By: Robb Monkman
Current projections indicate there could be more than 25 million electric vehicles on the road in the US by 2030. President Biden’s vision alone seeks to increase the 48,000 current charging stations to 500,000 nationwide by 2030. And that’s not even accounting for compounded growth from the private sector. Cities and states across the nation now commonly set building and parking ordinances that require a minimum number of EV charging spaces. For instance, Orlando recently passed one such ordinance mandating that 10% of parking spaces at every commercial and industrial establishment and 20% of those at hotels and multi-residential lots provide EV charging services. States with cities matching these initiatives include Arizona, Washington, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Florida, and Utah. With $5 Billion in funding from the White House going to states to build out a nationwide fast-charging network, EV charging infrastructure is set to explode in 2022.
For businesses looking to install EV charging stations, budgeting for one property, let alone several locations can be challenging due to the variable costs associated with installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). For Level 2 chargers, the total cost of EV charger deployment can vary between $2,700 to $24,000 per charger (excluding outliers). For DC Fast Charging Stations (DCFC), it can range from $70,000 to $130,000. So why is there so much variability in the cost to deploy commercial EV charging stations? There are several factors that affect commercial EV charging station deployment costs including the type of equipment, infrastructure, soft costs, and incentives. Let’s start by understanding the different types of charging stations.
Types of Commercial EV Charging Stations
Unlike infrastructure costs, equipment charges are relatively static and depend on the level of the charging station. Let’s break down the 3 levels of charging stations.
Level 1 EV Chargers – Residential / Households
A level 1 charger is the most common and most basic form of EV charger. It connects to 120V AC outlets. This makes them compatible with most standard outlets found in most U.S. households. While level 1 chargers are is the most affordable type of EV charger you can buy, it charges much slower than level 2 and DC fast chargers.
Level 2 EV Chargers - Commercial
A Level 2 charging station makes use of a 240-volt connection to power electric cars and is ideal for many commercial applications. As a result, they provide faster charging and than level 1 chargers. Level 2 chargers are ideal for hotels, condo and apartment buildings, parking garages, and even retail.
Before installing level 2 charging stations, buyers have to take into account several factors to make their location “site ready”. These considerations include:
Meeting the electrical load requirements, in many cases, this includes installing a dedicated 240V outlet as well.
Will the charger be networked? If yes, will it connect via Cat 5E to the internet or will it take advantage of cellular? To maximize value and minimize expense, a business must consider networking its station to qualify for many utility incentives. “Smart stations” generate operational data to help manage power consumption and ultimately save money. Most newer charging station models offer both wifi and cellular connectivity.
Are you planning on using charging stations as a revenue stream? If yes, you will own and operate your network of chargers. If you are simply looking to provide a hands-off amenity, some charging station companies, like Blink, offer programs where they install their equipment for free, but they own and operate the chargers. These programs are typically reserved for locations in high-traffic areas.
Level 3 EV Chargers - Commercial
With $5 Billion in Federal funding being allocated to building out a nationwide fast-charging network, DC fast-charging stations have quickly become in demand and they take electric vehicle charging to an all-new level. Electric vehicle fast chargers can usually charge most EV batteries in under 30 minutes. They take away the hours you’d have to wait using any other level of the charger.
This level of performance doesn’t come without a cost. Not only do DC fast chargers cost more, but they can be very expensive to install. Why? The primary reason the cost to install is so high, has to do with the electrical load requirements that most locations don’t meet today. In order to install a DC fast charger, a location needs an input of 480V or higher. This level of upgrade can be expensive and can push installation costs into the six figures.
What are the expected costs associated with deploying commercial EV charging?
Both the cost associated with the charging station infrastructure as well as the cost to install the charging stations must be considered when determining the total cost to deploy. Many installations will require an electrical upgrade, which can cost $12,000 to $15,000 on average. Getting your location’s infrastructure “site ready” is usually the primary variable in electric car charging station costs. For instance, connecting to an existing 240-volt circuit may require only a few hours of an electrician’s labor. But installing a dedicated 480-volt circuit could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Infrastructure and electrical upgrade expenses will depend on:
Cost to deliver the required power to the commercial EV charging stations
Labor and material for electrical panels (if needed)
Labor and material costs for electrical conduit and wire
Labor and material costs for trenching and pouring concrete
Networked or non-networked (connected to internet/online management system or not). Cat 5E or cellular connection with newer charging stations.
Installation expenses depend on:
Number of charging stations
Charging stations manufacturer
Charger level 2 or 3 (DCFC)
Expected Cost Breakdown: Commercial Level 2 and DCFC EVSE and Installation
*These costs are estimated averages based on multiple data sources.
Variability in the cost to deploy: Installation and Infrastructure
While there is some variability in the cost of EV charging station equipment, it is clear that the cost of installation is what drives the variability for the total cost of deploying a commercial EV charging station. For example, for DCFCs, while the equipment cost varies from $18,000 to $61,000 (excluding outliers), the installation costs can range from $4,000 to as high as $137,000 per charger. This is in part due to the fact that many installations require an electrical upgrade. An electrical upgrade carries associated expenses, including electrical panels, meters to monitor electricity use or even an additional transformer. An upgrade may also involve boring, trenching, and cement work for power lines. For example, connecting to an existing 240-volt circuit may only require a few hours of an electrician’s time. But installing a dedicated 480-volt circuit could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Efforts to determine an average cost to deploy a charging station can be difficult, but more data is being gathered to help paint a clearer picture in certain parts of the country. For example, data from the ICF sites EV charging infrastructure cost data associated with projects funded by the California Energy Commission through the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP), a program that has funded 244 projects and deployed more than 500 Level 2 chargers and approximately 300 DCFCs. This information provides a helpful benchmark for the total cost to deploy in a large state like California.
Data provided by CALeVIP
There are numerous variables to consider in determining the total cost of deploying an EV charging station including the number of chargers per site, the level of charging station (ex: Level 2 or DCFC), permitting/code requirements, site preparation and electrical upgrade cost, grid capacity, soft costs, and the level of construction needed.
Take Advantage of Incentives To Offset Costs
Nearly every business that installs electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) qualifies for tax rebates and grants. Look for opportunities and leverage them to save even more on your fleet costs. Find out more at: https://www.chargeup-usa.com/federal-state-evse-incentives
Guiding You Through Every Step Of Your Installation
Don’t make the mistake of hiring an in-experienced, un-qualified, or sometimes unlicensed service professional. If you’re looking to go electric, Charge Up USA is ready to help as a one-stop-shop turnkey provider of EV charging solutions. Charge Up USA streamlines the process of finding the best EV charging stations, and the best installation professionals, at the best price. No need to spend hours researching solutions, electrical contractors, and shopping for quotes, Charge Up USA will guide you through every aspect of the job from start to finish. Most importantly, there’s no cost to you for the service.
Tools like Charge Up USA’s project management software give customers visibility into the status of their installations and helps to ensure that every project is completed safely and to code. Begin your journey to electrification today!
About the Author
Robb Monkman is a mission-driven entrepreneur who is passionate about making the world a better place. Robb is the Managing Partner of Charge Up USA where he is making an impact by accelerating the transition to electric vehicles (EV) and other electric technologies. Robb is a serial entrepreneur with experience launching multiple hardware and software products at early-stage companies. Robb is an active angel investor and advisor helping companies that are making a positive impact in clean energy, electrification, and IoT.