All You Need to Know About OCPP

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When charging becomes more common, there will be a vast array of backend systems and EV charging systems that will arise. As a result, additional chargers and systems may be created in the future. Eventually, there will be a race to see which type is the best.

This article is a guide to OCPP, an open-source, freely available platform to build an EV charging station front-end. The front-end is the ‘public face’ of an EV charging station and will represent the system to end-users. It communicates with backend systems, registers drivers, and displays information such as pricing, drivers, and availability of charging spots.

The idea was born as a result of discussions on the Collabora mailing list. Collabora is an office that provides services to a wide array of clients, including the Linux Foundation, Free Software Foundation, and Google, among others. It’s a very interesting group to keep an eye on.

So let’s now dive deeper to know more about OCPP.

What is OCPP

Man charging an EV at a public charging station and pays using a mobile phone
Image Source: Unsplash

In the case of the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), we have a good thing going for us. It makes it easy to set up big networks of charging stations, and charging station owners can quickly change if a provider goes out of business or there is an emergency. It could also lower prices across the board.

The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is a communication system used by open EV chargers and charging station management systems (CSMS).

OCPP is an application protocol that allows communication between charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) and their central management system. Simply put, an application protocol is a structure that allows vastly different programs to interact with one another, such as cell phones and smart refrigerators, or Bluetooth speakers and laptops. Consider it similar to a translation program in that it converts messages from one device or program into a format that another device or program can understand and use.

OCPP is a freely available platform to build an EV charging station front-end. The front-end is the ‘public face’ of an EV charging station and will represent the system to end-users. It communicates with backend systems, registers drivers, and displays information such as pricing, drivers, and availability of charging spots.

OCPP is mainly written in PHP and Javascript, and it’s developed in a DRY (don’t repeat yourself) way via a front-end framework called Bootstrap. Bootstrap is a very popular web development framework by Twitter, aiming to ease the process of front-end development.

OCPP is based on Electron, the same platform used by Slack, Discord, and Atom. And we love these apps. We use them every day. We want our app to be as simple and elegant as possible, drawing inspiration from Slack.

Why is it cool? We’ve seen a lot of people build charging station front-ends. These front-ends are all proprietary. That means they are built in a closed-source way and are not available to the public to view or use.

This is particularly concerning if their business model is based on selling their front-end. For example, a company might have an app for iOS or Android. They’ve spent a lot of time and effort making it look good and usable. But there’s no open source license available, and even if there was, it’s completely locked up. You can’t see how it works, and you certainly can’t see how to fix bugs.

Furthermore, the business model is a barrier to entry. If you have to pay for the app, users may not install it on their own because they aren’t sure if they will ever use it.


An app indicating the state of the electronic vehicle that is charging
Image Source: iStock

A full package is the only thing that makes the two different. OCP stands for “open-source, community-driven, platform-independent, integrate-charge-station,” which is fully functional and has all the modules needed to run a charging station, like drivers, stations, reports, analytics, and more.

There is a front-end called OCPP for OCPI. OCPP is the interface for users, and it only shows information about charging stations, like drivers, stations, prices, and batteries.

OCPP is a charging station application that works with OCPI, and it is an easy way for a charging station operator to show information about the stations, battery, and different prices for different items.

For developers, OCPP is a great way to get started with Ocpi so you can manage drivers, stations, and batteries easily.

If you like to develop your own charging station, then OCPP is the best place to start. It also helps you manage chargers and batteries for your own personal business. It is still early days for OCPP, and it is likely that the project will evolve over time.

What are the benefits of using OCPP? There are a few reasons you might want to use OCPP.

First, it’s free. You don’t need to pay for the app. If you use proprietary software for your business, the software company can charge you for the software and for their services to maintain and improve it. There are also often limits on who can use the software, such as a limit on the number of users.

Second, OCPP is available to anyone to see the code. Developers know that open-source software isn’t necessarily free, but it can be a great way to build a long-lasting relationship with a community.

Third, OCPP is also free to use for both commercial and private applications. If you have a friend who wants to build a charging station app for fun, there’s no reason you have to pay for it. If you have a large installation of charging stations, you can create a private app for your own employees, or you can create a commercial app for the public.

Another option is that you can build your own app with proprietary software. This is a lot of work. You need to employ developers and designers, and you will have to pay for this time.

But generally, OCPP is open source, so you don’t have to pay for it or for maintenance. It also has a large community of contributors who can help out as needed.

OCPP also has a minimalistic design. It will look good in any environment. 

OCPP is designed to be small and easily installable on your own server. If you have a business, you can host the app on your own server and control how it works and how it looks. If you are an end-user, you can use OCPP to show information about charging stations near you and help encourage the adoption of charging stations.

