Networked, or “smart,” charging solutions allow all types of businesses, including commercial real estate (CRE) firms, retail stores and multifamily communities, to connect EV charging stations to a network. No matter what business you’re in, this offers many benefits, from remote monitoring of stations, to customizing who can charge and how much they pay, to installing more stations without electrical upgrades. This can benefit CRE firms that want to install more charging spots without putting in a new transformer, retail stores that want to set a fee for charging after people are done shopping or multifamily communities that need to track residents’ energy use. Networked charging also makes it easy to get new features over time, like new ways to charge or new reporting options.
Non-networked or “dumb” chargers can be cheaper upfront, but they will cost more in the long run when you have to pull them out and replace them with networked chargers that have the features drivers demand. Here are a few key questions our team uses to show why networked EV charging solutions are the smart choice for any business looking to install EV charging.
Do you want to collect fees for charging and change those fees over time?
Networked stations make it easy to manage how much it costs (if anything) for people to charge at your stations, as well as change those fees over time. Free charging can help attract more customers to your business, while setting a small fee can help you recover electricity costs. Adding a fee after an hour or two encourages drivers to move on after they’re done charging. The right price will vary by location, but our pricing wizard helps you choose appropriate fees whether you’re a workplace, apartment, restaurant, hotel, shopping center or other business. Non-networked stations may make it cumbersome or impossible to set and alter charging fees.
Do you want to decide who can charge at your stations?
Networked charging makes it easy to limit access to charging to certain groups of EV drivers, as well as let different groups charge at different times of day: you could limit access to employees during work hours and open up charging to the public after hours, for example. With a non-networked station, you’ll have to implement an additional approach to support access control, such as giving drivers a PIN code or physical key to access the station. If your drivers forget the PIN or lose the key, they can’t charge and are unhappy with you.
Do you want to see how your stations are doing at a glance?
Just check the ChargePoint dashboard on your phone or desktop to see how many people are charging at your stations at any moment. Smart solutions also enable support technicians to perform remote monitoring and troubleshooting, keeping your stations up and running as much as possible. Non-networked stations will require an (expensive) in-person visit to diagnose and fix issues.
Do you want to know who’s using your stations?
One of the most important advantages of networked charging is the ability to gather and analyze data. Who’s using your stations and when? What cars do they drive? How much energy is being used for charging? This information is difficult if not impossible to gather from non-networked stations, but networked charging puts it at your fingertips in a simple online dashboard, empowering you to understand the return on your investment and assess the need for more chargers.
Do you want to know how much energy you’re using and set limits on energy use?
Energy costs don’t need to be a barrier to installing EV charging at your business—as long as you choose a networked charging solution. With a networked EV charging solution, you can monitor real-time energy use, control costs by setting a power ceiling to avoid demand charges and even install more EV charging stations than your rated capacity so additional cars can charge. A networked solution will also deliver reports on energy use, costs and emissions avoided so you never have to wonder how you’re doing or spend time compiling reports manually.
I hope these questions help you see the benefits that networked charging solutions can deliver to your business. Next week, I’ll be back with some questions that uncover the benefits of smart charging for your drivers.
Already convinced that networked charging is the smart choice?