Model 3

Workplace EV Network/Charger feedback

edited November -1 in Model 3
Hello,

I sort of convinced the company that I work at to take advantage of New York State's 'Charge Read NY's incentives and install some EV chargers for the employees. I'm being asked to help out in the grant application and in selecting the services.

I do not have experience with workplace EV but I believe many in this forum may be. I'm going to start contacting some of the network providers (Charge Point, Blink, others) to try to make an informed recommendation to the company. I would any feedback you may have on your experience with these chargers. I guess mostly, are there issues that you have with your workplace charger that you wish would be different? Any particular feature of your network provider that you like?

One of the first things I'll try to find out is if any of these networks allow us to only allow charging to our employees since the parking lots are not gated. Any other thoughts on things I should be looking for?
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Comments

  • @MoonDog,
    The company I work with has had EV charging for employees since the late '90's. We have not found that networked chargers only cost everyone a lot of money. Our own internal facilities folks have easily installed dozens of Level 2 charging stations, taking only a couple of days to dig trenches and install ~8 at a time. Most require minimal maintenance that is well within their ability to maintain.
    I, personally don't recommend any of the charging networks as they simply insert a middle-man who add no positive value and possibly offer negative value in addition to making the charging more expensive.
    If your parking lots are gated, there will be no problem limiting use to employees although I've seen Chargepoint installations that were reserved for employee use only. We did have problems at some facilities that had an open lot near residential neighborhoods and some nearby residents bought EVs and used our chargers at night. Signs, AeroVironment Turbodocks, and padlocks stopped the problems quickly. Clipper-Creek also sells charging stations with access control keypads that would have worked as well. We've used AeroVironment and Chargepoint stations (all non-networked) with good luck.
    Not having read the terms of the NY incentives, I don't know if they require the use of networked chargers. Some government programs have naively (or perhaps corruptly) done so, suggesting that this will allow them to gauge charger usage and learn something useful.
  • edited January 2020
    Had similar project for our owners group, looking to put in six Chargepoint stations with dual 40A plugs. I'd call Chargepoint and ask them to give you a quote. They provided local electrician familiar with the install and regs and they even had some grant info for us that would have covered $50k of total project, $75k.

    We looked at Chargepoint has they had means to charge for the service, wilreless and internet reporting and management, time settings...all the options you'd want in a commercial system.

    For example, we were going to open them to public after 6PM which would allow local residents to use our chargers as home chargers (part of the grant requirements) but we wanted that option anyway.

    Getting the quote on the install was the best way to get started as it answered a lot of the questions the board had about costing, recovering costs, maintenance (all on Chargepoint) and physical location issues.
  • edited January 2020
    We have a ton of PowerFlex chargers and they work well.

    https://www.powerflex.com/
  • edited January 2020
    Places I work at buy level 2 chargers and plug them into 220 outlets that they have electricians install. Can’t see any reason to spend the insane money for a networked charger. Having the public charge at these workplaces would be a huge negative. Security and liability.
  • edited November -1
    “ For example, we were going to open them to public after 6PM which would allow local residents to use our chargers as home chargers”

    Wouldn’t the local residents want to use them to charge at home overnight and have public access during the day when the public would need them and the residents wouldn’t?
  • edited January 2020
    Or did your neighbors just charge in their own garages?
  • edited January 2020
    @lbowroom,

    All the Mumbo jumbo is backwards speak.
  • edited January 2020
    I realize we’re being trolled.... but let’s see where he’s going this time
  • edited January 2020
    We have 10 free level 2 chargers at work. I would much prefer to have paid ones. The free ones only promote bad behavior. Cars parked there all day that never needed a charge in the first place. Would love to know I could grab a charge if for some reason I arrived needing it.
  • edited January 2020
    We have 36 ChargePoint stations at my work. They are free also and are mostly full all day long. I still don’t want to pay for them
  • edited January 2020
    Place where I work, they are free. And the place has a boss who makes the rules.
  • edited January 2020
    Chargepoint pay stations. Four hour time limit. No public access.
  • edited January 2020
    @Earl, I hadn't considered the network vs non-network. In checking the requirements for the incentive, they do need to be networked for workplaces. I have not discussed charging with the company yet but I believe even if initially free I think once more employees have EVs they'll want to cover the costs somehow and I'm not sure how that could be handled with non-networked options.

    @Fishev, thanks for sharing your case. I think I'll try and get a couple of quotes. The program has several qualified networks so I'm hoping from the feedback that I can narrow down the ones that I will contact.

