being said, non-OCPP charging stations still have value. These networks are considered very reliable and consumer-friendly. In fact, per the Alternative Fuel Data Center, as of February 2021, Chargepoint and Tesla are by far the most popular Level 2 public charging network with nearly 75% of the market combined. As such, EV drivers are very familiar with these networks and don’t have to waste time downloading a new network app for access and payment as they likely already have their Chargepoint or Tesla account created. 

What Charging Networks Do Feature OCPP?

Charging networks such as Enel X, Amp Up, Blink, Greenlots, and EV Connect feature OCPP. These networks allow for site hosts to select the network that fits their specific needs. Additionally, these networks update collectively to the latest OCPP version to enable further features. On the other hand, closed networks must individually update should they update at all. 

EV Charging vs Gas Refueling
Blink Charging Station | Blink

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, OCPP is a very important consideration when it comes to selecting EV charging stations for your site. With an open network, you can select features at a competitive price. Additionally, OCPP is updated through a standard, therefore, you can ensure your chargers are ready for the future’s needs. 

If you are interested in installing EV charging stations at your business, let us know as we can help. As an EV charging consultant, we help businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, we serve as the project manager throughout the entire process including planning, design, permitting, installation, rebate applications, and commissioning. Some of the businesses we help are hotels, apartment complexes, condos, and offices. 

Get started today for free with a quote request!

1 thought on “What is OCPP and Why is it Important for EV Charging Stations?”

  1. How great you presented this articles with pictures. Great efforts has been taken to focus on electric vehicles. So, finding the best ev charging station near me, so that we can any how try to keep our vehicles charged and updated. And also one should take efforts to install electric vehicle charging station, so that networking is smooth.

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