Five things to remember when installing an e-charging station in a multiple-occupancy building
As the e-mobility wave rises, so too does demand for e-charging stations with straightforward billing systems. In the future, charging processes will generally take place at home or at work. Which makes sense, because the battery performance of electric cars is increasing all the time, the average car journey in Switzerland is less than 30 kilometres and vehicles have plenty of downtime. With clever planning of the charging infrastructure, semi-private locations are the most efficient and cost-effective alternative. Here are five tips for planning your e-charging station.
It is worth developing a concept for the entire parking area (permanent tenants and visitors) before you install your first e-charging station. The number of electric cars could increase rapidly in the coming years and sooner or later you will be confronted with demand in this area. A compelling implementation plan not only demonstrates foresight and competence, it also saves you costs in the long run. So, before you decide on a system, ask yourself these questions: – What percentage of parking spots do I want to electrify in the medium and long term? – What are the basic costs for my chosen system and what will each additional parking spot cost? – What are the operating costs per parking spot? – What costs are associated with billing and who is responsible for it? A common mistake is simply installing the first charging station without a concept or intelligent control. And that can be risky because you may be looking at costly dismantling and/or replacement measures as the number of stations increases.
2 Load management
One thing to keep a particular eye on is load management as this can easily drive up costs. An important thing to remember is that network operators only allot a fixed volume of electricity to each property, known as a connected load (calculated in amperes). Both increasing and (temporarily) overusing this connected load are highly expensive. In extreme cases, your electricity supply may even be suspended. And this is a particular problem for your e-charging stations because you can assume that most electric cars will be charged simultaneously (e.g. after work). That’s where you need intelligent management in the distribution of existing electricity volumes to e-charging stations. This ensures that there is never too much electricity flowing at once, but also that all electric cars get charged. So, make sure that your charging stations are equipped to allow intelligent load management. In the context of solar plants in particular (or other forms of in-house energy production), there are advanced load management solutions that can control your e-charging stations in relation to consumption throughout the entire building (e.g. greater charging performance when the solar plant is producing power). And with the merging of private energy consumption approved since January 2018 (billing for non-mains energy costs), self-generated electricity can be consumed and billed within your own property. It’s not just cheaper, it’s also more sustainable. At smart-me, you will find a clever solution for billing your self-generated power without administrative costs. You would be surprised how many vehicles can be completely charged overnight with a relatively low volume of electricity. It is important to bear in mind here that you cannot load more than you can drive. You can find a more detailed description of load management at www.ecarup.com.
3 Billing & operating costs
The next question relates to the form of billing you use with other parties in the property (tenants or owners). How should charging processes be billed and who is responsible for the handling? You have a wealth of options here (credit card, electricity bill, RFID, fixed rate, etc.). No matter which option you choose, I suggest you bear the following factors in mind: Simplicity: try to make things easy for users and automate your billing if possible. This brings the additional benefit of keeping administrative costs and queries to a minimum. One elegant solution is an app with credit card payment. Flexibility: make sure that you can absorb changes to the system (new tenants, expansion) with minimal impact.
4 User administration
Managing multiple users should also be as simple and flexible as possible. Remember that the number of vehicles in the garage can vary, tenants will come and go and visitors may also wish to charge their cars. Your system should also allow you to individually define authorised users (restricted/public) and pricing. And you should have the option of fine-tuning this set-up whenever you want without excessive costs. This is a particularly important factor if you manage multiple properties.
Last but not least, you should also look into the costs for any expansion to the charging infrastructure. This is good to know in case the number of electric cars increases faster than expected. – Is my load management flexible enough? – Can I easily add new users myself? – Can I add additional parking spots (electrical installation)?
Summary: it’s worth planning early
Does this all sound too expensive, complicated and difficult? It needn’t be, as long as you plan correctly. Don’t shy away from the initial cost of putting together a sound concept and reach out for any expert advice you may need. It will pay off in the long term – particularly when it comes to installation costs. Technological progress in recent years, and digitalisation in particular, has already produced compelling and cost-effective solutions – including for e-charging stations. The costs are negligible when viewed in relation to other expenses in the building, particularly when you consider how much you gain. What’s more, these solutions can often be automated to a high degree and are very cheap to operate following the initial configuration.