Are you thinking about installing plug-in electric vehicle charging stations at your company? Workplace charging offers many benefits to employers, employees and the broader community. This guide provides steps to implement a workplace charging program. See also our guide to BiK implications of workplace EV charging.
Employers across the country are beginning to offer charging access in workplace car parks, which serve as the next most-likely place a vehicle will spend time parked.
The ability to charge at work can potentially double an EV driver’s all-electric daily commuting range.
Know your Acronyms
EVs (all-electric vehicles) are powered by one or more electric motors.
EVs plug into off-board sources of electricity and store the energy in a battery.
These vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions.
EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) delivers electrical energy from an electricity source to charge a PEV’s battery.
It communicates with the PEV to ensure that an appropriate and safe flow of electricity is supplied. EVSE units are often referred to as “charging stations.”
HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles) are powered by an ICE that runs on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery.
HEV batteries are charged by the ICE and through regenerative braking.
HEVs are not plugged in to charge.
ICEs (internal combustion engines) generate mechanical power by burning a liquid fuel (such as gasoline, diesel, or a biofuel) or a gaseous fuel (such as compressed natural gas).
They are the dominant propulsion technology for on-road vehicles today.
PEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) derive all or part of their power from off-board sources of electricity. They include EVs and PHEVs.
PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) are powered by an ICE and by an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery.
PHEVs can be plugged into off-board sources of electricity to charge the battery.
Why Drivers Choose PEVs
PEVs offer a number of benefits that make them an attractive option for an increasing number of drivers.
High fuel economy, low operating cost:
PEVs are highly efficient, and they generally have much lower operating costs than those of conventional vehicles.
PEVs offer fueling options not typically available to conventional vehicles, including charging at home, work, public charging stations, or a combination of these sites.
Today’s PEVs are state-of-the-art highway vehicles ready to match or surpass the performance of their conventional counterparts.
Compared with conventional vehicles, PEVs typically produce lower levels of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, even when taking into account the emissions associated with electricity production.
If your organisation is interested in providing employees with workplace charging, it will help to become familiar with electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
There are multiple types of EVSE, which differ based on their communication capabilities and how quickly they can charge a vehicle.
Types of Charging Equipment (EVSE)
EVSE is the equipment used to deliver electrical energy from an electricity source to a PEV. EVSE communicates with the PEV to ensure that an appropriate and safe flow of electricity is supplied.
EVSE for PEVs is classified according to the rate at which the batteries are charged. Two types—Level 1 and Level 2—provide alternating-current (AC) to the vehicle, with the vehicle’s onboard equipment (charger) converting AC to the direct current (DC) needed to charge the batteries. The other type—DC fast charging—provides DC electricity directly to the vehicle.
Charging times range from less than 30 minutes to 20 hours or more, based on the type or level of EVSE; the type of battery, its capacity, and how depleted it is; and the size of the vehicle’s internal charger. EVs generally have more battery capacity than PHEVs, so charging a fully depleted EV takes longer than charging a fully depleted PHEV.
Level 1 EVSE provides charging through a 120-volt (V) AC circuit and requires electrical installation per the National Electrical Code. Most, if not all, PEVs come with a Level 1 EVSE cord set. On one end of the cord is a standard, three-prong household plug (NEMA 5-15 connector). On the other end is a J17725 standard connector, which plugs into the vehicle.
Level 1 typically is used for charging when only a 120-V outlet is available, such as at some residential and workplace locations. Based on the battery type and vehicle, Level 1 charging adds about 2 to 5 miles of range to a PEV per hour of charging time.
Level 2 EVSE can easily charge a typical EV battery overnight, and it is a common installation for residential, workplace, fleet, and public facilities. Level 2 EVSE offers charging through a 240-V (typical in residential applications) or 208-V (typical in commercial applications) electrical service.
These installations are generally hard-wired for safe operation (although a wall plug connection is possible). Level 2 EVSE requires installation of charging equipment and a dedicated circuit of 20 to 80 amp (A) depending on the EVSE requirements. Most Level 2 EVSE uses a dedicated 40 A circuit. As with Level 1 equipment, Level 2 equipment uses the J1772 connector. Based on the battery type, charger configuration, and circuit capacity, Level 2 charging adds about 10 to 20 miles of range to a PEV per hour of charging time, depending on the power level of the onboard charger.
