According to IEA, 7.3M electric vehicles (EVs) were sold worldwide in 2022. As the demand for EVs rises, so does the need for reliable electric vehicle chargers. And they, in turn, need to be carefully tested.
Testing an electric vehicle charger is crucial to ensure its safety, efficiency, and compatibility with different EV models. Also, there are two significant business-related reasons why EV charger testing matters. First–it allows to reduce overall EV charger development costs. Testing your solution throughout development allows you to minimize critical errors and optimize efficiency bottlenecks, thus cutting operational expenses. Secondly, it can shorten the time to market, as swiftly identifying and resolving issues enables you to launch your product to the market faster.
What are the essential components of EV charger testing? How to do it effectively? Let’s discover together.
Steps of EV charging station testing
There are five levels at which your EV charging station should be thoroughly tested. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Functional testing
When it comes to automotive testing services, this stage is used to evaluate the basic functionalities of the charger, ensuring that it can properly initiate charging, communicate with the vehicle, handle various charging levels, and manage interruptions or errors effectively.
2. Safety testing
This stage focuses on verifying that the charger meets industry standards and regulations, minimizing risks such as electric shock, overheating, and fire hazards. Rigorous testing of insulation, grounding, and emergency shutdown mechanisms is essential to guarantee user and vehicle safety.
3. Security testing
The goal of security testing is to ensure that the EV charger is resistant to potential security threats. Typically, N-iX experts make sure the charging process is safe, secure, and reliable for users and the charging infrastructure. Also, during this stage of testing EV charging points, it is crucial to evaluate the charger's hardware, software, communication interfaces, and overall system to identify vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and potential attack vectors.
4. Interoperability testing
This step of electric vehicle charging infrastructure testing ensures that the charger can effectively communicate with different EV models and charging networks, promoting compatibility and seamless user experiences across different platforms. This is important if you want your solution to be as inclusive as possible.
5. Performance testing
Performance EV charging station testing assesses the charger's efficiency, charging speed, and energy delivery accuracy. This ensures that the charger performs well under different load conditions, providing reliable and consistent charging experiences.
Each stage of EV charging station testing is vital to make sure that your solution meets the market standards and benefits the end-users. Keep in mind that to conduct these tests effectively, experts recommend going for a combination of laboratory testing, simulation, and field testing.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the process of EV charging infrastructure testing.
There are two prominent standards that enable interoperability and smooth operation between EVs, chargers and Charging Station Management Systems (CSMS)–Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and ISO 15118. So, they are vital in automotive software development and testing.
OCPP protocol for EV charging station testing: how to use it
OCPP 2.0.1 is a widely recognized communication standard that facilitates interoperability between EV charging stations and CSMSs. It enables seamless and secure communication for effective management and control of EV charging infrastructure.
It offers improved security, better support for smart charging, dynamic parameter management, enhanced error handling, and increased scalability, making it a preferred choice for modern EV charging networks.
When working with OCPP 2.0.1 standard, our experts go through six main steps to effectively test an electric vehicle charger. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
1. Connectivity and initialization
The first step in testing an EV charger using OCPP 2.0.1 is to establish connectivity between the charging station and the CSMS. It is critical to ensure that the charger can successfully connect to the backend system over the internet or local network.
Once connected, our experts verify that the charger can initiate the OCPP 2.0.1 handshake process with the central system. This process establishes rules for communication when a computer attempts to connect with another device. The handshake process involves exchanging essential information like the charger's identity (for exact identification of the charging infrastructure and charging point), supported features, and firmware versions. A successful handshake is crucial for further communication.
2. Security testing
During this stage of EV charger testing, our professionals:
- Ensure that the charger properly validates certificates exchanged during communication when the TLS authentication profile is used.
- Verify that certificates are properly signed, not expired and that their chains are validated.
- Conduct penetration testing to simulate potential attacks on the OCPP 2.0.1 communication.
- Exploit vulnerabilities and assess the charger's resilience against different types of attacks.
