As interest in green energy increases, more people have chosen to drive electric vehicles (EV). Georgia in particular reflects this trend — the state ranks second in the United States for sales of EVs.1 Seeing as this market continues to grow, property managers and builders are looking for ways to accommodate the needs of EV owners. Providing parking and charging services for EVs, however, involves more than you might expect. The following considerations can help you be sure that your parking garage is EV-Ready.
If you’re unsure whether to install EV charging stations or Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) as they are commonly called, during a new build or to add them in later after completing construction, keep in mind that retrofitting EVSEs can be difficult. It’s much more cost-effective and much less time-consuming to plan for ESVEs at the start of a project. While not everyone has the benefit of adding this service into a new build, there are some opportunities to ensure your modification of an existing structure is successful.
As in all projects, you should obtain the proper permits and have a firm understanding of the local ordinances and regulations where you are building or modifying a structure. This includes understanding electrical codes specific to the installation and operation of these charging stations. When installing EVSEs you will need permits for electrical work, any lane or sidewalk closures, and EVSE installation, among others. Check with your local codes for more information on permit requirements.
You should keep a few things in mind when choosing an EVSE. You’ll need to look at the resources and requirements for your particular project to determine which equipment is right for you. Some factors to consider are:
EVSEs come in four different levels: Level 1, Level 2, DC Charge, and Wireless Charge. They differ mainly in how quickly they charge the EV. A Level 1 EVSE takes 8-22 hours to charge a full battery. The charge time means Level 1 EVSEs should only be used where long-term parking is expected. It’s suited for residential and workplace locations. Installation is simple and easy.
A Level 2 EVSE charges an EV in 2-4 hours. Level 2 charging stations are ideal for workplace, residential, as well as commercial applications.
DC charging stations achieve an 80% charge in 30 minutes. This type of charger is ideal for commercial and retail applications, where users tend to park for shorter periods of time.
In wireless charging stations, the time-to-charge depends on the battery capabilities of the vehicle. These EVSEs can be used in parking garages and in fleet parking.
EVSEs come in both networked and non-networked varieties. Your decision of which one you use depends on whether you intend have users pay for charging their vehicle. If you choose to meter the parking, you should select a networked EVSE. These give you smart management capabilities for pricing, billing, and more. If you decide not to require payment for the use of the EVSE, you will not need networked equipment.
To procure your EVSE, send out a request for proposal (RFP) for equipment specifying requirements. Ensure that the charger is approved for EV by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. If the EVSE is certified, it should have a sticker with the letters UL or UTL.
Installation, especially for EVSEs Level 2 and above, requires permits and code compliance. A licensed electrician should install the EVSEs to ensure they comply with the National Electric Code.
Before moving forward with the project, it’s essential to determine where the EVSEs will be located. While many choose to give EV charging spots priority parking, the power source will determine precisely where you can place the EVSEs. The further away an EVSE is from its power source, the higher the cost of installation. To connect the EVSE to their power source, you can either run electric wires through a conduit or under the concrete, which tends to be more costly.
It’s crucial that drivers can find the EV charging spots and understand who can and cannot park in those spots. Use signage to increase the visibility of the charging stations. You should use wayfinding, general service, and regulatory signage as well as striping.
The signs should indicate the location of the EV charging stations, restrictions of vehicle type, rate for charging, and rate for parking (if not included in charging rate). Each EVSE should also have a posted contact number so users may report any malfunctions.
The parking spots should be designed and installed with user accessibility in mind. If you’re using non-wireless EVSEs, place the charger between two spots to maximize its usability. If using wireless, arrange the EVSE so that the charger faces the correct location of the receiver on the EV. There should also be sufficient lighting to reduce the tripping hazard.
There are not currently any ADA requirements for EV charging. However, you should still keep ADA guidelines in mind. The EVSE should have accessible controls that users can reach from a wheelchair and can operate with one hand. Additionally, the parking space should be sufficiently wide and include a side access aisle.
The EVSEs should be fitted with protection from possible damage. You can install concrete bollards to both protect the cords and equipment as well as to reduce the tripping hazard.
Protection from water damage is also a must. Ensure that no puddling will occur around wireless chargers, and flood-proof the EVSEs through wet floodproofing (elevation of equipment), component protection (waterproofing techniques), or dry flood proofing (combination).
If you live in Atlanta, you may have seen that the city recently passed an ordinance on that requires all new build parking facilities to accommodate EV users. The law will go into effect starting on July 1, 2018. In addition to the previously mentioned considerations, property managers should be aware of the provisions in the mandate. For instance, EV to non-EV parking ratio must be 1:5. Familiarize yourself with the law so you can be prepared and avoid costly fines or fixing installations that are not up to local codes or ordinances.1
If you keep these things in mind and continue to familiarize yourself with the process of EVSE design and implementation, you, too, can have an EV Ready garage.