It’s important to maintain a relationship with your electric vehicle (EV) customers even after installing their EV charging stations.
Conducting maintenance on electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at every level is important, and with varying seasonal and routine needs, it’s crucial to keep the weather in mind regarding the maintence services you should offer for your customers. That means that after the installation is complete, you should pre-schedule maintenance for your customer based on the knowledge of EV charger needs and the climate of your region. Keeping seasonal needs in mind ensures that your client’s EV chargers are safe and efficient year-round.
The optimal conditions when installing EV chargers are dry conditions and a temperature-controlled environment, especially for Level 2 charging stations. Often, these charging stations are outside and prone to the elements, and the weather may impact those charging stations and their performance over time, but many concerns can be mitigated with a proper installation and routine maintenance and inspections.
Knowing where to look for damage, wear, and tear, and completing preventative maintenance, is a crucial aspect of your services and will strengthen your business while ensuring your customers remain satisfied for years to come.
As an electrical contractor serving the growing market of electric vehicle owners, it is crucial to be aware of the importance of warm weather maintenance for electric car charging stations. Summer seasonal maintenance plays a vital role in ensuring the efficient and reliable operation of EV charging stations for your customers. With higher temperatures and increased exposure to direct sunlight, hot weather can cause complications with charging, leading to potential wiring shorts and overheating issues.
Additionally, the heat can have adverse effects within the charging station. By understanding and implementing proper warm weather maintenance practices, you can help your customers protect their EVs, maintain optimal charging performance, and prolong the lifespan of their charging infrastructure.
The hot weather can cause complications with charging when the temperatures exceed 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Direct sunlight for extended periods of time may affect the wiring as well. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause EVs to overheat and stop charging as an automatic safety feature designed to protect the vehicle and charging station.
Verification that devices have not been adversely affected by the heat is best practice during the hotter summer months. Due to the lack of utilization in the heat, both the vehicle and EV charging stations have built-in cooling functions. You should ensure heat dissipates from the system properly and that there is not any particulate collection that is preventing or hindering the efficiency of the charging system.
Exposure to the elements in hotter months, especially, with the humidity and rain, can cause water buildup on the connector pins. Dust can gum up the connector pins as well, which can cause damage not only to the charger itself but also the potential to damage the EV charging port. Ensuring that the proper maintenance practices are done on the terminals for the charger is paramount in preserving the EV as well as the EV charging station.
During the colder months of autumn and winter, it is important to check the wiring and connections. There are several more obvious signs that EV chargers need maintenance, such as exposed wiring or a tripped Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) as cold weather often affects these areas, but you should still carefully and thoroughly inspect everything to ensure you don’t miss any damages that could lead to future issues.
How charging devices are stored can play a significant role in any potential damages or wear and tear, so going over best practices with your customers or installing a cable holder or cord management system for your customers may be a good service to consider offering.
Checking for wear and tear on wiring and connections should be a common practice while performing any EV maintenance. This is especially important during the winter months as areas with ice and snow add an additional challenge to EV owners as colder conditions can freeze over the connector if EV chargers are not stored properly, and any cracking in the cable or exposed wiring can lead to a faulty connection or a more serious issue, putting the charger at risk for existing damages exacerbated by the weather.
Tom Moloughney, a well-known EV charging station industry expert, is a great resource for more information on how cold affects the chargers currently on the market. With rigorous testing for EV charging stations currently on the market, the State of Charge YouTube channel can help your customers select the best charging station to meet their needs and understand the value behind taking care of the equipment.
Cold also affects the physical pliability of the cables adversely. Coiling and uncoiling chargers after a night in below-freezing temperatures can put the charging cables and connector at risk for damages, both internally and externally. Frequent inspection of the cables and connectors should be part of seasonal charger maintenance. Additionally, the charger may have a cold weather cord which you can swap out when the weather starts to cool down. This is a good option in areas subject to colder weather, as they can help increase efficiency in the winter and improve the longevity of the charging cables.
Level 2 charging stations can be hardwired by a professional electrician and this is often recommend for enhanced safety and efficiency. However, if customers prefer a plug-in connection for their charger, a specified NEMA 14-50 outlet must be installed according to the chosen chargers’ requirements and outside receptacles will need to be GFCI protected to be compliant with the National Electric Code (NEC). Any receptacles should also be inspected alongside the wiring and connectors during your winter seasonal maintenance inspection.
