As more EV (electric vehicle) charging stations come onto the market, choosing the right option is becoming increasingly difficult for property owners and managers. Even with recommendations from trusted contractors, the many features and options can make the idea of EV charging intimidating and confusing.
Uncertain of which route to take, managers often choose the simplest and most cost-efficient solution, a “dumb” station. A dumb EV charging station is a non-networked device that only serves as a power source. These stations lack the hardware and software needed to connect to the internet. This means that they can’t process credit card payments or communicate with tracking software and mobile apps.
In most cases, the better option for businesses is to install networked, or “smart,” EV charging stations. Unlike dumb stations, smart chargers can connect to a cloud-based network and charging software. This gives station owners access to advanced tracking and access control. Here are some of the features offered with SemaConnect’s smart EV charging solutions.
All SemaConnect smart commercial EV charging stations use a built-in 4G LTE signal to seamlessly connect to the SemaConnect Network. This allows station owners to use many features that are unavailable with dumb chargers.
- Pricing control: While some station owners choose to offer free EV charging, most prefer to charge a fee for usage and/or electricity. With smart EV charging stations, properties can set a variety of pricing options. The SemaConnect Network even allows station owners to manage pricing based on user groups and parking behavior.
- Access control: There are many reasons a station owner may want to restrict charging access. A workplace may only allow its employees to charge, or an apartment complex could restrict EV stations solely for their tenants. At these private stations, if an unknown or unapproved driver tried to charge, they would be unable to start a session.
- App interoperability: With networked connections, smart EV charging stations can communicate with the mobile apps drivers use. That means that drivers can use third-party applications to search for a station or start charging. The SemaConnect Network integrates with a number of other apps including Google Maps, Apple Maps, PlugShare, ChargeHub, and select vehicle navigation systems.
- Load management and demand response: As more EVs plug in to charge, they increase the load on the electrical grid. SemaConnect’s charging stations offer load management features so properties can limit energy usage at the station level. And if your utility offers incentives for participating in a demand response program, your smart stations have the technology needed to join the program and save on your utility bill.
With non-networked dumb EV charging stations, station owners cannot monitor station usage, manage revenue, restrict access, or track sustainability measures. In the world of big data, these metrics are critical to understanding the success of an EV charging program, making informed decisions, and justifying the cost of an EV charging program.
Networked EV charging stations also provide insight into carbon offset and financial ROI. SemaConnect’s cloud-based network offers a dashboard of system-wide and station-specific utilization (i.e., kilowatt hours of energy supplied per user). Station owners can view reports on utilization, charging status, revenue, energy consumption, carbon offset, and more. These reports make it easier to manage service and uncover potential expansion opportunities.
When your property’s stations are networked and open to the public, you are literally putting your business on the map. Think of charging apps as a way to further expose your business to more customers. EV drivers searching for “EV charging stations near me” can receive directions to your business through Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other navigation systems. Offering EV charging stations at your business can encourage patrons to spend more time in and around your establishment. Smart charging amenities can also boost your company’s reputation as an environmentally conscious business, helping attract customers and/or tenants.
Overall, while smart and dumb EV charging stations differ in price, they present an enormous contrast in value. For any property looking to maximize the value of its investment into EV charging, smart stations are the obvious choice. Connect with SemaConnect’s EV charging experts today to learn more about smart EV charging solutions and request a quote.
Laura Zabriskie is the Marketing Content Program Manager at SemaConnect. She brings a passion for writing and experience translating complex topics into content that is understandable and relevant to consumers. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Supply Chain Management from the University of Maryland College Park. Prior to joining SemaConnect, Laura worked at Greater Baltimore Medical Center where she created and managed content for clinical departments.