Why Workplace Charging is Key to Electric Vehicle Growth

AUG 12 2013 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 39

Workplace Charging Makes EVs More Suitable for All

Workplace Charging Makes EVs More Suitable for All

When the US government rolled out its Workplace Charging Challenge, the plug-in world celebrated.

EV Charging Here

EV Charging Here

Dozens of companies are now on the Workplace Charging list, which itself is growing constantly

Some companies, such as PSEG, have installed more than a dozen workplace chargers.

Hopefully, the trend of installing workplace chargers continues to follow an upward path.

John Boesel, chief executive of Calstart, a clean transportation consulting firm, told the LA Times that workplace charger would “really help increase the viability of the EV market.”  We agree.

ECOtality has some statistics from its charging stations located at workplaces.  Those chargers, says ECOtality, are used three times as often as public chargers.  ECOtality further says its workplace chargers had a 61% increase in usage over the first half of 2013.

And the LA Times adds this:

“Charging starts at home, with a charging station that can cost drivers $500 to $2,000. But the real key to extending the cars’ range, and easing consumer fears of running out of power and getting stranded on the road, may well be getting large workplaces to add chargers — allowing EV-driving employees to double their commuting distance or to run more errands.”

It’s of our opinion that workplace chargers should be the focus going forward.  Sure, some additional “public” chargers are needed, but most plug-in vehicles would be capable of fully recharging at a workplace station, while the owner of that vehicle works the day away.

Source: LA Times

Categories: Charging

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39 Comments on "Why Workplace Charging is Key to Electric Vehicle Growth"

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Yep. And the sad part is, this is an area where installing chargers can be the absolute cheapest compared to installing one at a public place. For one thing a company can choose to buy residential “dumb” units that are much cheaper and don’t require a card or any network connectivity. They can also choose to install in the most convenient and economical place for them whether that be up close to the building or in some distant part of the parking lot. If I.C.E. cars park there then the employer can make them move. Its less delicate of a situation than a retail establishment asking their customer to move their car. And last, but not least, an employer can provide several 120V outlets for their employees to use at very little expense. It puts extra work on the employee since they have to drag out their EVSE every day, but it is certainly better than nothing.

When the building management where I work says (and I quote): “I don’t believe in electric vehicles. I have a gas-guzzing vehicle and I’m proud of it. God put enough oil on this Earth to hold us over until he comes back. God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Not only do we have to deal with climate change deniers, we have to deal with bible-beaters who think using up the Earth will cause god to return.

::facepalm::

While it’s true that God doesn’t make mistakes, it’s even more undeniable that people do. And burning up all of our oil to pollute the air seems to be a pretty big mistake.

Oil is transitional. Was created for us to use while we find new forms of energy including some that is either “unfounded” or “not yet discovered”. Some talk about zero-point energy. Others about cheap and storable renewables. New, novel energy sources will come about by the scientists and engineers who used oil to get them into workplaces in order to discover those new energy sources. I think it is all of a very elaborate plan – we just have to look out longer into the future to understand it.

The less we look for a “plan”, the better off we’ll be. There’s no plan.

We understand the physics of the world quite well at this point. I don’t believe there is any undiscovered source of energy that is going to magically save us. We need to use what we current have available.

If by available you mean, it’s right there for us to pick up, that source of life in the air (sun, wind) or flowing to us (hydro), yes.

“Available” as in poison buried under miles of seawater and/or rocks, and that requires more chemicals along with earthquake-creating forces to get out, and a few wars to secure… not so much, no.

‘Do unto others…’

Holy smokes! A person actually said that?!?! ( “I don’t believe in electric vehicles. I have a gas-guzzing vehicle and I’m proud of it. God put enough oil on this Earth to hold us over until he comes back. God doesn’t make mistakes.”)??

We are doomed as a species.

I bet he chooses to have a short commute in his gas guzzler. Which uses more gas?

1) A gas-guzzler with a 10 mile daily commute.

2) A Volt with a 140 mile daily commute.

