Pitfalls of purchasing an EV charger
– Buyer Beware –
So, you need a Level 2 EV Charger for your Electrical Car. The freebie, plug into the wall type (Level 1) charger that comes with the car, is not cutting it. Or maybe you just purchased a new electrical vehicle and want the convenience of faster charging times at home or at your condo.
Like most people, you search online, find different models, different prices, and programs. You notice that none of the providers have recognizable names or brands. Like everyone, you want to save money while you make the best buying decision. But you don’t want to make a costly mistake.
What are retailers not telling you about purchasing a Level 2 EV charger? Before you hit the purchase button consider the following:
1. Licensed Electrician – Level 2 chargers require a licensed electrician to perform the installation. Although this is commonly disclosed, what buyers often don’t know is the cost and where to find a reputable electrician.
2. Building Infrastructure – Most electric service in buildings and/or service panels don’t have suitable capacity to add a Level 2 EV charger. Retailers don’t encourage customers to have an electrician check their electric service before they purchase.
3. Repair Service – EV chargers, like any other piece of electrical equipment, requires service. This may be physical repair or software IT service. Selecting the right supplier is key to ensure service is available. In many cases retailers don’t service the equipment they sell, that is left to the manufacturer or someone else.
4. Installation Cost – Installation costs could be as much as 4x the price of a charger.
5. Internet Connection – Servicing chargers easily will always require that they be connected to the Internet. However, not all chargers come with this feature.
6. Warranty – Manufacturer’s warranties are great but who will service the equipment? Does it include onsite service, or do you have to return the charger to the manufacturer to have it serviced under warranty. Who covers the shipping costs? What do you do in the meantime while you wait for the repair?
7. Exclusivity – Purchasing a charger may require an exclusive relationship with that supplier. Consider how that might impact your ongoing costs and service levels.
8. Manufacturer – Many chargers on the market are ‘White Labeled’ which means the retailer is not the manufacture of the charger, although their name may be on it.
9. De-rated – Some suppliers offer Level 2 chargers that don’t deliver the amperage for faster charging. These are Level 2 chargers that can be de-rated from 40A, to 30A, to as low as 16A. They may call these adjustable, flexible, or the like which simply means it does not deliver the full benefits of a Level 2 charger in terms of charging speed.
Consider your car ownership horizon. Most owners will keep their car for 3-7years. So, your charger will be with you for at least 3years or more. The other thing to keep in mind is that your charger is an ‘Essential Service’ so if it’s not working it may become a minor or major annoyance or leave you stranded without a vehicle.
So, what should you consider when buying a charger?
1. Infrastructure – Have an electrician do an inspection of your electrical system before you buy. Ensure you receive a quote on the necessary electrical work to install your charger in advance.
2. Buy Brand Name – Aside from quality you get the assurance that the manufacture has the experience and longevity to backstop the equipment.
3. Connectivity – Insure the charger has WiFi or Internet connectivity.
4. Open Software – Your charger should have open protocol software like OCPP 1.6, both for serviceability and open access to various service providers.
5. Open Access – As electric vehicles become more and more prominent the service community and the available services will expand. Ensure you hold the key to your charger.
6. Service – Know who will be servicing your charger before you purchase; what type of service they offer, does it cover hardware and software. You should also ask how that service is delivered.
7. Warranty – Know who will be servicing your charger under warranty before your purchase and what type of service they offer, hardware, software, etc. You should also ask how that service is delivered.
8. De-Rated – Avoid derated chargers if you can. The reason you are considering a Level 2 charger is to improve charge time by a lot not just a little. The benefits should out strip the cost.
9. Extended Warranty – Consider an extended warranty if available, especially one that covers parts and labour including help desk support.
10. Service Plan – Consider a hardware/software service plan to cover your charger against unexpected service costs.
11. Ownership – Consider whether you want to own and be responsible for the charger. Like and extended warranty, Subscription based programs offer many advantages. A Subscription offers the benefit of a charger without the upfront cost and ongoing service responsibility!