EV Charging Solutions for UK Businesses

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to commercial EV charger installation. As the business world shifts its fleets towards electric vehicles, access to efficient charging infrastructure is crucial. This guide is tailored to help your business navigate the tricky process of transitioning your fleet and installing chargers at your business.

We’ll cover the essentials of commercial EV charger installation, starting with the types of EV chargers suitable for businesses, and the pivotal considerations necessary for businesses switching to electric fleets.

Understanding the cost implications of charging EVs at a business sets a foundation for your business financial planning, our exploration into how to compare commercial EV charger installers gives you a framework to make informed decisions when choosing the best company to install your charger. Finally, we lay out a detailed roadmap for the commercial EV charger installation process. Once you finish this guide we hope you have a thorough understanding and actionable knowledge to facilitate the integration of EV charging infrastructure into your business.

row of instavolt EV chargers installed in a workplace

Charging Locations for Business Fleets

In the UK, there are three primary locations for EV charging: public, home, and workplace. Each location offers distinct advantages and caters to the different needs of EV users.

  • Public Charging
    Rapid Chargers: The amount of dedicated rapid charging stations, such as GRIDSERVE, is increasing rapidly in the UK. These charging stations are ideal for quick top-ups and long-distance travel.
    Overnight Charging: For slower, overnight charging, facilities are available in public car parks and on-street locations.

  • Home Charging
    Home charging provides the convenience of overnight charging, supplying all the daily driving range required by the average driver at the cheapest EV tariff rates. This is particularly beneficial for drivers who may not have regular access to workplace charging facilities.

  • Workplace Charging
    Workplace charging stands out as the most convenient and secure option for business employees. It allows the charging of electric vehicles at the workplace or vehicle depots.

MORE> Making The Switch to Electric HGVs

Types of EV Chargers for Businesses

Businesses in the UK have several options for charging a vehicle on business premises:

AC Charging for Businesses: Slow to Fast Options

AC (Alternating Current) charging involves using the main power supply to charge EVs. The power output typically ranges from 3kW to 22kW, occasionally reaching up to 43kW. All new EVs in the UK use a Type-2 connector for AC charging, though some older models might have Type-1 connectors.

AC chargers are predominantly “not tethered”, meaning users need to provide their charging cable. This flexibility can be advantageous for businesses catering to a variety of EVs. The charging speed of AC chargers is limited by the vehicle’s maximum AC charging capacity.

DC Charging: Rapid Charging Solutions for Businesses

DC (Direct Current) charging offers much higher power, up to 350kW, facilitating rapid charging experiences. While 50kW chargers were once the norm, there’s a growing trend towards 150kW or higher chargers, reflecting advancements in technology and the need for quicker charging solutions.

Unlike AC charging, DC charging doesn’t require an onboard charger in the vehicle. The necessary powerful electronics are housed in the charging unit itself, enabling faster energy transfer.

Using a 3-pin Plug for Businesses

Granny chargers are the most basic type of EV charger, they use a standard UK 3-pin plug. While they offer the slowest charging speed, granny chargers can be a potential solution for businesses whose employees need a trickle top-up charge throughout the day. These chargers are convenient due to their compatibility with standard electrical sockets but are limited by slower charging speeds and are generally more suited to individual use rather than fleet operations.

Considerations for Switching to Electric Fleets

One of the primary challenges is finding electric vehicle charge points. Unlike petrol stations, EV chargers may not be as prominently located, often found in distant car parks or less frequented areas. For a Business to use electric vehicles in its day-to-day operations, its drivers must have access to information about all the charging stations in their vicinity, including details about connector compatibility, charging speed, and the current status of the chargers. Mobile apps have emerged as a practical solution, offering drivers a centralized platform to find this information quickly and efficiently.

Another significant consideration is the diversity of charging networks. The UK boasts over 80 different charging networks, each with its own app, card, and potentially its own subscription service. This scenario can be cumbersome for drivers, who may need to juggle multiple apps and cards and face the inconvenience of not having the right access tool for a specific charger.

