Author Archives: Stacy Wallace

Choosing the Electric Commercial Vehicles for your Fleet

As the adoption of electric vehicles (EV’s) increases, charging options grow, and prices drop, you may be thinking of converting to an EV commercial fleet as more a question of “when and how” rather than a question of “why.”

There is a great deal to consider and the issues are complex, but the road map to making the right “when and how” choice is a relatively simple one.

Determine What Type of Vehicles are Needed

This is likely to be your easiest consideration, at least when it comes to the basics, since you’re already operating an internal-combustion engine (ICE) fleet adapted to your needs. Generally, the lighter the vehicle you need, the more choices you will have. There is a limited selection among the heaviest fleet types, but light and medium duty trucks, last mile delivery trucks and vans, and consumer-type cars, SUV’s, and crossovers are amply represented.

One important factor to consider is how charging will occur, and with what type of charger. Vehicles that have low daily mileage and/or can be parked overnight to charge will be able to use slower (and less expensive) chargers than those that have to recharge partway through the workday. This can affect what vehicle makes sense for your operation.

Now is the time to consider other questions, too. Just as you would if you were looking for new ICE vehicles, consider how well your current vehicles match the needs of your workforce, and whether it might be time to buy at least some of a different vehicle type, such as replacing pickups with vans or vice-versa. Consider what equipment or features might make your workforce more effective and comfortable and reduce overall costs.

Nearly every vehicle OEM has committed to offering more EV’s and many have committed to producing only EV’s by 2035, so keeping an eye on what these companies have planned for each model year can give you a helpful advantage as you plan your transition.

Consider Total Cost of Ownership

Many EV’s are now in the same price range as their ICE counterparts, though the initial purchase cost may be higher. However, total cost of ownership (TCO) for EV’s is lower than ICE vehicles, mainly due to their much lower costs for maintenance. EV’s have far fewer moving parts, and many of those parts are under far less stress. That means entire systems, lubricant products, and scheduled maintenance regimes are no longer needed, eliminating the costs connected with them.

How much will the cost be reduced? When New York City added EV’s to their municipal fleet, they found the annual maintenance cost for an electric Ford Focus was only 21% as much as the gas-powered model.

Many fleet managers have held off on EV conversion because of the cost of battery replacement. This is a legitimate concern, but fortunately battery costs are trending in the right direction, declining by approximately 75% in the past ten years (according to an analysis by PricewaterhouseCooper) despite increases in battery capability.

Finally, factor new charger infrastructure, increased electrical costs, support software, and personnel training into your TCO calculations. But balancing these out to at least some extent are fuel savings, government rebates, and possible incentives from utilities, manufacturers, and others in the industry.

Get Employee Input, and Circle Back Often

No one knows more about the typical workday on the road than your drivers, and if you have a large enough fleet that your maintenance is done in-house, no one will know the equipment better than your service techs. Make sure you seek—and give significant weight to—input from them throughout the planning and purchase process. This will benefit you and them by identifying potential snags, educating them about the benefits of EV’s, and getting solid buy-in from them long before the vehicles reach the fleet.

Honson Elected to Serve on NAILD Board of Directors

Thayer Energy Solutions announced today that Matt Honson has been selected to serve on the Board of Directors for NAILD as Treasurer.  Responsibilities will include: attending monthly meetings to vote on action items – items in the past have included the research of new innovations and technology in lighting, helping to decide how to better educate lighting distributors and attacking the corruption that takes place in the lighting industry – and steward finances with ethical standards, utilize the annual budget to evaluate and plan and supervise financial fittings and prepare timely financial reports.  Honson will also lead different committees throughout the year, starting with creating a new Lighting Specialist 2 training course.

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) is a national, nonprofit trade association driving lighting innovation through networking at education.  Since 1977, their mission has been to provide their members with tools, resources and opportunities to grow their businesses profitably.

Thayer Energy Solutions provides turn-key lighting projects for commercial, industrial and the public sector – they are the leaders in energy efficiencies for lighting, controls, and Electric Vehicle Chargers (EVC’s).  To date, Thayer has retrofitted more than 100 million square feet of lighting projects.  Thayer also sells and manages EVC installations for Residential, Commercial, Industrial and the Public sector.

