September 20, 2023

Prepare and Deploy the Electric Fleet with this EV Charger Installation Guide for Electrical Contractors


8 Min. Read

More business owners are purchasing EV fleets for their delivery services, sales teams, and service field teams and will need convenient ways to charge their vehicles. As electrical contractors, you must familiarize yourself with the types of EV chargers. Additionally, you will need to consider strategies for meeting varied installation needs – doing so will increase your client base by allowing you to better serve a wide range of fleet needs.

The following guide provides an overview of the key factors to consider during electric fleet EV charger installation.

Understanding the Different Types of EV Chargers and Their Installation Needs

It’s important that you understand the three different types of EV chargers and their installation needs.

Level 1 Charging: A basic 120-volt plug takes 40-50 hours to charge an EV battery fully.

Level 2 Charging: Higher-powered 240-volt chargers that charge an EV battery in about 4-10 hours.

Level 3 DC Fast Chargers (DCFC): A 480-volt charger that replenishes 80% in 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Moreover, the existing infrastructure and electrical capacity will impact the type and number of chargers suited for a charging location. While upgrading infrastructure is possible, keep in mind that this will require additional permitting, come at a higher monetary cost, and will be more labor- and time-intensive.

Understanding the Installation Requirements for Each Type of Charger

Installation requirements vary for each level of charger, and even more so based on the model and amperage of the charger used. As such, you should gain familiarity with the different requirements and best practices for installing each charger type.

Level 1 Installation Requirements:

Level 1 chargers require basic home 110- to 120-volt AC electrical current. Most can be plugged into a grounded wall socket with a standard three-prong plug.

These chargers are recommended only for residential installations due to their slow charging speeds. These chargers are often referred to as “trickle chargers” due to their low electrical draw and lengthy charging times.

Level 2 Installation Requirements:

Level 2 chargers require a 30- to 100-amp, 240-volt dedicated electrical circuit with alternating current, also known as AC power, and possibly an upgraded electrical panel. The panel will house a two-pole breaker.

Load-shedding devices may also be used in lieu of a panel upgrade. These devices use smart sensing technology to activate charging when the other loads are minimal and act to leverage the existing panel’s capacity, eliminating overloads. Finally, a direct connection will join the charger to a power source.

As a licensed electrician, you can perform a hardwired installation or add a new NEMA 14-50 outlet for charging stations with a lower amperage. Keep in mind that a hardwired connection is always recommended as a best practice, but some customers will prefer the versatility of an outlet.

Level 2 chargers are for residential and commercial use and are often referred to as “overnight chargers” due to their ability to easily charge an electric vehicle in the span of a single night.

Level 3 Requirements:

Level 3 chargers also know as direct current fast chargers or DCFC, typically used in specialized public, utility, commercial, or government-mandated locations, require the most complex installation among the three charger types and are not applicable for residential installations.

Installation requires a three-phase circuit and must be hardwired professionally by a licensed electrician. Their installation costs range from $15K to over $50K in USD.

Requirements for the installation of DCFC chargers include a 400-amp and 480-volt power source, direct current, also known as DC power, and a CHAdeMO, CCS, or NACS connector.

These factors make them too cost-prohibitive and complex to implement in residential spaces. You may need additional infrastructure support to power these chargers.

More importantly, while it’s always best that licensed and certified electricians handle the installation of all charger levels, installing DCFC chargers will require additional training, insurance, and expertise.

Other Essential Considerations

Consider counseling your clients on the following:

  • Considering the size and number of vehicles that will need charging at one time.
  • The location they plan to charge their vehicles: at-home charging or depot charging.
  • Electric grid capacity and any special considerations for heavy-duty vehicles or equipment.
  • Determining the level of charger they intend to use: Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3/DCFC.
  • Selecting the type of charger they will use: wall box, plug-in, or pedestal.
  • Any necessary charging infrastructure needed to support these chargers.
  • The cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining these chargers.

You should also ensure you’re aware of local regulations and safety codes. Knowing them helps to provide advice on managing energy usage and determining the best charge point locations.

How To Plan and Install EV Charging Stations

The key steps to planning and installing EV charging stations are listed here. Note that one of the first things you should do is determine if what you want to do is possible.

Some locations don’t have advanced electric vehicle infrastructure, and your local utility company can help with this. After determining the feasibility of your area, proceed with a site assessment.

Determine Your Needs with a Site Assessment

Your site assessment should include load calculations. It should also include an audit of the existing electrical system. This will take into account the size and number of vehicles that need charging and the type of charger. Also, consider the power supply available on-site and the location for installation when making a site assessment.

