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Workplace EV Network/Charger feedback

Workplace EV Network/Charger feedback

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?

Earl and Nagin ... | 12 januari 2020

@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.

FISHEV | 12 januari 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.

eugene | 12 januari 2020

We have a ton of PowerFlex chargers and they work well.

https://www.powerflex.com/

jallred | 12 januari 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.

lbowroom | 12 januari 2020

“ 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?

lbowroom | 12 januari 2020

Or did your neighbors just charge in their own garages?

jallred | 12 januari 2020

@lbowroom,

All the Mumbo jumbo is backwards speak.

lbowroom | 12 januari 2020

I realize we’re being trolled.... but let’s see where he’s going this time

zerogravitydrgn | 12 januari 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.

lbowroom | 12 januari 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

jallred | 12 januari 2020

Place where I work, they are free. And the place has a boss who makes the rules.

millerwb | 12 januari 2020

Chargepoint pay stations. Four hour time limit. No public access.

MoonDog | 12 januari 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.

Earl and Nagin ... | 12 januari 2020

@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_fe... may offer some guidance that the federal government uses.

Wilber | 12 januari 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!

kessler | 12 januari 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.

Pg3ibew | 13 januari 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.

SpeedyEV | 13 januari 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!

jallred | 13 januari 2020

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.

MoonDog | 13 januari 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!

Wesla207 | 13 januari 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.

Earl and Nagin ... | 13 januari 2020

@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-...).
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.

andy.connor.e | 14 januari 2020

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.

Earl and Nagin ... | 14 januari 2020

@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.

andy.connor.e | 14 januari 2020

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.

kevin_rf | 14 januari 2020

It's the reason I don't push for a workplace one. The TOU rate makes it anything but free not worth it.

(That said, Tesla has been promising a Lawrence,MA SC since 2017....)

andy.connor.e | 14 januari 2020

There hasnt been a service center outside of NYC since late this year. Finally go a second supercharger in the capital district, and now there is one in Utica. Its happening.

andy.connor.e | 14 januari 2020

until later this year*

Pg3ibew | 14 januari 2020

@andy, what are you talking about "no service centers outside of NYC?"

andy.connor.e | 14 januari 2020

Hang on maybe i have that wrong. Ya i did. But what i meant is that in New York State, there was only service centers in NYC and in Rochester until late last year when they opened one in the captial district. They are expanding!

kevin_rf | 14 januari 2020

Andy, I was referring to superchargers, not service centers. Very doubtful they will ever open a service center in Lawrence, MA, a chop shop, maybe.... So glad I don't drive a civic in this town.

Magic 8 Ball | 14 januari 2020

Check to see if the "workplace" owns the property and if you are talking to people that can make "property" decisions.

FISHEV | 14 januari 2020

"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?"

Public during the day would be our employees and clients. After 6PM open to public. Lots of apartments in our area of the city, we are in the city, so it would provide a great spot for 12 folks with no home charging to charge their EV's.

Having local EV'ers charging at night also adds to security of the building. We can set the rate Chargepoint charges and which company splits with Chargepoint. Thinking of charging employees and free for clients with average client turnover of 3 hours. So we could handle 18 client EV's during average day.

TexasBob | 14 januari 2020

Late to this thread but FWIW I would NOT do this. Let me explain:

We went through this with a parking garage at an office building where my wife works. After extensive analysis we decided that the ChargePoint and all of the L2 were a complete waste of time and a horrible deal for employees.

For the price of a single ChargePoint or similar we could provide standard 110 outlets to an entire wall of parking spots AND give free electricity. It was super cheap and it was more than fine. People who park there get 30 miles of charge (+/-) during the workday. That is enough to cover most everyone's commute one-way (and many people both ways).

For (*choke*) $75k mentioned above for 6 chargers, you could add 100+ standard outlets. Heck you can get NEMA 15-20 plugs that charge even higher.

Imagine if 100 employees could all charge every day instead of 6. (And those 6 have to pay the very high use fees and credit card fees and blah blah blah.) The Company will not need to buy equipment or maintain equipment beyond the outlets and signage.

Oh, and the free electricity? For our application it came out to a maximum financial exposure of $0.50 per work day per employee. We were already providing coffee so this was essentially equal to that.

jallred | 14 januari 2020

@texasbob,

Agreed. I can’t figure out why a company would pay $75k to another company to provide a means to get electricity to cars. The infrastructure needs to be and is less than these kinds of costs.

There is no need for these employee chargers to be public. So no need for a network to lure people in.

TexasBob | 14 januari 2020

Maybe I will start a separate thread on this: Please Stop the Workplace Charging Insanity

:-)

kevin_rf | 14 januari 2020

TexasBob, I hear you, but I think the math is a little off. Each outlet should be able to provide ~11.5 kwh per eight hour shift. Unless your company is paying five cents per kwh it is probably closer to $1.50 per employee per day. Still pennies compared to coffee.

