Electric Vehicles, just as all vehicles do, need something to power them. However, the benefit of an EV is that electricity is available almost anywhere you drive, while gasoline still has to be stored in special tanks underground at gas stations.
Installing a commercial electric vehicle charging station at your business can have many benefits, but there are also certain costs to consider before pulling the trigger on a fleet of new chargers. Read on to learn more.
What Are the Types of Commercial EV Charging Stations?
There are more than 160,000 electric vehicle chargers in operation in the United States, with an estimated 700,000 expected to be needed by the end of the decade. Each new charger that is built and installed needs to meet certain codes and regulations, depending on how powerful it is.
Essentially, there are three main types of chargers for electric vehicles.
- Level 1 chargers often come with the vehicle, and plug into the same type of outlet as your phone charger, tv, or blender, using a standard 120 volt plug. Although these types of chargers may not be very fast, they are readily available and easy to use for anyone with an electric vehicle. Most EVs also have specific compartments in the trunk to carry the charger in. As the slowest type of charger, it could take as much as 20 hours to fully recharge an electric vehicle. That's why Level 1 chargers are typically meant for at home, overnight use.
- Level 2 chargers work on the same type of infrastructure, but are significantly beefed up. Instead of using the standard household plug, they require a 240V outlet, meaning they output up to 240 volts of electricity, the same kind that clothes dryers operate on, and require a professional electrician to install. It can take between six and eight hours to charge an electric vehicle using a Level 2 charger.
- Level 3 chargers, or DC Fast Chargers, can output as much as 600 volts of power, meaning your electric vehicle could go from dead to 80 per cent charged in half an hour. Level 3 chargers are not meant for home use, and instead act as a sort of gas station equivalent for electric vehicles. They're usually found around major infrastructure such as shopping centers, hospitals, and hotels.
How Much Does Commercial EV Charging Stations Cost?
Each of the three types of electric vehicle chargers will come with their own associated costs that buyers should be aware of. As a rule of thumb, the higher the level, the more you should expect to pay.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Charger?
Level 1 chargers are essentially high powered extension cords that come with the car when you purchase it, so the cost of installation is low, provided you have an outlet in your garage or nearby where you keep the vehicle parked. Expect to pay approximately $6 each time you fully charge a standard electric vehicle with a Level 1 charger.
Things get a bit more pricey when looking at Level 2 and Level 3 chargers however.
A Level 2 charger can start at around $500 to install, provided you already have a 240 volt outlet nearby. If you do not have a 240 volt outlet near where you park the electric vehicle, that price can jump to closer to $1500-2000 just for installation. These chargers work more efficiently once installed, and cost about $2.50 to fully charge a standard electric vehicle, and can take around two hours.
Level 3 chargers are the most similar to gas pumps that are available for electric vehicles. They are not designed for residential use and are typically found in parking lots around major areas.
Charging at a Level 3 charger takes the least amount of time, able to charge a car to 80 percent in about half an hour. However, these DC fast chargers can cost anywhere between $30,000 and $80,000 to install, depending on how fast they work. When considering that a typical gas pump costs between $16,000 and $21,000, it's understandable why Level 3 chargers are often pricier than their Level 2 counterparts.
Can I Use Level 1 or 2 Chargers as a Commercial Business?
It's possible to set up chargers of any level outside of a building, and to charge people to use them, just as a gas station or Level 3 charger would. The difference is that they may run slower than people who use Level 3 chargers are accustomed to.
Businesses such as hotels, or even hospitals – anywhere where people are expected to spend a significant amount of time before leaving – may consider Level 2 superior to Level 3 due to their significantly lower cost of use, and the fact that they charge slower would not be an issue when considering the duration of a customer or patient's stay.
What Is DC, and How Is It Different?
DC, or direct current, is essentially a more efficient and more powerful form of electricity when compared to AC, or alternating current. Most homes and buildings use AC power for electronics since it is cheaper, while DC power is more powerful and therefore expensive. DC power may also require specialized equipment, such as a convertor, to draw DC power from an AC source.
What About Tesla Superchargers?
It's important to remember as well that different cars require different charging connectors. Electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt use the same type of charger, while each of Tesla's models use a proprietary connector. There are also specific Tesla Superchargers that only fit into Tesla vehicles.
Using a Tesla Supercharger to power a Model X, the company's family SUV equivalent, costs about $14, however, that car starts at $99,990.
What Are the Fees Associated With the Installation of Commercial EV Charging Stations?
Delivery and installation can cost as much as $10,000 per station when factoring in the cost of electrical equipment, connecting the charger to the grid, and ensuring it's connected into the ground correctly, though there may be some incentives or benefits for businesses that install chargers, so be sure to check with your city or state.
Other fees, such as annual maintenance, can total as much as $400 per year, and that is before any worn out or damaged parts are considered.
Is It Worthwhile to Install a Commercial EV Charging Station?
There are a few points to consider when deciding if it is worthwhile to install a commercial EV charging station.
First, and perhaps most important, is there a need for an EV charger?
Do people in the area where the potential new EV charger would be installed drive electric vehicles, or plug in hybrids? If so, there could be demand for a new fleet of chargers to be installed nearby, and it could be your business that delivers on that need.
Second, would you see a profit?
Electric vehicle chargers are expensive, as much as $80,000 in some cases, so it's critical that a business owner understands the initial cost, and potential maintenance fees, when deciding to install. If a profit can be made relatively quickly, it may be worthwhile to install a commercial EV charging station. That profit may take some time to see, but could be well worth the wait with more and more countries planning to halt production of gasoline powered cars.
If your business is in an area that sees high electric vehicle traffic, it is absolutely worth it to install a commercial EV charging station. Not only do chargers help drive customers to your store, but since many electric vehicles have maps built in with charger locations displayed, your business can be advertised to all those people.
Although installing these chargers is not cheap, the return that you may see from an increase in customers could pay it off relatively quickly, and get you some new, returning customers. More countries are planning to ban the production of gas cars in the near future, so the demand for EV chargers is only going to grow.