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Your practical EV charging guide

Last updated on November 24, 2023 in Electric Vehicles by Geotab Team |  5 minute read


This EV charging guide covers the basics: from common terminology to developing a strategy for building your own charging infrastructure.

If you talk to someone who hasn’t made the leap to electric vehicles yet, there is one common concern that is holding them back – EV charging. This applies to both consumers and fleet professionals.

 

Since public charging is typically more expensive and less reliable than privately owned infrastructure, most fleets will opt to build out their own, particularly for return-to-base fleets, where the best place to charge the vehicles is where they park.

 

This entire process can seem overwhelming at first as there are a lot of new terms to understand and questions that need to be answered. 

EV charging terms

Before we get into detail about different aspects of EV charging, let’s define some of the key terms:

 

Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE)

Commonly just referred to as the EV charger. It is the intermediary between a power source and the vehicle’s charging port. Its role is to simply relay the power to the vehicle safely. 

 

EVSE Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

A company that manufactures charging station hardware. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean they provide a network as well (see below).

 

Electric Vehicle Service Provider (EVSP)

An EVSP provides connectivity across a network of charging stations. Connecting to a central server, they manage the software, database and communication interfaces that enable operation of the station.

 

Level 1 charging

The charging power obtained when plugging the vehicle into a standard household (120V) AC outlet. This is the slowest form of charging, providing roughly 4 miles of range per hour and is less common for fleet applications due to the longer charging times.

 

Level 2 charging

Provides power at 200-240V AC through either an EVSE that has a plug that connects to your car, or via a 240V outlet (similar to the ones your oven or dryer uses) that requires a cable/adapter. Level 2 chargers can be up to 80 amps, and drivers can add 10-65 miles of range in an hour of charging.

 

Direct current fast charging (DCFC)

In this case, the power provided to the vehicle is direct current (DC). The power is much faster than AC Level 2 charging and can range from 50kWs to 350kW or more. Most fast chargers deliver about 80% charge to a light-duty vehicle in 30 minutes or less.

Charger ports 

The charger port is the connection from the EVSE to your EV. The connector you will use will depend on your geographic location, charging level and if it is a Tesla.

ev-charging-infographic

How much does it cost to install EV charging infrastructure?

There are a lot of factors that go into addressing that question and the answer will be different for every application. It will largely depend on the number and location of chargers, the level of power needed and the available capacity at the site. All of these variables will be dependent on your EV deployment strategy and the duty cycles of your vehicles.

 

For example, a fleet that primarily consists of light-duty vehicles that dwell in a single location might decide that level 2 chargers are the way to go. They are less expensive and easier to install than DC fast chargers. They are an excellent choice so as long as the vehicle dwells for a sufficient period to charge for the next trip. They can be installed in parking lots, in a depot setting or at the driver’s residence if they take the vehicle home. 

 

Level 2 charging stations typically cost under $1000 USD and there may be federal and state/provincial incentives available. In addition to the EVSE are the permitting and installation costs, which can start at around $300 for a home garage or $1000+ for a commercial application. Depending on the total number of charging stations you may need to consult electrical engineers and upgrade panels or other infrastructure.

 

For vehicles that need to be charged quickly or have a larger battery capacity requiring long charging periods, like many heavy-duty EVs, DC fast chargers will make more sense. This equipment is more expensive and requires more planning, potentially requiring additional permits.

 

Regardless of which type you use, it is important to contact your electric utility as soon as possible to have them involved in the process.

What is the cost of “filling up” your EV?

Again this will differ for every vehicle, but it comes down to the total energy used and your electricity rate. Also, if you are using a public charging station, it gets a bit more complex, as they may or may not charge a membership fee, parking fees and can charge by the minute or by energy used. To provide a general idea we will look at the cost to charge a Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck in California. 

Vehicle

Private charging

Public charging

Gas

F-150 Lightning

$0.21 per kWh

$2.59 to drive 25 miles

$0.48 per kWh

$5.92 to drive 25 miles

 

F-150 4WD (ICE)

  

$4.859 per gallon

$6.08 to drive 25 miles

 

The costs above are calculated using EPA fuel economy tool, personalized with average California fuel and electricity prices at the time of writing. The public charging cost is based on using an Electrify America charger without a membership.

 

So while there can be a lot of variabilities, charging at a private station is typically cheaper than a public one, but both options are cheaper than driving on gas.  

How to plan EV charging infrastructure

One of the biggest challenges for organizations interested in adding EVs to their fleet is planning out the charging infrastructure. It can be an expensive and complex process, so it is important that it is done correctly.

 

Let’s look at three key considerations when leading a successful fleet electrification program.

 

1. Where to place the chargers?

 

Determining where your EVs charge will involve looking at the currently available charging infrastructure, vehicle dwell time, dwell location, estimated likely state-of-charge and daily driving distances. Depending on your specific application, you may choose to install chargers at your fleet depot, outside your office buildings or even at your employee residences.

 

2. How many charging stations will you need?

Each vehicle doesn’t necessarily require its own dedicated charger. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for determining how many charging stations your fleet will need. You will need to consider the duty cycles of the vehicles at each site, how fast you need them charged and the overall energy requirements.

 

3. What kind of stations will you need?

As mentioned above, there are three main types of charging stations: level 1, level 2 and DC fast charging. Each of them has their own pros and cons. Level 1 and level 2 chargers are less expensive and easier to install. However, it will take longer to charge using them, so they may not be a viable solution for your application. DC fast charging stations can charge your vehicles in a fraction of the time but require significant infrastructure. In fact, you may need to require additional permits from your municipality to get them installed.

Charging your fleet electrification plans

Adding EVs to your fleet can seem intimidating, especially when there are so many factors that go into charging them. Geotab’s Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA) addresses some of the core questions concerning charging viability that will determine which vehicles are suitable for electrification, and where geographically it makes most sense. Going beyond assumptions, it incorporates historical data like past trips, stops, durations, and charging preferences to ensure a realistic and precise approach to EV adoption. 

Equipped with the data from an EVSA together with the information in this guide, we hope you can begin your fleet electrification journey with confidence.

 

To learn more about adopting and operating EVs by checking out our Fleet Electrification Knowledge Center

 

This article was originally published on August 28th, 2019


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Disclaimer

Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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