3. Authorization and start/stop charging
Next, N-iX experts test the charger's ability to handle user authorization and start/stop charging sessions effectively. The OCPP 2.0.1 protocol supports various authorization methods, including remote authorization, RFID cards, and smartphone apps. It is important to verify that the charger can validate user credentials and initiate charging sessions only for authorized users.
After that, they need to test different charging scenarios, such as normal start/stop procedures, emergency stops, and handling of interrupted charging sessions and ensure that the charger can report the charging session status accurately to the CSMS.
4. Metering and billing
The OCPP 2.0.1 standard includes provisions for energy metering and billing information exchange. At this stage, it is critical to test the charger's ability to measure the energy consumed during a charging session accurately and verify that the charging data (energy usage, charging duration and costs) is reported to the central system.
5. Firmware updates and diagnostics
OCPP 2.0.1 allows for secure firmware updates and diagnostic data exchange between the charging station and the central management system. At this stage, our quality assurance teams test the charger's ability to receive and implement firmware updates from the central system securely. Also, they verify that the charger can report relevant diagnostic information to the central system for efficient maintenance and troubleshooting. Such information includes status, faults, and errors.
6. Handling faults and errors
A critical aspect of testing an EV charger using OCPP 2.0.1 is ensuring proper handling of faults and errors. So, our professionals simulate various fault scenarios, such as power supply issues, communication failures, and hardware malfunctions. They do it in order to verify that the charger responds appropriately to these situations by reporting errors to the central system and taking necessary corrective actions.
ISO 15118 protocol for EV charging station testing: how to use it
ISO 15118 is a communication protocol specifically designed to facilitate communication between the EV and the charging station, allowing for secure and automated interactions during the charging process.
N-iX testing teams use the following the key steps to effectively test an electric vehicle charger using the ISO 15118 standard are:
1. Plug-and-charge communication
The primary feature of ISO 15118 is the Plug-and-Charge communication process. The EV and charger must establish a secure communication channel when physically connected. So, it is critical to test the charger's ability to recognize when an EV is plugged in and to initiate the communication process.
Apart from that, effective EV charging infrastructure testing includes verification of the fact that the charger can request identification information from the EV and that the EV responds with the necessary credentials. The charger should be able to verify the EV's authenticity before proceeding with the charging process.
2. Digital certificate and encryption
ISO 15118 requires the use of digital certificates for secure communication. It is vital to test the charger's ability to manage and validate digital certificates from the EV. Also, during the EV charging infrastructure testing, experts need to verify that the charger can encrypt and decrypt messages exchanged during the Plug-and-Charge process. It is important to ensure that all communication remains secure and protected from unauthorized access.
3. Charging parameters negotiation
During the Plug-and-Charge communication, the EV shares its charging capabilities and preferences with the charger. So, it is critical to test the charger's ability to understand and negotiate charging parameters with the EV, such as charging power, charging current, and preferred charging time. The charger should be able to adjust its charging process based on the EV's preferences and the available charging infrastructure capabilities.
4. Error handling and fault tolerance
Effective testing of an EV charger using ISO 15118 should also include testing for error handling and fault tolerance. To achieve that, our testing teams typically simulate various error scenarios, such as communication disruptions, incorrect certificates, or incompatible charging capabilities. Apart from that, they verify that the charger can handle these situations by reporting errors to the EV and taking appropriate actions to resolve the issues.
In conclusion, effectively testing an EV charging infrastructure is not just a matter of routine maintenance; it's a critical step towards ensuring the reliability, safety, and efficiency of electric vehicle charging. By following the comprehensive testing procedures outlined in this guide, you can identify and address potential issues, cut down on operational costs, safeguard your reputation, and accelerate your time to market for new charging solutions.
As the electric vehicle industry continues to grow and evolve, staying ahead in terms of infrastructure reliability is essential. Regular testing not only benefits the charging station operators but also contributes to the broader goal of building a sustainable and user-friendly electric vehicle ecosystem.