Electric car owners will be able to charge their vehicles for less and reduce stress on the electrical grid using a new device developed by a government laboratory which can set charging times to use electricity when rates are cheaper and usage is lower.

The Smart Charger Controller, developed by the department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is can help prevent the electrical grid from crashing due to strain from numerous cars charging at the same time. It could also save owners up to $150 a year, the PNNL said.

While the new vehicles will serve as an additional source of power demand, they also could contribute to an even 'smarter' grid if equipped with controller technology, the PNNL in a released statement.

The controller can be programmed by the vehicle owner to operate a specific time at a set price point. The device then communicates with the power grid through a low-range wireless technology and determines the best and cheapest time for recharging the car.