Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment

It is important that site hosts consult with licensed contractors or electricians who have training and experience with installation of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). Professional experience and qualification is even more important for charging sites that are meant to serve the general public. Every site is unique, so there could be a number of options on installation plans to help lower costs, improve usability, and reduce any potential hazards. Before charging equipment can be installed, there are a number of factors to consider. Some of these include: connecting with the electrical power; verifying available electric capacity; integrating into the existing site structure; and environmental, safety, and accessibility considerations. Some of these factors are explained below.

Visibility and Lighting – Charging stations should be in well-lit areas with high foot and vehicle traffic. This will make them easy to find and less prone to vandalism. Just like with all parking, well-lit areas help to improve safety and user operation. Check for local codes and standards on lighting requirements.

Proximity to Power Source – To save money and limit barriers, try to minimize the distance from the charging station to the electrical panel or transformer.

Surroundings – Try to avoid installation under trees or in areas that need landscaping or trenching.

Parking Space Size – Leave a 3-foot by 3-foot area around the charging station and make sure parking spaces are wide and long enough to prevent damage to equipment and cords, and to allow easy maneuvering. Again, check with local zoning standards.

Weather and Climate – If you are installing EVSE in outdoor or partially covered areas, select equipment rated for outdoor use. Use outlets with weatherproof coverings. EVSE should be installed in areas with good drainage. Avoid areas with standing water, areas subject to rising sea levels, and areas prone to salt-water erosion. A ground fault circuit interrupter is required for outdoor Level-1 charging installations, per the National Electric Code.

Electrical Safety – Hire an experienced and licensed electrician; choose equipment approved for use by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or another nationally-recognized, independent lab. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and ensure all appropriate permits are pulled and inspections conducted.

Cord Safety – Make sure cords do not interfere with walking. Also, make sure cords are no longer than 25 feet in length and either provide hooks or brackets for cord storage, or they are retractable.

Ventilation – Section 625.29(D) of the National Electric Code lists requirements for ventilation for single and multi-vehicle indoor charging. Section 625.15(B)&(C) lists ventilation-labeling requirements for EVSE. Read operating manuals and equipment labels to ensure that ventilation requirements are being met for indoor charging.

Positioning of EVSE within the Parking Space – The location of a charging station is dependent on the parking space (pull-in or parallel), parking aisles, and pedestrian paths. Most PEVs have charging inlets on the front or side of the vehicle. The EVSE should be within easy reach. For parallel parking, the EVSE should be installed in the upper third of the spot, based on the direction of traffic flow. For pull-in spaces, EVSE should be installed in the front of the space centered between two parking spaces.

Mounting – There are a number of options for mounting EVSE including: a post or pedestal, wall-mounted units, existing columns, poles, and overhead installations (that help prevent tripping on cords). Using an existing wall or pole costs less than installing new posts.

Protective Barriers – Protect charging stations from being hit by vehicles. Curbs, wheel stops, short posts, or wall-mounted barriers.

ADA Accessibility – Public charging should meet accessibility needs. One example is suitable sites for people with disabilities. These should be on smooth, level, and firm ground and close to the building entrance. Provide additional room for disabled persons to maneuver and avoid barriers that present unnecessary challenges.

Signage – For public charging stations, signage should be visible and easy to locate. They should provide any charging station rules, such as time limits and costs. For help it is good to check with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the Federal Highway Administration, and your state department of agriculture and consumer services for the latest standards.

Maintenance – EVSE does not require a lot of maintenance. Periodic maintenance requirements include: storing cords to prevent damage; checking parts for wear and vandalism; keeping the charging station clean; and hiring a qualified electrician for periodic inspection, testing, and preventative maintenance.