The days of thinking electric cars were a facet of the future are long gone; there are now over 16.5 million electric cars on the road. This number is projected to grow to 300 million by 2030. Remember when the 2020s felt a lightyear away? Yeah, us too.
As the number of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow, so does the need for commercial charging stations. There are multiple ways your business can benefit from installing EV charging stations. These include federal, state, and local tax incentives, electric utility company incentives, and an overall ROI (return on investment) for your business.
But, since you’re here, we will assume you already know about these benefits. We at Lilypad EV have trailblazed the commercial EV charging station installation industry.
Since our start in 2009, we have:
- Served 500+ companies, both big and small (e.g. county and state governments, educational institutions, retail establishments, residential complexes, and others)
- Served 34,000+ unique drivers
- Installed over 2,000 charging stations in over 42 states and some parts of Canada
As a proud member of the Shields, Harper & Co family and partner of Chargepoint, we expect these numbers to continue growing. So, say the word and we at Lilypad EV can get the installation process going for you.
Prior to installation
We would love to tell you that the commercial EV charging installation process is quick and easy, but we would be lying. And we don’t do that at Lilypad EV. We value honest communication and mutual trust so that our clients can make educated decisions that will help their businesses, employees, and future.
Because we value honesty, we want to break down each step of the commercial EV charging station installation process. It might seem like a lot, but we want you to be prepared for it. Before installation begins, these processes must first take place:
- We will schedule an initial consultation to understand your unique needs and goals
- Our electricians will survey the installation site with you or your business representative
- Our experts will send you the proposal of the final plan they designed along with a quote
We’re going to go into detail on the installation process below, but to learn more about the steps prior to installation, check out our blog on the initial processes.
Before we go on, it’s important to note that the installation process looks different for each type of commercial establishment, whether that’s a shopping center, convenience store, or professional workplace. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on the steps required to install at a convenience store, also known as a C-store.
Nevertheless, the following steps serve as a good basis for any commercial EV charging station installation. If you have questions on the steps for your specific business, contact us.
There is a lot to consider when drawing up the plans. No matter what plan our team designs for your business, we will need to do some form of retrofitting.
Chances are, your parking lot structure was not built to house charging stations. That’s where retrofitting comes in. Retrofitting often includes digging up parts of the parking lot and feeding power to the new area.
Your business probably doesn’t currently have the required electrical panel and wiring, so our team will retrofit the infrastructure in order to get your charging stations up and running. When deciding on a retrofit, our experts are answering these questions:
- Are we retrofitting an existing C-store layout to accommodate new EV charging stations? Do we have to rip up the parking lot?
- Are we designing EV charging stations into a new C-store build?
- Are we retrofitting a new charging station to an old charging station? (I.e. rip and replace)
- Do we need to upgrade our electrical panel? (It’s almost always yes)
Charging station options
Level 2 Charging: This is the standard for commercial EV charging stations. Level 2 charging stations provide about 25 miles of travel or more per hour of charging. They are Ideal for public, fleet, or commercial EV charging. This is good for drivers with a longer dwell time.
Pro: Takes longer to charge than higher level charging stations, so customers are encouraged to spend more time at your store.
Con: Uses less power than higher level charging stations, so you can’t depend on as much revenue from the electricity.
Level 3 Charging/DCFC/Fast DC: This is the fastest option for charging. DC (direct current) stations can provide 250 miles of driving range or more per hour of charging.
They are also often installed in C-stores, particularly ones located on highways, because they are good for long distance travel and quick turnaround charging. Level 3 charging stations can top off a nearly empty battery in 30 minutes or less.
Pro: Charges quickly and therefore increases customer satisfaction; customers are more likely to return and spend money in your store.
Con: Pricier to install and power than Level 2.
The charging station you choose should ultimately reflect the goals of your business. If you are a C-store owner, installing a Level 3 Fast DC charging station is the way to go. Your customers are looking to get in, get charged, and get back on the road as quickly as possible.
