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What EV Charger is Best For My Business?

Posted May 29, 2018 by Roseanne

Many businesses are already capitalising on the opportunity around the exponential rise of electric cars. However, before you decide to get involved, you should consider the type of business you have.

When considering which kind of charger is right for you business, it’s important to consider the likely dwell time of your customer, the available power capacity and your budget.

It’s important to realise that faster does not necessarily mean better. And, not just because of the cost reasons (50kW can be circa 30x the cost of 7kW), but actually rapid chargers can be very inconvenient in the wrong places. Whilst clearly, no one will ever wait for their car to fully charge from flat at a 7kW charger.

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We’ve fit location “need states” into 4 categories below

Shorter stay destination
(20-80 mins)
Longer stay destination
(80 mins-all day)
Overnight destination En-route
7-22kW Suitable for some Ideal Ideal Not suited
50kW Ideal Not suited Not suited Suitable for some
150kW Suitable for some Not suited Not suited Ideal
350kW Not suited Not suited Not suited Ideal


There are a few general rules to consider:

  1. The higher the power charger, the higher the customers’ propensity to pay for the charging service

  2. Customers will seek out a very high powered charger, when in need (though will not stay long)

  3. The lower the charge rate, the lower the infrastructure and electricity costs and the more likely the provision will be expected as a free/ low-cost amenity that brings customers to your business

  4. Slower charge rates can attract longer dwelling customers

Let’s break it down by category...

Shorter stay destination (dwell time 20-60 mins)

A range of solutions can fit the bill here. Certainly, 22kW-50kW offers great benefit to the drivers, more charge in the time you’re charging is generally better, but that does come with a cost in terms of installation and consumption of available electrical capacity on site.

Remember you needn’t completely fill a car in the time it is stopped at your business. 7kW chargers are by no means useless so long as people are staying circa 40 mins plus. While some drivers will prefer to only use high powered chargers out and about, others are very happy to get an extra 20-30 miles. If this is on offer at all the places we were going to park anyway, then it reduces the requirement for (often paid for) high powered charging and can help to spread the grid load around the clock, mitigating peak power demand.

Going too high powered means you’re likely to spend a lot on the infrastructure and the dwell time may be so low that you attract customers that don’t then patronise your business. 150kW installed near a business like a cafe is probably the highest you would conceivably go.

Longer stay destination

Examples of these types of sites include retail parks, cinemas etc where people go to enjoy themselves for several hours, or transport interchanges (rail car parks, park and rides) where people park literally all day. As such the customer has a large dwell time in which to top up the car. Again the chargers needn’t necessarily refill the car fully, but even so a 7kW charger is going to provide a good chunk of range.

The other customer consideration to bear in mind is it is usually wholly impractical for the driver to return to the car to move it at the midpoint. This constraint makes the installation of rapid chargers questionable. All in all this means the 7kW type charger is likely optimal.

Overnight

The typical overnight location is a hotel, though increasingly there may be overnight charging services offered in commercial car parks to nearby customers.

It is fair to say that the installation of a rapid charger at an overnight location has to be considered very carefully. Not only are they very expensive but they can take a large portion of a site’s supply that could otherwise be used for the kind of low-cost 7kW style charging that is absolutely ideal in these locations, reducing the location’s appeal as a destination for EV drivers in future.

While a rapid charger could of course charge cars on a loop, the need to queue cars through the charger and for the customers to wait around while their car charges will be a material inconvenience that is unnecessary and will probably require paying for. Neither are a customer win. They’ll probably go to a competitor with cheaper, more convenient 7kW or similar style chargers.

And for hoteliers, yes a rapid charger may attract occasional passing traffic, who may nip in for a coffee or a sandwich at your hotel. But your core aim is to fill rooms, not refresh the customers en route to other hotels.

Are you a hotel still weighing up whether to get a chargepoint? Here are 5 commercial benefits of having chargepoints installed at your hotel.

En route

MORE POWER! When you are exceeding the range of your car you want a charger that can throw a veritable tsunami of electrons at your battery. Of course, power, safety, reliability and budgetary constraints apply here, we don’t believe 2 minute filling of >200 mile range vehicles is likely to be cost-effective, but we’d recommend a future-proofed, genuine en route installation should consider 150kW+ charging.

The 350kW chargers currently being discussed (and in some locations installed) certainly meet the customer need state for en route charging, but there is a cost/benefit analysis to be done here. Super high charge rates often mean worse energy density for the car battery, so ultra-fast charging can mean less range (certainly in current battery technology) and the grid costs of these units are typically on a scale better suited for national infrastructure projects.

There is a debate over the role of today’s 50kW en-route chargers in this context. With the <40kWh cars on the road today they are suitable, but the wait time on >60kWh cars will be getting too long (i.e. >1 hr). As such they may soon lose their appeal as “charger as destination” and become legacy estate, unless they are at a shorter stay destination (see above).

Ideal chargepoint power by business type:

Business Type Ideal Chargepoint Power
(kW)
Length of Stay
Hotel 7-11 > 3 hours
Restaurant 7-22 1-2 hours
Supermarket 7-22 30-90 mins
Motorway Services 150-350 < 30 mins


In conclusion

It is critical for businesses to understand how EV drivers will utilise their business and provide chargers that meet their need state.

Pod Point offer flexible options that keep our “hosts” fully in control of their own charge point estate, avoiding unnecessary costs and the erection of 3rd party paywalls that can force business elsewhere. If that’s what you need, why not get in touch? We'd be happy to help.

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