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Infrastructure | Workplace

What is the best electric car charging station for the workplace?

April 26, 2022 | Wesley van Barlingen and Callum Biggins

Electric cars have seen growing adoption in recent years, moving from a niche alternative to a frequent sight on the roads. As society pushes to decarbonise the economy, this trend will only accelerate: in the UK electric cars are projected to account for over 60 percent of all new car sales in 2050 compared to only 4.6 percent in 2020.

At the same time, electric car drivers point to their workplaces as a preferred charging destination. Currently, 39 percent of electric car drivers charge at work, and a further 1 in 3 would do so if the option was available to them. Crucially, there is also an increasingly urgent need to develop suitable charging infrastructure to handle the influx of new electric cars on the roads.

Of course, different workplaces have different needs depending on their approach and unique situation. Whilst some are electrifying large corporate fleets, others are looking to offer electric car charging as an employee benefit or even as a paid service to visiting clients.

Whatever your situation, electric car charging is a relatively new concept with a lot to consider, so it is easy to get overwhelmed. This article will help you understand what your workplace should consider when identifying which electric car charging station is best fit for your business. 

A closeup of the display of an EVBox charging station. In the background, some cars are parked in a parking lot outside of a building.

What commercial electric car charging station options are there?

While electric car charging stations seem similar at first glance, in reality, there are many different types to choose from, each with separate functionalities and capabilities. For one, EV chargers differ based on the power, and thus, the charging speed they provide. Many also integrate smart charging features and work with intelligent charging management software which can help ensure optimal use. 

With so many different options available, we often tend to go for the fastest, newest, or most advanced. However, doing this may not land you with the best charging station for your business. Before deciding, it is therefore essential to look at your own businesses needs and wants and take these into account.

Developing a future-proof EV charging business strategy

An important consideration when thinking about your charging needs is the business model you wish to uphold. There are many options and combinations possible, but generally speaking, it comes down to asking yourself this question:

Do you want to offer electric car charging as an employee benefit, or do you want to offer it as a paid service that might also be available to visitors?

Once you have decided on the business model that works best for your workplace, you can start thinking about specific needs. To help identify these, we have listed six must-ask questions below.

A casually dressed woman is remotely-locking a blue car while walking along an underground parking lot. She is holding the car keys, a smartphone, some documents and carrying a purse on her shoulder. There are no other cars parked in the background.

Six must-ask questions to identify the right electric car charger for your workplace

1. How important is the charging speed?

A decisive consideration for picking the right charging station is the charging speed. Generally, the more power a charging station can provide, the faster it can charge electric cars. However, with greater power comes more expensive infrastructure and equipment. For example, whilst a DC fast charging station can charge vehicles within minutes, on average, it also costs ten times more than the alternative—and slower—AC charging station.

So, it is essential to consider to what extent the speed of a charging station is appropriate for your needs. For instance, if you offer EV charging as an employee benefit only, DC fast chargers are probably not necessary. With an eight-hour working day, most AC charging stations will be able to fully charge an electric car in that time, as well as being much more cost effective (and energy efficient) than DC fast chargers.

On the other hand, DC fast charging may be essential for electric vehicles meant for high utilisation, such as delivery vans or shared mobility vehicles. In these cases, charging quickly is essential for keeping your fleet out on the road and employees productive.

Of course, the decision to install a DC fast charging station or an AC charging station is not an either/or situation however. In some cases, you may find that a combination of both for different users is the best fit.

EVBox infographic explaining the difference between AC and DC charging. A car is in the middle, on the right there is an AC charger and on the left a DC one. The car shows the different sockets, battery and onboard charger.

2. How will your charging needs evolve in the future?

As we have seen, the number of electric vehicles on the road will increase dramatically over the next decade. As a result, more of your employees, clients, and visitors will be driving electric cars. At the same time, you might also be considering electrifying your fleet, which will also require additional capacity.

Given the cost of installing EV charging stations, it’s essential to consider how your workplace’s charging needs will evolve in the future. Even without concrete plans, it’s worth thinking about scalability from the get-go. For example, you could consider future-proofing your business by making sure the electrical infrastructure will be able to handle future charging loads, or by ensuring enough space is left for additional chargers.

Another consideration is simply around evolving technology. EV charging is a fast-moving field, with rapid increases in charging speed and the development of new features. At the same time, drivers' expectations keep changing too. So, what might be an acceptable charging speed or feature set today, may not be so in the years to come.

3. Do you need a charging management system?

Whilst electric car charging stations can act as simple connectors to the grid, it is also worth considering pairing your chargers to a charging management system (CMS) to get the most out of the features they can offer. A CMS brings an added level of insight and control to electric car chargers, helping you make informed decisions.

For example, the CMS can unlock data about usage and charging behaviour, allowing you to set variable pricing for peak hours, or set different fees for visitors, employees, and clients. At the same time, a CMS automates billing and payments, cutting out time-consuming non-value-added tasks from employees' workflows.

A charging management system can also optimise energy usage by intelligently allocating the available capacity using features such as peak shaving and dynamic load balancing. Not only can this maximise charger use, but also keep costs under control by increasing energy efficiency.

A closeup of three cars parked within some parking stalls outside of a building on a sunny day.

4. What are the limitations of your specific location?

Once you have determined your charging needs, it’s important to take into account the restrictions and limitations of your location. Depending on the size and type of charging infrastructure, you may need to involve site owners or local authorities to issue the required permits and comply with zoning requirements.

In any case, it’s a good idea to think of the potential stakeholders and involve them early in the process: by hearing their concerns and addressing them from the beginning, you can avoid any potential cost delays further down the line.

If your business operates across different offices, it’s vital to handle each location separately as they likely have different requirements and constraints. Making a simple copy of a previous project is unsuitable.

A modern black car is the only parked vehicle in a parking lot surrounded by some hedges.

5. Can you benefit from government incentives?

Installing EV charging stations comes at a cost, so leveraging government incentives can help amortise some of the investment. Indeed, as the economy seeks to transition away from fossil fuels, electric car chargers are a key target for development.

The UK government currently offers benefits such as the workplace charging scheme that supports the upfront costs of purchase and installation of electric car charging stations. Taking advantage of these incentives can significantly reduce your workplace’s investment.

6. What about after the purchase?

Building the charging infrastructure is only the first step in the operating life of an EV charger. Maintaining it throughout its use is essential for optimising performance and ensuring longevity. A faulty charger can not only leave workers dissatisfied, but can also impact your operations directive if your electric fleet cannot charge.

An important aspect to consider when investing in EV charging stations is the warranty cover. Whilst many installers offer a 2-year guarantee, some offer extensions for multiple years after that. Given the nature and the high costs of the product, a suitable warranty cover can avoid expensive repairs if any problem arises further down the line.

Beyond warranty, EV charging station companies offer a host of after-sales services, including commissioning, support, and maintenance. These care plans can ensure optimal uptime through preventative maintenance and swift response in case of an issue.

A closeup of an installer working on the electrical panel inside an EVBox charging station.

Electric mobility is here to stay

Regardless of your specific industry or business model, one thing is clear: the future is electric. As society embraces electric mobility, workplaces need to consider how they can adapt to this new paradigm. 

If you're thinking of switching to electric vehicles, whether for your own operations or to satisfy employees or visitors, it’s essential to study your facility’s needs—doing so can ensure you opt for the right solution and avoid any unnecessary costs. 

We hope the above questions can help you determine your charging needs and give you an idea of what electric car charging station your workplace should be looking for.

 

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