A “smart” charger is one that can connect to and through the Internet. Connectivity allows that station to be managed by the owner, take payment, collect data, be remotely maintained, and much more. A "smart" charger can be part of a larger EV network of chargers, enabling even more benefits for drivers. Frequently utilities require chargers to be "smart" and connected to software in order to track performance and receive utility credits or subsidies.
A “dumb” charger is one that cannot connect to the Internet or a larger network of charging stations,. Dumb chargers have almost no ability beyond charging the vehicle, and in this case management of charging (if any) must take place in the vehicle's systems itself. Dumb chargers cannot process payment, manage access, or balance the charging load. This means that dumb chargers cannot take payment, so any charging has to be delivered free and there is no revenue stream to offset the cost of installing and operating chargers.
Dumb chargers also do not have advanced features like reservations and load management, which with increasing sales of EVs can create upset drivers who cannot charge their car, or upset charger owners who see substantially higher energy bills. This is because dumb chargers do not enable the station owner to manage energy load and can result in very high electrical bills, especially for businesses which usually pay for energy based on peak load.