Your 2023 Guide To Installing A Commercial EV Charging Station
With the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road growing rapidly, more businesses are looking to install EV charging stations as a way to take advantage of under-utilized property and better accommodate their customers and employees.
Sales of EVs in the United States rose by two-thirds last year, now comprising 5.8% of all new vehicles sold. With the expectation that EV sales will increase even further in 2023, more companies are seeing the potentially lucrative opportunity to install EV charging stations on their properties.
Installing a commercial EV charging station can be a complex process, but it can be a valuable investment for businesses of all sizes. Here’s a bit more about what to expect during the installation.
What to Consider Before Installing an EV Charging Station
Before starting down the road of designing and developing a commercial EV charging station, it’s important to decide what type of chargers you want to install. Currently, there are three common types of EV chargers: Level 1 chargers, Level 2 chargers, and DC fast chargers.
Level 2 chargers are the most common type of charger and can provide up to 7kW of power. DC fast chargers are faster than Level 2 chargers, but they are also more expensive to install and maintain.
Installing a commercial EV charging station can be a complex process that requires specialized knowledge and experience, which is why most organizations will consult with an electrical engineering firm like KMB Design Group when planning the installation of a commercial EV charging station.
Electrical engineering firms have deep knowledge of all electrical systems, and they can help design and install a charging station that not only meets your power requirements, but is also safe and efficient. Electrical engineers are trained to help navigate regulatory and permitting requirements, as well.
At KMB, we help our clients choose the right charging deployment strategy and develop plans for connecting their charging stations to the power supply.
Site Selection & Power for EV Charging Stations
It’s important to work with your professionals on site selection to ensure that your deployment strategy is capable of being supported by the power company and if not start the process early to obtain the new service or an service upgrade to meet your power needs.
A charging station’s specific power requirements will depend on the type of charging station and the level of charging. Currently, there are three main levels of charging: Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging.
Level 1 charging requires a standard 120-volt outlet and provides a charging rate of about 4 to 5 miles of range per hour.
Level 2 charging requires a 240-volt outlet and provides a charging rate of about 10 to 20 miles of range per hour.
DC fast chargers (DCFCs) are the fastest available chargers, which make them the ideal choice for convenience store locations where the time for stopping and shopping may be limited. A DCFC converts AC power to DC, with the charger sending power directly to the EV battery for charging. This allows for higher and faster charging rates.
Currently, most EVs don’t charge faster than 30 miles per hour. DCFC conversion is limited only by the equipment rating and the amount of power available from the utility or the primary power source. Despite the power output, power limits are still determined by the EV itself. For example, if an EV has a 50kW acceptance rate and is connected to a 150kW DCFC, the EV will still only charge at 50kW.
Newer EVs are accepting charge rates that exceed 180kW, with some EVs going up to 350kW. It’s important to work with an electrical engineer to ensure that the power supply at the site can support the charging station’s overall power needs, as well as the heightened demands of newer EVs.
Permits and Regulations
After choosing a location for the charger and determining the right power requirements, you’ll need to get the necessary permits and approvals to move forward with the project. The requirements for permits and approvals for a commercial EV charging station will vary depending on the location of the charger. Local government offices can provide detailed information about what is required in a specific area. In addition to obtaining the right permits from local authorities, companies will need to comply with building codes, and meet any environmental or safety regulations.
If researching the requirements for a specific location and obtaining the necessary approvals feels overwhelming, an engineering firm like KMB Design Group can help expedite the process and take those hassles off your plate.
Applying for State and Federal Grants
Multiple states are in the process of enacting measures to discourage the sale of gasoline-powered cars and light trucks, including California, which has taken the lead in banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035. Several other states, including Massachusetts, Washington, and New York, are looking into similar measures.
As these measures roll out, states are offering incentives for installing commercial EV charging stations. For example, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA/NEVI) includes a program that will spread out $5.4 billion across all 50 states during the next five years to help those states create a network of EV charging stations.
California is also expecting to receive $384 million of federal funding from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program to install fast-charging stations along freeways and interstates. Businesses that agree to aid in the state’s efforts by installing their own commercial EV charging stations stand to reap significant financial benefits in the years ahead.
What to Expect During the Installation Process
Once you have the necessary permits and approvals, you can move forward with installation.
The installation process for a commercial EV charging station typically involves several key steps. Once a site has been selected and evaluated to ensure it’s suitable for a charging station, the power requirements for the charging station must be determined and any necessary upgrades to the electrical system must be made. From there, the charging equipment can be installed and connected to the power supply. Charging stations must be tested and commissioned to ensure they are operating properly.
Throughout the process, it is important to work with experienced engineering professionals who can provide guidance and support to ensure that the EV charging station is installed safely and efficiently.
Maintaining Your EV Charging Station
It’s easy to forget about the ongoing maintenance and upkeep that’s involved in running an EV charging station.
Like any piece of equipment, commercial EV charging stations require regular maintenance to ensure they are operating safely and efficiently. This may include cleaning, inspections, and repairs. A maintenance schedule must be established, and qualified technicians should be hired to keep the charging station in good working order.
Installing a commercial EV charging station can be a complex process, but it can also be a valuable investment. By selecting the right site, determining the power requirements, complying with regulations, selecting and installing the right equipment, and maintaining the charging station, you can ensure that your commercial EV charging station provides a reliable and convenient charging solution for EV owners.
KMB Design Group is a full-service engineering firm with years of experience in the EV space. Our in-house team of electrical, civil, and structural engineers provide coordinated expertise to ensure clients can plan and deploy electric vehicle charging (EVC) stations from start to finish. For assistance and guidance on how to get your project off the ground, contact KMB Design Group at 855-755-6234.