January 10, 2024

Wiring up for Efficiency: How to Capitalize on Your Expertise as an Electrical Contractor in Fleet EV Charger Installation

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10 Min. Read

As fleet operators and businesses begin to realize the compelling benefits of electrical vehicle (EV) fleets, a new and increasing demand for electrical contractors knowledgeable in EV charger installation and maintenance is being created.

For electrical contractors, this new opportunity will unlock previously untapped markets, but it’s important to understand the history of the rise of EV fleets, fleet charging needs, and what skills and expertise you can provide fleet managers when collaborating on EV charger installations and additional electrification needs such as panel upgrades or other energy transition technologies.

In this article, we’ll explore how electrical contractors can capitalize on emerging fleet electrification and what skills and knowledge they need to be successful as they help fleets with EV charger installation and other vital components of electrifying their fleet operations.

The Rise of EV Fleets: A Brief Overview

The technology behind EV charger installation is complex and ever-evolving, so EV-qualified electrical contractors are crucial to ensuring long-term success and safety when it comes to the proper installation and maintenance of any energy transition technology, but especially so with EV chargers due to the consistent and high power they require to operate.

There is a looming shortage of EV-qualified electricians to install chargers for EV fleets, so understanding the motivations of fleet managers, and quickly providing solutions to meet fleet needs will position you as a go-to contractor and help you to establish your business as a reliable and trustworthy leader in your region.

Market Growth

Between 2021 and 2030, light commercial EVs are expected to increase from 24,000 to 3.9 million in the U.S., with even higher growth in passenger fleets. Driving the increase are lower fuel and operating costs, estimated at one-half those of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and, because of an EV’s greater simplicity, lower maintenance costs.

Substantial support in the form of the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) mitigates acquisition costs for EVs and EV chargers for EV fleets, as do state and utility incentives.

Environmental Protection and Corporate Environmental, Social and Governance

It is not just cost savings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that 28% of greenhouse gases come from the transportation sector. Keen to be seen as eco-conscious, U.S. companies give more sustainable fleets substantial weight in their ESG policy formation—with fleet conversion potentially resulting in a reduction of 60 to 68% in carbon emissions for organizations. The expected strengthening of EPA emission regulations is also a major motivator for many thinking of making the switch.

The Demand for EV Chargers

Growing EV fleets mean an increase in the demand for EV fleet chargers. So, while ICE fueling stations are plentiful, EV charging stations are still scarce and fleet managers will need to plan charging stops based on a clear knowledge of their electric vehicle battery capacity and with a clear understanding of charging time and charging management. To help fleet managers and present themselves as a knowledgeable resource, electrical contractors should also have an understanding of electric vehicle battery capacity and vehicle charging times to provide helpful suggestions for installation locations that will meet fleet needs.

Understanding Fleet Charging Needs

Keep in mind that EV fleets have vastly different needs than an average homeowner’s EV and that needs can vary between fleets and even between departments. Recommending the best charger type is critical to supporting your client’s needs and ensuring their fleet is charged and ready when needed and will require you to understand the difference between charging levels and types of charging equipment.

While some fleets may opt to have their vehicles charged at an on-site depot, it may make more sense for others to install EV chargers in the homes of their fleet drivers. Additionally, determining which level of EV charger will be best suited to a fleet’s needs will depend on their existing infrastructure, fleet downtime, and vehicle type.

The Unique Charging Requirements of Fleet Vehicles vs. Individual EVs

You’ll want to ensure your fleet managers understand their EV fleet’s requirements and how an electric vehicle fleet will operate differently than the internal combustion engine (ICE) fleet they are used to managing. The key difference when it comes to route planning is that there will be fewer public charging stations, so you’ll want to ensure your fleet manager clients understand that planning a detailed route in advance is key. Second, there is little room for error when calculating the range available and the vehicle’s route, so beginning each day with a full charge will be crucial to the success of their operations. Third, a missed charge can be costly regarding delays, but having a diversified charging strategy and routine and preventative maintenance on their EV charging stations can help alleviate this concern.

Why Expert Installation Matters

EV fleet charging is complex and is still evolving rapidly. Significant training is crucial to expert installation, and the financial stakes are high. While homeowners who have improperly installed EV chargers may experience costly electrical fires, damages, and even injury, businesses with improper EV charger installation can face the same damages in addition to a loss of profit, liability, and even more severe consequences.

As an electrical contractor, understanding the significance of your role is crucial and it is important to ensure that your customers understand the value of working with a professional for their EV charger installation and other energy transition technology services.

The Significance of Proper Wiring and Installation for Safety and Efficiency

EV fleet chargers involve complex wiring at potentially dangerous voltages.

For Level 2 EV chargers, work inside electrical panels, electric panel replacements or upgrades, or even adding a subpanel or load management device may be required. Mistakes can be dangerous, and even deadly. Homeowners who attempt these projects independently may cause injury or damages that are not covered by warranty, but businesses can face far more severe consequences for negligence if they hire an unqualified individual.

DC Fast Chargers, also sometimes referred to as Level 3 EV chargers, use DC power at 480 volts, more than twice as much as Level 2. Charging management, especially in stations or depots, involves a large scope of wiring for controls and as a professional, you can offer your customers the assurance of your experience and skills in knowing the safest and most efficient methods and strategies that are code-compliant.