Answer: Choice #2.

Yet only choice #1 ever gets criticized. 😉

And you think that in having a building manager that whacky, your only possible issue is that you won’t be able to charge your car?

I think I might politely inquire if he/she is a member of the NRA 🙂

Workplace charging is only a key to growth because PEVs are currently expensive. If the cars get cheap enough to go mainstream, all the issues related to charging at home will quickly get resolved.

Encouraging workplace charging is encouraging a culture of unnecessary peak charging, more costly charging (especially when an untaxed perk) and 1/2 commute PHEVs and/or longer commutes.

We shouldn’t be so desperate to electrify that we miss the opportunity to “fill in the bathtub” of low-cost/efficient electricity to maximize the synergy with the grid by avoiding adding unnecessary load to the grid during the day.

I feel that the government needs to think ahead and rather than looking at workplace charging, instead be ready to help overcome the barriers to home charging instead, with legislation that prevents landlords and HOAs from blocking charger installation for residents and support for municipalities to add comprehensive support for on-street chargers when residents request them.

I partially agree, but it may really be an argument for L2 at the workplace. The charging could be completed before the afternoon peak, and it would open the possibility of V2G down the road.

If employers are going to pay the cost for the infrastructure as a employee benefit, I say go for it. It probably would be good to have the employees compensate the employer for the electricity ($10-$20 / mo) to prevent the abuse of the perk.

On you get to the working hours, electricity use has already jumped. Depending on climate and whether electricity is used for heating that can already be close to the early evening peak (New England, for example).

What makes it worse is that not only do you add to daytime load simply by encouraging people to plug in, those a small amount beyond range end up charging more than is necessary to return home.

If you have people charging when they arrive at work in the morning you exacerbate the grid problems because you add a morning surge (gradually reducing at the various cars fill up) which will be met by firing up peakers, and the higher the surge the lower the efficiency of those peakers get.

If the government is serious about electrifying a large proportion of transportation it really needs to consider the reality of effects on the grid. With studies already showing that PEV owners will make heavy use of opportunity charging, the government shouldn’t be suckered into a pipe dream of V2G and should understand the relatively negative impact of a workplace-focused charging culture and focus on trying to avoid it.

Companies routinely install Solar arrays now – with government incentive. Offer some good incentive to “solarize” at work situations where they install a certain number of stations (I believe 120V is what companies should install). If parking garage is used, add a roof-top array to top the garage. I use one in New Jersey – big solar array site with lots of 120V plugs to plug in. Fantastic. Need to duplicate that a bunch of times at companies who are willing to be progressive.

The grid is generally “fine”. The worst days are mid-summer with high AC usage. Smart Grid technology could simply be used to shut off EV subsystems or use V2G, someday, to counteract a grid issue. Cars and EVSEs can have simple circuits to cut off their charging draw or drop the draw during low voltage or frequency periods.

It’s not that adding electric cars will cause brownouts, since capacity will naturally expand to meet demand, it’s simply that it is both less efficient and less economical to add charging demand on peak.

As such, the government should _not_ _actively_ _support_ _workplace_ _charging_ by making sure it’s taxed and by directing their support instead to _home_ _charging_, with a simple principle of “charge it where you park it”, whether that’s your driveway, a condo or HOA property, a parking garage, an apartment building parking lot or a city street.

Simply helping to clear the barriers to home charging and making sure that consumers always pay for the cost of charging will help stop another culture of inefficiency from developing and workplace charging can be left for what’s really needed, business use.

I support ItsNotAbout Money. Electricity for EVs is considered “no cost” from night charging. Governmet could support EVs by introducing apartment building an motel/hotel L2 night time chargers standards. But workplace chargers should be carefuly considered. One option could be disconectable chargers during peak loads but still causing big doubts.

Like the others implied, charging at midnight could also be viewed as a way to encourage burning of fossil fuels, since the sun does not generally shine at midnight. Charging during the day gives a way to dump all of that pent up solar power from homeowners duped into believing that they were “going solar” by installing panels without backup batteries and selling the power back to the utilities, since (again last time I checked) people generally work while the sun shines, and aren’t at home to use the power.

