Hiring an EV charging station installer can be hard work. There are many out there, however, not all have the proper electric vehicle (EV) expertise to make the best recommendations. Finding one that aligns with your business goals takes both time and experience.
What Is the Process for Getting EV Charging Stations?
There are a number of steps in the EV charging station project.
- Initial site assessment
- Planning, design, and engineering
- Selection of the charging station equipment
- Selection of the installer/contractor
- Permitting and utility approvals
- Rebate applications
- Operation training
Each of these steps include a number of different role players such as the installer/contractor, charging equipment vendor, local jurisdiction, and owner. Specifically, an installer (or contractor) will only complete Steps 4-5.
For a complete, turnkey project management service, you will want to work with an EV charging consultant instead. An EV charging consultant manages the entire process from start to finish (Steps 1-9), which is beyond the scope of work of a typical installer. In other words, an EV charging consultant will not only coordinate the installation but also provide many other services, such as apply to rebate applications or conduct initial site assessments. You can learn more about an EV charging consultant here.
Let’s discuss 6 important considerations when hiring an EV charging station installer so your install meets the expectations you are looking for.
6 Important Considerations When Hiring an EV Charging Station Installer
1. Installation Experience
Like nearly every construction trade, it is highly recommended to work with an EV charging station installer who has experience. Someone who has done the job before, even just once, knows a few lessons learned from past jobs. They will be able to carry forward this knowledge so that your installation goes smoothly.
Think of the first time you did a task such as filed income taxes or purchased a car. At first, there was a lot of new information. It probably took you a considerable amount of time to process all of this new data. By the time you finished, it was probably a lot longer than typical and you probably made a few mistakes along the way. Even just your second time through, your completion time and error rate most likely were cut in half.
All that being said, experience is very important.
2. EV Knowledge
As hinted at the beginning of this article, knowing the ins-and-outs of the EV industry is crucial for a successful outcome. Getting charging stations installed is far more than just some equipment bolted to the ground. It is focused all around EVs.
There are dozens of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE or simply the charger or charging station) manufacturers out there such as Chargepoint, EVBox, or Blink. Each charger has different features and capabilities. It takes an EV expert to know which product is the best selection for your needs. Even more, each site is entirely different. While one charging station may be a good fit for Site A, at Site B it may be a completely different charger.
To nail this point further, it would be like hiring a concrete contractor to install a pool in your backgroundt. Sure there is some overlap, however, there is much more to a pool than just a concrete bowl. There are pumps, and filters, and cleaners. The concrete contractor would have to make some assumptions in order to complete the task. Ultimately, this is a risk to the client, which can have negative consequences.
That is why it is not only recommended to work with an EV charging station installer who is an expert in EVs, but also worth working with an EV charging consultant, such as us at Charged Future.
As an EV charging consultant, we manage the entire process for you including initial assessment, engineering and design, ADA considerations, permitting, utility approvals, installation, rebate applications, and user training. We go a step further than just installing the charging stations by providing you a holistic, turnkey solution to guarantee complete satisfaction. This, ultimately, will save you both time and money.
Design is often overlooked. A poorly designed charging station installation can lead to low usage and vandalism. Both will have a negative impact on operating costs of the chargers. It is highly recommended the design becomes a major discussion topic when hiring an EV charging station installer.
Some installers may simply locate the charging stations where it is more convenient for them. While this is sometimes the cheapest solution as it may be the shortest run to the electrical panel, it may not be the best overall location for you. In some cases it is best to locate the chargers in certain areas of the parking lot for better site lighting to vandalism, line-of-sight to attract more EV drivers, or facilitation of ADA requirements.
Furthermore, good design includes provisions for future installs. While you may only plan to install a few chargers today, it is highly likely that you will want to install more in the future. A good design includes additional capacity for those future chargers. By planning ahead and designing the system to be “future-proof”, you will end up saving a significant amount of money.
