Charging Station Basics: Equipment, Incentives, and More

electric vehicle charger plugged into car

In previous articles we explored why adding electric vehicle charging stations to your business sites is a profitable idea, but what about the actual equipment and installation process?  Let’s review the most important points.

Plugs and Adapters – From Complex to Simple

One common misconception about EV charging is that each vehicle can only charge at certain stations because of a variety of plugs, voltage, etc. Fortunately, the reality is more simple.

The main charging plug in North America is the SAE J1772. Designed as a standard by the Society of Automotive engineers, this plug comes in a 5-pin basic form for cars that charge from alternating current (AC) and a 7-pin Combined Charging System (CCS) form for cars that use direct current (DC) fast charging. This second type was adopted by Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Porsche, Volvo, and Volkswagen for the 2012 model year and beyond.

A less common option is the CHAdeMO plug, used mainly on some Japanese and French models. CHAdeMO only provides DC fast charging.

What does this mean for those providing charging stations for the public? Most public stations feature both types of plugs, and though Tesla cars use a different plug, the company provides an adapter (at no charge) that allows drivers to connect their car to a J1772 station.

Charging Levels and Physical Forms

EV charging is divided within the industry into three distinct levels. At each level, more power is delivered to the vehicle’s battery more quickly, and more robust equipment is required.

Level 1—This type of charger connects the vehicle to a standard 120 volt 3-prong wall outlet and is included here for completeness. A Level 1 charger delivers the power for about 5 miles of range per hour of charging.  It’s best for private commuter vehicles that can be charged overnight.

Level 2—These stations are often wall-mounted and use 240-volt AC power. Homeowners often install a Level 2 charger to give them more flexibility in how they use their EV. They deliver 25 to 60 miles of charge per hour, making them a good balance between the need for fast charging and overnight charging.

Level 3 (DCFC) —This type of station is the one most often seen by the public and tends to vaguely resemble a thin gas pump. Like gas pumps, they are commonly found at commercial locations near highways because they are the best option for long-distance travel. They convert 240-volt AC power to DC power for fast charging, and deliver about 250 miles of charge per hour.

Evaluating Your Situation

Whether Level 2 or 3 stations make sense for you will depend on what vehicles are being charged, and for what purpose.

 

If you are charging vehicles in your own commercial fleet, Level 2 stations mounted in an indoor bay or dedicated outside parking spaces will suit your needs. Vehicles can be charged overnight, and anytime your drivers return temporarily to your main location. The same applies to locations where tenants will be charging their vehicles. Level 2 chargers will allow apartment residents to charge overnight and allow the employees of companies renting a commercial location to charge their vehicles during the workday.

If you are placing chargers at a commercial business such as a shopping destination, Level 2 chargers will be the most common and Level 3 fast-charging is the best way to serve customers on the go, as they may be on site for only 20 minutes to an hour.

The Incentives

Incentives vary, so it’s best to talk with an experienced partner who can identify the best programs for your situation, but possible incentives include:

  • Government incentives—In the past, the federal government provided a tax rebate of up to $30,000 for installing stations. An effort is being made to renew this and other incentives in a congressional bill this spring. Some state governments also provide incentives.
  • Utility incentives—Some electric utilities offer rebates and other support for new charging stations.

Your Partner

Could you use some advice on the what, why, and how of installing charging stations? We have experts on hand who are ready to help. Get in touch with Thayer Energy Solutions today, and together we’ll find the best options for your situation.