how to choose the right EV charging network

How to Choose the Right EV Charging Network

Electric vehicle (EV) charging networks are just like cell phone networks. There are many of them and each have their unique features and price points. While you can operate some EV charging stations without a network, you will need a network in order to require payment, control access, limit charging session durations, and much more. 

With so many Level 2 (208-240V AC) EV charging networks out there, how do you choose the right one? Well, as an EV charging consultant, we work with many of them and can help you determine which one is right for your specific site. Check out the article below to help you assess which EV charging network will work best for you. 

Do You Want an Open or Closed Network?

EV charging stations come in two varieties, open and closed networking. An open networked charging station allows the site host to select from a number of networks. Additionally, at the end of the contract, the site host can select a different network without having to replace the charging station itself since it is just a software change. This is just like how cell phone and cell networks work. If you buy an iPhone, for example, you can select from AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint and can change when you’d like to.  

On the other hand, a closed network does not allow the site host to change networks. The disadvantage of closed networks is that if you are dissatisfied with the service, reliability, or pricing you will have to rip and replace the charging stations. Then again, some of the closed networks are the most popular EV charging networks out there. 

  • Popular open networks: Amp Up, Sema Connect, Enel X, EVmatch
  • Popular closed networks: Chargepoint, Tesla, Blink

Are the Charging Stations in California?

Each state has their own regulations and building codes. As such, California has adopted regulations beginning in 2021 that affect all public EV charging stations that require payment for use. The Division of Measurements under the Department of Food and Agriculture has required all public charging stations to pass the California Type Evaluation Program (CTEP). 

Required EV Charging Stations
Chargepoint stations

In short, these regulations require EV charging stations that require payment to have a screen just like at gas stations. In addition, the charging stations must be annually inspected by the local jurisdiction weights and measures agency–again, just like gas stations. Altogether, California views public charging stations as commercial energy dispensing units and must be regulated to protect the public. 

For EV charging station manufacturers and networks, most, if not, all have or are working on receiving their CTEP certification as California is by far the most popular EV state. 

Is the Charging Station at a Commercial or Public Location?

If the charging stations are going to be at a commercial or public location, it may be a good idea to utilize a well known EV charging network. Each network has its own app to which the EV driver must set up an account. If an EV driver pulls up to a charger with a lesser known network provider, they may be discouraged to charge there as they would need to spend the time to set up an account first. Fortunately, some EV charging networks, such as Chargepoint, EVgo, and Greenlots, have partnered together to allow for roaming between each other’s charging stations using a single account. 

most popular ev charging network
Volta charging station at a parking garage

In any case, sites that see a lot of public traffic should utilize an EV charging network that is well known and reliable for the best chances at a high optizmiation rate.  Per the Alternative Fuel Data Center, the most common public EV charging networks are Chargepoint, EVgo, Electrify America, Sema Connect, and Blink. Note that Tesla is excluded from this list as they are not considered a public charging network since their chargers are exclusive to only Tesla vehicles.  

Do You Need Advanced Network Features?

As previously mentioned, each EV charging network has a unique set of features. Some networks provide limited functions for the sake of low annual fees. On the other hand, some networks provide a robust amount of features to cover any of the site’s needs. Networks such as Amp Up, JuiceNet Enterprise, and EVmatch are some of the most affordable networks for sites that need basic network functionality while networks such as Chargepoint and Blink offer a wide range of features for a higher cost. 

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, there are several considerations to consider when selecting an EV charging network. Each has its pros and cons. Additionally, since each site is different, one network may work well for one site but not for another. 

If you are unsure who to select for an EV charging network, contact us for assistance! As an EV charging consultant, we help businesses of all kinds plan and install EV charging stations. We can serve as the lead consultant/project manager and coordinate the entire job for you, which will often save you time and money! Plus, we’ll search and apply to all available rebate applications. Start today with a free quote!