Steps to Implement an Electric Commercial Vehicle Fleet

Electric Vehicle Fleet Charging

To many fleet operators, converting to electric vehicles seems as simple as buying new trucks, to others an overly complex task that will in the end only yield good, green PR.  In reality it’s neither.  Fleet conversion is a move that can help your bottom line as well as the planet, and like any good investment requires careful – but not burdensome – assessment, planning, and work to be a success.

Let’s review the steps for converting to an electric vehicle, or EV, commercial fleet, and the best way to approach them.

Assess Needs, Benefits, and Opportunities

To decide if you will have an EV fleet and what form it will take, consider the following:

Fleet Needs

Is your fleet used in a way that allows for charging time between trips, such as being parked overnight? Will the charging time easily cover the distance driven each day? If not, can you use vehicles with Level 3 chargers that recharge quickly at offsite locations? We cover these and other issues in our article on evaluating your potential fleet.

Evaluate the available vehicles themselves to ensure your new vehicles will provide service equivalent to your current fleet. You’ll have no problem finding an EV equivalent (possibly an EV version of a model you currently use), as manufacturers offer electric-powered vehicles from delivery trucks to pickups to crossover SUV’s.

Finally, consider any changes you need to make to the routes or other use patterns of your vehicles. Vehicle ranges have increased dramatically, but it’s better to evaluate routes now than make changes on the fly.

Infrastructure Needs

What will need to change in your facility? Most will need few changes but will need new 240 volt service to garage bays or parking spots, as well as chargers. 

Costs and Savings

  • Vehicle purchase cost—EV prices continue to decline and in most cases are in the same range as gasoline equivalents.
  • increased power costs—These will be offset by lower fuel costs.
  • Total cost of ownership for EV’s is lower than fossil-fueled cars. One major reason is reduced cost of maintenance. When New York City added EV’s to their municipal fleet, they found the annual maintenance cost for an electric Ford Focus was only $386, only 21% as much as the $1,805 maintenance cost of the gasoline-powered model.

Incentives and Partnerships

Be sure to explore what government or utility company incentives might be available to help fund your transition. Rebates or other funding from EV manufacturers may be available as well. Partnerships with these organizations—and with an energy partner experienced in administering these projects—can help you increase your funding with tax credits, emissions credits, and grants. They can also save time and hassle by helping with permitting and paperwork.

Additional Opportunities

The changeover to EV’s might be the right time to consider these additions to your project:

  • Solar installations to provide additional low-cost charging power
  • Generator capacity to ensure you always have power for vehicle charging
  • Chargers in parking areas for employee vehicles
  • Upgrades to route-planning software and/or other IT infrastructure related to the fleet

Achieve Buy-in

This step overlaps the assessment and planning steps. The larger your fleet, the more significant the change you will be asking staff to undertake. In addition to the usual corporate inertia, you may need to overcome objections informed by outdated or politicized reporting on EV’s.

Ease this process (and be sure you’re covering all your bases) by seeking employee input—especially from drivers—during the assessment phase. Once you’re ready to move from assessment to planning, be clear with drivers about what will and won’t change. With all employees, focus on the business case and why changing to EV’s is not just good for the planet, but for the bottom line.

Planning

Now you’ll plan the purchasing and buildout for your site improvements and fleet. If you haven’t used them already, it’s time to involve an experienced project partner, like Thayer Energy Solutions, that can help with paperwork and incentive funding. They can also perform a site assessment, prepare your budget, help you follow the best practices for choosing the location of charging stations, and choose the right equipment to install.

Thayer Energy Solutions can also make sure your plan accounts for problems—such as supply chain delays and project hitches—and opportunities such as future expansion of your business that may require more or different charging capacity.

Implement

With Thayer, you can relax about the installation of the new systems, but more work will be needed as you introduce EV’s into the fleet. Work closely with drivers and other staff to identify unseen problems and opportunities to address/take advantage of. Keep a close working relationship with your local energy project partner, and all of you will be able to keep things rolling smoothly.

Does an Electric Fleet Make Sense for your Business?

Commercial Electric Vehicle Fleet

Electric vehicle technology has left the niche market far behind and is now a feature of everything from true sports cars to company SUV’s, city buses, and more.  Costs have also come down.  This previously pricey market segment is now in the same range as equivalent gasoline vehicles.  As a result, big name companies – including Amazon, DHL, FedEx, and even Waste Management – are converting to electric vehicle (EV) fleets.

This new generation of vehicles includes delivery and work vehicles as well, and if you operate a commercial fleet they can potentially save you money and help you help the planet. However, the decision to adopt EV’s (like every major business decision) is one that requires forethought and attention to operational details. Let’s review the major questions to consider. 