    I see that some networks (such as chargepoint) do provide the ability to restrict access to employees. Also, some have 'queuing' which I think will be important as I don't see us installing many stations at this point, but am sure once more people buy EVs we'll need to make sure they don't park at the station for the whole day.
  • @MoonDog,
    re: "once more employees have EVs they'll want to cover the costs somehow". This is a problem with trying to monetize EV charging. It generally costs a company less than $2/day to provide electricity for charging for an employee. Unfortunately, the costs of the network service from a provider such as Chargepoint, will add an additional $1 or $2 to the costs - you effectively double the cost by adding the proportional billing.
    The company's desires are understandable, yet the economics are unfavorable.
    Some companies I know of that go with Chargepoint end up paying for the electricity and the charging network service as an incentive to employees and end up paying twice as much.
    If you do look at charging networks, look at Flo, suncountryhighway.ca, semaconnect (semaconnect.com), evconnect, evbox.com. I'd avoid Blink at all cost - they are really expensive and bad. I'm somewhat concerned that you and your employer will not be happy. EV charging networks are a bad, unsustainable business, thus far, therefore, their service tends to be poor.
    You might want to look at the following US Government documents for some 3rd party information on workplace charging: https://www.sustainability.gov/pdfs/guidance_fed_workplace_charging.pdf and https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/guidance_for_federal_agency_implementation_of_workplace_charging_electric_vehicle_supply_equipment.pdf may offer some guidance that the federal government uses.
  • edited January 2020
    Moondog - I volunteer at a Northern California non-profit that has many visitors from the general public. The non-profit installed 3 Blink level 2 chargers 4 years ago. Volunteers and staff of the organization can charge for free. We just grab a blink card at the front desk and use that. So charging is paid by the non-profit. Chargers are also available to the public. they just use their own blink cards. So far, very few members of the public have taken advantage of it. I do not think these Blink chargers are as good as nearby Chargepoint charges because they are more difficult to use. First, they take a long time to recognize a card and wake up. about 4 times longer than chargepoint. Second, the display is hard to read - because the contrast used on the screen is not good AND the plastic cover over it gets scratched up. Maybe newer Blink chargers are better, but these are a pain to use!
  • edited January 2020
    We have 50+ Chargepoint stations at work. Chargepoint and Blink were the main contenders. We limit charging to employees and have liability insurance. The company decided to charge us the peak commercial rate that they pay for power. We have shared "dual" chargers, as well as "single" chargers with cords long enough to reach 3 parking spots. The employees and company agreed on a common charging etiquette protocol which has worked well for us. Some of the principles include, "Do not charge for more than 1/2 a day", "If you are plugged into a non-shared charger, move your car when charging is complete", and etc.
  • edited January 2020
    It is nice to see different businesses stepping up and installing Charging stations at the work place.
    I am not sure of the laws and regulations of each municipality across America.
    It would be awesone to see every company to offer charge stations. I know electrical work is expensive. I also know that the price of distribution is expensive. But it is nice for companies to offer this as an incentive to employees.
  • edited January 2020
    We have 24 Level 2 charging spots at our office managed by ChargePoint, free for employees. We put ourselves into a queue on the ChargePoint app (or via chargepoint.com). The website also lets you put yourself automatically in the queue, say every weekday at 8am. When its your turn, the app notifies you, giving you 5 minutes to accept or snooze. Accepting then gives you another 15mins to plugin in. If you fail to plug in in 15 minutes, you lose your spot and get automatically snoozed. You are allowed up-to 3 snoozes. Once plugged in you get a 3 hour charging session, which gives me 75 miles on my TM3.

    I think lot the issues you'll find post installation are not the hardware or service, but human behavior. In the beginning we had folks not unplugging after their 3 hour limit was reached. We also had problems with being ICEd or even EV s parking without charging.

    The first problem was solved by charging a parking fee of $0.50/min unto a max of $15.00 if you fail to move your car after your 3 hour session. This is managed by ChargePoint. The second problem was solved by putting up signs saying you'll get towed if not actively charging an EV. After these changes the system is working very smoothly now!
  • edited November -1
    Office charging is very common with engineering companies that I contract with. They are never located in the public areas, instead they are usually in the back, often near loading bay doors. Nobody would ever dream of using one at a company that you don't work for. Everybody works together to share and make it equitable. Since they are usually near the shipping area, we all check in with people in shipping who are very helpful for things like a car that is fully charged but still connected. The guy who runs the company, is also available to resolve disputes, but that rarely happens.