Different Versions of OCPP

Electronic vehicle charging station is seen on the app map
Image Source: iStock

There are currently two versions of OCPP in the market. One is based on Ocpi 2.0, and the other one is based on Ocpi 3.0 beta.

You can install OCPP on your own server. The OCPP for Ocpi 2.0 is based on the LAMP stack, which means you can install it on Linux, Apache, MySql, and Php. The other OCPP for the Ocpi 3.0 beta is based on the MEAN stack, which means it is MySql, Express, Angular, and Node.js.

The OCPP for Ocpi 2.0 is stable and supports OCPP for Ocpi 3.0 beta. The 3.0 beta will support OCPP for Ocpi 3.0 beta and Ocpi 2.0.

How does OCPP work?

An electrical charger for electrical vehicles on the wall1
Image Source: CANVA

Let’s run through a simple scenario:

  • A customer comes to the charging station’s front end to start charging his vehicle. He chooses the amount of kWh he wants to charge and then submits his order.
  • The front-end communicates with the backend. The backend handles pricing and contract management. The front-end tells the backend how much kWh the customer wants to charge.
  • The backend will then prompt the customer for payment. The customer enters his payment information, such as credit card information or his bank account, and then the backend will charge the customer.
  • The customer is now ready to start charging. The backend now sends the order to the charging station, which then begins charging the vehicle.
  • When the customer has finished charging, he requests the end of charge. The front-end sends a message to the backend. The backend then sends a message to the charging station to end the charging.
  • The backend sends a message to the customer, confirming that the charging is complete. 
  • The backend will also be able to send a message to the customer if the price changes during the charging process. For example, if a discount is offered or a fee is added. If a fee is added, it is up to the front-end to determine how to display the new price to the customer. It can also send a message to the customer if there is an error. The backend can send whatever message it wants. For example, it might send a message to the customer that the station is currently out of power.

In this simple scenario, there are three messages: the customer’s request to start charging, the successful end of charge, and the unsuccessful end of charge.

In addition, there are optional messages that might be sent from the backend: the price change message and the error message.

OCPP is not meant to replace OCPI. OCPI is a fully functioning and integrated platform that includes all the components you need to build a charging station. There is a front-end called OCPP that communicates with OCPI and that allows end-users to interact with the charging station. OCPP is very minimalistic and only includes a user interface.

The main function of OCPP is to communicate with backend systems, charge stations, drivers, and users.”

It extracts data from the backend systems and displays them on the front end. It also manages the drivers, their accounts, and their charging accounts and cards. OCPP supports live updates of the data on the front-end.

With the OCPP Javascript/HTML app, you can insert data dynamically and add navigation elements.

OCPP is designed to be easily installable on your own server. It also provides a simplified version of the app in the form of a javascript/HTML application.

The first company to use OCPP is Slock. Slock. It makes software for IoT devices and smart locks. It recently announced the Universal Sharing Network, which is a platform for sharing assets like a bike, car, or scooter.

One of the projects that were shown at CES 2018 was a partnership with Bosch, a German automation and electronics company. Bosch is also a partner of ClearMotion, a smart EV charging station. ClearMotion builds EV charging stations and software.

There is a project called Share&Charge, an open-source and blockchain-based platform for electric vehicle charging. Its main goal is to manage EV charging stations in a decentralized and fairway. Share Charge claims the first charging station can be ready in early 2019. It is working with a company called OSVehicle which has developed a vehicle platform called OSVehicle OS. These are examples of other companies using OCPP.

The design for OCPP is simple, clean, and minimalistic. It’s very clean and easy to use. The look and feel are very good, and the basic functionality is easy to use.

It provides the functionality that charging station operators need. All the information is there: drivers, stations, battery, pricing, etc. It doesn’t have a lot of other features, such as customer support and complex reports.

This is intentional. Simplicity affects the user experience. It’s much easier to get a driver to install the app if it’s simple and easy to use. And charging station operators are more likely to install it when they don’t need to provide customer support or make complex reports.

In this regard, OCPP is the right application for businesses that want to focus on providing the best charging experience possible. You might need more advanced software for more complex needs. If your goal is to have a highly customizable system, you might need to use a proprietary solution.

OCPP is used by companies like Slock. It and the OSVehicle. They have the ability to use more advanced software if they need to.

OCPP is a very easy-to-use app. You can use it from your smartphone or from your laptop. You’ll need an internet connection.

You need the following:

1) An internet connection

2) An OCPP account

3) An OCPI account

4) Your station’s charging card

OCPP and OCPI accounts must be created before you can use them. Both accounts can be accessed using the same email address and password. As long as the password remains the same, you can use any email address.

