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Charging Station Installation Options
Installing a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) charging station at your business is a great way to attract customers to your location or provide a perk for employees. Workplace charging is already being offered by several large Jacksonville employers. CSX partnered with the City of Jacksonville to install charging stations. Here are some important factors to consider when deciding what type of charging station equipment to buy, where to place it, and how to mark the parking space.
Selecting a Charging Station Location
One of the first things to consider when installing a charging station is where exactly to place it. Visibility and accessibility are key factors, but even more important is the proximity to existing electrical infrastructure. To keep installation costs as low as possible, locate an area that is as close to a breaker panel as possible. The further away from the panel the chosen installation location is, the higher the installation costs can run. For example, in a surface parking lot there may be hundreds of feet between the nearest panel and the desired parking spot. This may require breaking concrete, digging a trench, running conduit and wire out to the spot, and then replacing the concrete. All of those activities will increase the installation cost. A licensed electrician or an on-staff building engineer can assist in identifying locations nearest to existing electrical infrastructure.
Free Charging or Pay-Per-Use?
If you wish to provide use of the charging station for free to employees and/or customers than a non-networked, or "dumb", station can be installed. These types of equipment allow anyone to use the station by simply plugging in. There is no payment transaction required. If you wish to charge a fee for use of the station then a networked station is required. There are options available to charge by time of day, length of charge time, energy consumed, etc. A networked station also provides the opportunity to permit free charging for some users and not others. For example, if you wanted to permit employees to charge for free they could use an ID card while customers would need to enter payment information.
Networked charging stations communicate with a network service provider who tracks all of the station’s usage data, handles the payment process, and provides mobile applications to users. There are fees associated using a service provider on a networked piece of equipment.
Marking the Parking Space for a Charging Station
Once your charging station equipment is installed then the next step is to designate the space(s) as EV charging-only spots with signage and pavement markings -- this alerts customers and employees about its presence.
- Signage: There is no single standard across the nation for charging equipment locator signage. The US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration has provided guidelines on signage concerning locator signage to assist in directing users to the charging equipment location as well as parking space restrictions. The ChargeWell network in the Jacksonville area will make use of the USDOT FHA blue, general service symbol sign along with arrow signage as an aid to drivers looking to locate the charging equipment. (The USDOT FHA signage examples for both the general service symbol and parking restrictions are available.)
- Pavement Marking: An important aspect of promoting your charging station is to prominently mark the parking space. As previously mentioned, there is no single standard for these markings. Styles will vary across the country. JEA and the North Florida TPO are working together to provide participating locations within the ChargeWell network a standardized template to be used in the Jacksonville area. Once finalized, the template may be used by anyone installing charging station equipment.
Consideration for your specific installation location will be needed to determine what signage, if any, is required. Highly visible locations may not need any additional direction for users. When installing signage or marking individual parking spaces be sure to keep in mind any local statutes, ordinances, or regulations that may prevent you from doing so.
A Low-Cost Alternative for Offering Workplace Charging
You may already have workplace charging but don't know it! If installing Level 2 (L2) charging station equipment at your business proves to too difficult for any reason there is another alternative. An easy and inexpensive way to implement workplace charging for your employees is by simply using existing 110v outlets. The standard outlets found throughout the interior and exterior of any building can also be used to charge electric vehicles. This is referred to as Level 1 (L1) charging. It is the slowest form of charging available to electric vehicles. Most vehicles will obtain about 5 miles of range per hour of charge through L1. An electric vehicle driver can simply plug in the cord that came with their vehicle into an existing outlet and begin charging. Before allowing customers or employees to plug into an existing outlet you should verify that the circuit is not already loaded with other electricity-consuming devices. Identifying a circuit with low use is ideal when considering offering L1 charging.
Workplace Charging Challenge: The Department of Energy offers many resources for employers and electrical contractors, including financial incentives, employee surveys, ADA compliance, pricing, liability, and signage.
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