Not saying you are wrong, just saying there is more than one way to look at things.

The general way that this is handled Scott is called “net metering”. Basically the power companies buys the extra power during the day and sells you power during the night. The end result for those like Bonaire and myself is a net zero use of electricity. This is how Elon Musk plan’s on powering his quick charging stations and achieving the same.

If you ask utilities with experience, like SCE in Southern California or PG&E in Northern California, they will tell you that concerns about the grid are overblown. They aren’t concerned about L1 at work.

yes, but then again, look at Germany where solar during peak hours has outpaced demand because peak hours and solar hours tend to coincide. If you’re thinking long term (as in, beyond just encouraging the sale and production of EV’s) then also, considering the long term prospects of solar, the increase in Flexible peak usage (such as charging EV batteries) could make more PV installation more viable for the grid while grid scale storage options are developed.

This is what the federal government pointed out when they kicked off The Workplace Charging Challenge.

#1 Home and #2 Workplace charging is much more valuable than generic public charging. Especially owners of plug-in hybrids with shorter 21-40 mile range. Workplace charging effectively can double their EV range with no cost to the owner/employee.

Even consumers who work up to 70 miles from home can make the current 75 mile EVs work for them also as a commuter car.

The more workplace charging, the more viable plug-in hybrids will become as an only vehicle in a household, as the price continues to drop.

For example, for $32k – $36k the consumer can have a C-MAX Energi, Chevy Volt, Fusion Energi using workplace charging, and possibly go months without buying gasoline, and still be able to travel over 500(C-Max/Fusion Energi) miles when needed, without having to maintain/insure a second vehicle or rent a second vehicle for a longer trip.

For me, my one-way drive is 70 miles. I do it in a Volt. Morning is 48-49 miles electric and half a gallon, going home is 40-41 miles electric and .67 gallon. The 120V plug allows a full Volt charge for the trip home. I will lose some miles in the winter when I do this but many times in the winter, I do the run on Amtrak instead.

We have workplace chargers (building is maybe 350-400 people?) and they get used a fair amount. One of my coworkers who has a ~33 mile commute… it was the workplace charger that got her to lease a Leaf; otherwise she felt it was just too close for comfort. Granted, we’re in Silicon Valley so these numbers are skewed towards the electric, but our building has two Teslas, two or three Volts, and three Leafs. At least one charger slot gets used every day (albeit not necessarily all day). Oh, and they’re pay chargers.

Abundant L1 workplace charging would be a great start. That can add about 35 miles of range to an EV during an 8 hour shift.

Heck, in Alaska, many hotels etc. have a bunch of posts sticking up out of the ground with outlets, for engine block heaters.

You could deploy a very similar infrastructure here and just use the EVSE that comes with a car. Costs would be minimized but still go a long way to helping the proliferation of EV’s.

In colder parts of Alaska at least, employers _must_ provide sockets for their employees. (We were told this on a tour while in Fairbanks passing a WalMart lot.)

Yeah, Fairbanks was where I saw so many outlets all over the place. So there at least exists a framework for outlets supporting Level 1 charging that could be utilized.

From a commercial/code standpint, it’s already all figured out. The outlets were non obtrusive, and were visually appealing on decorative concerete pillars similar to the pillars that might block a fire hydrant from being hit.

I have seen these heat chargers they are all over the state they are even at the hotels of the North Slope of Alaska at the end of the Dalton Highway.

Who works 8 hours anymore 🙂 My Volt is full a couple hours before I head home and in the summer with the elevation gain, that’s 40 miles. A Leaf on 120 could add 50 miles in my situation. The site also has 240V plugs (no EVSEs) and you could charge a Tesla for a 100 mile run during a workday.

