An uncertain future

Charge HQ was started from a belief that EVs could accelerate the energy transition if they could be used as a flexible load to consume solar energy when it was plentiful and avoid charging from the grid when renewable generation was sparse.

For nearly three years we have worked towards this goal. We’re proud of what we have built and believe the organic adoption by thousands says that we have created something special.

We’ve done this as a bootstrapped startup, with no external funding (and no salary), whilst also providing the service free of charge to many of our early and non-solar users.

But, we are faced with two challenges.


The value of our service to users with solar is a function of four factors:

  1. How much energy their EV uses - based on how much they drive
  2. How much excess solar energy they produce
  3. How much their EV is at home when the sun is out
  4. The delta between what they pay for grid energy and what they earn for exporting unused solar production.

Points 1 to 3 vary from one user to the next, but more than half of our users tick the boxes to get value from the service.

Point 4 is changing. As more and more solar is installed, the wholesale value of energy in the middle of the day when the sun is out reduces. Many Australian energy retailers (where most of our users are based) are introducing special EV tariffs with low prices for EV charging to take advantage of it. These factors are leading to a reduced price delta for many customers.

The value of our solar tracking feature reduces for everyone as the delta reduces, regardless of how much they charge.

Whilst this is a problem for us, it’s a good thing for the energy transition: the cheapest time of day to use power is quickly becoming those times when renewable generation is high.


The cost of operating Charge HQ is a mix of fixed costs such as salaries, software subscriptions, server operation and variable costs such as API access charges.

At scale, fixed costs become small on a per-user basis and can be absorbed. Variable costs, which apply per user, keep increasing as we grow.

At the start of this year, Tesla introduced a new official third-party API for apps such as Charge HQ. Our solar tracking service makes intensive use of this API, often making hundreds of calls per day per vehicle.

Access fees are set to be introduced by Tesla sometime this year, and based on price increases we’ve seen from other apps that use the Tesla API, we expect that the fees will be significant and that we’ll have to pass them on.

Cost vs Value

The single most common feedback we get from users who don’t take up a paid subscription is that the cost of the service exceeds the savings it generates.

With value being reduced by changes to energy tariffs, and costs increasing due to API charges, the service becomes less attractive. This puts Charge HQ in a hard place.

What about smart (OCPP) chargers?

For non-Tesla EVs we can control smart chargers that support a remote control protocol called OCPP. OCPP connectivity will always be free, as it is an open protocol and the chargers connect directly to our backend.

However, we’ve seen very few users buying and connecting OCPP enabled chargers. Today, it’s hard to believe there will be enough of them purchased and connected to sustain the service on their own, whilst at the same time the value is reducing.

What are we doing now?

We are posting this article now and making changes because we believe in transparency. We want to provide as much notice of upcoming changes as we can (even though we aren’t sure of the details yet) and we don’t want new users making charger purchasing decisions which are dependent on our current service and prices.

When the Tesla API pricing is introduced we expect that the free plan will need to be suspended for all users and that the solar plan will see a price increase or a reduction in functionality, or both.

We have suspended all annual payment options to allow us to pass through price changes if required. Users with annual subscriptions will move to monthly subscriptions at the time of renewal until we know more.

We are continuing to look for ways to allow us to keep the service running as a viable business.

If we reach a point where we can’t see a way forward we will publish guides with suggested alternatives for optimising your EV charging.


I’m happy to pay after being a long time (ok, 2 years) user!
Its been a fantastic tool and you should be very proud with what you have achieved. How do I subscribe?

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Hi Andrew,

Very much appreciate the transparency and thanks for all your hard work on the app.

While the cost saving is indeed important I think there’s a couple of other areas of value currently offered in the ChargeHQ app:
5. A clear view of power flow in the home updated often (dependant on equipment & configuration)
6. Better scheduled charging options that is both easier & more detailed than the Tesla App and doesn’t wake the car in the process of configuration.

Right now while there are other options for the above i’d have to invest time or money to replace that functionality. For those reasons and only somewhat for the cost savings I will be signing up to a paid plan.

Let’s hope it’s not crazy money by the time Tesla release pricing but understand that’s not within your control so fingers crossed.

I am a bit confused. I currently use a ZJBeny OCPP charger. Does this mean I need to find alternative OCPP software as ChargeHQ will no longer work?

