New Zealand facility managers and body corporates managing apartment buildings are increasingly being asked to install and maintain electric vehicle chargers for EV drivers. While this process of implementing EV chargers on a small scale is generally straightforward, issues can quickly arise in the short and long term use of charging infrastructure once its scale begins to grow.
Even if you're not currently looking to install a local charging network, there are important considerations to keep in mind for building owners, body corporates, and their electrical contractors who may be required to fulfil EV charging needs in future.
The challenges of building an electric vehicle charging network:
Choosing a mode of EV charging
While rapid DC-based EV charging stations (mode 4) are suitable as a roadside public charging service, most EV charging behaviour occurs overnight or during extended parking periods. For these occasions where EV drivers have more time to charge, slower AC (mode 3) home charging systems are better suited and provide a more affordable option for mass adoption.
Managing Electricity Load
The power supply to a given building is limited, often with little spare capacity available. Unless you can afford expensive electricity supply upgrades you'll need a plan to manage the power draw of your EV charge points in order to avoid exceeding the available power supply.
In addition, it's likely the building has limited spare capacity during times of high energy usage but has spare capacity at others, such as overnight. Even a small local network will require a flexible system that can adapt as EVs connect and disconnect in varying amounts throughout the day.
Tracking Energy Cost
You may decide to install EV charge points in a private garage or parking space. As accessibility to these locations is limited, the associated electricity cost to operate these units can be more easily tracked to a specific tenant or EV owner. However, with the installation of multiple charge points, especially those located in a public area like an apartment complex or commercial parking area, will require dedicated metered supplies if metering hardware is not built into the EV charging units.
Considering Security and Access Controls
While on the topic of location, will your charge points be easily secured? You may want to consider smart charging systems with the advantage of controls like RFID fobs or the ability to be locked and unlocked remotely.
Keep in mind smart chargers are connected to the internet and require either Ethernet, WiFi or cellular connections to operate these features. Both Ethernet and WiFi present potential issues connecting to corporate networks & cyber-security including hassles such as maintaining passwords, so cellular connection is ideal.
Future Proofing Your Charging Network
Managing a fleet of EV chargers may become difficult over time, more so if multiple brands or types of EV charge points are installed depending on the EV driver’s requirements. Choosing the right brand with universal socket chargers from the start will allow different EV owners to use the same system with all electric car plug types.
How to deploy large-scale EV charging
Plan to deploy a fully scaled EV charging installation from the beginning. Ensure you can scale up the charging infrastructure using the same principles as the first few electric vehicle chargers installed. Do not be left with an orphaned or restricted EV charging network by installing a few “dumb” non-connected chargers.
Fully internet-connected smart chargers are essential. Any non-connected EV charge points may need replacement as you scale the deployment due to lack of necessary management tools and features. Using smart chargers often allows electrical load balancing to be managed across clusters and individual charge points, depending on requirements and available electricity at that time. These chargers can be in a single location or across a range of residential apartment blocks or facilities.
Smart charging software can dynamically manage charge sessions, as well as communicate with other building management systems (BMS).
Choose Cellular over Wifi
Use of cellular-based communications for smart EV charge points is recommended, and is now an affordable option that allows operators to have direct control and removes issues during installation and ongoing support.
Evnex’s EV charging solution
At Evnex, we design and build our own AC charging hardware right here in New Zealand; supported by our cloud-based open standards system CP Link™. This system supports fully compliant OCPP 1.6J electric vehicle charging hardware and in some specific cases, we are also able to support charging hardware from other brands.
This means Evnex can provide an end-to-end EV charging solution, both AC charging hardware and a cloud management system. For large-scale deployments we can control a variety of factors so that an electric vehicle charger fleet can be installed and expanded in apartment buildings, commercial facilities, or even at your workplace.
A dedicated web management dashboard and mobile app is also available; allowing body corporates to even add a margin on energy sold to offset the cost of providing the service. CP Link™ has advanced functionality and features that make managing a fleet of EV charge points a simple and easy process.
Explore our EV business solutions page to learn more.