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Commercial EV Charging 101

Learn about the growth of commercial EV chargers, typical consumer behavior, the best chargers for commercial settings, the cost of installing Level 3 chargers, and strategies to help you take advantage of EV charging.

With the number of electric vehicles (EVs) surging across the world, EV chargers are becoming a new way to attract customers to businesses. 

According to Nissan, EV charging stations now outnumber gas stations in the United Kingdom. Data gathered from the Energy Institute shows EV charging locations total 9,300 locations compared to 8,400 fuel locations as of August 2019.

EV chargers are seeing rapid growth in the United States as well. Electrify America has installed 251 stations in the US as of July 2019 with plans to add another 235 locations before the end of the year.

Convenience stores are one of the main U.S. markets gravitating toward EV chargers. Wawa, a US-based convenience store chain, has 16 locations with Tesla superchargers as of August 2019 with the goal to double stores by the end of 2020. Wawa began opening charging stations in August 2017. Other c-store brands investing in EV chargers include Sheets, Royal Farms, QuickCheck and Love’s Travel Stops.

TYPICAL CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
The early adopters of electric vehicles generally charge up at their house or place of work. However, EV users must also look to find charging stations in other places for convenience and ease-of-use.

For long journeys, EV drivers must pre-select locations along their route that have EV charging stations. By strategically placing EV chargers along major interstates, you can help drive brand loyalty to your locations and establish yourself as a trusted location for the EV market.

The average EV commuter also looks to “top off” their cars, much like individuals waiting at airport gates like to top off their phone charge before their flight. Drivers will look for easy stops along their regular commute to spend 10-15 minutes at a charging station. According to CNN, installing a charger is a way to attract customers to a store. Much like gas at convenience stores, EV chargers are another way to get customers to step into the store for food, snacks and drinks. 

BEST CHARGERS
Considering investing in EV chargers at your locations? It’s important to choose the correct chargers.

When it comes to EV chargers, there are three main levels of EV chargers.

Based on their fast charging times, DC fast chargers are the best options for commercial settings as they allow customers to quickly refuel. According to the US Department of Energy, there are about 13,000 electric vehicle fast charging stations in the United States compared to 332,000 gas stations.

COST
If you choose to install Level 3 chargers at your commercial locations, it is important to look at the financial investment of doing so. Because of the high voltage required for level 3 chargers, a complex electrical infrastructure must be installed with your system (often times with enough power to charge a Walmart!). The average installation of four charging stations takes up roughly 1,000 sq. ft. when you consider the electrical wiring, converters, switchgear, and transformers - and costs roughly $600,000.

While this seems like a serious financial investment, there are many existing state grants that can help lower the capital cost of installing an EV infrastructure. For more information on what rebates and tax incentives are available, please see this resource.


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Now that we’ve looked at the growth of EV chargers, typical consumer behavior, the best chargers for commercial settings, and the cost of installing Level 3 chargers, here are some strategies that can help you take advantage of EV charging:

  1. Increase charging prices at your EV charging stations to drive higher margins.
  2. Install EV chargers to help increase in-store dwell time.
  3. Look for local and state utility incentives offering rebates for EV charging.
  4. Utilize existing state grants to lower the capital cost of installing your EV infrastructure.
  5. Install energy storage at your locations to help mitigate demand charges tied to heavy electrical usage.
  6. Install solar panels on your canopies for local generation that can help supply your EV chargers.

With the continued growth in EVs, now is the best time to add EV chargers to your business. If you’re looking to implement an EV charging solution at your commercial location, feel free to reach out to us. FSG Smart Buildings is happy to help you charge your future!

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