It’s easy to recognize the benefits of installing an electric vehicle (EV) charging station: attract EV drivers to your building, provide a visual indicator of your sustainability commitment, and distinguish yourself from competitors. What’s not so easy is actually deploying this technology and seizing those benefits.
Successful installations identify the correct technology for the application, adhere to the necessary codes, and utilize lot space effectively in the present and future. Take charge and follow these steps for effective deployment.
Honor the Code
Governing bodies, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), have developed standards to address the growth in EV charging stations. For instance, Article 625 of the National Electric Code (NFPA 70) indicates that all EV charging stations and components are listed to national or international standards. UL 2594 is one of the main standards and covers the different voltages available as well as safety and weather concerns. SAE J2293 and J1772 provide key design requirements to ensure interoperability with EVs.
“It’s important for building owners and managers to have confidence in the technology before deploying it,” explains Rich Byczek, global technical lead for electric vehicles at Intertek, a third-party product testing and certification body. “Understanding the codes and certifications is key.”
Local building departments interpret and enforce Article 625, so include them in your planning upfront, says John Kalb, CEO of consulting firm EV Charging Pros.
Installing charging stations sometimes requires performing a load calculation to determine the availability of power.
“Not all chargers draw the same amount of power, so you have to be careful with the 625 definition of chargers as continuous load devices,” Kalb explains. “If you have a 100-amp power panel, your exising load is 50 amps, and a charger requires a dedicated 40-amp circuit, there could be enough to accommodate it because the charger may not actually draw all 40 amps.”
Another regulatory issue for your lot’s design is accommodating ADA-compliant parking spots.
“EV charging spots are alternative fuel deployment stations, so they’re not parking spots,” says Kalb. “But there’s some overlap. Municipalities generally require the first charger to be accessible and oftentimes that means ADA-compliant.”
It’s a point of confusion to address with your building department from the very beginning.
“Good practice is making sure that people who are disabled and drive EVs aren’t stuck,” says Mike Calise, director of EVs at Schneider Electric. “A prudent measure is to align the station with an ADA stall and provide extra space on both sides.”
Once you’ve complied with the necessary codes, you can match the appropriate technology to your application.
EV drivers have a top-off mentality with public chargers because they want to ensure that they have the maximum miles available to drive.
Level 1 charging stations use 110V power and provide an EV with 5 miles per 30 minutes of charging.
“We typically call it a trickle charge. It’s like a faucet,” Kalb explains.
This equipment is ideal for offices or workplaces where occupant vehicles will be parked for 6-8 hours or longer.
Level 2 technology is 240V and can provide an EV with about 10 miles of charge per every 30 minutes. These are ideal for parks, libraries, and retail environments.
“They can provide the power a driver just used getting to that location,” Kalb says. “Think of it as a garden hose.”
Level 3 chargers are 480V and can completely refuel a car in 20 minutes. “This is the fire hydrant,” says Kalb.
These chargers accommodate drivers who are commuting long distances. They are typically government-issued roadside units, Calise explains, although they do appeal to some malls and grocery stores.
“It’s best to put the first station in a highly visible, marquee spot,” Calise says. “A facility manager should realize that the front spot requires more investment, but it also returns the most value.”
Remember that the further away the charging station is from your power panel, the more it’s going to cost to install.
“The main consideration is how long of a conduit and trenching run do you have to make in order to get from the panel with enough juice to the desired spot,” explains Kalb. “A strip mall may want the station right up front, but a smaller industrial park may be able to put it right next to the power.”
Once the first unit is installed, additional stations can be placed with more practical considerations, says Calise. “After you establish the marquee spot, then look for areas that are a compromise between convenience and cost.”
Calise recommends “stubbing out” neighboring stalls for future expansion.
“You don’t want to re-install and re-trench new runs, so once you take the plunge to install these, run the conduit to other spots and terminate them at a box,” he recommends. “Expansions are happening very rapidly. This way, when your demand goes up, you can just put in a new piece of gear. It’s a placeholder that sets the table for the future.”
Chris Curtland firstname.lastname@example.org is assistant editor of