If you’re like me you have noticed an increased number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) driving around your area. Previously I only noticed the Model S by Tesla; however, I now notice many more from a number of manufacturers. The large auto manufacturers are making major commitments with their production of EVs which has increased awareness, education and changing perceptions. As I speak to various people, there are a lot of vastly different opinions on Electric Vehicles and their future.
A few very common sentiments I hear are:
- Electric Vehicles are too expensive for me.
- I drive too much and Electric Vehicles don’t have much range. This is often referred to as “range anxiety.”
As I spoke with various property owners and managers, I quickly heard a similar feeling and they weren’t quite sure where to go. Have you been asked about adding a charging station to your lot? If you haven’t yet, you will! You may start thinking, “where do all these cars charge? I don’t see charging stations next to gas stations!” First of all, there are more than you think. However, if you don’t have the need, you wouldn’t notice. Secondly, there is a significant need for more. Industry lingo for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations is EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment).
Before we get into the charging stations, you should be aware of the three types of electric vehicles:
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
- These vehicles utilize a traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) as well as an electrical engine.
- Common HEVs are the Toyota Prius and Honda Accord Hybrid.
- Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV)
- These vehicles can be charged by being plugged in or by an on-board generator that charges when operating.
- Common PHEVs are the Ford Fusion Energi and Chevy Volt.
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
- These vehicles are plug in only.
- Common BEVs are the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S.
For the sake of this article we will touch on three areas:
- Types of Stations – Level 1, 2, & DC Fast Charge.
- Networked vs Non-Networked Stations.
- What type of station and how many is appropriate for my property?
Types of Charging Stations
Selecting the type of charger for your property is important and you’ll want to know the differences between them. While the time to charge your vehicle is dependent on the vehicle itself, below are the basic rates of charging.
Level 1 Chargers – These are residential chargers for the home. Upon purchasing a new Electric Vehicle, many dealerships will provide a new car buyer with a preferred electrician to do this work. The rate of charge is around 5 Range per Hour (RPH).
Level 2 Chargers – These are designed for commercial applications such as offices, retail, hotels, restaurants, public recreation areas, and colleges/universities. Level 2 Stations charge at a rate of approximately 25 RPH. In the world of EV Charging Stations, my best analogy of Level 2 chargers relates to our cell phones. Oftentimes I will be at my office and my phone will be at 64%. I know I’ll be at my desk for 90 minutes before my next meeting so I plug in my phone. I know that I won’t get to 100%; however, it may get to 90%. While I had enough charge to get through my day, I felt more comfortable charging up while possible. Now imagine this is your mode of transportation!!!
DC Fast Charge – These stations are designed to be used to “juice” your car up during those long trips. Commonly this charge can happen within 20 minutes. You see these along major travel corridors (interstates, state highways, etc.). When EV drivers go on long trips, they will often map out these stations. While waiting, they will grab a coffee, lunch, dinner or snack. A common thought is, why not just install these? The infrastructure cost and the stations are significantly higher than Level 2 Chargers and often not needed for the application.
Networked vs Non-Networked
Once you’ve decided on the level of commercial charging station that is appropriate for your property, you’ll have to make the next decision. Should you go with a networked or non-networked station?
Networked and Non-Networked systems will have similar costs of installation of infrastructure such as running pipe, wire and pouring of concrete bases. Networked stations themselves will have a higher upfront cost than non-networked stations.
Questions you should ask yourself when deciding on networked or non-networked stations: Are you trying to drive people to your site such as retail? Do you want automatic upgrades to the system? Do you want real-time station status info from a mobile device or computer? Do you want your chargers at unsecured sites to be protected from unauthorized access? Do you want to receive remote monitoring and alerts? Do you want to receive usage reports which can allow you to adjust pricing (if desired) during peak times?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you’ll want to strongly consider a networked station.
How many stations should I have?
This is a common question. The recommended number is 5-10% of your lot’s spaces. So if you have 100 spaces in your lot, you should have 5-10 ports. Because installing the infrastructure is often the highest cost, we strongly recommend building out additional infrastructure for future proofing. Whatever the number of ports you start out with at your location, have the electrician build out the capacity for an additional 5-10%. This will allow for an easier more cost effective build out of future stations.
Where do I go from here?
From the words of Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” This is true for office spaces, retail, restaurants, and hospitality. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge, “An employee with access to workplace charging is six times more likely than the average worker to drive electric.” Many employees view EV Charging at work as a perk or added company benefit.
As a retailer, you can influence EV drivers to your site with networked stations. The drivers will be able to see the availability of these stations on an App and can influence them to your location. Because drivers often plan their trips, EVSE’s are great for hotels and restaurants as well. EV drivers will definitely plan their trip around these conveniences.
If you have another type of building, I recommend observing your parking lot for electric vehicles. In my experience, EV owners are very interested in sharing their thoughts. They may even shed light on their preference on type of charger. I also recommend that you contact an EVSE professional which can be a manufacturer or an experienced electrical contractor.
As a building owner or manager, it is very important to understand this market. With the major automobile manufacturers making significant investments and the electric utilities getting involved with EVSE infrastructure projects, you can be sure this will come fast and furious. It is estimated that by 2025, 11% of new vehicles sold will be electric.
Jacy Carey Everett is the Director of Business Development for Aetna Corp. With over 14 years of industry experience, Jacy has worked with Aetna Corp assisting customers moving toward sustainable energy options that improve employee satisfaction and productivity while reducing energy and maintenance costs. Jacy holds an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship from Babson College and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from UMass Dartmouth. You can reach him at (800) 544-4836 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit aetnacorp.com for more information.