• Charging
  • EV tariffs
  • Oct 18, 2022

When it comes to EV tariffs, is there anything to beat Octopus Go? Well, Octopus Energy has a new smart EV tariff that may do just that. Intelligent Octopus is a next generation EV tariff that has an off-peak rate of 10p per kWh – that’s now 2p cheaper than Go.

Intelligent Octopus also offers a longer, six-hour off-peak window, compared to only four hours per night on Go. This means you can  save more money on both your EV charging and the energy use of your home between 11.30pm and 5.30am.

What makes Intelligent Octopus smart?

Intelligent appears to be a smart move for any EV owner. By Octopus’s own estimates you can save around £200 per year compared to Go. But the ‘intelligent’ bit of this tariff all comes from what it offers the grid.

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Our energy is usually greener overnight. That’s because demand is low when most of us are asleep and gas-powered electricity stations can go to sleep too. Off-peak rates of EV tariffs have incentivised us EV drivers to use more of the ‘always on’ base load and any intermittent wind energy that happens to turns up.

Greener EV charging
Octopus Intelligent tariff makes your energy use greener and cheaper

Intelligent goes one step further. When the wind blows or sun shines and there isn’t enough demand to use it, Intelligent Octopus can step in to create flexible demand – switching on cars and, in time, low-carbon devices like heat pumps to mop up the spare energy.

How will Octopus Intelligent know when to charge my car?

You use the Octopus app to set when you need your car ready. Octopus calculates the best time to charge in order to balance supply with overall energy demand. Sometimes you will be given extra slots outside the 6-hour off-peak window to help balance the grid and get your car charged.

If Octopus schedules a charge outside of the normal night rate hours, you still get the lower rate for all EV and home use during that period. If you have long charging sessions  – either because your battery is empty or you have a slow charger – the app will automatically look for extra slots at the off-peak rate for both your charging and home.

For your home, you get the cheap rate between 11:30pm and 5:30am for heating water, dishwashers and any appliances regardless of whether you’re charging or not.

If you need to charge more urgently you can use the app to trigger a boost called a ‘bump charge’. You’ll charge your car at the peak rate when you do this outside of the off-peak window.

What do I need to join Octopus Intelligent?

✔ A smartphone – iOS or Android (the iPhone 6s and newer models work)

✔ A smart meter (either a SMETS2 or ‘Secure’ brand SMETS1)

✔ A compatible EV OR a compatible charger

Which EVs are compatible now?

Cars that work directly with the Intelligent tariff currently include Tesla, Jaguar, Ford and Land Rover. Volkswagen EVs work, but not any of their popular ID models.

For these compatible EVs, Intelligent Octopus will pair directly with your car’s charging system, and use the Octopus KrakenFlex machine-learning to find the best time to charge. You use the Octopus app to tell it when you need the car and how much charge you need.

Jaguar iPace electric car
Jaguar EVs are on the ‘compatible car’ list for Octopus Intelligent

Tesla talks directly to Octopus, but other cars on the compatible list talk to Octopus via a company called Smartcar. Smartcar connects your car to Octopus’s ‘Kraken‘ software to read the battery percentage and the car’s location. It needs the location so that your charging is only controlled when you are actually at home.

Which EVs may be next?

From the smartcar website , it seems Peugeot, Citroen, Hyundai, Kia Skoda (2020+) and Vauxhall may be the next EVs on the compatible list. VW ID models may continue to be unsupported because they don’t allow Octopus to check your car is actually at home before it starts or stops your charge. BMW, Audi, Mini, Volvo and Nissan can’t have their charging started and stopped remotely by this service.

Which EV charger do I need for Octopus Intelligent?

If you don’t have a compatible car, you can still join Octopus Intelligent if you have an Ohme charger or cable. This includes all the Ohme cables, and even the Ohme cable with a 3-pin plug. So if you have any brand of untethered charger, you can still join Intelligent using a Ohme cable without replacing your charger.

Connecting through Ohme has a few potential pitfalls. You’ll need to get the right set up using the Ohme app (see briefing box below). Also the cost of charge that you see in the Ohme app will not necessarily be accurate. To see how much you’ve really spent, you’ll have to wait for your next Octopus bill.

Perhaps the biggest problem for users connecting with Ohme comes from cars that can’t communicate their ‘State of Charge’ or SoC. If your car’s SoC is being read, the app allows you to set a target percentage to reach by a certain time, e.g. 80% by 6am.

For other cars, like MG and Fiat, you can only ever set a percentage to add, e.g. +30%. This causes two issues:

  1. If you ask for more than your car will take, you might not need an extra slot scheduled outside of the usual 23:30-05:30 window. If you don’t charge in this slot, then you’ll pay peak prices for anything your household uses in that time. The lesson here is to keep your household appliances to the 6-hour window, wherever possible.
  2. Charging your battery above 80% full uses more energy and isn’t so good for the health of your battery. So, to keep to 80% on a non-compatible car you have to guess the percentage of charge needed.

Briefing: How Ohme works with Octopus Intelligent

You’ll need to use the Ohme app to control your charging; after you’ve signed up Octopus will disable you from using Intelligent within the Octopus app. As noted above, Ohme’s app doesn’t yet show an accurate cost of charge so for charging in the extra slots you won’t be able to check it’s off-peak rate until your bill comes in.

Ohme app has a ‘price cap’ feature that should be turned off, or set above your Intelligent peak unit rate. If it’s set below this, your charging schedules won’t be as smart as they could be.

You need to set an active schedule in the Ohme app for the time you want your EV charged by, ideally between 4am – 11am. If you don’t do this, the Ohme charger will default to ‘dumb’ charging and you’ll be paying a higher rate to charge your EV. Octopus suggest you stick to one active schedule.

Read more on Octopus Ohme questions answered

Are there any other drawbacks of Octopus Intelligent?

Octopus needs to wake your EV periodically to tell it to smart charge. They let your car go back to sleep (to avoid battery drain) as often as possible. Octopus recommend keeping your car plugged in while you are at home, as this helps it go to sleep more often and for longer periods. In the earliest versions, many Tesla drivers in particular were aware of the extra energy used by their cars on the tariff.

What happens if I plug in outside of the off-peak window?

No matter what time you arrive home, it’s easiest to plug in straight away. Your car will start charging for a few seconds or minutes before Intelligent notices your car and stops the charge. If you later want to boost the charge, your car will start charging again.

Can I charge two EVs on the Intelligent tariff?

At the moment you can only add one car to communicate directly with Intelligent at any one time. You can, in theory, remove a car from the app and connect another at any point. But this would be a bit unworkable if you own and charge two EVs. Using an Ohme cable or charger could be a work around, as it allows you a bit more flexibility to charge a guest or second EV.

I have solar, can I charge during the day?

You can’t do this automatically yet. Ohme doesn’t support solar integration, but says they are working on it. You would have to manually ‘boost’ your car during the middle of a sunny day to fill it with your own green energy.

Many households with solar and an EV have opted for the popular Zappi charger from myenergi. Zappi owners will be hoping that Octopus is close to connecting to the Zappi to the Intelligent tariff, so they can use cheap solar energy if their car is around during the day.

Why might I not be able to join Octopus Intelligent?

✘ You don’t have an iPhone (iOS v14.0 or later) (iPhone 6S) or Android (v7 or later)

✘ You have multiple Octopus Energy accounts

✘ You said that you have more than one car

✘ You have neither a car nor charger that is compatible

✘ You don’t have a smart meter

✘ You have solar and are on an export tariff other than the basic Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).