    They have an electrician run a handful of circuits over, or put in a small sub box. Then they buy $500 chargers as needed. If it were to cost them $75k, they wouldn't do it. For 75k you can buy enough electricity for my car to go 2.5 million miles.
  • edited January 2020
    @SpeedyEV, thanks for explaining how the queuing system works for Chargepoint. That's exactly how I was hoping it would work. I think I agree with you about the human behavior... this is something that we'll need to work on.

    @jallred & @Earl, Once I have a quote from the networked contenders I'll also look into the non-networked option without the incentive. Will do the comparison and see what the company is willing to implement.

    @Earl, several of the networks that you suggested are qualified for the incentive. Are you pointing these out as an alternative to Chargepoint because of their overall cost, other considerations, or just to point out alternatives?

    @Wilber & Earl, thanks for your feedback about your experience with the Blink chargers. Of all the companies covered in the grant, I'm only familiar with Chargepoint chargers. I will keep your comment in mind!
  • edited January 2020
    I'm looking to install chargers at my workplace as well. Has anyone in the Greater Boston area worked with Eversource and their "EV Charging Station Program"? Their website is pretty helpful, but first hand experiences would be much appreciated.
  • @MoonDog,
    I have a lot of personal experience with Blink, Chargepoint, and Sun Country Highway. I've spoken with Flo and they talk well but I've never actually worked with them. I have used the others I listed but don't have much experience with them.
    I had a Blink charger installed at my home as part of the DOE "EV Project" back in 2011 and have used them extensively in Southern California. Today most of the screens on the early ones have faded to where you can barely see them. They also designed their equipment so poorly that they had to reduce the charge rate to only 16 amps to avoid them burning up.
    I have mixed feelings about Chargepoint. I knew their founder (we haven't communicated for several years) and found him to be a bit naive, yet well intentioned. They did a land grab early on, aggressively trying to lay claim to prime charging spots. The good part of this is that they are often found in very remote areas such as Indian Reservations and small-town city halls. The bad part about their aggressive sales tactics are that they sometimes mislead site holders into thinking they'll make a lot of money off of the charging. Places that charge enough money to pay Chargepoint and make a little money tend to have nobody use their stations. The site owners that subsidize the Chargepoint end up paying a whole lot more than if they just paid for people's electricity with dumb chargers.
    Unfortunately, the early Chargepoint equipment was and is often broken and, if a user calls to report them broken, they are told that maintenance is up to the site owner, not Chargepoint. I've done 'battlefield repairs' to Chargepoint stations a few times in remote, cold areas of the country in order to get necessary charge -- something I wouldn't expect most people to try to tackle.
    On the positive side, however, newer Chargepoint stations seem to be a lot better. We just replaced AeroVironment Turbodocks with 16 of their non-networked stations at some buildings at our office campus a few months ago. They're all working great so far although its too early to know their longevity.
    Sun Country Highway only has non-networked chargers, all of which I've seen being re-branded Clipper-Creek units.
    I've been using Clipper-Creek non-networked chargers both at home and in public for more than 11 years and highly recommend them.
    The cheapest option I've seen for a company is for the company to install outdoor NEMA 6-20 outlets and have the employees provide their own plug-in chargers such as the Webasto (formerly AeroVironment) Turbocord or Tesla's mobile connector with 6-20 adapter. Webasto sells a clever lockable, waterproof cover for a NEMA 6-20 box to deter theft of one's Turbocord as well as to enable easy parking space reservation if desired (https://store.evsolutions.com/turbocord-240v-lockable-outdoor-use-cover-kit-p99.aspx).
    One note: If your company goes with a network company and finds it to be problematic, they can probably replace bad networked equipment with dumb chargers in the future, after any agreements expire, having used the incentive money to help pay for the basic wiring infrastructure - the most expensive part. An electrician can simply do the replacements.
  • edited November -1
    If i had workplace chargers i would never worry about anything for a second. But unfortunately, my office building is run by the cheapest money grabbing company ever. Lobby has been under construction for almost 3 years now, never had all 3 elevators working until 2 months ago, but they hopped+jumped+skipped to get the food court done because they make commission on all food sales. They would never put in any EV chargers unless they charged $0.50/kWh which is equivalent to theft.
  • @andy,
    You're not too far off. Blink charges its members $0.49/KWhr, non-members $0.59/KWhr.
    This is why I've been discouraging the OP from going with a network -- they have to make money which makes the cost of the electricity very expensive.
  • edited November -1
    Ya thats just not even worth it. 60 cents is 5x higher than the rate i pay at home. At that price rate, charging is more expensive than gas.
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