Businesses have many reasons why they should consider purchasing an electric vehicle charging station. Even though most EV owners use home chargers as their main way of charging their vehicles, they are still happy to have the opportunity to go on longer trips or spontaneously decide on their destination. This is possible only with a reliable access to public and commercial chargers.
The best locations for such chargers are any highly frequented places and venues that are easily accessible from main public roads and, at the same time, offer convenient parking options. This includes retail stores, parking lots of businesses, public parking spaces and garages, or recreation facilities. According to current research, the presence of electric vehicle chargers brings in more customers and helps a business increase their revenue. What’s more, the best employees want to work for a company they share similar values with, and that actually supports their ecologically conscious lifestyle by offering enticing amenities in the form of fast EV chargers.
This guide was written with the intention of providing valuable insight and information for all business owners who are interested in becoming a part of a global movement set to change the face of the automotive industry and help us protect the only planet we can live on.
There are currently three main types of charging used for residential and commercial charging. It is important to understand the difference between them, since each has completely different demands in terms of the surrounding infrastructure, installation, and day-to-day operation.
Level 1 Charging
In past, Level 1 charging was the most common type used by individual EV owners to charge their car at home. EV manufacturers would supply their customers with a small Level 1 charger that would plug directly into any regular electrical outlet capable of supplying 15-20A of current. Such charger uses only 120V AC and draws around 1.4 kW of power. This means that adding just 80 miles of range could take as long as 14 hours, depending on the particular vehicle.
While acceptable for home users and emergency purposes, this type of EV charger is unsuitable for businesses and public locations. Adding only 5 miles of range per every hour of charging is simply too slow for practical use.
However, business owners are still encouraged to provide their employees with suitable sockets for use with self-supplied Level 1 chargers. Many EV owners carry them in the trunk of their car for emergency purposes, and having a dedicated place to use them makes everything much easier.
Level 2 Charging
Level 2 charging uses 208/240V AC power connection to significantly reduce charging times. Most chargers and vehicles use up to 30A, which translates into 3-8 kW, depending on the charger and the battery. In practice, this means 70 miles approximately 5 hours of charging.
Residential Level 2 chargers have recently become very affordable and many owners have installed them in their own garages. Public Level 2 charging stations are no longer seen as something extra, but as something expected.
Their only real disadvantage is higher installation cost. The cost can vary greatly depending on how much works needs to be done to install the charger. Some places, such as public garages, will already have all the necessary wiring in place, and electrician can just come in and mount the charger on the wall. Others will have to invest hundreds and even thousands of dollars to meet all requirements and safety standards.
Level 3 Charging
The last type of charging that you need to be familiar with is called Level 3. It refers to a fast charging that works with DC current to directly supply the battery in the electrical vehicle. This type uses a different plug, compared to Level 2 charging: Nissan and Mitsubishi use CHAdeMO; American, and European car manufacturers use SAE Combo; and Tesla has their own proprietary connector.
With Level 3 charging, an electric vehicle can be charged to approximately 80 percent of its maximum capacity in just 30 minutes. These chargers are still quite rare, but they pave the way of how the future of EV charging is going to look like.
Because of their scarcity, they have the potential to attract the most customers; however, the installation costs can be as high as tens of thousands of dollars. This alone puts them out of the reach of most businesses.
Things to Consider Before Purchase
Power – The charging station will need to be supplied with adequate power. The availability will be one of the most important factors determining the final cost of the installation. You want to avoid running the power over a very long distance. If you can, look into the availability of solar panels to reduce the charging cost and increase the overall efficiency of your station.
Construction – Some areas are much less accessible and make construction very difficult. Paved surfaces, asphalt, sidewalks, and areas with extensive landscape features are much harder to deal with than grass medians. Take this into consideration as you plan for the installation of your EV charging station.
Placement – Electric vehicle charging stations can be installed either on a pedestal, or they can be mounted on the wall. Furthermore, most chargers can have more than one charging port to increase their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Parking – Electric vehicles need to be parked for several hours during charging. You should always dedicate parking spots solely to electric vehicles and avoid placing the charger in a location with limited parking options.
Proximity – Especially for service areas, such as shopping and community centers, the mere presence of an EV charger gives visitors a very good reason to stay a little bit longer while their car keeps charging. Locating your charger near these areas could open doors to many interesting partnerships.
Operating Costs and Recovery Models
Operational costs include the power supplied to the station, remote monitoring services, and regular maintenance. It is also important to take into consideration possible damage caused by misuse or extreme weather conditions. Most manufacturers design their stations to be easily serviceable to avoid prolonged downtime.
Energy – The cost of electricity will vary from provider to provider, and it will also fluctuate depending on what time of day it is.
Usage monitoring and configuration – Most manufacturers provide their customers with useful usage monitoring and remote configuration services. These services are often sold as monthly subscriptions.
Regular maintenance – The maintenance cost is difficult to predict ahead, as each station is unique. Some common maintenance expenses include damaged cords, snow removal, and cleaning.
- Level 1 AC – $200/year to $800/year.
- Level 2 AC – $200/year – $2,500/year.
- DC Fast Charging – up to $12,000/year for a 50 kW DC Fast Charger.
Common Business Models
Fees or recurring subscription – Probably the most common business model used by owners of the electric charging station is to charge users a one-time fee with the option to pay for a monthly subscription. The payment can be done via a smartphone or credit card.
Advertising – Many charging stations can be customized to feature individual branding and advertising messages. Larger LCD displays can play video adverts to interest users with products or services offered by the business that owns that station.
Renewable energy generation – An electric vehicle charging station can be installed together with solar panels to offset energy costs through utility net metering arrangements.
We hope that you now have a clearer idea about how your business can benefit from the installation of an EV charger, and what it actually involves. Manufacturers offer a large number of different solutions, and we are certain that, with a little bit of research, you will be able to find one that suits all your needs.