THE BUSINESS OF CHARGING: Commercial EV Charging Station Installations

Feb 04, 2015

Business owners and managers are realizing that the electric vehicle revolution is here - and that charging stations installed in their buildings and parking lots have the potential to add value, offer a competitive differentiation, and bring in new customers. Charging stations can be installed at the following locations and more:

  • Shopping malls and large retailer parking lots
  • Apartment buildings and condominiums
  • Places of employment
  • City-wide public charging networks
  • Fleet depots (e.g. delivery vans, public transportation, taxis, rental cars)
  • Airports
  • Hotels and restaurants
  • Car dealerships
  • Amusement parks, museums, libraries and other visitor destinations


Commercial projects include all the steps and processes that are carefully taken in residential projects, but usually require a more in-depth consultation and installation; commercial projects are more likely to involve a greater number of chargers, various charge locations, and more complex installation requirements.  Certified commercial installers should be specially trained in installing charging stations in a place of business; it’s important to note that there should be two separate training certification courses for residential installers and commercial installers. Commercial installers should also be trained in the installation and use of a broader set of charging products, from Level 1 outlets to support plug-in hybrids or to Level 3 DC fast chargers that can charge an EV in minutes instead of hours.



Critical Commercial Installation Activities


A commercial installer must be trained and have proven experience in:

  • Providing effective commercial site consultations
  • Providing turnkey services and a single point of contact by understanding and recommending both hardware and installation needs based on customer needs
  • Developing detailed critical-path project schedules based on customers’ “go live” requirements
  • Providing project management services throughout the hardware specification and installation processes and ensuring the projects are delivered precisely to conform to customers’ schedule, cost, and reliability requirements
  • Tailoring close-out packages at delivery and hand-off to ensure that the customers’ needs are met - including those customers who require payment, assessment or network services
  • Offering post-installation services, including preventive maintenance checks and warranty services
  • Offering on-site training for charging dock users and asset managers so your team is prepared for questions and knows how to support drivers


Preventive Maintenance


Ongoing maintenance, including preventive maintenance, is critical in a commercial installation. Certified commercial installers should provide:

  • Charge station testing, using a device that does not require the installer to open the unit’s housing, such as AeroVironment’s Easy Service Tool
  • Inspection of all units for output cable damage
  • Full installation and validation and test on a sample of units, rotated regularly
  • Full check of all connections, torque and tightening wherever needed
  • Equipment cleaning and wipe-down
  • Electronic preventive maintenance audit reports
  • Recommended list of service needs
  • On-site replacement of any failed parts under warranty


Typical Installation Locations: Parking Lots and Decks


Commercial infrastructure can consist of a simple pedestal-mounted EVSE for curbside charging to an array of Level 1, 2, and 3 charging stations situated throughout a parking lot or deck. Parking structures aren’t usually built with the intention of adding significant power, and retrofitting such buildings can be complicated and costly. Often, new electrical services or sub-panels are required to support the additional charging stations - an experienced and savvy certified commercial contractor will be able to work with the customer to identify efficiencies (such as sharing drops amongst multiple charging stations, as with AeroVironment’s multi-port EVSE configurations), work with the existing electrical infrastructure, and optimize the recommended number of charging stations against the cost of electrical upgrades.


AeroVironment has nearly 20 years’ experience installing commercial charge stations, and has partnered with and installed roughly 12,000 charge stations for some of the largest businesses in the world. Contact us today at (888)524-6373 for more information about your commercial charge station installation.