What kind of Electric Vehicle charger is right for my facility?

Electric vehicles can be charged in different ways, so you have a few options you can offer your clients, visitors, and employees. 

Level 1 – This amounts to a standard 110V outdoor receptacle that you designate for electric vehicles to use. It should be on a dedicated circuit, and the vehicle should be able to pull within six feet of the receptacle to plug in effectively without the cord crossing a pedestrian walkway or other risk. (Most electric vehicles come with a charger suitable for this type of charging called an EVSE) If you are in a cold climate and have provided engine block heater points, these should work well for this application if the circuit is strong enough, consult an electrician before you advertise this for use. Final note, this is the slowest form of charging and would be virtually useless to any full EV and of limited use to anybody else so don’t invest much time effort or money into making these available.

Level 2 – This is a purpose-built electric vehicle charging station that operates at 220V 30/40A, equipped with an SAE J1772 connector which can be used by most if not all electric vehicles on the market either directly or using an adapter. This is by far the most common type of charger used at home, work or in public places where longer charging times are acceptable. This will charge a 60KW battery in 8-9 hours easily. There are many manufacturers however ensure that you buy a charger that is appropriate for your application, and climate. Residential grade chargers are not meant for commercial applications and even though they may have the same basic specs, they will not hold up to the wear and tear you can expect in your facility.  Workplace / public level 2 chargers are purpose built for use outdoors in harsh climates, can be fitted with payment systems, and have a variety of mounting options and wiring distribution plans so it is a good idea to do your research and choose the right set up for your application.

Level 3 – Also known as DC fast Charging, this is the fastest way to charge an EV on the market today. These chargers provide DC (Direct Current) power to your battery at a very high rate. Generally, 50 KW, these units will charge your vehicle to 80% in a little under an hour for a 60KW battery. This is an evolving technology and currently 100 and 150KW units are in development that will be able to charge a car to 80% in less then 15 minutes. This tech is best deployed in locations where people can do something for an hour, like near restaurants, Gyms, Community centres, public visitor lots, Highway rest stops, entertainment venues, malls etc. Typically, best deployed in groups to prevent overcrowding, or deployed with preparation for future stations to be added quickly as demand increases. These stations are currently quite costly but as the manufacturers are beginning to build in greater quantity and the price seems to be dropping a fair bit. These units are never free and have a high premium for use, to recover the build costs and make a profit in the long run. Due to convenience and need these will become increasingly in demand as people who live in Condo’s and apartments, buy electric vehicles and need fast charging options to charge their vehicles when they don’t have the ability to charge at home or work.

In summary, there are a lot of choices you can make when choosing how to approach this interesting new component to facility design. Many factors affect what type of charging you choose, where you place that infrastructure, how you manage access to the units, who you are serving, how do you recover costs, is this a profit centre, marketing tool, or employee retention strategy?  Whatever your motivation for wanting to install EV charging infrastructure at your facility, like all significant projects is pays to seek advice from an expert to help you avoid the pitfalls, so start your project right by seeking a consultant that does not represent an equipment supplier to get the best advice possible.