If you do not plan for the future needs and end up needing to add more chargers, you will pay a lot more money by ripping up sidewalks and parking lots, upgrading electrical panels, digging trenching and installing more conduits, etc.
Good EV charging station installers (and especially EV charging consultants) will be able to assist you in placing the chargers in the best, optimal location.
4. Quality Control
Another overlooked component to consider when hiring an EV charging station installer is quality control. Getting charging stations can be a bit messy during construction. Depending on your site, you may need to remove and replace sidewalks, parking lots, landscaping, wall stucco or siding, drywall, and more. Putting everything back together nice and neat takes a professional.
Some contractors, unfortunately, are not as interested in delivering a final product that satisfies their clients. This attention to detail is very important as you don’t want the contractor to leave the job with the place in a worse condition than it began.
Hiring an EV charging station installer that is committed to delivering a final product that is acceptable to you is very important. Here are some ways you can identify if the installer is up this tasks:
- Do they communicate clearly and timely?
- Do they provide a detailed install schedule?
- Do they identify what they need from you to do the job?
- Do they have good, reputable online reviews?
- Do they clearly identify a point of contact (superintendent, project manager, etc.)?
- Will they check-in with you on a regular basis during the install?
- Will they provide a workmanship warranty to fix any defects after installation?
5. EV Education and Training
If you build it, will they come? Maybe.
But you do need to train your staff/residents/whoever is going to be managing and using the charging stations. Many current EV drivers are familiar with how to access and use a charging station as they have done it before many times. On the other hand, non-EV drivers and future EV drivers may not know how the device operates.
It is very important everyone is on the same page, otherwise, the charging station may not be used to its full potential. This can result in lower revenue than expected, which is obviously not an ideal situation.
Specifically, training the site manager on how to operate the charging network is probably the most critical for a successful charging station. The site manager needs to know how to login to the network portal, how to set up pricing schedules, how to set up access control, and many other things. If the site manager does not know how to do this, the station may be rendered out of service.
Both the EV charging station installer and the network provider may provide some training on this, although this is not always the case. An EV charging consultant, however, is capable of providing both initial and ongoing training as needed. If the EV charging station installer includes this in their bid, then great news! Otherwise, you may want to seek an EV charging consultant to ensure the station is set up appropriately.
6. Rebate Applications
The last consideration to make when hiring an EV charging station installer is who is going to search and apply to rebate applications. There are many, many rebates available for EV charging stations. Some of these programs can cover 50-80% of the total cost! Considering installing EV charging stations is not necessarily a cheap endeavour, this can be a major bonus for many sites.
Each of these programs have various rules and requirements. It can be a long and tedious task to sift through all of the programs to check if any are applicable to the specific project.
Typically, the EV charging station installer will not include searching and applying to these incentives. As a result, it would be up to you as the site owner to do this job. For those looking to save time and ensure they receive the most amount of rebates as possible, it is highly recommended to work with an EV charging consultant. Like many of these tasks, an EV charging consultant goes above and beyond the typical EV charging station installer or contractor.
For a small fee, an EV charging consultant will be able to garner as much rebates as possible, which can save you thousands of dollars. Needless to say, It is well worth the investment.
As you can see, there are many important considerations when it comes to hiring an EV charging station installer. Ultimately, selecting a poor quality contractor can leave you with a finished product that does not meet your or your customer’s expectations. For something that is not exactly a cheap expense, it is very important to get the job done right.
By working with Charged Future as your EV charging consultant, we can guarantee the entire process goes smoothly. Not only do we help you find qualified contractors, but we will also provide you with many more services to ensure you are completely satisfied. You can learn more about our process over here. You can also schedule a consultation to see how we can be of assistance with your project.
Hi there! I’m the founder and project manager at Charged Future: the EV charging consultancy. Charged Future helps businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, I serve as the project manager for your EV charging project, which can save you both time and money! Additionally, I can search and apply to all eligible rebate applications, which can typically cover a large portion of the project cost.