Electric vehicles (EVs) have large lithium-ion batteries that store direct current (DC) and deliver it on demand. - Photo: Charlotte Stowe/Unsplash

Electric vehicles (EVs) have large lithium-ion batteries that store direct current (DC) and deliver it on demand.

Photo: Charlotte Stowe/Unsplash

Once you decide on converting your fleet to electric vehicles (EVs), a key consideration for implementation involves the charging network. It's essential to know the charging levels, the accessibility of charging stations along the routes you take, and whether you will add chargers at your facility. 

EVs have large lithium-ion batteries that store direct current (DC) and deliver it on demand. This functionality allows direct electricity transfer from the electric grid through a cord that connects the vehicle to a power source or public charging station.

The Three Levels to EV Charging

 

Level 1

Level 1 charging is the slowest form of charging and can be obtained by connecting an EV to a standard household outlet. This is an uncommon form of charging for fleets and is recommended for those fleets that travel 40 miles at most daily.

Level 2

Level 2 charging is the most common type for fleets and can occur at home or at a depot. For most applications, adding chargers to home-based depots will be essential. Level 2 Charging requires a 240-volt at-home outlet (such as the outlet often used for dryers and refrigerators) and a specialized EVSE "box" that becomes the intermediary between the power source and the car. The EVSE costs around $1,200 and adds 10 to 60 miles of range per charge hour.

Level 3

Level 3 charging is the fastest and most expensive method. The charger is roughly the size of a gas pump and is found in public. Drawing 480-volt, Level 3 chargers provide about 90 miles of range in approximately 30 minutes and are ideal for heavy-duty trucks. Most fleets do not need to consider Level 3 Charging due to the incredible expense involved.

 

Additional considerations include looking into networked smart chargers that use technology to help locate and reserve nearby charging infrastructures and provide summary reports for charging sessions. These differ from stand-alone charging stations because smart chargers are managed with networked software that exchanges financial, driver, and other sensitive data. These are helpful for fleets to find the nearest charging stations on the road.

When assessing your operation, you may realize the need to build more robust charging mechanisms that include on-site power generation to manage risk from power supply disruption. Real-time visibility into your charging network is significant. Ensure you have tools available to deliver real-time visibility of chargers, charging network, and access snapshot uptime performance. Microgrids and generators set on-site will ensure your vehicles will have power when and where you need it. Consider using data analytics and alerts to inform you of charger status and defects, hourly and daily utilization, CO2 generation data, energy use, etc. 

Charging is the fuel for EVs. It is vital for your company and fleet electrification to understand the different charging mechanisms and then implement the best one for your EVs.

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