Roadmap: How to Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Your Community

As electric vehicles gain popularity across the nation, cities and towns can support residents and their municipal fleet in transitioning to all electric by investing in electric vehicle charging stations. With transportation accounting for nearly 40 percent of the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the fuel used by vehicles across the state is critical to meeting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

However, figuring out which charging station to purchase can be challenging – there’s a vast variety of models currently available at a range of widely different price tags. Our new Roadmap to Install EV Charging Stations will equip you with the essential information you need to select an EV charging station that fits your municipality’s needs.

Assess the Need

Identifying the main users can help guide decisions on what features are needed. For example, if the station will be used by the general public; you may want to consider a station with a payment system and network connectivity to improve accessibility. Once the primary users are identified, thinking through how the station will be used can provide insight into the type of station necessary. Another element to consider is the length of time a vehicle spends in its parking spot (the dwell time). A user may charge during a short stop (like a meeting or errand) or they may charge for a longer period (like during the work day or overnight). Various dwell times will require different power levels to meet their needs. Lastly, evaluating where the primary users are most frequently parked or which locations are easily accessible for them will help guide your preliminary decision on site location.

Electric vehicle owned by the Town of Natick, November 2016.

Choose a Station

Now that you have a general idea of who will be using the station, how they will need to use the station, and where they need the station to be, you can begin to narrow down the options for the type of station and features to include. There are three primary types of charging stations: Level I, Level II, and DC Fast Charging.

Types of charging stations

Level I stations are well-suited for employee parking during the work day and other long-term (8+ hours) parking needs. These stations could be placed at commuter lots or used for work vehicles that will be parked overnight.

Level II stations charge vehicles in a shorter amount of time – 1 to 3 hours – and have the widest range of potential uses. These can provide a boost to vehicle charge in commercial settings while the driver runs errands or attends meetings.

DC Fast Charging can provide a full charge in about 30 minutes, which is ideal for vehicles traveling long distances or those that need to be consistently in use with minimal down time. Because of the upfront capital costs, DC Fast Charging Stations can often be upwards of $35,000, and make the most sense along traffic routes heavily used for longer journeys.

All types of charging stations can be further customized depending on the manufacturer and demands. Additional features to consider depending on the intended users are wireless network connectivity, mobile or card payment systems, and branding decals.

Choose a Site

Another aspect of choosing the best-fit charging station is deciding where the station will be installed. How the station will be used and the type of station often predetermine the site, but more importantly, the specifics of site selection can minimize installation costs. For example, new construction projects provide an opportunity to install charging stations and trenching costs can be minimized by selecting a site in close proximity to the power source.

Most manufacturers provide the option of wall mounting or pedestal mounting for the charging station. The charging station will also need to be ADA compliant.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved interim designs for charging station signage, D9-11bp and D9-11b

Don’t forget to consider wayfinding and visibility while selecting a site to help ensure that electric vehicle drives can find a station easily and that other drivers don’t park in a charging spot.

Station location can also impact upkeep and maintenance costs, so be sure to consider sun exposure, winter conditions, and driver behavior to mitigate future costs.

Procure and Install

Using the statewide contract for advanced vehicle technology, VEH102, purchasing a charging station that meets your needs has never been easier. Currently, there are six vendors on contract offering a wide range of charging station technologies from the budget friendly to the high-tech and user friendly. Several vendors offer turnkey solutions from site assessment to install and maintenance.

How MAPC Can Help

Want to install charging stations in your community this year and save money by purchasing alongside other communities across the state? In 2018, MAPC is expanding the Green Mobility Group Purchasing Program to include pricing agreements for electric vehicle charging stations and aftermarket conversion technologies. Depending on the level of interest from fleets, Round II may also package charging stations and electric vehicles together into one solicitation. MAPC intends to coordinate group purchases from vendors on the statewide contract on behalf of participating communities during the summer of 2018.

Please respond to this survey if you are interested in participating in a group purchase of (1) electric vehicle charging stations, (2) electric vehicles, and/or (3) aftermarket conversion technology. If you would like assistance from MAPC on selecting an appropriate charging station or assessing opportunities to retrofit or up-fit vehicles in your fleet, please respond to the survey by January 31, 2018. Survey responses will not be considered a binding commitment to participate in the Program.