Additionally, you also need to consider any necessary upgrades or changes needed to meet safety standards. After assessing these elements, you can recommend the best type of EV charger to fit your customer’s needs and budget.

Plan the Power Infrastructure and Future Growth

EV infrastructure requires that you plan for your client’s current needs. Work with them to assess the system’s specific requirements for their location and usage requirements.

This includes taking into account the following:

  1. The layout of the property.
  2. Proximity to intended energy source.
  3. The allocated number of parking spaces.
  4. The desired number of chargers.
  5. Choosing between Level 1, 2, or 3 chargers. Keep in mind that only Level 1 and Level 2 chargers are applicable for at-home charging.
  6. Understanding different charger capabilities to meet customer needs.
  7. Expansion plans for future chargers.
  8. Accessible parking and charging options.
  9. Weather-shielding structures for EV charging stations.
  10. Any needed security equipment such as camera or fencing.
  11. Incorporation of photovoltaic cells and battery power storage.
  12. Wi-Fi or broadband connections for smart and networked chargers.
  13. Equipment needed for installation such as directional boring or cranes.

Determine the Timeline and Construction Budget

Knowing the ideal budget and timeline is important to your project’s success. An ideal budget should include the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining charging stations. It should also include any upgrades or changes necessary to meet safety standards.

Additionally, you will need to factor in any extra materials, such as conduits, electric boxes, and electrical wiring. See if any of these items’ availability impacts the EV charger installation timeline.

You and your client will also want to research any grants, rebates, and incentives available to offset your expenses.

Touch Base With the Local Utility Company

Discussions with the utility company need to factor into your timeline. When you are ready to begin installing EV chargers, talk to your local utility company.

The utility company can provide you with helpful information, including how much power your location requires and any additional requirements needed for connection services. Additionally, it can clarify if it has any available incentives or discounts that may apply to the project and assist in creating an estimated time frame for installation and connection.

Secure the Necessary Permits and Approvals

Secure the necessary permits and approvals to proceed with EV charger installation. This includes obtaining any local building, electrical or zoning permits. Some government agencies even have green and solar permits.

Once permits are approved, you can then move forward with the installation and connecting to the grid. After that is complete, any remaining paperwork will need completion. These include certificates of occupancy and any remaining inspections or electrical sign-offs.

In the final part of the process, electrical contractors test, inspect, and complete the installation of the ESVE.

Implement a Preventative Maintenance Plan

Once the EV chargers are installed, developing a preventative maintenance plan is important. A preventative maintenance plan ensures the chargers are working correctly and remain in good condition. Proper upkeep helps reduce downtime of your system and any related repair costs. The plan should include periodic inspections of all charging equipment, including electrical wiring and connections, safety mechanisms, and other components.

Gaining the Necessary Certifications and Qualifications to Install EV Chargers

Electrical contractors must possess a workable knowledge of EV charging technology and should be certified for these technologies, demonstrating proficiency in EV charger installation and other electrification services. Many states have adopted a set of guidelines developed by the National Electrical Code (NEC). These guidelines must be followed when installing EV chargers to ensure installations safely installed.

Other requirements are:

  • Electrical safety certifications.
  • Knowledge of applicable safety codes.
  • Electric utility permits.
  • Vendor-specific certifications.
  • Site design and review training.
  • Code-compliant installation processes.
  • Building department permits
  • Safety certifications.

Qmerit Can Help You Prepare for the Electrical Future

Electric vehicle fleets are becoming increasingly popular, creating the growing need for qualified contractors to install the necessary charging infrastructure. By understanding the different types of chargers and gaining the necessary qualifications and certifications, you will be better prepared for the coming electrical future and able to take advantage of this increasing opportunity. Qmerit can help you prepare for an all-electric future.

By joining the most trusted network of certified electrical contractors specializing in electrification technologies and installations in North America, you’ll be able expand your business with exclusive access to electrification projects with top automakers, EV charger manufacturers, utilities, fleets, and beyond.

Additionally, through Qmerit’s Certified Solutions Partner (CSP) program, your electricians can master installing electrification technologies such as EV charging stations through in-depth training and continuing education programs. Members of the Qmerit-certified Installer Network also have unlimited access to on-demand training, resources, technical guides, and more through the Qmerit Resource Center (QRC).

Contact Qmerit today to build your business for the future and unlock the unlimited potential you can experience with electrification.

Author: David Santillo

David Santillo

Senior Vice President, Contractor Support