by John Henry and Roger Farwell
Research shows that sales of electric vehicles (EV) have more than doubled in the past year. Driven by high gas prices, EV sales are expected to continue rising, increasing the demand for EV charging stations. Just a few years ago, EV chargers were a statement. Today, they’re a staple to support and entice customers, shoppers and tenants.
While EV chargers can be installed anywhere there is access to electricity, there are many factors that need to be considered. Your electrician will be able to review the EV charger options available to you and help you determine the best fit for your needs.
You and your electrical contractor will need to consider where the EV charger’s power source is, and where the path running that power will go. We find that most clients want the chargers in the front of their buildings. However, this is usually one of the most difficult places for installation. With power sources usually on the side or back of a building, running a path to the front of the building could require temporarily uplifting landscaping and limiting access to entrance ways, along with increasing the amount of work and cost. Additionally, you’ll also need to consider how its location is impacted by snow and snow removal.
Electrical Capacity and Power Source Requirements
Most at-home chargers are Level 1, meaning they can connect to a standard 120-volt electrical outlet. However, most commercial chargers are Level 2, which require 240-volt power. Whether it’s tapping into existing electrical lines or pulling new lines from the transformer, your electrician will need to determine whether your building and existing electrical infrastructure can support the addition of EV chargers.
Charge for Charging
Do you want to provide access to the EV charger for free or require payment? There are types of EV chargers which require payment “per minute” of charging. However, payment chargers need network connectivity which will narrow the selection of EV charger and add networking requirements (and costs) to the installation.
While networking connectivity is a necessity for “payment required” EV chargers, it is optional for free charging stations. Having network connectivity will allow features such as having the EV charger listed on publicly available EV charger maps and offering scheduling reservations to drivers. While some EV chargers can be connected to a landline network cable, others use a type of wireless connection. The EV chargers using a wireless connection require placement outside or within range of a signal, which typically eliminate them as an option in underground garages without installing additional equipment.
At Interstate, we’ve dedicated resources to train over 100 employees in EV installations. With our trained team members located in offices in every New England state, Interstate is ready to meet the demand for EV charging stations. The future is electric and we are helping our customers make the right decisions on equipment and charger locations to provide optimal capacity.
At the current rate of production, the U.S. will see a doubling of electric vehicles in the near future. That means over 26 million electric cars will be on the roads looking for convenient charging stations. Understanding the decisions that should go into identifying locations and charger options can be a major draw for your customers, employees or tenants.
John Henry is project manager, and Roger Farwell is project manager/estimator at Interstate Electrical Services Corporation.