Keep costs under control and consider future needs when planning an electric fleet infrastructure.
Planning for now and the future
When preparing for development or construction works at your organisation, ensure that you consider the likely take up of electric vehicles across your fleet. A marginal cost today may save you money and headaches in the future.
Ground work and excavation costs
When installing charge points as part of a larger construction or development project, the cost of ground works may be marginal. Excavating trenches and foundation bases afterwards can be quite costly, so avoiding this is important.
Where cables can be routed along a perimeter wall or appropriately buried under soft margins around the perimeter, this can help greatly to reduce costs. In addition, if charging bays are located along a wall, there may be an opportunity to mount the charge points on the wall, thus avoiding the need for a foundation base.
Installing charge points back to back can also reduce installation costs by allowing charging posts to share a foundation base and ducting. This can work well where vehicles are parked back to back along a centre isle, such as a grass border. Be sure though to check that it doesn’t hinder maintenance access to the charge point.
While it may not be wise to install more charging points than you require, it is certainly worth considering the future when you are installing the infrastructure that will feed your charge points. Distribution boards can be equipped with large enough switchgear to prepare for the short or medium term needs. A sub-distribution board can be fed by a large enough cable to allow for expansion or cable ducts can be sized to allow installation of additional cables in the future.
Cable runs can increase the cost of an installation. It is easy to understand that longer cable runs mean more cable, however the second impact of a longer run is that the cable cross-section or thickness may also increase. In order to avoid voltage drops along the cable, the cross-section is increased to reduce cable resistance. This means the copper in the cable increases and therefore the cost per meter. If large cables are required, the cost may need to be revised at the time of works as prices vary with demand.
As a rule of thumb, installing charging post with multiple outlets is often cheaper per socket than installing single points. It will depend on your supplier, however the gains are normally achieved through efficiencies in the enclosure as well as in the computer controlling the charge points. If your installation will allow, you should consider installing multi-socket outlets. These can be dual outlet of even quadruple. Be sure when doing this to avoid creating trip hazards with the charging cables.
Energy management function
Facilities managers and energy managers will generally be familiar with the term Maximum Import Capacity (MIC). This related to the contract that exists between the electricity network operator and the customer. The more power you demand, the greater the MIC required. This is reflected in the standing charges on the bill provided by your electricity provider.
Some charge point solutions provide an energy management function that helps to control peaks in power demand. This assists in keeping the overall demand below the MIC level, thus avoiding penalties.
Energy management allows a number of charge points to share the available power over the charging period. For example, if the spare capacity is sufficient for 4 vehicles at full power, then when a fifth vehicle plugs in, all vehicles will receive a slightly reduced rate. When one of the vehicles has finished charging, the spare capacity can be shared amongst the remaining vehicles.