The Risks and Costs of Poor Installation

Poor or improper installation of fleet EV chargers can result in fire or other damages, and a low quality of workmanship or materials can adversely affect fleet EV charger station performance both in the short- and long-term. Since reliability is key, failures cost substantial time and money and are reputationally harmful both for you as an electrical contractor and for the fleet if they are unable to meet their business needs while electric vehicle charging stations are down.

Additionally, many insurers will require that properly trained, licensed electrical contractors do the EV installation work, and as a qualified EV charger installer who understands fleet needs and operations, you can help provide the assurances they need in knowing their business is in good hands.

Skills and Expertise: What Contractors Bring to the Table

Electrical contractors trained in EV technology bring key expertise to fleet EV charging installation and other projects. When it comes to your value as a licensed electrical contractor and knowledgeable electrician, don’t sell yourself—or your skills—short.

You provide fleet managers with a valuable resource and can provide long-term value beyond the EV charger installation through additional services, routine maintenance and inspection with a maintenance plan, and by offering services to cover their electrical needs with a guaranteed timeline.

Consider what agreements you are open to offering for businesses—long-term partnerships are a great way to build your reputation and your business.

Technical Knowledge and Training Specific to EV Charger Installations

State requirements differ, but to be qualified and licensed as a journeyman or fully qualified electrician, he or she must complete a 4-5 year apprenticeship program consisting of classroom training and on-the-job, supervised work. With hands-on experience in EV charging installation, you can continue to expand your business and create attractive jobs for new electricians looking to expand their skills.

The Ability to Recommend the Right Type of Chargers for Specific Fleet Needs

Making the right decision on the type of fleet EV chargers the first time is crucial to avoid rework costs, delays, and performance failures. Electrical contractors, especially EVITP-trained ones, are most qualified to recommend the best charger type for fleets, and completing training such as this will allow you to better support your customers.

Experience in Local Code Compliance

Permits to install EV chargers will almost always be required by local authorities. As a licensed electrician, you know the codes and are best qualified to file the permits to avoid any delays caused by an improperly filed permit. For the owner, you can provide assurance that it is smarter to have you file for the permit so if there is a mistake, the burden of correction falls upon you as the electrical contractor.

Maintenance and Upgrades: The Importance of Electrical Contractors

The planning and implementation of fleet EV chargers are best done by EV-savvy electrical contractors, and as such, you are in the best position to support your fleet customers in their transition. Chargers and charging stations also require regular, specific maintenance steps to ensure reliable, solid performance, allowing you to convert this into a successful, long-term business plan.

EV chargers require regular checks for repair and maintenance. New AI tools can enable predictive maintenance programs based on repair history to flag optimal times for repair or replacement helping you to save time and ensure your timely maintenance can prevent costly breakdowns.

Ongoing Upgrades

Change is certain as EV technology evolves, and upgrades are a fact of life for most technologies.

As a licensed electrician, your reputation and repeat business will depend on the quality of work you provide for the initial EV charger installation. Companies, and people, are more inclined to continue working with someone who helped plan and install the work as they are best suited to install upgrades since they will know the existing conditions, but this will also depend on their impression of you, your business, and the quality and professionalism of your work.

For electrical contractors, maintenance contracts are a good source of ongoing revenues and business, so work to create long-lasting business by providing value with every call and every service. The owner has the security of knowing that key maintenance and upgrades will be done properly and timely.

Staying Ahead: Continuous Learning in a Fast-Paced Industry

Electrical contractors must understand that charging is the lifeblood of fleet manager’s operations. For electrical contractors, your expertise is your money. Contractors can keep their knowledge current by leveraging the EVITP program and other training to stay up-to-date on the latest safety requirements.

Another way to learn about EV technology is to establish a relationship with a trusted partner in EV fleet charging, planning, and implementation.

Qmerit Is Your Trusted Partner

EV fleets are on the rise, driven by economic and environmental benefits. At the same time, demand for qualified EV electricians to install EV fleet chargers is surging.

Getting installations right is critical to success, and Qmerit is here to help. Electrification is our business. We are the market leader in North America, and with over 450,000 EV charger installations, no one is more trusted than Qmerit when it comes to EV charger installations or other electrification services.

With our unique Certified Installer Network, we provide customers with turnkey planning and implementation with pre-vetted, licensed, and highly trained EV electricians. All of these help you hit the ground running to build your electrification business for the future and establish yourself as a leader in your region.

Additionally, we partner with the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) and other training programs and companies to provide access to even higher EV expertise. The program starts with journeyman electricians and covers a deep and broad curriculum from EV customer prospects and relations to EV fleet chargers, IP networking of charging stations, next-generation charging, and producing EV-savvy electricians.

If you are an electrical contractor, joining Qmerit’s electrical contractor network helps you build your EV businesses with expert training, exclusive access to projects with leading automakers, EVSE makers, fleets, and more, and the support you need to build your business. Unlock your opportunity with Qmerit today and let’s explore fleet electrification together!

Author: David Santillo

David Santillo

Senior Vice President, Contractor Support