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Smappee, keeping a South African family cool and their EV charged despite blackouts

How can you charge your electric vehicle to be ready to leave while keeping your household running when there are daily power blackouts? Find out how Smappee is helping this South African homeowner to do just that.

Paarl nestled in the Berg River Valley.

Since Smappee entered the market in South Africa in March 2019, a number of business owners like Albert Burger, owner of three Spar supermarkets, have discovered the benefits of using Smappee’s smart energy monitoring and management system, the Smappee Infinity.

Now that loadshedding has become a daily occurrence in the country and power cuts can last for two to four hours at a time, homeowners are also discovering how Smappee can help to better manage their homes’ power consumption and ensure that their electric vehicles are always charged and ready to go.

One such homeowner is Paul Keenan, who lives in Wellington in the Western Cape where the daytime temperature regularly reaches 34°C and higher in summer. The three air-condition units in his house, is not so much a luxury but a necessity, and important to keep running.

Paul had a solar hybrid energy system installed to supply solar power during loadshedding. “The system produced more power than Paul’s household needed but it’s not possible to feed power back into the grid in his area,” explains Gary Deysel, energy consultant at Tech Ops, Paul’s Cape Town based installer.

Gary, Owner at Tech Ops, a South African Solar and Battery integrator and specialist, recommended that Paul buys an electric vehicle to use up the surplus power instead of letting it go to waste. Gary is a customer of KoCoS Measurement & Control, who is a Smappee Partner in South Africa.

At the time, the most appealing electric vehicle on the market was the BMW i3 2021 with a battery capacity of 120 ampere hour (Ah) battery capacity. When Paul bought the car, it was bundled with a basic three-pin charger that would take nearly 20 hours to charge fully. This would have limited his use of the car and he installed a fast portable charger to be able to charge the EV more quickly. While the unit was more powerful, the required amperage wasn’t always available from the hybrid system.

Paul also wanted his home to take priority. Therefore it was important not to overload the system when the EV was plugged in to charge and all the air-conditioners, geyser and other household appliances were in use. The basic charger he bought did not have the ability to consider the energy needs of his household and the breakers in the distribution board frequently tripped.

What makes Smappee’s chargers so smart?

As Nigel Baker, Smappee’s Business Development Manager in the Middle East and Africa, says, “Charging an electric vehicle is not as easy as installing a standard charger and plugging in the car. If, for example, you have a 50-amp breaker and your EV charger is 32 amps, you cannot have your geyser and oven and other appliances on at the same time. That will be more than 50 amps and your breaker will undoubtedly trip. It will be like trying to put 10 litres of water into a two-litre bottle. It can’t work.”

To solve Paul’s problem, Henri Erwin, from KoCoS, recommended that Gary replaces the standard charger with a Smappee EV Wall Home charger with built-in energy management.

Since the Smappee system was installed, the charger managed the charging process automatically. All Paul has to do, is enter his charging criteria (how far he wants to drive and when the car must be ready). The charger can use artificial intelligence to optimize the available solar power and balance the load to ensure that breakers won’t be overloaded. When the demand for power goes up in the house, Smappee’s smart charger slows down the charging process to draw less power; when the demand drops in the house, the charger speeds up again.

In the past, Paul had to switch off the air-conditioners to avoid having the power trip while charging his electric vehicle. An electric vehicle, as Nigel explains, is the most power-hungry “appliance” in a home. “A geyser typically uses 3 kw, which is about 16 amps. An EV charger easily uses double that. That is why Smappee’s EV chargers act as energy management systems. People don’t always think of them that way, but it’s about capacity management.”

Complete control and other benefits of smart energy management

Paul echoes this when he says that the biggest lesson in understanding how to charge his EV was that the load has to be balanced between charging his electric vehicle and running the rest of the household. Smappee’s charger ensure that this process is automated, which is a great benefit.

“The Smappee App gives me complete control of our system through my phone, no matter where I am. It also allows our supplier to monitor and service our charger remotely. I can see exactly where the power is going in real-time, and the app and charger are easy to use and simple to understand.”

Paul Keenan, homeowner, Wellington, South Africa

An overview of the family’s daily power consumption that clearly shows how much power each of the electric vehicle, air-conditioners and household appliances use.

As Henri highlights, the benefits our clients most enjoy about Smappee are:

His EV now takes 6 hours 15 minutes to charge, 13 hours 15 minutes less than with the basic charger. The family uses it for their daily errands and when going to Hermanus (150 km), the Strand (75 km) or to Cape Town (60 km). The EV’s range is 274 km when fully charged and they have an all-terrain diesel vehicle for moving heavy items and long-distance travel.

A typical round trip undertaken by the family with their EV. This trip totals 172 km.

  • Being able to monitor and manage their energy consumption in real time via the smartphone app and PC dashboard
  • Easy and fast to install
  • The infinite possibilities thanks to the modular system that allows you to expand your system as your needs grow
  • The fact that it is future-proof with updates that happen over the air

The Keenan’s experience with their Smappee smart charger and the built-in Infinity energy-management system illustrate these benefits perfectly.

Sir Lowrys pass snaking to Hermanus.

Customer Paul Keenan | Private home
Country South Africa


The Keenan family lives in Paarl, one of the hottest towns in South Africa’s Western Cape. They therefore installed a solar hybrid energy system to be able to run not only their home appliances but also the three air-condition units in their home, despite ongoing nationwide blackouts.

The challenge

The solar panel system generated more power than the household needed, so they decided to buy an electric vehicle instead of letting it go to waste. While they had no problem adapting to charging and driving an EV, they did have a problem with nuisance tripping, even after installing a fast portable charger to be able to charge their electric BMW more quickly. It was therefore important to find a solution to avoid overloading the system while the EV was charging, and at the same time, the air-condition units, geyser, and other household appliances were in use.

The solution

They were advised to replace the standard charger with Smappee’s EV Wall charger which has built-in smart energy management. Since installing the Smappee system, the charger manages the charging process automatically. It uses AI analyzed data to optimize the available solar power and balance the load to ensure that breakers won’t be overloaded, and the power won’t trip.

The results

  • No more nuisance tripping
  • Load-balancing ensures that the EV is charged as needed
  • Live data on individual appliances’ power consumption

Why Smappee?

  • Easy to install and use.
  • Complete control of energy use.
  • Remote monitoring and management of energy consumption.
  • Optimised use of solar energy.

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