Are Your Vehicles Used in a Way That Allows Easy Charging?

The ideal use pattern for a commercial EV is to operate in a local area and return to its home base at least once per day for charging period. In many fleets, gas vehicles already follow this pattern, leaving the base for work throughout the day and returning to park overnight. If your fleet is parked overnight or has any long daily downtime period, you can install chargers at your facility and keep your EV’s powered up.

Will Available Charging Time Cover the Miles Driven?

The answer to this question is a qualified “Yes.” EV’s can be charged with a simple wall socket, 120-volt charger (Level 1), a wall mounted 240-volt AC charger (Level 2), or gas pump style DC fast chargers, sometimes termed Level 3. Depending on which is used with your vehicle, more or less charge can be delivered:

  • Level 1: 3 and 5 miles per charging hour, i.e. at least 24 miles over 8 hours
  • Level 2: 25 to 60 miles per charging hour, i.e. at least 200 miles over 8 hours
  • Level 3: 250+/- miles per charging hour

What if Your Use Pattern Doesn’t Fit?

If your fleet doesn’t have enough daily downtime or travels long one-way distances, you may still have options for a greener fleet.

First, using EV’s that can use a Level 3 charger will shrink your charging time, allowing vehicles to top off during the day without disrupting work. This also allows them to more easily charge away from home base.

Second, hybrids don’t need as much charging time, since they are part electric and part gas, but still reduce gas use and emissions. Using plug-in hybrids will give you maximum flexibility while achieving an environmental benefit.

Is Stop-and-Go Traffic Common for Your Fleet?

Sitting in traffic is terrible for gas vehicles. It wastes fuel and puts extra “miles” on the engine and brakes that don’t show up on the odometer. But stop-and-go traffic is actually a benefit for electric vehicles because regenerative braking can add charge to the vehicle as it drives. This and savings on maintenance and fuel can help your bottom line.

Can Your Facility and Finances Support Charging?

Again, the answer is “yes” for most businesses. Level 1 chargers are not recommended for commercial use, while Level 2 chargers will need a 240-volt supply and are typically easy to install, using a certified electrician for installation. Level 3 chargers can be installed in existing parking areas, or you can charge your vehicles at level 3 facilities away from your base, just as you would fill up at a gas station.

Ready for a Partner?

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of fleet conversion and charging stations? Thayer Energy Solutions has experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch today at 815-282-1112, and together we’ll find the best options for your situation.

Is Your Lighting Hurting Your Bottom Line?

Warehouse workers evaluating lighting

Inflation has soared, especially in energy costs.  Labor pool difficulties continue.  All this and more add up to a challenging environment for turning a profit.  But is the lighting at your business making it even more of a challenge?  And are there investments you can make that will ease these problems now and for years to come?

Let’s review some potential lighting problems and moves you can make to eliminate them, and their drag on your bottom line.

Poorly Lit Manufacturing Can Reduce Productivity and Increase Rework

It’s just common sense that workers who see better will turn out better work, but this is far more complex than just turning up the light level. In fact, overly bright lighting is a big part of the problem in many facilities. This, plus glare, eyestrain, and lighting that is the wrong color, can all lead to lower productivity and diminished quality.

  • Most workplaces have lighting at least twice as bright as OSHA recommends. Instead of depending on high output overhead lighting, reduce overall brightness and use task and accent lighting. This gives workers softer illumination, and control over how much illumination to use.
  • Use lighting in the cool white range, with a color temperature of 4000 to 5000K. This is not only the best for detail work but works well with the circadian rhythm of workers and is available in a wide range of lighting options.
  • Eliminate other sources of glare. Glossy furniture, paint, flooring, fixtures, and equipment can all produce glare, and should be toned down.
  • Choose LED lighting if you haven’t already converted. It uses less energy and lasts longer than other types, allowing you to light the same area at a much lower overall cost.

Starkly Lit Hospitality Environments Can Kill the Vibe – and Your Profits

Lighting design is crucial to ambience, and not only do 91% of diners say ambience plays a role in their choice of restaurant, 20% say it is their top concern. You can be sure ambience and atmosphere are important to hotel guests and other customers across the spectrum of hospitality businesses. An unwelcoming environment can reduce the length of time guests stay, the dollars they spend, and the likelihood of repeat business.

