John Hipchen | Nov. 19, 2015
Dual-port chargers are a popular offering from companies that supply electric vehicle charging equipment. Several states even have a separate grant category to fund dual chargers. Although installation costs may be lower for dual port chargers, a claim that typically influences the purchase, a closer look at the total cost of ownership can uncover serious concerns. Employers who thought they were saving money with dual-port chargers while supporting employees that drive clean vehicles can get quite a shock when they compare their purchase to simple, low current, single-port chargers.
At a common price of about $6,000 or more each, the up-front cost of dual-port charging stations rings the first alarm bell, especially for an application like workplace charging where EV’s are typically parked for 8 hours or more. Because the price of dual-port chargers can be more than 4 times the price of low-current single chargers, employers usually limit the number of stations they install. The result is not enough chargers for every EV and even worse, a practice among EV-driving employees of moving their cars in and out of the charging spaces during work hours. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that most EV owners are employees with high salaries. It is not uncommon to find a programmer with a salary of $150K that spends 30 minutes each day in the parking lot unplugging and moving his EV so another high salaried employee can move in. This breaks down to $39 every day, times 240 work days in a year, equals more than $9000 of labor lost every year just for one employee. Hidden costs like this warrant a fresh look at lower cost alternatives, such as separate single-port chargers.
At a workplace, there is little need for powerful, high current EV charging. Level 1 (120 volts) or low current Level 2 (208-240 volts, 16 amps) will easily replace the range that an employee loses on her daily commute. Looking at economics, the up-front cost of single-port, low current charging stations is significantly lower, as well.
The L1 PowerPost EVSE is priced at $1495 and the L2 PowerPost EVSE at $1795. Yes, running conduit to two units instead of one will increase the installation cost, but the price of two L2 PowerPost EVSE units is $3,590 vs. $6,000 for one dual-port unit. If the PowerPost units are placed in between parking spaces, then each charger can reach at least 2 parking spaces and sometimes 4 spaces. (See photo)
Two chargers reaching up to 8 spaces translates into equipment savings of over $8,000 ($12,000 - $3,590 = $8,410). The savings continue to add up when labor is taken into account. If equipment savings allow an employer to install more charging stations, then there is a chance that each EV-driving employee will have a charger for the entire day. If charging stations are limited, then employees are only moving cords rather than moving cars in and out of parking spaces – moving cords takes but a few minutes. Since EV owners at a workplace usually know each other, there is an etiquette that obliges a fully charged or departing EV to plug-in the EV next to her that has not yet charged. Keeping in mind that EV’s communicate state of charge (SOC) to their owners’ smartphones, there is little need for expensive, over-featured, high power charging stations in the workplace.
At facilities where simple, low cost, low current charging has been installed, interesting internal communication processes have evolved to facilitate EV charging. From texting and hanging tags (see photo) to time wheels (see photo) or simply leaving the vehicle’s charge port door open, employees develop ways to let each other know their car needs charging when the current user is finished. Communications like this can shorten the process of unplugging one vehicle and plugging in another down to just seconds.
Employers often purchase networking packages from EV charging companies to keep track of energy use and energy costs, and occasionally to pass on the responsibility of fees for on-site charging by employees. At a cost of $22 to $30 per month, per coupler ($44 to $60 for a dual charger), an already expensive proposition becomes even more expensive.
Telefonix believes there is no need at the workplace for dual chargers with dual fees. EV drivers typically leave home with a fully charged battery and at work they are only looking to top-off their battery charge. Studies show that the average commute is only 20 miles. With commercial energy rates averaging about 10 cents/kWh, the actual cost to replenish a 20-mile commute is roughly 60 cents. Many employers equate the cost to charge an EV with the cost of a cup of coffee. In some regions of the U.S., water is even more expensive than electricity. Providing EV charging as a workplace perk results in employees that proudly brag to the outside world “my boss likes clean air”. In return, the company receives a boost to its image that can have a positive impact far beyond just having happy managers.
Corporate policy sometimes dictates that EV charging sessions can occur only if the employee pays a fee. A simple monthly fee deducted from the employee’s paycheck can be handled by HR without incurring expensive networking costs to an outside service. Company perks that benefit some but not all include gym memberships, space heaters, coffee and company parties. EV charging is a low-cost perk that can be added to the list.
If monitoring energy is critical data for the company, once again, that information can be gathered and stored without networking fees via low cost devices that mount at the electrical distribution panel (see a SlideShare presentation about tracking and reporting energy use without fees at: http://www.slideshare.net/greenmotioninc/ev-ed-program-reynolds-school-district).
Next to charging at home, workplace charging has the strongest influence on the rate of EV adoption. Konnectronix believes that by keeping this industry simple and cost effective, more employers will offer workplace charging. Contact Telefonix today about low cost, low current PowerPost EVSE charging stations. With workplace charging, your company could soon become a positive force toward cleaner air.