Workplace charging: what to think about?


If an organisation wants to prepare for the increase in electric vehicles, what should they consider when it comes to charging? Josey Wardle, infrastructure manager at Zero Carbon Futures, shares some thoughts

Many businesses are considering the benefits of installing workplace charge points for use by their own fleet, employees or even visitors. With the current Government workplace scheme available to provide up to £350 towards installation costs, now is as good a time as any to invest.

For businesses wishing to reduce their carbon emissions and save on running costs, switching their fleet to electric could be a priority. This is especially so with the recent changes in the Benefit in Kind tax which will help to bring the cost down for businesses. Installing charge points prior to taking delivery of any new vehicles is essential to ensure a smooth transition to electric.

For employees, being able to charge at work is also a significant benefit and convenient due to the length of time a car is parked there. Workplaces offering charge points for their staff can help to increase interest in EVs and make it feasible for an employee to make a greener transport choice.

In addition to this, there may come a time when charge point provision in workplaces is a requirement. A recent consultation by the UK Government has proposed a minimum requirement of one charge point for every 20 car parking spaces in existing buildings. Although the outcome of the consultation is yet to be announced, this could have a major impact on workplace car parks.

So, if a business is wanting to prepare for the increase in electric vehicles, what should they consider when it comes to charging?

Charging points for fleet use

Who’s going to be using the charge points?

The first thing a business needs to decide is whether the charge points are for use by their own fleet, employees, visitors or all three? This will have an impact on a number of things including the type of charge points you may need, the operating model as well as the physical location. Different users will have different charging needs and it is worth being clear from the off-set what your motivations are. For example, you don’t want employees using charge points that are vital for the daily running of your fleet.

What journey patterns does your fleet make?

To make an electric fleet work, the best place to start is a thorough assessment of the journey patterns of the vehicle. Using mileage logs and a review of your pay load, assess how much energy will be required for each vehicle’s daily trips. Will each of the vehicles need a daily charge? What time of day will each of the vehicles be back at base with time to charge? Will you need to be charging multiple vehicles at the same time or can you spread charging throughout the day? Basically, you need to develop a recharging schedule from the start so that you can make sure that your vehicles will be ready for use each day.

What type of charge point/s will you need?

Different vehicles have different charging capabilities and charging times can differ with different vehicles. Some larger vehicles, such as minibuses and trucks, have a different charging requirement altogether. Be sure you know what you need before placing an order.

Understanding the mileage of each vehicle also helps to understand what type of charge point you require. Overnight 7kW charging will be adequate for most vehicle fleets however if you have high mileage vehicles which need a quick turnaround then you may need to consider a rapid charge point. Rapid charge points offer that additional security, charging a vehicle in around 30 mins, however they come at a significant cost and are not covered by the workplace grant.

Is there enough power capacity?

Knowing how much energy you will require each day for your fleet will also help you to understand if you have the power capacity needed at your depot or whether additional power will be required. Most charge point installers will be able to help you with this. Keep in mind that if you have an energy contract limit, charging a large fleet could take you over this.

Will a different energy tariff help you save?

It’s worth looking to see if a change of tariff could save you money. Smart off-peak tariffs could be ideal if most of your charging is done overnight. 

Do I need to monitor use?

There are many ways to access a charge point such as through an RFID card, app or a payment card. This allows you to easily monitor the charging patterns of individual drivers or vehicles as well as charging employees or the public to use the posts. However, incorporating an access system into your charge points will come at an additional expense and may not be required. 

How will you manage the vehicle charging schedule?

Will each of your drivers be expected to take responsibility for putting the vehicle on charge or will this be the role of a depot manager? 

If you have multiple vehicles requiring charging, you may find a smart charging system useful. If you have one charger per vehicle this will spread available power between charging sockets to make sure all vehicles are ready for the next day’s use, but if you have fewer chargers than vehicles you’ll still need some manual intervention too. 

Think about a maintenance agreement

This is relevant to any charging provision but particularly so if your operations depend on it. Make sure that you put in place a robust maintenance agreement that contains an SLA for call out times and covers spares and repairs.

Charging points for employee use

Dedicated EV bays

There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at a charge point to find a petrol or diesel vehicle parked in the space. If you want to offer EV charging to employees then consider creating dedicated bays for EVs only. But you will need to think about how this can work in practice and how to enforce misuse. If parking spaces are at a premium in a car park then you may want to start with a small number of dedicated EV spaces which can grow with demand.

Driver etiquette

Will you want to put restrictions in place to limit the amount of time an individual can charge? Charge points are a benefit to an employee but you don’t want anyone thinking that it’s their own private parking spot. Think about whether it could be feasible to put a booking system in place to keep things fair and encourage people to move their cars when fully charged. 

Will you charge to charge?

There is no benefit-in-kind charge for employees charging their own cars at a workplace. Charging at work can therefore be a real employee perk and incentivise travel by EV.

You may however want employees to cover the cost of the energy they use. In this case you will need a back-office operator to manage this. This will come at an annual charge but it will allow payment to be taken. You can set the amount that you decide to charge but make sure that it’s at a fair market rate otherwise you may find your charge points go unused.

Do you want the public to use the charge point?

Finally, if you decide to charge a fee for the charge point, you could also offer charging to the general public. This could work especially well at set times when your car park is unused, especially at night if your business is close to a residential area. Just be careful to set limitations such as time to avoid clashes with your own needs.

Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy, specialising in supporting organisations to develop EV strategies and charging networks.