Paying to charge the EVs is another aspect that businesses need to manage. While some charging points accept credit card payments, others may require a specific app or subscription-linked payment method. This variety can make the payment process complex, especially when it comes to obtaining receipts. A unified billing system, such as Paua, consolidates all charging data across the business fleet is a great idea to simplify this process.

Cost of Charging at a Business

For UK businesses transitioning to electric fleets, you need to consider the total cost of charging, not just the installation of a commercial charger. It’s not just about the electricity cost either, but also about the infrastructure, operating expenses, asset utilisation, and tax implications. By considering these factors, businesses can develop a more effective strategy for integrating EVs into their fleets and managing the associated costs.

Marginal vs. Total Cost of Commercial Charging

  • Marginal Cost
    This is essentially the cost of the electricity used for charging. Often cited when discussing home charging, this figure usually omits additional costs such as installation or maintenance of home charge points.
  • Total Cost
    In contrast, the total cost of charging includes not only the cost of electricity but also the cost of the charging infrastructure. This is more commonly referred to in the context of public charging and considers the broader expenses associated with charging.

Installation and Operating Costs

  • Charger Types
    The choice between AC (fast) and DC (rapid/ultra-rapid) charging impacts installation costs. AC chargers are generally less expensive and easier to install, particularly in settings like car parks. In contrast, DC chargers, particularly rapid and ultra-rapid ones, are more costly due to higher installation expenses and additional civil works required.
  • Operating Expenses
    Running costs for EV chargers include software for managing tariffs, payments, and troubleshooting, along with electricity costs, maintenance, and insurance. These costs are often overlooked in home charging setups but are crucial for public chargers.

Tax Considerations

  • VAT
    The Value Added Tax (VAT) rates differ between home and public charging in the UK. Home charging currently benefits from a lower VAT rate of 5%, while public charging is taxed at the standard rate of 20%. This variance can significantly affect the overall cost of charging for businesses.

The Steps to Installing Commercial EV Chargers

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the steps to guide you through planning and installing an EV charger at a commercial business. 

  1. Consider if the planned charger location meets the EV charger installation requirements. If you are planning to install units in a private car park you are likely to meet the requirements. The key considerations are that the parking must be off-street, you must be no closer than 2 meters away from a public road and if you are using an upstand it should be no taller than 2.3 meters high.

  2. Get a written letter of authority from the landowner. According to the Federation of Small businesses statistics, there are 5.5 million businesses in the UK and the majority of those businesses do not own their premises, they lease them from a 3rd party landlord. If you are planning to install an EV charger on a leased property you must have written permission from the property owner before doing so.

  3. Speak to a qualified EV charger installer. You can expect a site visit to discuss the installation and the type of chargers you may be interested in. The installer will need to assess the electricity supply at your premises. If you are looking to install a 22kW fast charger then you may need to upgrade your electricity supply from a single phase to a 3-phase supply.

    The installer will need to assess the consumer unit at your business, if this is dated or lacking space you can expect them to recommend upgrading this equipment. They will also likely check the route from the consumer unit to the charge station to assess if there will be any additional costs involved in working out a non-standard route.

  4. Assess if you qualify for the Workplace Charging Scheme. This government incentive provides up to 75% off the cost of a charger and installation (up to £350) in the form of a voucher. Most UK businesses can apply for this voucher provided you are only offering the charging units to staff and not members of the public. You must also declare that you are either switching to an electric fleet or that you are encouraging staff to switch. You can apply for the Workplace Charging Scheme directly from this government application form.

  5. Write an EV charging workplace policy  
    Once the EV chargers are in place and ready to use, it’s good practice to produce a workplace charging policy to guide employees and visitors around the usage of the charging points.

    The policy should cover the amount of usage permitted per employee and the etiquette around how and when they can use the charge points. Ensure the policy has been shared with the team and is visible to any visitors who may wish to use the stations.
off street private business car park with barriers
Parking must be off-street and private

What Are the Benefits?

