Key considerations for installing EV charging stations: design, safety, and efficiency
As electric vehicles take over the streets and the demand for more EV charging infrastructure continues to grow, investing in EV charging stations for your business is a great way to diversify your revenue streams.
But where do you start? Are all EV charging stations made equal? Does design matter?
Let's explore some of the most critical factors you should consider before spending a significant part of your budget on EV charging stations.
Fundamentals to consider before installing EV charging stations
Before anything else, you'd want to have an explicit idea about the state of the EV market in your area.
A few questions you should be able to answer are:
- How many electric vehicles are registered?
- Will your EV infrastructure be able to accommodate the EV drivers in your area and neighboring towns in the future?
- Will your facility still be in optimal condition in the years to come?
- Will you be able to supply the power level needed by these chargers?
Think ahead. Installing charging stations is a big risk, but with a bigger reward if done right!
Here are some fundamentals you might want to consider before going on with the installation:
- Your target market: Do you want to cater to the general public or have a particular membership scheme to control access?
- Dwell time: How long will vehicles be plugged in and charged?
- Electrical distribution system at the site: Will the power supply be enough to accommodate multiple charging stations?
- Owner experience: Consider the funding assistance programs available to you. How will you cover the initial cost of installation?
Your answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision in selecting the equipment and infrastructure design.
People involved in designing an EV charging station installation
Designing an electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure should involve the business owner, a licensed electrician or engineer with knowledge of the EV industry, local codes and laws, and a trusted supplier of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).
While the owner will always have the final say, it's important that you consult with industry experts.
Design recommendations for accessible electric vehicle charging stations
Charging stations typically operate at a voltage higher than the typical 120V used in residential charging.
That's why safety is one of the major concerns in EV technology.
With DC charging stations capable of up to 400V to 1,000V of charging output, there's always the risk of electrical shock or overcurrent.
Electrical shock or ground fault is the accidental contact of the conductor and the grounding.
This may be caused by insulation breakdown due to the presence of dust or moisture along the circuit.
Installing a ground-fault protection device is necessary to prevent drivers from getting electrocuted if they pick up a faulty 1000-volt charging nozzle.
This works by monitoring the output side and automatically shutting off power once it detects any earth leakage.
Switching from fossil fuel energy to electric vehicles is mainly due to the worldwide call to reduce carbon emissions.
The added bonus though is the improved efficiency and overall quality in the performance of this all-electric solution.
However, the potential of this technology will be put to waste without the proper infrastructure, more specifically, an efficient charging station.
Why would EV owners go out of their way to drive to your charging station when they could get the same charging speeds at home?
Typically, the charging process done at home can take overnight.
Due to efficient power conversion, DC charging stations can fill up an EV more quickly.
Minimizing losses in power conversion means delivering the maximum amount of power to the vehicle's batteries, therefore, ensuring faster charging speeds.
Having DC fast chargers installed is a long-term commitment and investment.
These chargers don't come cheap, so you'd want them to last for years to come, even with the most severe weather conditions, to get a return on the money you invested.
The solution to reliability issues relies on protective measures and the quality of the components used in your equipment.
For example, fuses that protect your power converters from overcurrent.
Standard fuses are usually enough to protect most semiconductor devices.
But since you're dealing with high-powered semiconductor devices, you'd want to invest in high-speed DC fuses.
Considerations for successful EV charging site design
Ensuring there's enough electrical supply in your preferred location is crucial.
Consult with your utility provider to have a rough estimate of how much power is needed based on the volume of EV charging you expect and identify what type of service connection is suitable.
Knowing how much space you have available is important in laying out the electrical components, including panels, conduit runs, and the charging equipment themselves.
Make sure the infrastructure follows local standards and laws about accessibility.
You may be required to install a clear pathway from one of your chargers to the convenience store or build easy-access aisles.
You might also want to consider putting wheelchair-accessible charging stations and eliminating any obstruction or tripping hazards.
Can you make your own EV charging station?
Yes. But be sure to consult with a licensed electrician or engineer with sound knowledge of the EV industry, local codes and laws, and a trusted supplier of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). They can help you with all the nitty-gritty of installing an EV charging station.How do you make an electric charging station?
First, you'd want to have a clear idea about the state of the EV market in your area. Know how many EVs are there. Recognize your target market and design a business model around it. Subsequently, consult with industry experts. They will be able to guide you every step of the way.What size panel do I need for an EV charger?
EV chargers typically pull 30-50 amps of current. For home charging, you'll need at least a 200-amp electrical panel.
The three types of EV charging systems are:
- Level 1 or Trickle Charging (120-Volt) is typically done at home.
- Level 2 Charging (208-Volt to 240-Volt) is usually seen in public charging stations like the parking lots in apartment buildings.
- DC Fast Charging (400-Volt to 900-Volt ) is only found in fast charging stations.