It looks like ChargeHQ is caught between a rock and a hard place. I haven’t heard anything about special EV tariffs in WA. I don’t even have a smart meter but I suppose it will come.

It’s a shame because it’s a brilliant app and visionary when it started development.

There will be a point at which the size of a monthly fee will become a consideration.

I hope Wattwatchers don’t start charging a monthly fee too. My ChargeHQ use depends on that.

I seem to remember reading a while back that Tesla might be building their own solar charging software into their cars. I haven’t heard anything about it again though.

Hi Andrew,
I am not a blogger so your post must have piqued my interest enough to want to reply :wink:
Firstly, well done on a great app. I was put on to it when I bought my Tesla about a year and a half ago. We now have 2 Teslas and I have regularly used the ChargeHQ app. It is not quite ‘seamless’ when you have 2 EVs (first world problem!) but it is still great nonetheless (could also be user error…).
I must admit when I saw recent communications informing of subscription fees I did a mental calculation and worked out the subscription would cost me more than the savings I would receive from the efficiencies from Solar Charge HQ delivers. This could be largely due to me living in Melbourne where I only get value from my Solar for perhaps 6 months of the year (let alone surplus energy that would go to the car). I don’t really see much value in the other analytics ChargeHQ provides.
That being said it would be great to see ChargeHQ succeed in future. For me that me you will need to:

  • Look at alternative ways of generating revenue eg. via advertising
  • Offer additional value to offset the increased subscription cost (I’m not sure what this is!)
    Given you will have different customers in different climate zones with different views on what they value, you could perhaps consider a hybrid model. eg. Free subscription with advertising and a paid version with no advertising and other benefits?
    Anyway, I wish you all the best…

Thanks for the transparency. To me, the value is there so I signed up for the paid plan last week after using the app for 18 months. Fingers crossed the API pricing is reasonable as I’d really like to see your innovation rewarded.

Great product. I’m a subscriber to your solar service and I hope you can keep it going.
Thanks for the honesty and early warning. I was thinking of purchasing a new OCPP charger so that I’m able to control charging to both my Tesla and non-Tesla EV more consistently. I think I’ll hold off on the purchase for now.
With talk of people being charged to export solar to the grid in future, it seems to me that your service will only become more relevant.

Thanks for the app. Your points are well made. With EV plans now , it is irrelevant when I charge off solar. At 8c feed in and 8c supply at night plus free charging 11-2pm. Scheduled charging makes more sense. The solar just feeds in and builds up credit for scheduled charging. Good luck with future plans . It’s great app, but paying monthly just doesn’t make financial sense for me.

Thanks for the support! To subscribe, in the app go to Settings → My Account → My Plan, and click the subscribe button. Cheers.

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Charge HQ is an important (and, importantly, Australian) app for EV users. Thank you for creating and supporting it.
I have not been making use of it much as I own a Zappi charger which provides the CoS capability, even if it not OCPP-compliant. Also, as a Tesla owner, I have access to their CoS option, basic though it is.
My use of Charge HQ is limited to its scheduling abilities, which are much easier to use than Tesla’s native functions.
Regarding your point about special EV-charging or cheap daytime tariffs, that certainly does not apply across most of Australia, certainly not here in Tasmania. So, I’d be surprised if your CoS wasn’t of use to many EV owners around the country.
Having said that, would it make sense to introduce a paid plan that does not include CoS for those who don’t require it. I guess it depends on how Tesla decide to charge for their API access.
In any case, I do hope you are able to continue.
All the best

Hi Jay and Andrew,

Good decision to get this note out to your user base.

From a personal/user perspective, I have an OCPP charging station and use the Amber rate limit functionality to ensure I only charge at low prices. For other Amber customers I think there is value in that integration. I’ve moved from the early adopter plan to the Solar plan (even though I don’t use that functionality ATM) as I love what you guys have built.

More broadly, with V2G on the horizon I can see how ChargeHQ could work with retailers offering dynamic pricing like Amber or Local Volts for both charging and discharging. I also hope that retailers would be interested in white-labelling what you guys have built rather than rolling their own or buying a software package from overseas.

Not sure how best to help but if you have retailers that you’d like to engage with I’m happy to provide an introduction as I have contacts with most of the top 15 retailers.

Also happy to discuss some ideas on other benefits that could be included in Charge HQ subscriptions to provide more value to subscribers.


This reminds me of the old saying. “No good deed goes unpunished”.

I hope you guys can gain some reward for all your hard work.

