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The boom in electric cars has created a huge need for electric charging stations around the country. Over 800,000 electric cars were sold in 2022 in the United States, up 65% from the previous year, and the upward trend appears to be stable. Installing new charging stations should be seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge, especially for businesses. Owning charging stations is an opportunity for businesses to appeal to new customers, attract workers, improve the environment, and more.
Electric chargers come in all shapes and sizes, and much of the terminology around them is new (and sometimes confusing). Later, we’ll define some of those terms. But first, let’s briefly review some of the use cases for electric charging stations.
The need for charging stations is exploding, and there are many types of drivers who use them. Here are some of the places that currently need charging stations and will need them in the decades to come.
Residential: Most EV drivers want the ability to charge their cars at home, so small and simple charging stations are some of the most common options on the market. These devices usually run on 120V or 240V power, though the latter option is growing in popularity due to its faster charge times.
Multi-unit Housing: Condo towers, apartment buildings, and other multi-unit buildings have a serious need for EV charging stations. Soon, these stations will be necessary for attracting new owners and tenants.
Retail: Offering electric charging stations is a top amenity for retail stores and malls, and it will become even more so in the future. Charging stations are a way to attract affluent, engaged shoppers and to demonstrate environmental responsibility.
Workplaces: At a time when attracting and retaining the best workers is a challenge, having EV charging stations at work is a valuable perk. In fact, charging stations might soon go from “perk” to “required criteria” for workers.
Fleets: Increasingly, fleets are being electrified, and this brings with it an obvious need for multiple charging stations. An electrified fleet means lower operating costs, huge sustainability benefits, and the chance to earn substantial rebates and tax incentives.
Electrification (the transition to electricity from other forms of energy) is happening quickly, and the market for EVSE’s (electric vehicle supply equipment) is growing. Electric charging stations will be a key component of the new energy infrastructure. Let’s look at how a single electric charger works for both installers and users.
Most electric charging stations are either Level 1 or Level 2 chargers. Level 1 chargers run on 120V power and are good for overnight charging at modest speeds. Most chargers in use today are Level 2 chargers—these devices run on 240V power. A Level 2 charger can provide a significant charge to an EV (electric vehicle (sometimes called a BEV, or battery electric vehicle)) in minutes rather than hours, depending on its specific power. The power output of an electric charger is measured in kilowatts (kW).
A good example of a popular electric charging station today is the BreezeEV P48 Smart Electric Vehicle Charger (available from Duralec). It is a Level 2 charger with 11.2 kW of maximum output at 48 amps (A). This power can be adjusted to 40A, 32A, or 16A. The device charges a vehicle in the range of 12 to 60 miles per hour. The BreezeEV P48 can be hard-wired or can use a common NEMA 14-50 plug (a four-prong plug with hot-hot-neutral-ground); these are the same plugs found on many electric stoves.
Most charging stations today offer the same connector (the end of the cable that plugs into the car). The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) J1772 connector is a five-pin plug in a sturdy housing. It is also sometimes called a J plug or Type 1 connector.
Charging stations can be networked or non-networked. A non-networked device is a simple plug-and-go device that is most commonly used in home garages. A networked charger, on the other hand, is connected to the Internet and offers a range of functions that help both the owner and the user. The owner of a networked charger can offer scheduled charging to multiple users, get data reports on the charger’s usage, offer dynamic and customizable pricing, and more. Networked chargers can be a profit center for a business, a convenient amenity offered to customers or employees, or something in between. Whether a charger is networked or not, it is a good way for a home owner or business to improve property value.
Networked chargers use cutting-edge software and connectivity. The BreezeEV P48, for example, uses 4G LTE or Ethernet communication using the OCPP 1.6J (Open Charge Point Protocol) cloud-based management software. It comes with the ampUp software and a mobile app that delivers a huge range of benefits, including driver reservations, RFID cards (radio frequency identification cards for granting access), location access control, analytics (data reports), driver support, revenue collection, and more.
The user experience for electric charging stations is getting better and better. Apps like ampUp make it easy for drivers to find chargers, pull up, and plug in. These apps handle payments and can track usage for multiple cars. Customer service is available for owners and users 24/7/365.
Installing a charging station is easy. A charger like the BreezeEV P48 can be attached to a wall mount, a pedestal, or a cable-management pedestal. Its pedestal can even be decked out in custom branding.
The housing of a good charger is durable and weatherproof. The BreezeEV has an IP65 rating (ingress protection that guards against dust and rain). Chargers can operate in temperatures from -22F to 122F.
As with most capital improvements, choosing the right device depends on your application. If you’re looking for a single charger for a home, a simple non-networked charging station might do. If you need to outfit an office building, multi-unit apartment, or strip mall with one or more charging stations, then networked chargers are likely the best fit.
Before you invest, however, you should look into rebates and tax incentives. There are many of these programs offered by local and state governments, the federal government, as well as by many utility companies. These programs can offset much of the cost of installing charging stations. Talking to an expert might help. Top distribution companies like Duralec have experts on hand to walk you through that process.
To discuss electric charging stations or any related topics, feel free to reach out to a Duralec expert today.