  • Consider the color of light. The most welcoming range, especially in restaurants, is the warm white range of around 2500 to 3000K. This light is similar to candlelight in color, and you shouldn’t stray too much higher—where the light begins to resemble fluorescent tubes—or any lower. Below 2500, the light begins to be very yellow.
  • Consider the color of surroundings and lean toward indirect lighting. Lighter colors in a space allow you to use indirect lighting, which tends to seem far less harsh to the guest than the same wattage of direct lighting.
  • Work on eliminating glare and “industrial” lighting. One mistake that’s often made in hotels and motels is to use fluorescent ceiling lights or other fixtures that remind guests of office or industrial lighting. Replace these with LED indirect lights where possible.
  • Keep an eye out for highly reflective items that may produce harsh glare, from glossy menus to glass. Using indirect lighting reduces this problem as well.

Poor Office Lighting Can Make Your Employees Wish They Worked Remote Again

Office lighting is more complex than it seems, but a little attention can pay off handsomely.

  • Survey your facility and look for lights that are burned out or mismatched. The simple fact that the lighting looks shipshape can change a worker or customer’s subconscious perception.
  • Consider circadian rhythm. Light has an important role in our waking and sleeping cycles, and the wrong lighting can actually make your workers less productive and less likely to get satisfying sleep at home. Daylight is the best light for this purpose, so let natural light in where you can. Where it isn’t available, choose fixtures that are in the cool white or daylight range, which both have the same effect on circadian rhythm as daylight.
  • Take action to reduce glare. Consider what light is coming from where at what times and what surfaces it might be reflecting form. This is especially important in offices, where most workers already encounter eyestrain risk from screen use.

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of how you can improve your lighting and your bottom line? We have experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch with Thayer Energy Solutions at 815-282-1112 today, and together we’ll find the best options for your situation.

Thayer Energy Solutions Participates at 2022 IDOT Fall Planning Conference

Thayer Energy Solutions was on hand to staff a booth and answer questions on the topic of National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure during the 2022 IDOT Fall Planning Conference presented by R1 Planning.  The conference was held on September 21-23rd at the Embassy Suites in Rockford.  Thayer Energy Solutions was a sponsor for the event, along with other area companies Fehr Graham, Project First Rate and Midland States Bank.

The IDOT Fall Planning Conference included breakout session presentations and panels by peers on the following topics: Aviation; National Electric Infrastructure; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Climate Resiliency, and more.  The three-day event attracted transportation professionals from around the state and included learning and networking opportunities with program administrators, transportation engineers and planning professionals.

Thayer Energy Solutions provides turn-key lighting projects for commercial, industrial and the public sector – they are the leaders in energy efficiencies for lighting, controls, and Electric Vehicle Chargers (EVC’s).  To date, Thayer has retrofitted more than 100 million square feet of lighting projects.  Thayer also sells and manages EVC installations for Residential, Commercial, Industrial and the Public sector.

How to Accomplish a Hassle-Free Lighting Project

Man inspecting ceiling for lighting installation

At some point, every organization that operates a facility needs a lighting upgrade.  Whether you’re noticing outdated or dysfunctional lighting, or horrified by your electric bills, you may feel as if you’re in the dark when it comes to the best options.

The good news is that hassle-free is a matter of applying common sense and a little bit of upfront work.

Begin with Needs

If you’re considering new lighting you’ve already identified at least one pressing need but take this opportunity for a deep dive into how your lighting systems meet and your current needs and how they fall short. Assess them in light of utility (how these lights are used in their space) and energy use.

One thing that belongs on your list is replacing each incandescent and fluorescent light with an LED equivalent. This includes halogen, sodium, mercury vapor lights, etc. LED’s provide far more light per kilowatt hour than traditional sources, last far longer, and are more durable than fragile filament bulbs and tubes. They are also more durable than compact fluorescent bulbs.

Consider Opportunities for Your Space

To some extent, this is a continuation of the previous step, but is important on its own because it involves a somewhat different mindset.

