How to Save When Building an EV Charging Site

Blog, Government, Industry 03/01/2023

According to a BNEF report, humanity will need approximately 290 million more electric vehicle (EV) charging points by 2040 to keep up with the growing global EV fleet. Many of those charge points will generate revenue for owners and improve business where they’re installed—EV drivers often shop and snack while their cars charge up.

Whether you’re in real estate, hospitality, retail, or food service, you’re probably thinking about EV chargers. Installing and maintaining them, however, can be expensive and complicated. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) for high-speed EV charging points.

This article outlines the fundamentals of deploying an EV charge point and ways you can save money throughout the process. It covers:

  1. Selecting and designing a site
  2. Selecting a charger architecture
  3. Finding incentives and rebates
  4. Optimizing ongoing maintenance and operations

Later we’ll dive deeper into ways to build and deploy charging systems, exploring technical details, regulatory issues, and cost-saving strategies.

Selecting and designing a site

You might be tempted to rush into installing a charger in your business’ parking lot or your apartment building’s parking garage, but there are many things to think about before you break ground.

  • Site Power – The first thing to consider when choosing a charging site is power. DC fast charging requires a lot of power, so you’ll need a licensed electrician to confirm if the existing grid connection is suitable. If not, it may be necessary to contact your regional power provider to ensure the grid can handle the demand of your charging infrastructure. Also review your utility’s rate structure—most have different rates based on time of day and usage, and even different rates for car chargers.
  • Installation Costs – As the power of the charger system grows, so too does the size of the electrical cables and switchgear required to supply it. Some systems rely on low voltage / high current cabling that can be very expensive to install. Product selection should take into account the fully installed cost.
  • Footprint – How much space will your charger or chargers occupy? Make sure you have physical room to install a charger without interfering with existing parking, pedestrian traffic, etc. You want to attract EV drivers, but make sure there’s enough room to accommodate everyone.
  • Traffic and Throughput – How many EVs do you expect to use your chargers? Will the chargers cause congestion? Will the chargers be easy to get to? Think about how many EV drivers may use your chargers. Again, will they block or interfere with existing traffic as they enter and exit the charging space?
  • Internet Connectivity – Internet access is key for any EV charging point. You will need either a wired connection or a reliable wireless connection for payment processing. The same connection can also be used for remote diagnostics and data collection. Most chargers simply won’t work unless they can connect to payment processors or their own networks. Check with network providers to make sure your area is covered.
  • Regulations – EV charge points are subject to many local and country-wide regulations. Sites need to meet a variety of safety and other standards before construction can begin. Contact your local government to learn what kinds of regulations are required in your area.
  • Accessibility – Consider disabled drivers when you plan your site. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and European standard EN 301 549 require that charging sites adhere to certain accessibility standards. For example, charging cables and the charger’s user interface should be reachable from a wheelchair. Make sure your site meets local accessibility standards.

The Tritium team can help you research your site before you make a purchase. We have experts around the world who know local regulations, have relationships with utility companies, and can even help estimate traffic in and around your charge site. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Product selection

After site planning, you’ll need to choose your charging hardware. You may be tempted to purchase the most affordable charger, but entry level chargers can end up costing you more over time. That cheap charger may not be able to handle tomorrow’s EVs or present more issues, and you’ll be upgrading before you know it.

When shopping for chargers, look for modularity, scalability, and upgradability. Even if you’re starting small, choose a charger or chargers that can grow to meet future demand. Tritium’s RTM and PKM lines of chargers can be upgraded over time to deliver more power to more EVs, which means you can start small and develop your charging site over time.

Tritium PKM chargers can also share charging infrastructure. DC fast chargers need high-power electronics to turn the alternating current (AC) from the power grid into direct current (DC). This equipment is housed in a power cabinet, and most DC fast chargers need dedicated power cabinets to run. A PKM charger can share a single power cabinet with up to three other PKM chargers, reducing the overall cost of the charging system and making it easier to expand your charge point when you need to.

Chargers should also be able to weather the elements. Look for chargers that are sealed and rated for rain, wind, and dust. All Tritium charging stations are IP65 rated, meaning they meet strict standards for water and dust resistance.

