EV Charging for hotels, multi-family homes, and mixed-use properties – Fast Charging Stations vs Level 2 Charger Speed
The number of EV chargers in the United States currently exceeds 160,000, with projections indicating a significant increase to 12.9 million publicly available EV charging stations by 2030. As a result, the demand for accessible and efficient charging infrastructure at hotels, multi-family homes, and mixed-use properties is becoming increasingly important. When considering EV charging solutions, the choice between Level 2 chargers and DC fast chargers is crucial. In this blog post, we will conduct a comparison study between the two, examining their charging capabilities, efficiency, convenience, and revenue potential.
Difference between DC Fast Chargers & Level 2 Charger
- Charging Capabilities: EVs can be charged using different types of electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) that operate at varying charging speeds. Level 2 equipment provides charging rates using 240V (residential) or 208V (commercial) electrical service. They can charge a BEV to 80% capacity from empty in 4-10 hours. A Level 3 charger, also referred to as a Direct-Current Fast Charger (DCFC), provides direct current (DC) to an electric vehicle's (EV) battery. Level 3 charging stations operate on high-voltage power, typically 480 or 1000 volts, with many capable of delivering a power output of 400 kW. For properties that prioritize fast and on-the-go charging experiences, direct current fast charging (DCFC) equipment is the sensible as it provides a significantly higher power output, a BEV can be charged to 80% capacity with DCFC in as little as 20 minutes.
- Charging Equipment: It's essential to ensure that the chosen charger aligns with the specific charging requirements of the EVs frequenting the property. Level 2 charging equipment, using the J1772 connector, is compatible with all commercially available EVs in the US. Tesla vehicles have their own connector but come with a J1772 adapter for non-Tesla charging. There are three types of DC fast charging systems: CCS, CHAdeMO, and Tesla's Supercharger. The CCS connector allows for charging with AC Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging equipment. CHAdeMO is another common DC fast connector. While Tesla vehicles use their unique connector for all charging levels, including Superchargers, an adapter is available for CHAdeMO charging.
- Charging Infrastructure Requirements: Level 2 chargers may typically rely on the existing electrical grid and do not require extensive upgrades or modifications. Fast charging stations, however, necessitate more robust infrastructure due to their high-power charging capabilities. These stations require dedicated electrical systems capable of handling the increased load and may require coordination with utility providers.
- Cost: DC fast chargers are generally more expensive than Level 2 chargers, both in terms of equipment and installation costs, due to their higher power output and specialized infrastructure requirements. However, despite the higher upfront investment, DC fast chargers offer the value of quick charging and convenience, attracting EV drivers who prioritize fast, efficient charging options. The potential for increased customer traffic, higher occupancy rates, charging fees, and enhanced property value make DC fast chargers a compelling choice for properties aiming to accommodate EV drivers and capitalize on the growing demand for EV charging infrastructure.
- Cost per Charge: Fast charging stations often offer a lower cost per charge compared to Level 2 charging stations, particularly in scenarios where the cost is calculated based on time. This advantage stems from the ability of fast chargers to provide a substantial amount of charge to an electric vehicle in a shorter duration. Additionally, fast charging stations enable EV owners to spend less time charging and more time driving, making them an appealing choice for commercial establishments like hotels, multi-family homes and mixed- use properties which are high traffic areas or where multiple EV owners need to charge their vehicles.
- Parking space usage: In comparison to Level 2 Charging Stations, Fast chargers contribute to parking space efficiency by reducing charging time, increasing throughput, enabling shared infrastructure, and providing installation flexibility. With their rapid charging capabilities, fast chargers minimize the time vehicles spend occupying charging spots, allowing for higher turnover rates and maximizing the utilization of available parking spaces.
- Restriping Parking Lots and ADA Compliance Issues: Fast charging stations have a smaller footprint compared to Level 2 charging stations, resulting in a reduced space requirement. This aspect is particularly advantageous for businesses, as there is no need to undergo the process of restriping their parking lots to accommodate the stations. This not only saves valuable time but also cuts costs associated with parking lot modifications. Additionally, businesses can avoid potential issues related to ADA compliance that may arise with Level 2 charging stations. The installation of Level 2 chargers often necessitates significant alterations to the parking lot, which can prove both inconvenient and expensive. Conversely, fast charging stations can be conveniently installed without the need for such modifications, offering a more convenient and cost-effective solution for businesses.
- Revenue Potential: Level 2 chargers generate modest revenue through charging fees based on time, serving primarily as an amenity. In contrast, fast chargers offer significantly higher revenue potential by attracting more customers, commanding higher fees, and facilitating faster turnover. Their rapid charging capabilities make them appealing to EV drivers on long trips or with limited charging windows, driving increased usage and revenue. The quick turnover times of fast chargers mean that more customers are likely to stop and use the amenities at mixed-use properties that offer the facility.
- Sustainability impact: DC Fast chargers offer the advantage of significantly faster charging times, enabling EV owners to top up their batteries in a shorter period. This attribute can positively impact sustainability per parking space used for EV charging by reducing the time vehicles spend at charging stations & minimizing congestion. Level 2 chargers, although slower in charging speed, are typically used for overnight charging or during longer periods of vehicle downtime, which can still align with sustainable charging practices.
The choice of charging solution can be determined by many factors as we have described in this article, ranging from location of the property to user profile to the availability of charging spots. For example, hotels, restaurants, and mixed-use properties close to highways are more likely to attract drivers looking to replenish a substantial portion of their battery capacities since they have driven for long distances by the time they pull in. Fast chargers make the most sense in these locations as they can rapidly charge BEVs up.
By making the right choice of charging equipment, property owners can create a competitive advantage for their assets that can benefit their businesses for many years. Beyond a mere technical decision, whether a business chooses to install DC Fast Chargers or Level 2 chargers, or indeed a combination of the two can be truly strategic in terms of the how long term its impact can be and how much it can drive the core business of the properties.