DC Fast Charging
DC fast-charging EVSE (sometimes referred to as DC Level 2 EVSE) enables rapid charging and is generally located at sites along heavy traffic corridors and at public fuelling stations. Some DC fast-charging units are designed to use 480-V AC input, while others use 208-V AC input. A DC fast charger can add 60 to 80 miles of range to a light-duty PEV in 20 minutes. DC fast-charging is not commonly used as a workplace charging option. Workers’ vehicles are typically parked for several hours at a time, so they don’t require rapid charging at work.
Connectors and Plugs
Today’s EVSE and PEVs have standard connectors and receptacles based on the J1772 standard developed by SAE International. Vehicles with this receptacle can use any Level 1 or Level 2 EVSE. Most major vehicle and charging system manufacturers in the United States support this standard, which should eliminate concerns about vehicles’ compatibility with charging infrastructure. Most currently available PEVs that are equipped to accept DC fast charging are using the CHAdeMO
connector. SAE International recently developed a “hybrid connector” standard for fast charging that adds high-voltage DC power contact pins to the J1772 connector, enabling use of the same receptacle for all levels of charging.
Workplace PEV charging offers many benefits to employers, employees, and building owners. For a project to be successful, it is important for all stakeholders to understand these benefits.
Benefits for Employers and Building Owners
Employee recruitment and retention: The availability of charging conveys that your organisation stays on the leading edge of technological development, even to workers who don’t drive PEVs. And employers that offer charging may be better positioned to attract and retain employees who do drive PEVs.
Furthering sustainability goals: The availability of PEV charging can be a strong addition to an organisation’s larger portfolio of sustainability practices, particularly if the organisation has existing objectives related to employee commuting practices, greenhouse gas reductions, and/or transportation emissions reductions.
Public image: Providing workplace charging can help demonstrate an organisation’s leadership in
supporting cutting-edge, clean transportation technologies to customers, consumers, and the surrounding community.
Employee satisfaction: Workplace charging can be an attractive addition to your organisation’s existing employee benefits package. Employees will likely appreciate that their employer is proactive in seeking out ways to enhance their experience at the workplace.
Tenant attraction and retention: Building owners who offer workplace charging at their facilities send the message that they are interested in providing smart, proactive solutions for their tenants’ present and future needs. Entering this fast-growing niche market today may yield significant benefits in the long run.
Benefits for Employees
Range security: The opportunity to charge at work can help alleviate “range anxiety,” a driver’s uncertainty about the vehicle’s ability to reach a destination before depleting the battery’s charge.
Range extensions: Workplace charging can potentially double daily all-electric driving range, accommodating longer commutes and additional trips between the workplace and the home.
Greater flexibility: By extending range, workplace charging opens up options drivers might not otherwise have, making it easier to manage special circumstances, urgent trips, and unexpected changes in plans or schedules, particularly for EV drivers.
Workplace charging also provides flexibility in the location and timing of charging, which may be helpful for drivers whose residential charging options are somewhat limited or inconvenient.
Increased incentive for PEV adoption: The ability to charge at work may provide the encouragement and assurance an employee needs to make the switch from a conventional vehicle to a PEV, and to take advantage of the financial and environmental benefits of such a switch.
Employers and employees seeking to take advantage of the benefits of PEVs should explore available incentives for early adopters.
Evaluating and Planning for Workplace Charging
Successful implementation of workplace charging involves careful planning and a willingness to address potential challenges, many of which may be unique to the physical, cultural, and organisational characteristics of your workplace.
Facilities Ownership Considerations
Implementing PEV workplace charging is easiest when the employer owns and operates its campus or facility. Planning and installation will be more straightforward processes if the employer has singular control of the critical pieces of real estate, including the affected parking area(s), building(s), and electrical infrastructure.
Planning and installation may be more complex when multiple stakeholders are involved, particularly in densely developed urban areas. For example, a business may lease office space in a building that is owned by one entity, operated and maintained by another entity, with a parking facility operated by yet another entity.
Evaluating Employee Demand
Regardless of whether a workplace charging project is initiated by the employer or by employees, it will be useful to gauge potential employee demand. Employee surveys can be useful for this purpose. A survey should not only assess existing demand, but also help evaluate future demand. View our sample survey.
The organisation’s decision makers should evaluate survey results to help determine the number of charging stations that may be needed. PEV production and ownership are expected to grow rapidly over the coming decade, so employers may want to allow for the possibility of future expansion when developing their workplace charging plans. This may include upgrading a facility’s electrical service beyond what is necessary for short-term demand.
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