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So when I got my new Tesla at the start of the year, I played around with the API (via Tessie), and it was pretty easy to use, then I looked at throwing together some code for Solar Charging as I currently read various things in my electrical system numerous times a second, including net export. And I just thought for the price of the ChargeHQ subscription it was a no brainer. Nice phone app, great API integration where I can just throw the data into ChargeHQ. It’s pretty cheap compared to the effort I would have had to go through to get the equivalent - A no brainer!


I really appreciate the open communication. It shows your commitment to your community. I hope you can find a model that is sustainable for you as I do get real convenience value out of ChargeHQ even if the savings value is marginal.

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Having been on the early adopter plan for a while I’ve never given this too much thought. Although I’ve got an OCPP charger, since I moved to an EV power plan I don’t use solar tracking anymore - just align charging to cheap power periods overnight and middle of the day… I’m actually better off to charge overnight these days and use the solar elsewhere.

I wouldn’t pay to access the solar tracking as it’s not viable for me…I (and I expect many other users) would understand if the free plan disappears to be replaced by a plan with the same features for a few dollars a month.
If that works to make this viable and to continue to grow then I’m in!

Having adds in the app would be a distant second.

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Thanks for the open communication. For my use I have found that setting multiple schedules works to ramp up and down the charging current during the day. This is good enough for me knowing that the charger load is roughly following the solar output. I would happily pay a one off fee for this service (within reason) but would be unlikely to pay a subscription to use the scheduling feature.

As the feed in tariff falls (now down to 4c/kWh for me) and could potentially head negative, and as the amount of base load power in the grid from coal falls, I actually think night time power costs will rise and there will be a daytime cost of exporting your solar.
If / when this happens, ChargeHQ will be more valuable than ever. So hang in there!

I recently took part in an EV Grid trial where the power company could increase / decrease the charge going into my car to help balance grid demand. This is really the only solution when most people move to EVs otherwise the electricity grid will collapse. A version of Charge HQ could provide the power companies a great solution to this. With a few tweaks, the power companies could adjust the behaviour of charging via your app for thousands of customers. Then the power companies could pay your monthly fees rather than the consumers.
Might be worth talking to them if you haven’t already.

I’m happy to pay for it - not everything we spend money on has to make financial sense. In fact, I’d suggest that 90% of what I spend has no return on investment :slight_smile:


Does this come down to educating the many about how to efficiently charge their cars? ChargeHQ can be very effective particualrly when used to stop grid charging (overnight) to say 90% and allow the app to charge the rest with solar (or less if you only charge to 80%). Most solar systems can produce about 6kw per day (some more in excess) which would account for about $1.20 per day which easily pays off the monthly charge of $7 for the app.

Firstly, great app. I use it on my phone, iPad and the web interface on my MacBook. I signed up for the free trial, but knew pretty quickly that I was going to keep it.

For context of my situation - WA based, variable tariff (super cheap 9am-3pm, super expensive 3pm-9pm, moderate 9pm - 3am). 15 kW of solar inverter (45 panels). 16.5 kWH of battery. One Tesla.

A few thoughts:

  1. Being able to control more than one EV would be a killer feature. Almost certainly worth paying for to balance off solar production. When we get our second one it will be really valuable to prioritise the charging of a particular vehicle in relation to solar and battery. I think a lot of houses will be in this situation in the next few years as EV adoption goes up.
  • Also - do you know if Tesla will charge 2x as much if you have 2 tesla’s on one account? If not then the value doubles.
  1. There might be value in some users that don’t have an EV. I have 2x Fronius inverters, but to really get the best I have to subscribe to them as well. I suspect you could potentially do it, and better. For example - Fronius keeps on trying to display how much money I have made exporting to the grid. I get $0.00 per kWh for exporting, so it’s a waste of screen real estate to even display that. Plus if you are getting that data via an API, you could match their features pretty easily.
  • I would love to be able to tie in the rate plan to see the cost of charging my car when I draw from the grid.

  • Not many people might want this, but I would value storing the solar data locally and not depending on someone else’s server.

  1. Homekit integration - Can you do this? I can see some people really valuing the ability to ask Siri about things like battery status, etc. Also could be really useful to tie into automations. For example - turn on air conditioners when excess solar present and temperature > some value.
  • Again, this would have value to people who don’t have an EV but do have solar +/- a battery.

Just some thoughts on things that might add value