Ask the Experts – What Is EV Charging Load Balancing?
With growing demand for EV charging, can your local electricity g...
Your complete guide to workplace EV charge point installation from Mer
Understanding Business Requirements | Building the Business Case | Identifying Available Power | Undertaking a Site Survey | Report and Proposal | Completing the Order | Preparing to Go Live | Installing at Your Site | Revisiting the Site | Providing Aftercare
Installing EV workplace charging infrastructure is a complex process. However, it can be broken down into easily understandable processes.
Here are ten key steps for setting up your fleet with EV charge points.
Often this starts with corporate objectives to reduce emissions from company vehicles and from private vehicles used by employees on company business.
From there comes a plan to introduce EVs into the business. The number of EVs and how they are used will dictate what type of chargers are required and how many.
Vehicles are fleet assets and are expected to perform certain tasks, so it is important that switching them to EVs does not impact these operational requirements. For example, if the vehicles are parked up during the day while workers are in the building, then standard fast chargers will suffice – the same is true for vehicles that return to base overnight.
By contrast, if you are running a 24/7 delivery operation, you might need DC rapid chargers to enable this. For example, the vehicles are coming back to base during their shifts, but you are sweating those assets beyond the range they can achieve on a single charge, so the batteries need topping up quickly while vehicles are loaded or unloaded.
It is also really important to factor in costs. A 7kW dual charge point is going to cost you up to £3,000, whereas one DC rapid charger can cost £20,000. A lot of our customers start out thinking about installing DC rapid chargers for the flexibility and headroom they offer, but often the return on investment simply is not there.
Part of this step is also looking at what you need to get out of the system in terms of data, reporting and alerts. Mer’s Operator Portal is a comprehensive back-office system providing management, monitoring and reporting functionality.
Critically it also offers the ability to set multiple tariffs and access for different use cases. This might be as simple as making the chargers accessible for free to employees, but inaccessible to anyone else. Or it could be a three-tier tariff arrangement where visitors pay one fee, employees pay a lower fee, and company vehicles can charge for free.
Even if you don’t think you need this capability now, install chargers and back-office systems which have it, so you can turn it on later if circumstances change.
Typically, you’re procuring charge points for a site which has a grid connection and other electrical equipment which draws power from the grid. It is therefore vital to identify the size of the grid connection, how much of that power you’re already using, and what spare capacity remains for EV chargers. If you don’t do this, you could end up with demand exceeding supply and ultimately that means the lights go out.
A good EV charging provider like Mer will ask to see your energy usage over the past 12 months in order to calculate your existing maximum power demand, then work out what is left for EV charging without risking a blackout for your business.
There are also ways to overcome power limitations, such as paying your district network operator (DNO) for an expensive upgrade to your grid connection. You can also install solar PV or a battery energy storage system. However, the simplest and most cost-effective way to solve this problem is using smart chargers with load balancing capabilities.
Again, the type and number of chargers you need are both factors in calculating the best route forward. For example, if you have a clear business case for DC rapid chargers, they require more power than AC fast chargers and may well require a DNO upgrade. But in most cases, we conclude that our customers can meet all their objectives with load balancing.
Every installation is different because almost every site has different characteristics. In order to accurately plan and price up your workplace charger installation, Mer will carry out a site survey.
Our engineers visit your premises to identify the most cost-effective place to locate the charge points while still meeting your objectives. Fundamentally this is focused on keeping the distance between the power source and the charge point to an absolute minimum. The closer the better as less groundwork and less cable is required. Similarly, we keep the cable out of the ground wherever possible, for example by mounting charging points on walls. At the heart of this process is ensuring we deliver what you want, but in the most cost-effective way
Once we have carried out the site survey, Mer will send you a comprehensive report and proposal, including a price quote.
This report clearly outlines all the steps above, the conclusions reached and the thinking behind those conclusions. Our aim here is to make it easy for you to present your proposal to key decision-makers within your organisation.
Sometimes the conclusions we reach in our proposal might lead to decision-makers having a re-think about how to approach EV charging. This can be frustrating, but it is important – this infrastructure will be in the ground for many years, so it is vital to get it right the first time. Often with larger organisations we get asked to quote for one site, but this opens a wider debate within the business and leads to a more joined-up, group-wide EV strategy.
Public sector bodies such as councils, as well as many large private companies, will now put out a tender at this stage, based on the recommendations in our proposal. It is also in this procurement phase that you should explore grant funding toward the total costs.
At Mer, we are experts in applying for the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS). All you have to do is fill in a short online form, after which you receive a voucher code. Give that to us and we can do the rest of the application on your behalf.
While you wait for your installation date, Mer will set up all the necessary logins and tariff arrangements for you. This means that, as soon as your chargers are installed, you are ready to use them.
At this stage, the sales team introduces you to your project manager for the installation process. They will agree to dates with you for the work to be carried out. Installations can take as little as half a day through to several weeks, depending on scale and complexity.
In most cases Mer will send its own engineers to carry out the installation, helping us to ensure consistent quality. In certain cases, we will outsource to a trusted sub-contractor.
In the last step of the installation process, your Mer account manager will revisit each site to review how the process went and ensure you are completely satisfied with the outcomes. They will also carry out a live demonstration of the Mer Operator Portal for everyone who needs to use it.
We don’t just stop supporting our customers once the chargers are installed. A dedicated customer service team is on call during office hours to answer queries about the chargers and back office portal.
We also offer aftercare packages for ongoing service and maintenance, including callouts for repair. While most warranties will cover the chargers for a couple of years at least, they do not usually cover the costs of the engineer callouts, whereas Mer’s package does. We also cover all costs for annual service and inspection of charge points.
In addition, Mer provides 24/7 driver support via our helpline. If an employee out in the field can’t access a charger, they can ring Mer day or night to find a solution.
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