A Brookvale company has come up with a smart solution for electric vehicle (EV) charging in strata buildings.

Founders of Alchemy Charge are husband and wife duo Merich and Yasemin Selvi (main image, L-R). Having dealt extensively with strata buildings through their remedial building company, they began to see the challenges posed by EVs in older buildings. As more people buy electric cars, strata buildings are finding themselves faced with a number of potentially expensive upgrades.

If they choose to do nothing, strata buildings may find owners effectively stealing power, by plugging their cars into power points that are paid for by the strata. This leaves other owners in a strata scheme footing the bill for the fuel of EV owners, or alternatively leaves EV owners with no ability to charge their cars where they live.

Yasemin Selvi

Ms Selvi said they realised that if every car space in a strata scheme was to install an EV charger, the total electrical capacity of many existing buildings would be overwhelmed.

“When we got a Tesla, we started looking into how it would work in strata blocks. We very quickly worked out that you need immense amounts of power and infrastructure upgrades, especially for strata blocks where you will have multiple chargers. That put a halt on things,” said Ms Selvi.

Merich Selvi

Mr Selvi said the solution came to him based on research they did in the European market, where a large proportion of home charging is done using a normal power point.

“Everyone already has a portable charger, why aren’t we utilising that? The reason was, there was no mechanism to bill the end user for the power they use. We played around with hundreds of components and software and found a combination that works.

“That led to a two year design process to enable any power point to be used. EV charging will be the largest use case, but it could be caravan parks, marinas, hotels. Anywhere there could be power theft,” said Mr Selvi.

Merich Selvi demonstrates SmartPoint charging to Wakeehurst MP Michael Regan

Like sliced bread, the Alchemy Charge ‘SmartPoint’ solution is simple enough, most people will wonder why it had not already been solved. The approach taken by Alchemy Charge is to replace existing power outlets with power outlets that can only be ‘turned on’ by using a QR code and phone app (image above).

Whether it is to charge an electric vehicle, or tradies using power for construction works on a building, all usage of power will be metered and paid for, ensuring the owner of the power point is not left paying the bill for someone else’s power usage.

Member for Wakehurst and noted electric vehicle enthusiast Michael Regan (image above and below, right) met with the Selvi’s at their Brookvale factory last week to see how the innovation worked for himself, and said it was simple and ingenious.

“Any unit block that has a power point downstairs can have it converted for whatever purpose is required, and it can be done easily by any licensed electrician,” said an impressed Mr Regan.

Yasemin and Merich Selvi demonstrate SmartPoint charging to Wakeehurst MP Michael Regan

Mr Regan asked Ms Selvi whether Alchemy Charge was pursuing any of the NSW Government grant schemes currently available for businesses investing in vehicle charging infrastructure. She explained that because their solution was ‘so simple’ it had never been contemplated and they sat below the eligibility threshold for the grant schemes. Mr Regan said he would raise that matter with the NSW Government on their behalf.

The Alchemy Charge SmartPoint solution is being manufactured at Harbord Road, Brookvale. It offers an immediate answer to the problem of EV charging in strata buildings, particularly where power used in parking areas is paid for by the strata. It also offers a simple solution to EV owners who want to be able to charge their vehicles at home, but who may be renting in a building, or may not be able to convince the strata to undertake the full cost of upgrades necessary for EV charging.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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