We would be happy to talk you through the decision if needed. Just give us a call!
The good news is no matter which charging stations you choose, there are ways to offset the cost of installation and boost your ROI: incentives.
There are many federal, state, and local tax incentives for charging stations, as well as possible incentives from electric utility companies. ChargePoint has a great guide to EV charging incentives that can help you find ones in your area.
Our EV charging station incentives blog even has a checklist on how to use incentives to boost your ROI.
As always, we are here to guide you through this process so ask us questions anytime. Don’t hold back!
Obtaining the required permits ensures a correct and safe commercial EV charging station installation. You will need to apply for an electrical permit and submit your plan for installation, which includes:
- The type of building and its location
- The current electrical system and blueprints
- Load calculations
- How the project meets code requirements
Some jurisdictions will require an engineer-stamped blueprint of the plans. Contact your local government to figure out the exact approvals you will need for installation. The requirements differ widely depending on your city, county, and state.
Don’t worry, we can guide you through what questions to ask if you’re lost.
Make sure you are also in contact with your utility company and share the plans with them. You will need a lot more power accommodation than before. Chances are the utility company won’t turn down your proposal–EV charging stations are a good investment for them, too.
The installation process
After all of the preparation, it’s finally time for the make-ready piece. The electrician will build in all of the necessary electrical infrastructure for the bolt down and powering of the charging stations. This includes the conduit and wire pulled to the station location(s), as well as the completion of concrete work for mounting the stations.
As we talked about before, this process can differ based on the type of retrofit needed. Generally, an installation takes 10-12 weeks to complete from start to finish. Our electricians will take care of all the installation logistics for you.
However, if you have your own electrician, we will gladly have a conversation with them and relay necessary information for your commercial EV charging station installation. If you’re using ChargePoint’s charging stations and Lilypad EV’s resources, your electrician will need to complete a training certification class in order to perform the installation.
The importance of future-proofing
By working with us, you will be future-proofing your C-store for EV charging station use. ChargePoint’s product lifespan is 10+ years, depending on utilization frequency. EVs will change and therefore so will their charging needs. In order for your business to succeed, you have to keep up with these changes.
Our electricians will build an infrastructure that will support new charging stations indefinitely. After all, your C-store parking lot shouldn’t have to be dug up more than once.
Ultimately, we would love to be able to take care of your commercial EV charging station installation so that you can take care of business.
After weeks of preparation, construction, and coordination with the utility company, your C-Store is finally ready to start charging cars. With ChargePoint’s charging stations, you can connect to the ChargePoint Network.
This network benefits you and EV drivers by:
- Allowing you to manage all your charging stations from your web browser
- Notifying ChargePoint about issues with your charging stations; a representative will promptly fix the issue
- Making the charging process easier for drivers
- Drivers can hop in a virtual queue if all the spaces are full
- They can pay from their phone
The ChargePoint Network is self-sufficient, in that if one of your charging stations has an issue, an automated problem ticket is created and sent to ChargePoint’s support team.
If the problem can’t be addressed remotely, ChargePoint will send a technician. A driver can also report a problem through the ChargePoint app and receive remote assistance.
The ChargePoint Network is super user-friendly, but if you have any questions about it, Lilypad EV will happily answer them.
If this all sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. We won’t deny that it can be a grueling process, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
If you’re expecting us to leave you high and dry after the commercial EV charging station installation, you must not know who we are! Let us remind you:
We’re Lilypad EV: We specialize in installing charging stations so you don’t have to. We want you to continue doing what you do best: Focus on your business.
Though the process is objectively overwhelming, it is not overwhelming to us. We have installed well over 2,000 charging stations for a wide range of clients. We could do it in our sleep at this point!
Our team is passionate about providing you with turnkey solutions to your commercial EV charging station installation needs. Whatever the scope of the project, we can handle it.
Future-proof your business for the rapid growth of EVs and get a free quote today!