Beyond general maintenance, there are common signs that EV charging stations needs maintenance. Slow charging times may be due to lower voltages which can be caused by a number of different possibilities within the system. Exposed wiring from the weather, accidents, or general wear and tear can be hazardous and also requires immediate attention to avoid injury. Remember than as an electrical contractor, these are issues you should promptly address to prevent a larger issue later on.
Your customers should never attempt any repairs or maintenance on their own, as doing so can create a larger issue, lead to damages or an electrical fire, and even result in injury or a fatality, so building a strong relationship and establishing a maintenance contract can help proactively address this issue and alleviate any concerns your customers may have.
The complexity of the charging station increases if the EV charging stations are networked. Smart charging stations have more electrical components that you should consider an important part of your maintenance plan.
Issues with touchscreens or card readers are often resolvable by trained professionals, but if problems persist that require device or parts replacement, you can add those to the maintenance policy. Unintentional damage to the cables, components, and even the device itself can be covered under the premium paid for maintenance.
The costs for EV charger maintenance change from station to station. There isn’t one guaranteed or overarching price point that station owners will pay, but you can roughly estimate a cost of about $400 annually for Level 2 charging stations, per station for residential installations. That said, your pricing will be adjusted based on the location, storage, usage, and amount of scheduled maintenance. You can also incorporate reduced pricing for any larger repairs or include it as a bundled pricing option.
As an electrical contractor, you’ll want to establish maintenance contracts with the homeowner or site host for any business-oriented locations such as fleet managers or multifamily and commercial properties, or the charging network for any regional- or nationally-managed chargers you service. Determining responsibility is important when determining who pays for the maintenance contracts and associated maintenance fees.
Guidelines for maintenance contracts should include when the charging station owner or manager should schedule any general maintenance, routine seasonal charger maintenance, and request maintenance on broken devices. The contract should also include a guaranteed response times for non-functional devices, frequency of inspections you will perform, overall uptime/downtime requirements, and any other requirements you may have.
It is always best that licensed electrical contractors maintain Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast Current (DCFC) EV chargers, so it’s important that you bring value to your customers and help educate them on why these services are safer and provide long-term cost savings. You may hear that owners feel they’ll incur higher upfront costs, but you can explain that most manufacturer warranties are completely void if the proper installation practices are not followed and damages caused by improperly installed or maintained devices can bring devestating financial consequences or even cause harm.
Additionally, when EV charger owners complete the installation on their own or through a non-certified electrician, maintenance, inspection, and any liabilities would be their sole responsibility. General maintenance does include the periodic replacement of electrical receptacles, which should always be done by a licensed professional.
Maintenance practices, both general and seasonal, require a licensed electrical contractor’s attention. It’s absolutely necessary to partner with trusted professionals in the industry to ensure that businesses and homeowners alike always have reliable power for their EV charging needs.
Without completing seasonal charger maintenance, charging stations may not stay functioning properly throughout the year. EV charger owners will play their own part in inspecting the devices with each use, but there are in-depth maintenance practices that go beyond the capabilities of the average consumer. That is where you, as an electrical contractor, should devise structured maintenance plans.
At Qmerit, we understand the importance of staying ahead in a dynamic industry. That’s why we not only provide ongoing education and business support, but also keep you updated with the best practices and emerging trends in electrification. By joining our network, you’ll have exclusive access to electrification projects with renowned automakers, EV charger manufacturers, utilities, and fleets, offering you unparalleled opportunities for business expansion.
By partnering with Qmerit, you gain access to our extensive knowledge base and resources, including the Qmerit Resource Center (QRC), which provides unlimited on-demand training, technical guides, and other essential information. Our goal is to equip you with the expertise and support needed to excel in installing, maintaining, and servicing EV charging stations for your customers.
With Qmerit’s expertise and support, you can differentiate yourself as an electrical contractor who goes above and beyond to offer comprehensive maintenance solutions. Contact Qmerit today to learn more about how our maintenance plans, training capabilities, and extensive resources can help you thrive as an electrical contractor in the electrification era.