Charging Station Hosts

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are commonly found at stores, office buildings, and all types of parking facilities. If you own or manage a parking lot, you may have questions about how to choose a charging station, where to place it, and how to manage its operations.  Below are some frequently asked questions that arise when considering charging stations, also referred to as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), in multifamily homes, workplaces, and most public venues.

Support may be available for reducing charging station installation costs.

Is my location a good place to install a charging station?

For a cost-effective and successful charging station installation, site owners should consider how much use they can expect and how much benefit EV drivers can get from charging while parked at that location. Offering charging can help increase visits, keep customers for longer durations, serve as a good perk for employees or residents, and generate revenue through charging fees and advertising. The best way to ensure that your charging station is used is to know that a resident, employee, or regular client owns an EV and wants to charge it at your location. This interest is easier to predict for workplaces or multifamily buildings, but EV drivers often seek out charging locations as they go about their everyday routines at, for example, restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues. The New York State EV Registration Map can give you a sense as to how many EV drivers live near you. 

Other considerations weigh into whether your site may be a good place to install a charging station. For public installations, consider the time an EV driver would typically spend parked at that location, because short durations may offer fewer benefits to EV drivers. If you lease your building or have a third-party operate parking, you should work out arrangements to clarify ownership, operation, and revenue in advance. The EVSE Cluster Analysis Study [PDF] identifies “sweet spot” locations, which are places where EV users will want and need to charge their cars.

Important factors include, but are not limited to: patterns of travel in an area; an area’s demographics, which may be correlated with characteristics typical of EV owners; and the nature of a potential EVSE location, whether it is public property, private businesses such as retail companies, multifamily housing or other institutions.

Examples of successful charging station installations in New York State are found in the Case Studies, which provide real-world insight into the installation process at different venues. NYSERDA is also collecting EV Charging Station Data from a wide variety of charging station installations around New York State that may help site owners see how EVSE at other similar locations are being used and can suggest the kinds of sites that are most promising for charging stations.

What type of charging station should I install and how much do they cost?

Several kinds of charging stations exist. As illustrated by the charging pyramid below, chargers are sized relative to the amount of charging at the location. Most EVs will charge at home the majority of the time, at either single-family or multifamily homes. However, EV drivers are demanding public charging infrastructure to use at work, around town, and on longer trips.

Many of these chargers come with an option to purchase a subscription to a charging network that can collect payments from users and limits use of the station to charging network members. There is often no fee to become a member, and there is also an option to activate the station using a toll-free number for anyone that does not have a network card. In addition to listing the station on its network maps for EV drivers, the network will track station usage so you know when and how long it is being used. Network subscriptions typically cost about $20 to $30 per month per charging outlet. 

Different ownership options exist for charging stations with the most common model of a charging station host owning it. However, third-party charging station service providers may pay for the installation, operate the station, and share some of the profits with the host site. Some charging station manufacturers, third-party charging station service providers, or charging station network providers are considering offering the option to lease charging stations as well.

In multifamily homes and workplaces (or longer term parking at airports or transit hubs), EV drivers park for an extended period of time and may not require AC Level 2 charging levels. This is especially true for drivers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that have smaller battery packs or battery electric vehicle drivers that regularly charge at another location and don’t require a full charge each time they park at these locations.

To reduce the costs for the stations and their installation, AC Level 1 stations, which provide 2-5 miles of range per hour of charging time, might be a better option. With the same electrical service and panel, two AC Level 1 stations can be installed instead of one AC Level 2 station and cost a lot less (AC Level 1 EVSE are less than $1,000). Many EVs come with portable AC Level 1 EVSE that can be used as long as the parking lot provides a 120 volt outlet on a dedicated circuit for it to be plugged in. The power draw by AC Level 1 stations is much less, so there is less electrical expense by the host. However, because of their simplicity, most AC Level 1 stations do not have the option for a subscription on a charging network and cannot easily bill EV drivers for usage.

In order of most to least common, single family homes use level 1-2 charging, multifamily homes use level 1-2 charging, the workplace uses level 1-2 charging, fleets use level 1-2 and DC fast charging, public metro area stations use level 1-2 and DC fast charge, and public inter-metro uses DC fast charge.

What should I consider when designing the site for the installation? How will design impact the installation costs?

Charging station installation costs can exceed the cost of the hardware itself and are influenced by a number of factors that should be considered when determining if a site is good and where to install the charging station on the property. The largest factor can be the currently available electrical service. All new charging station installations should have a load analysis performed on the facility’s electrical demand to determine if there is capacity to add EV charging stations.

AC Level 2 stations will need a dedicated 240-volt (40 amp) circuit. Upgrading electrical service would add significant cost to the installation. A longer distance between the electrical panel and the EV charging station means increased installation costs because it increases the amount of necessary trenching (and repair), conduit, and wire.

Although it is desirable to minimize the distance between the electrical panel and EV charging station as much as possible, you also need to consider the impact of placing the EVSE at that location on the property. For example, placing charging station parking spaces in the back of a building might discourage their use, but other customers may be upset if a charging station is installed in prime parking spaces that often remain vacant because there are few EV drivers. 

Other considerations have less impact on installation costs, but can impact how effective the station is at benefiting EV drivers and other clients. Be sure to think about the path of the charging cord when in use (so it is not a tripping hazard) and parking lot management practices (will the charging station get in the way of pavement cleaning or snow plowing, or is it a space where snow is piled in the winter or where equipment might be stored).

