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Design Considerations for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

In Part 1 of our series on electric vehicle charging stations, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations 101, I set the foundation for the demand of electric vehicle charging stations. In this segment, I’ll explore five design considerations an owner or property manager should consider when installing charging stations on their site. These considerations apply to both new construction and retrofits.


Who needs to be involved in designing an EV charging station installation? Do I need to hire a specialty consultant?

Successful EV charging station installations typically must be a collaborative effort between the site owner, a licensed electrical contractor or engineer with knowledge of current industry best practices, local codes and standards, and an EVSE supplier partner. Determining the “right” EV charging scope of work requires direct input from each of these parties, but ultimately the decision lies with the owner for a solution that best meets their site-specific needs.


What are the fundamentals I need to consider before installing EV charging stations on my site?

As you begin to consider installing an electric vehicle charging system on your site, it’s imperative that you have a clear vision of the desired end-result. Key considerations include:

  • The end-user – private vs. public, shared amongst employees or residents, controlled access, etc.
  • Vehicle dwell time – how long vehicles typically will be plugged in and charging
  • Site electric service size and spare capacity
  • Route from potential EV parking spaces to nearest utility panel – consider conduit path and distance.
  • Owner experience – as a site host, consider: how you want to address initial cost of the installation; own vs. lease vs. third-party management; and if ongoing maintenance & technical support or billing features are desired?

The answers to these questions inform the EV charging equipment selection and infrastructure design.


My property is not a new one – can I still get EV charging stations in my home, parking lot, or garage?

While the final amount of viable charging capacity depends on many site-specific factors, most projects should not have a problem converting existing areas to accommodate at least some version of EV charging.

Expanding on the points already noted above, it is important to understand existing sites’ historic peak demand, either through utility bills or by submetering at a specific point in the electrical distribution system (e.g. panelboard) where you plan to support EV charging stations.

Local electric utility providers can be a great resource during this process, offering information about your electric bills and potential incentives for metering your EV charging energy use (e.g. special tariff rates).


How many charging stations is enough?

This depends on a few different factors, ranging from personal motivation to city permit requirements. To answer this question, one must consider:

  • Current and future EV charging needs – regional consumer demand, transportation electrification trends
  • Sustainability goals
  • Code requirements – locally adopted energy and accessibility codes may mandate a certain percentage of parking spaces be equipped with EV charging infrastructure or designed to be “EV-ready”. In California for example, the 2019 edition of CALGreen Energy Code provides a table to determine required quantity of EV charging parking spaces based on total number of parking spaces in a project’s scope.

  • Voluntary incentives – If pursuing LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), points can be achieved by including EV charging in the project design scope. (more information on this topic will be included in an upcoming post)


What value will adding EV charging stations to my site bring?

There are many benefits to adding a charging station to your site.

  • Incentive credits (to reduce equipment or installation costs), which may include:
    • Rebates
    • Tax credits/exemptions (federal, state, and local programs)
    • Grants
    • Loans
  • Additional revenue – In a public garage, for example, offering electric vehicle charging services can attract EV drivers and provide cashflow to offset the extra energy use.
  • EV charging stations are a value-added amenity to employees, residents, and traveling guests who drive electric vehicles.
  • If you engage a third party to manage your charging stations, this often comes with additional promotion of your location as they highlight accessible charging stations on their mobile apps. Charging stations can also provide branding and advertising opportunities.
  • Increased business traffic. The average EV charging session in short-term parking locations is ~30 minutes. Offering charging stations at retail or dining centers allows for a captive customer to shop or dine, perhaps just a little bit longer, while their EV battery gets topped up.
  • Cleaner air. Widespread and convenient charging infrastructure encourages adoption of EVs as a viable alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles, which contribute significantly to carbon emissions and air quality.


Electric Vehicle Charging Station series links:

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations 101

Design Considerations for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Designing EV Charging Station Infrastructure

Building Sustainability with Electric Vehicles

The Future Impact of Electric Vehicles on Transportation Planning

Do you have questions about electric vehicle charging stations? Don’t hesitate to reach out to SSR for our guidance and expertise. Email and someone will promptly follow up.