Once you have the OCPP account, you can open the app on your smartphone. You’ll be prompted to log in. The OCPP app is available for download from the Google Play Store and Apple Store. To get it, you’ll need an active internet connection.

Why do you need OCPP EV chargers?

EV owner charging his eCar at the charger station
Image Source: iStock

To allow charging stations to work alongside management systems from various vendors, an application protocol is required that translates whatever proprietary tools each program uses into a format that the others can understand. That is the goal of OCPPl: to allow various EV charging stations to communicate with various central management processes.

Sustainable transportation is a necessity for the well-being of humanity. It is a way for humans to interact with their environment and one another in a way that is conscious of the minimization of their footprint. Sustainable transportation is a key element of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is part of Goal 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all).

The main reason to create OCPP was to encourage the adoption of charging stations. The main challenge of OCPP is to create an open-source platform for building the front-end of an EV charging station. The most difficult part is finding the right balance between a simple and useful interface. Easy to use and good-looking are not always compatible. For example, we are trying to encourage the use of native notifications on the app. The OCPP App is versatile and can be compatible with different hardware and EV brands. The hardware we want to support is the hardware that supports OCPP. It is possible to use the OCPP App without the OCPP hardware. The OCPP App can be installed on your own server. For example, if you have a Tesla, you can install the OCPP app on your own server. The apps connect to the server to fetch information and then display it on the front end.

The OCPP App is compatible with any charging station hardware that supports the OCPP. For example, if you wanted to use the original Tesla hardware, you could use the OCPP App to monitor the charging station. Another example is the OffGridBox, which is currently being developed by an OCPP contributor.

One of the advantages of OCPP is its:

  • Versatility: Easy Match with Different EV and Hardware

Since the entire software is open source, the community can modify it to their needs. OCPP will be suitable for EVs with different charge standards.

The app and the hardware are fully charged networks independently. It is possible to access the charging station from the phone even though you do not have a subscription.

It supports credit cards and pays for the charging session through it. It keeps the balance set by the owner of the station.

The UI is responsive and easy to use. The design is compact and easy to accommodate various screen sizes of smartphones.

It allows the automatic update of the price. This means that the owner of the station will not need to pay the price of the battery, just the price of the electricity.

The application can be used by the owner of the charging station to set the price they charge their customers.

The app is easily deployable to any server. The app can be used with more than one charging station.

You can choose the position of the app on the screen.

The app can be used by different charging network providers and does not limit the charge port.

The community has different participants who have different views on what should be the next steps. It is hard to find the right direction, but everyone’s opinion is welcome.

The main purpose of OCPP is to enable the easy establishment of a charging station without any hardware costs, which makes it accessible to everyone.

The OCPP hardware can be developed in the future with an easy installation.

The OCPP App is the front end of the charging station. It has an open-source design and can easily be changed.

  • Flexibility in Software: Easy Management with your own monitoring platforms. The OCPP App is an open-source application that can be used and modified by anyone. It can be used with an Android device and any server.
  • Flexibility in Hardware: It is compatible with the OffGridBox and other charging station hardware. The application can be used with both OCPP hardware and non-OCPP hardware. It is possible to use the OCPP App with the OCPP hardware or with other hardware. For example, you can use the OCPP App with the OCPP hardware and other hardware. The OCCP App is also compatible with the smartwatch.
  • Multiple Functions: The app can be used to track the location of the charging station. It can be used by the driver to close the charging session. The OCPP App can be managed by the owner of the charging station. It can be used to update the charging station and display the charging status. The OCPP App can be used to enable charging with a prepaid card. It can be used to enable the use of the charging station with no subscription. Just the payment of the electricity used.
  • Commercial Competency: Lower cost and wide range of service
  • In order to enable the driver to control the charging session, the OCPP App must support the native notifications.

The OCPP hardware can be assembled at a lower cost than other charging station hardware.

One of the main objectives of the OCPP project is to reduce the cost of electric vehicles, and it is also compatible with most hardware.

The Bottom Line

To wrap it all up, people are becoming more interested in electric vehicles and need more places to charge them. The number of electric cars running on the streets is growing every day, and the public and the government want to see more places to charge their car.

If you are a business owner, it can be hard to think about making a big investment in electric vehicle infrastructure. Because, after all, if an investment is long-term and profitable, then it’s a good one to make. With new technology like electric cars, it’s important that investments are long-term and scalable so that they can change with demand and government rules. Putting OCPP-approved hardware on your site could be the answer.

We can help you with specific language and best practices for adding OCPP-compliant requirements to your next request for proposals, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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