For giggles, one of the perks where I work is free soda. The 50 or so employees wolfed down 16 boxes today. A tad more than normal, but not by much. We get a Coke delivery every three weeks (Talk about a difficult to work with supplier). I can only imagine the K-cups...

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7Ux-usAlud/

jallred | 14 januari 2020

@kevin_rf

I think you need to know the number of employees to determine the cost per employee.

TexasBob | 14 januari 2020

@kevin_rf
You nailed it. We were paying 5.5 cents per kwh with a commercial rate at the time (a couple of years ago in Houston). Our home retail rate here in Houston, btw, is 9 cents. But as you say 50 cents - $1.50. It is coffee costs +/-

We noted that we could do a reserved parking system (which was the original plan) and charge for the electricity. But when it came out below $20 a month they said, why bother? Would cost more to administer than that.

FISHEV | 15 januari 2020

"For (*choke*) $75k mentioned above for 6 chargers, you could add 100+ standard outlets."

100 standard 20A outlets would be 2,000 amp. Our 12 x 40A was designed for single 600A Xtr circuit. If you can do 2,000 amps and likely miles of wiring for less than $75k, go for it.

Ours required new 600A Xtr service, that's $10k right there, plus construction, of pad, meter, trenching, chargers, the $75k for our install was very reasonable and there as no "magic" to do it for less.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

Its also 12AWG wire instead of 8AWG wire. More than 8x the charging stalls.
Depending on where you are getting your power from, most likely the following would be required:
300kVA padmount utility transformer, secondary 480V 3ph
400A, 480V main disconnect panel fitted with (3) 125A breakers
(3) 42-pole 120/208V sub panels, each with 33, 33, and 34, 20A thermal mag breakers
Each fed with 12AWG wires, most likely below grade so a substantial amount of excavation. Including installing 50 points of connection that would house (2) of the 20A outlets for parking spaces.

You're looking at substantially more than $75k to do a project like this, unless you, the business owner, do it yourself.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

Possibly some of the charging locations could share an underground conduit so you dont have literally 100 underground conduits to run.

Realistically speaking, from the utility transformer would run 2 sets of 250kcmil aluminum underground. From the main disconnect to each of the 3 sub-panels would run either 2/0 aluminum or 1AWG copper.

So ya, substantially more than $75k. You're over that price point just in equipment not even accounting for conductor costs or site work/labor.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

Also forgot to add that from the main disconnect panel you would need to go to (3) 112.5kva transformers to drop from 480V-120/208V.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

I dont have the time to price out all that equipment, but its either that, or the utility transformer drops immediately to 120/208V and then you have a 2000A main service disconnect. From there you would have to distribute to 42-pole sub-panels, which are 800A breakers each, but then you need 2000A main breakers and 2000A feeders and 800A feeders which is quite extensive for this kind of installation. Any other engineer would agree that distributing this at 120V would experience significant voltage drop, so actually i think i just proved that the first analysis would be the way to go.

Pg3ibew | 15 januari 2020

@andy. You are an EE. You do realize the 100 -20 amp outlets does NOT equal 2000 amps when spread across 3 phases?
3 phases at 2000 amps would be 2000 amps at each phase. Essentially 6000 amps of capability. I will leave the mathematics to you.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

lol that was the dirtiest back of the napkin math that i threw together. Its probably more capacity than is actually needed but the point is to explain whats required. the list of equipment i put in there would probably be capable of 240V plugs, would just need more poles on the sub-panels.

Pg3ibew | 15 januari 2020

@andy, Thanks. Lol.
While I understand your point of probably costing more than 75 k, I also understand the point of @texasbob. His point is, he would rather give 100 EVs SOME charge, then to POLICE 6 cars charging all day. I like his thought process.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

Oh for sure. 100 outlets that give a little is better. If you can plug in all day while at work, theres really no reason why a 240V/20A outlet would not be sufficient.

I mean to that point just thinking out loud here, why put yourself in a situation where you have to monitor charging stations because they would charge your car in 4 hours or less to make people move them when they're finished charging. Instead of just installing 1/3 or less the capacity at each station and triple (or more) the quantity of charging stations. As Spock would say, that would be logical.

Pg3ibew | 15 januari 2020

My quick math says that 500 amps, 3 phase, 208v, would do the trick of 100 15amp outlets. That would be with all 100 operating at the same time.

andy.connor.e | 15 januari 2020

TBH ill admit i completely phased over converting the single phase to 3-phase because i was typing so fast. But i agree with that, you're looking at just over 180kVA total

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