This topic is discussed in more detail in Siting and Design Guidelines for EVSE [PDF]. Following best practices and learning from prior installations that are documented in Case Studies is highly recommended before planning and installing a public charging station.

Once the station is installed, can I charge people to use it?

Your decision will depend in part on the venue where it is operating. In some areas of New York State, particularly in the larger cities, some garages that charge for parking may find clients that are willing to pay extra for EV charging on a regular basis because they do not have the ability to charge at their residence, or that particular garage might be part of the building where they reside.

However, profit generated by the station is not the only opportunity to generate a return on investment from the charging station. Installing charging stations might attract EV drivers who then patronize your business, retain valuable employees, or just provide a sense of your environmental stewardship which might help attract EV and non-EV residents, employees, or customers.

Station owners can charge for use per hour, per session, or per unit of electricity. If you charge per hour, there is a set cost for any vehicle whether it is charging or not, and different vehicles receive electricity at different rates, so the cost of energy may vary widely by charging session.

Charging per session is usually more appropriate for workplace charging or charging stations that have very short, regular sessions. Charging by unit of energy (usually kilowatt-hour [kWh]) accurately accounts for the true cost of electricity for the charging station owner, but does not give an incentive for a car that is fully charged to leave the space. Some site owners have tried combinations of these approaches, such as charging a flat rate for the first two hours, then an increasing rate for longer sessions. Some locations might prefer to lower their operating expenses by not joining a charging station network and offering charging for free.

How do I direct people to my station?

Many EV drivers find charging stations through mobile phone apps or online maps. Belonging to a charging station network often provides additional exposure on these tools, but sites like the Department of Energy (DOE) AFDC station locator and PlugShareLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. will include any EVSE that they are made aware of. At your site, if the station is not located in a very visible parking space, then it is helpful to have signage to direct EV drivers. The EVSE Signage Overview [PDF] outlines industry-accepted and Department of Transportation-authorized signage. Signs also provide the opportunity to further promote this environmental effort you are supporting and it might help answer some questions for clients that are not familiar with EV charging stations.

What kind of policies should I have for the use of the station?

Signage also helps notify everyone of the policies in place for using the stations. Most importantly, the charging station parking spaces should be available for EVs so you may want to restrict other vehicles from parking in these spaces. As demand for parking spaces with charging stations increases, you may want to implement further restrictions, such as ensuring that EVs parked there are actually charging or setting a time limit for how long an EV can charge there. A sign can inform drivers of the policy, but to be effective, you must also enforce the policy through tickets or towing of unauthorized vehicles as necessary. Read Charging Station Signage [PDF].

EV drivers have recently debated charging protocol, particularly in workplace and multifamily buildings where an EV might occupy the EVSE space for longer than it requires to fully charge. A vehicle that just needs “topping off” may remain plugged into a charging station for the full workday, which limits access for others. At workplaces or multifamily buildings, it might be useful to establish a charging protocol that addresses how EV drivers should communicate with each other to handle charging conflicts.

Why is workplace charging important?

Workplace charging is an employee benefit that allows EV owners to take full advantage of their vehicle's maximum daily driving range by recharging during the day while the vehicle is parked at a known destination for an extended period. As an employer, workplace charging visibly demonstrates commitment to sustainable energy, which draws customers and helps to attract or retain desirable tech-savvy employees. A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) surveyLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. indicated that employees with workplace charging are 20 times more likely to drive an EV, leading to more electric miles, less petroleum usage, and lower emissions. To exploit this potential benefit, DOE’s EV Everywhere Workplace Charging ChallengeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. aims to enroll 500 employers in a commitment to workplace charging station installation by 2018.

NYSERDA's Workplace Charging Brochure provides an overview of the potential benefits of installing charging stations at workplaces to guide employers through the process of planning, installing, and managing EV charging infrastructure. EV charging stations at workplaces can benefit employers and their employees alike if the investment is properly justified, the right hardware is selected, the units are installed in a cost-effective and user-friendly location, and appropriate usage policies are established. Employers, as the site owner, should establish company policies and practices for EV-driving employees. These include specific safety, registration, billing, and access considerations. More detailed information is available in NYSERDA's Workplace Charging Policies and Best Practices document.

The Department of Energy’s Level 1 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at the WorkplaceLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. provides guidance and detailed information on options for installing and hosting level 1 charging stations for employees.

What are DC fast charging stations?

DC fast charging stations are considerably more expensive to install and operate than AC Level 2 charging stations, but the DC chargers can facilitate a significant expansion in how EVs are used. These charging stations can provide an 80% recharge in as little as 20 minutes, but can cost up to $100,000 to install and may be expensive to operate if they lead to large, new electricity demand charges. DC fast charging stations strategically located at highway rest areas, near highway exits, and at other locations within the driving range of an EV can enable these vehicles to be used for long distance travel with only short stops for charging.

Tesla Motors has embraced this strategy and built enough stations to drive coast to coast in the U.S. Some think DC fast charging will become more common as an option for everyday charging and have begun setting up networks of DC fast charging stations throughout cities. 

Where can I find more in-depth information?

  • Best Practices Guide for Commercial Site Owners highlights best practices and lessons learned from NYSERDA's EV charging station deployment program installations.
  • EVSE Cluster Analysis Study [PDF], which outlines the factors that contribute to a good EV charging location for specific venues
  • Siting and Design Guidelines for EVSE [PDF], which explains the key installation, access, and operation elements to consider for various contexts
  • Case Studies, which includes real-world examples of New York State installations in different venues that provide insight into practices that should be encouraged and mistakes that should be avoided for a successful installation