Haha, well I still –try– to work only 8 hours 😉

Mass rollout of workplace L1 outlets should be the backbone of a serious effort. It would drive sales of PEVs like no other infrastructure effort could, without the negative repercussions from a limited, expensive L2 EVSE rollout. Small and medium-sized business, where America actually works, could get on board easily. See my article at plugsandcars.blogspot.com

I think this is a good idea but a lot of times management simply doesn’t want to do anything about putting them in. When I plan to get a EV I have to plan in the worst case that the EV should have the range to drive to work and drive home on a single battery charge do to the high possibility that my work place won’t have a car charger or will not want to put one in.

But if it happens to be a government building they will most likely have one in that it’s right now cool to put them.

This article title starts with a question, “why”. And completely fails to answer it. The author is just happy perpetuating the myth that charging at work is important, by repeating comments from people or companies which have a direct interest in getting more EVSEs installed. The only two reasons work charging is used more than public charging is that it’s more often free, and when so people just remain plugged in for the whole day instead of the amount of time they actually need. Start applying the same $2/h (or whatever is just slightly above the night-time residential kW*h rate) and see those EVSEs magically free up. Workplace charging is completely unnecessary except for a very small minority who 1) have round-trip commute longer than what an EV could do on one charge, and 2) are willing to bet 22k$+ on work charging being always available by actually getting an EV regardless. L1/L2 at work might be nice to have for PHVs which have shorter electric range and can’t quick-charge, so those will benefit more easily from a little top-off during the day. But it’s also the kind of vehicle which does not require charging in the first place, and… Read more »

I agree that the public chargers should be L3 except maybe hotels, but the focus should be on where the auto sits idle the most and that would be #1 the home and #2 the workplace.

There are a lot of good arguments here about clearing the path for HOAs and condos and apartments and that is equally important to the workplace. I also like the short term solution of an L1 in the workplace. It is cheap and very little risk to the employer.

As a bare minimum, would it not be great if every project manager saw fit to place the necessary conduit in place to handle future deployment?

I suspect workplace rollout of chargers will seriously lag behind chargers at commercial entities, like grocery stores, malls, restaurants, etc., simply because there’s so little competitive pressure for empoyers to install them. Yes, even with L2 chargers you’re not going to “fill up” a Tesla in the time it takes you to go shopping or have a meal, but if you could get, say 10 miles, then a lot of places would advertise it as paying for your fuel while you patronize their establishment. Drivers would love that, even if the free electricity had a very low market value. Never underestimate the marginal utility of a system that lets some people feel superior to others, e.g. “I’m driving for free and the bananahead in the SUV two parking slots away is paying $4/gallon to get here and go home.” Also expect to see hotels jump on this soon — stay overnight and get a free Express Charge from Holiday Inn!, etc. Ditto for airports and other municipal facilities. As I keep saying, we’re still in the very early stages of this whole PEV thing. There will be a lot of surprises, some good and some bad, over the next decade.… Read more »

America is full of small businesses. We may be talking about large employers but think about small private firms with 10-50 employees. They can do just about anything they want. Usually the CEO is on first-name basis with employees and knows everyone. If two or three employees ask for EVSEs at the office, they may get them.

I know a guy in PA who is a big EV advocate. Made his money from software sales which actually help drive the ease of permitting for Fracking sites. Anyway – his firm has two company Volts and he personally has a Fisker Karma, Tesla Model-S and he had a Tesla roadster. His example is leadership in taking small companies to the next level of EV participation for small companies. They are far more flexible compared to big behemoth companies.

I do wonder why Marriott hotels are not really ramping up EVSEs at hotels. Bill Marriott is a big EV advocate. You can see that facilities management may not be able to quickly react to his own feelings about what needs to be done.

You are on top of this argument Bonaire. You should submit an article.

Workplace charging can be key even for PHEVs. For the hyper commuter who drives 80 miles a day, a standard Prius and Volt cost about the same to run and use roughly the same amount of energy. The 40 miles of electric driving are countered by Volt’s higher fuel consumption in hybrid mode. Workplace charging, even the basic 120V variety, would allow for 100% electric driving and benefit the Volt.