How to Select an Electric Vehicle Charging Station Vendor

June 21, 2021

Purchasing an electric vehicle charging station (EVCS) is an important decision that can be challenging because:

  • It is difficult to reverse a bad decision – There is a large upfront cost in hardware and infrastructure, making it difficult to change or adjust the decision after the purchase.
  • The technology is constantly changing – There are a variety of EVCS manufacturers, EVCS networks and EVCS technologies that are constantly changing.
  • EV owners are particular – The quality of the EVCS is a reflection of the building and electric vehicle owners are generally passionate about their vehicles and will likely voice complaints if the charging station does not meet their standards.

Parking Advisors researched electric vehicle charging stations, their functionality, and the vendors.  The objective of this document is to guide the RFP and purchasing process for EVCSs.

The following criteria should be considered when evaluating an EVCS:

Criteria #1: Charge Speed (Levels)

The speed of charging is categorized by three levels:

Level Description Volts / Amps Range Per Hour (RPH) Typical Charge Time
1 Standard household plug. No specialized equipment required. 120 volts (standard household plug) 4 to 5 Full charge in 8 to 12 hours
2 Most common public chargers. The charge rate depends on the vehicle’s acceptance rate and the maximum current available. 240 volt AC plug(1) (2) 12 to 60 Full charge in 4 to 6 hours
3 Two different plug types and are not interchangeable
CHAdeMO = Japanese
CCS = US & Europe
480 volt DC plug 50 to 90 miles in 30 minutes 80% charge in 30 minutes.
Tesla Super charger The Tesla Supercharger is a version of the Level 3 charger.  The plug type is proprietary to Tesla 480 volt DC 170 miles in 30 minutes 20 mins = 50%
40 mins = 80%
75 mins = 100%
  • A 240 volt circuit is also similar to what a standard household clothes dryer uses
  • Level 2 chargers come in a variety of amperages typically ranging from 16 to 40 amps. The most common are 16 and 30 amps (also referred to as 3.3 kW and 7.2 kW). However, newer vehicles can accept 48 amps.

Purchase Criteria

  • Options & Service Levels – Offering Level 2 and Level 3 charging will provide customers with a higher service level.
  • Speed & Turns – Providing faster EVCSs will increase the number of turns or users each day.  As a result, less EVCSs will need to be purchased if managed properly.
  • Plug Types Offered – It is important to purchase a charger that has standard plug types and not just plug types that only accommodate Tesla.

Criteria #2: Network & Software

Some EVCSs do not have software or have limited software and the vehicle is simply plugged into the EVCS and it starts charging.  This is reasonable for charging stations used at the EV owner’s home.  In a public setting, it is important to have software to manage who can use the EVCS, length of charge time and pricing.

There are a number of electric vehicle charging networks which will provide the software for the charging station as well as manage payments.  The network is important to the user because some charge membership fees and require an account.  The network is also important to the building owner because some EVCS brands are proprietary to one network (Tesla, Sema, ChargePoint) and others are “open source”, allowing the building owner to switch in order to lower fees or achieve better service.  Examples of open networks include AmpUp, evGateway, Greenlots and Greenflux.

Purchase Criteria

  • Proprietary vs Open – Parking Advisors recommends an open network because we have had poor experiences with some proprietary vendors and not been able to switch networks because of the high upfront cost to switch to another brand.
  • Network Fees – Parking Advisors recommends requiring vendors to also submit the monthly / annual network fees as part of their proposals.  The contract should “lock in” in these fees for the useful life of the charger.

Criteria #3: Upfront Cost & Ongoing Fees

The upfront cost and fees vary significantly from company to company.  During the bid process, these metrics should be considered:

  • Hardware cost
  • Installation & infrastructure cost
  • Network fee (monthly / annually)
  • Hidden Fees (cellular connection fee, commissioning fees, etc.)
  • Warranty

It is critical that bidders know they are required to submit bids with all of the costs and fees.  Many EVCS proposals Parking Advisors reviews do not clearly indicate who is responsible for the electric infrastructure costs.

Purchase Criteria

  • Cost – Level 2 chargers typically cost $6,000 plus $3,000 to $5,000 for installation (for the first unit).  Level 3 chargers can cost up to $100,000 or more including installation.
  • Warranty – A warranty allows the building owner to accurately budget for ongoing maintenance and repairs.  It is important that the contract with the vendor requires the vendor to make repairs in a reasonable amount of time.

Criteria #4: Other

These should also be considered:

  • Reliability – Many chargers are poorly constructed and have high failure rates. Electric vehicle owners will post reviews on PlugShare.  Approximately 70% of electric vehicle owners use PlugShare.  Poor reviews will reflect poorly on the building and its management.
  • Safety – The safety design features are important. One example is the relay system which controls the power delivered to the handle of the device.  If the relay breaks, it could electrocute someone.  Therefore, a dual relay system is preferred.
  • Branding – Some owners want to brand the EVCS with the building or company’s brand.

Purchase Criteria

  • It is important that the building owner check references in the market and assess the reviews on PlugShare.
  • It is important that an outline of the safety features is requested during the bid process.
  • Determine if it is possible to brand the EVCS during the bid process.

Parking Advisors’ team works on parking assets in every major U.S. market, producing valuable knowledge about industry trends, challenges and opportunities. The parking research below was developed by our team’s experiences, studies and analyses. Learn more about Parking Advisors and what our team can do for you.