Additionally, electric vehicles use a variety of connectors. Pioneering EVs like the Nissan Leaf used CHAdeMo (“CHArge de MOve” which Japanese EV organizations translate as “charge for moving”). Now most EVs use Combined Charging Standard (CCS1 or CCS2) connectors. Europe has standardized CCS2 charge connectors, while the US uses CCS1.

Also look for modern features like Plug and Charge integration, a communication protocol that lets drivers simply plug their EVs in for a charge without having to enter billing information—billing info is stored in the car itself. Standard payment processing should also be available for vehicles without Plug and Charge capabilities.

There’s a lot to learn about DC charger technology before you make a purchase. Working with an expert can make the process much easier and safer.

Incentives and rebates

There are many government, energy company, and non-profit incentives for EV charging infrastructure, ranging from tax credits to rebates to grants. These programs were created to speed up the transition from internal combustion cars to EVs and to help EV owners who might not have access to a charger at home.  

  • In the United States, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a $7.5 billion investment to build a national backbone of 500,000 charging stations. The plan will also help deploy a mix of charger types at apartment buildings, in public parking lots, and along our nation’s roadways. In 2022, Tritium’s CEO Jane Hunter was invited to the White House by President Biden to announce the launch of Tritium’s new US manufacturing facility, which was designed to build fast chargers for the US market and beyond.
  • In California, the $200 million California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) addresses regional needs for EV charging infrastructure. CALeVIP provides incentives for EV charger installations and works with local partners to develop and implement projects. CALeVIP is funded through the Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program with rebates up to $80,000 per charger.
  • In New York, the Joint Utilities of New York are offering rebates for DC fast charging stations across the state. The utilities have made $701 million of funding available to support EV charging infrastructure ($206 million for disadvantaged communities). The program hopes to see 65,000 chargers deployed by 2025.

And there are many programs and incentives like this across the globe.

  • In 2019, Austria launched an EV charging initiative that includes increases in federal funding for EVs, residential charging infrastructure, and commercial charging infrastructure.
  • Belgium provides a tax exemption to private companies located in the Brussels-Capital Region on taxes levied on companies for each visitor or staff parking space (€5 per M2) tax if their parking spaces have charging stations.
  • In Germany, several grants are also available to offset the installation costs of public EV charging stations. The German government aims to have 1 million charging stations in the country by 2030. In 2021 the government put in place a €300 million incentive program and many cities are offering grants for small to medium businesses, including. Nordrhein-Westfalen, Munich, Hannover, and Limburg.
  • The European Association for Electromobility (AVERE) promotes electromobility and sustainable transport across Europe. AVERE is a European association representing and advocating for electromobility on behalf of the industry, academia, and EV users at both EU and national levels. AVERE successfully campaigned to change the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) into an EU Regulation (AFIR), helping speed up and strengthen the development of charging infrastructure for EVs across Europe.

These are just a few of the countries and groups that are helping to meet government targets to phase out internal combustion cars and build out EV charging infrastructure. The best way to find incentives in your area is to talk to an expert. At Tritium we can help you find EV charger incentives for your region.

Ongoing maintenance and operations

Most people think of EV chargers as appliances—you plug them in and they just work. But DC fast chargers handle a tremendous amount of power and generate a lot of heat. Over many charges, components can be at risk of failure and will need to be replaced. Chargers will need regular scheduled maintenance just like any other machine. Keep this in mind when choosing your equipment. Is it easy to repair? Can repairs be done in the field? Maintenance costs can add up over time and it pays to choose a charger that is designed to be easily maintained.

Fast chargers also run complicated software that interfaces with multiple networks, including utilities networks, payment processing networks, and charging point operator networks. That software requires updates and maintenance just like your PC. What kind of software support does the manufacturer offer? Think long term. Tritium software not only handles car charging, but also works with payment processing and utilities networks. We have dedicated software engineers who work to keep up with the latest developments in EVs, battery tech, and networks.

There is a wide range of positive economic and environmental aspects of the expected growth in the deployment of EV charging infrastructure worldwide. As the world shifts towards electrification, there are many options and programs available to assist operators with cost-effective deployments of DC fast-charging solutions. Choosing a qualified partner can be the best way to ensure you get the ultimate return on your investment.