It wasn’t long ago that electric cars seemed about as likely to gain a public foothold as flying cars. But whereas the flying car has had to battle headwinds created by insurance companies and regulators at Transport Canada the electric car had a different set of hurdles to jump. The first was the cost of electric vehicles (EVs), which has begun in recent years to come back to earth. The second was battery technology, which has improved by leaps and bounds in the past decade or two. And the third hurdle was the lack of a recharging infrastructure. Fortunately, that hurdle too has finally been cleared and today companies like Hotwire Electric are installing all levels of EV charging stations in residential and commercial locations across the GTA.
Why Commercial EV Charging Station Installation is Important
Without commercial EV charging stations fleets of taxis, buses and trucks along with executive and sales vehicles would have no practical way of staying on the road. Whereas a private EV owner will typically only drive their plug-in vehicle 20 or 30 miles a day, commercial vehicles like taxis and buses are on the road all day long. They need to be able to recharge quickly and effectively or they’re of little use.
If you are a company with a fleet of electric vehicles, or if you are contemplating switching from gas to EVs, there are several reasons why it makes sense to install electric charging stations on your premises. Those reasons include:
- Your vehicles will never have to hit the street in search of a charging station.
- Vehicles can be charged quickly and made available to staff without delay.
- It sends an unequivocal message that your company is environmentally responsible.
- On a per mile basis EV are often cheaper to operate than gas vehicles.
- Having EV charging stations on your property is safer than having gas pumps.
- The Different Types of Commercial EV Charger Installations
The different types of commercial EV chargers can be broken down into 3 categories. They are:
- Level 1 charger installation – The Level 1 charger is comprised of a 110 or 120 Volt AC system. Essentially, you would only need to install standard outlets that are accessible to your fleet vehicles. This option is not a good one for commercial EV operators however, as charging times can run 10 to 20 hours. This may not be a problem for private EV owners who only need to top up their EV batteries a bit on a daily basis. But it is far too much time to be practical for commercial vehicles that need to be on the road for long hours every day.
- Level 2 charger installation – Level 2 charger installations, while still not perfect for commercial fleets, are much more practical and useful than Level 1 chargers. The Level 2 charging station also uses AC power, as does the Level 1 charger. But it is 240 Volts as opposed to 110 or 120 Volts. As a result you can fully recharge a spent battery in 3 to 5 hours (+/-) rather than 10 to 20 hours as is the case with Level 1 charging. If a vehicle needs a top up this can be accomplished in just an hour or so. Also, the Level 2 charger does not require that you add in any significant way to the electrical system already in place in your building. For many companies the Level 2 AC charger may be the answer to their EV charging needs. Other companies however, will require a more robust solution.
- Level 3 charger installation – Level 3 EV charging is commonly known as DCFC or Direct Current Fast Charging. With this type of charging you bypass the need to utilize the AC/DC converter in the vehicle and instead feed current directly into the battery at high voltages. Many companies with fleets of electric vehicles prefer the DCFC Level 3 commercial EV charger installation because it allows them to fully charge a depleted battery in a half hour or so. While the installation costs for this type of charger will be greater than for a Level 1 or 2 AC charging station the potential long term benefits will more than outweigh the initial costs.
Into the Future of EVSE
While Level 3 charging stations represent the state of the art at the moment plans are underway for a new generation of even more robust charging stations. These new stations, which some are calling Level 4 Ultra-Fast charging, promise to deliver 350 kW of power, enough to charge your car battery in a matter of minutes. At the moment, however, there are no electric vehicles in production that will be able to accommodate this Ultra-Fast charging technology. But with German car making giants like BMW behind the move you can be sure it won’t be long before Level 4 charging stations become a practical reality for owners of commercial EV fleets.