What about your lighting design can be changed to create a better environment for workers and customers? Some common answers:

  • Incorporating more natural daylight or more daylight spectrum lighting to help workers with their circadian rhythm and remain more productive.
  • Adding spot or task lighting to reduce glare in over-lit work environments
  • Using indirect lighting to reduce glare and enhance the look of the space
  • Eliminating glossy surfaces to reduce glare and increasing the number of light-colored surfaces in order to increase opportunities for indirect lighting.
  • Using fixtures that provide needed lighting without an “industrial” appearance
  • Using lighting color that is best for the space and the tasks done in it.
  • Redesigning your outdoor lighting footprint for better security and a better look.
  • Putting controls in place that save energy and make operation of your system easier

This may be the stage where it makes sense to involve a lighting contractor, who can help you find opportunities and generate ideas. That brings us to…

Choose the Right Partner

The right lighting contractor does more than provide qualified electricians, they partner with you to create a design that works well for decades and saves you money. Here are some qualities to look for:

  • Project Experience—A company with diverse and extensive project experience will have time-tested processes that save you time and money. They’ll know the common hitches you might encounter and how to avoid them. Choose a company with such experience, and a number of solid project references from facilities in your industry.
  • Rebate and Incentive Experience—Grants, incentives and rebates for energy-saving lighting can save you a large amount of money on your project, but the programs and paperwork can be something of a jungle. Choose a contractor who knows how to navigate in this world and get every dollar that’s coming to you.
  • A Local Company—In our increasingly connected world, working with a firm from outside the region makes a certain kind of sense. However, facility improvement is an ongoing process. It makes even more sense to have a partner who can visit your site easily, answer concerns as they come up, and give you the best advice after seeing “the lay of the land” in person.

Lastly, evaluate your partner for a lighting contract the same way you would any other contractor:

  • Get multiple quotes.
  • Check references carefully.
  • Inquire if they use subcontractors, and if so, about their oversight process.
  • Check the warranties on their work and beware of loopholes.

With a little advance work and thought, you can create a lighting project that sails smoothly to completion.

Need a local partner for your project? We’d like you to consider Thayer Energy Solutions. We have decades of experience with LED’s, design, controls, and installation, know how to navigate the jungle of incentives, and are right here in your region. Get in touch and let’s see what we can do together!

Thayer Energy Solutions Participates in 2022 Academy Expo

Thayer Energy Solutions participated in this year’s 2022 Academy Expo held by the Rockford Public School District at the Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park.  Chuck Meyers, Electric Vehicle Charging Specialist & Energy Advisor for Thayer Energy Solutions, was available to present career path options for students looking to get involved with Electric Vehicle technology: Electric Vehicle Charger Specialist, Electric Vehicle Technician and Electric Engineer specializing in Vehicles, Aerospace and Electricians.  Brian Gauerke, Gauerke Electric, was able to share his experience as a Union Electrician and his love for EVC’s, Paul Lepien, Anderson Automotive, was there to answer technical questions regarding Electric Vehicles and Patti Thayer Geissler gave the students a first-hand view of the Mach-E’s interior.

RPS205 freshman participate in the Academy Expo each year to learn from industry experts and see firsthand where each College and Career Academy and Pathway can lead.  After the expo, students make an informed decision about which College and Career Academy to join their sophomore year.

Thayer Energy Solutions provides turn-key lighting projects for commercial, industrial and the public sector – they are the leaders in energy efficiencies for lighting, controls, and Electric Vehicle Chargers (EVC’s).  To date, Thayer has retrofitted more than 100 million square feet of lighting projects.  Thayer also sells and manages EVC installations for Residential, Commercial, Industrial and the Public sector.

Thayer Energy Solutions Presents at Rotary Club of Rockford

Chuck Meyers, Thayer Energy Solutions, presented the topic “The Electric Car in Your Future” during the Downtown Rotary Club of Rockford on October 20, 2022.  The topic included information on the state of Electric Vehicles and EV Chargers, the driving experience when it comes to charging, the business owner experience and how to make the correct choice when purchasing and installing commercial or residential Electric Vehicle Chargers.

Rotary Club of Rockford is part of Rotary International, made up of over 46,000 individual clubs.  Their mission is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through their fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.

Thayer Energy Solutions provides turn-key lighting projects for commercial, industrial and the public sector – they are the leaders in energy efficiencies for lighting, controls, and Electric Vehicle Chargers (EVC’s).  To date, Thayer has retrofitted more than 100 million square feet of lighting projects.  Thayer also sells and manages EVC installations for Residential, Commercial, Industrial and the Public sector.

A Difference You Can See!

“Thayer Energy Solutions completed the final phase of our upgraded lighting project at the Top of the Block and we are thrilled with the results.  We achieved an energy reduction of 84%, a simple payback of 1.6 years and an annual savings of $15,345!”

Rick Beale, VP, COO Anderson Automotive Group