Installing an EV charger for your team to use has a wide range of business benefits:

  • Employee welfare
    Providing the team with the ability to charge an EV at work is a great benefit for staff to enjoy. It may be that employees no longer need to invest in a home EV charge point, saving them additional money as well as convenience. This will demonstrate to your team that staff welfare is considered and valued, which in turn will improve employee retention and motivation.

  • Reducing company fuel costs
    If your business uses a fleet of vehicles in its day-to-day operations then a switch from petrol to Electric will reduce business overheads, and the installation of on-site EV charging stations will become a practical necessity.

  • Internal Branding and social responsibility
    Going beyond staff welfare, the internal image of corporate responsibility is an important one to portray to a team. Demonstrating to staff that you are committed to environmental causes makes your business more rewarding to work for.
  • Employee convenience
    Workplace EV charging provides employees with a convenient and accessible location to charge their electric vehicles while they are at work. This eliminates the need for employees to rely solely on public charging infrastructure, reducing potential range anxiety and making EV ownership more feasible.

  • Attraction and retention of talent
    Offering EV charging as an employee benefit can enhance a company’s appeal to prospective employees and aid in employee retention. As the popularity of EVs continues to grow, job seekers are increasingly considering workplace charging availability when choosing an employer.

  • Sustainability and environmental impact
    Workplace EV charging promotes sustainable transportation options by encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles. By providing charging infrastructure, businesses contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, aligning with sustainability goals and corporate social responsibility.

  • Cost savings for staff
    EV charging at the workplace will result in cost savings for employees. Employees can benefit from reduced charging costs compared to public charging stations. Employees can make further tax savings by utilising EV salary sacrifice schemes.

  • Future-proofing
    By investing in workplace EV charging infrastructure, businesses prepare themselves for the anticipated growth of electric vehicles in the market. This positions them ahead of the curve, ready to accommodate the evolving transportation landscape and the increasing demand for EV charging.

Overall, workplace EV charging offers numerous advantages, ranging from employee satisfaction and retention to environmental benefits and cost savings.

Charging Staff for Using EV Points

The decision to charge staff for using EV charging points at the workplace is ultimately up to the employer. So yes if you choose to you can charge staff to user chargers. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Fairness and equity
    If employers charge for EV charging, they should ensure that the system is fair and equitable. Consider implementing a transparent and consistent charging policy that applies to all employees, regardless of their vehicle type or charging needs.

  2. Employee morale
    Charging employees for using workplace EV charging points may impact employee morale, especially if it is a new cost that was previously free.

  3. Incentives and benefits
    Alternatively, employers may choose to offer EV charging as an employee benefit without charging fees. This can enhance the overall employee experience, attract talent, and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

Before implementing any charging fees, it is advisable to carefully consider the financial implications, employee perspectives, and the overall goals of promoting electric vehicle adoption. Openly communicate any workplace charging policies to employees and allow for feedback to ensure transparency and understanding.

Reducing Installation Costs with Grants

There is an OZEV grant called the Workplace Charging Scheme that reduces the cost of workplace charger installation. The Workplace Charging Scheme provided businesses with a 75% discount on the cost of a charging unit and the installation of the unit. This is capped at £350 and cannot be used on more than 40 units per company.

Any business in the UK no matter how large or small is eligible for the grant (not only businesses, charities and public sector organisations are now able to apply too). The WCS online application form is quick and simple to use, you will need to provide business contact details, information about where the chargers are being installed and provide a declaration as to why your business qualifies.

Electric camper van charging in a supermarket car park
Supermarkets are eligible for the Workplace Charging Scheme

Benefit in Kind Considerations

A benefit in kind is a ‘non-cash’ benefit that has a monetary value, as it has a monetary value the benefit in kind could be taxed in the same way as wages. Is workplace charging treated as a benefit in kind? No, the Benefit in Kind (BIK) rules for EVs are different to petrol vehicles and there is a tax exemption in place to ensure that workplace charging is not treated as a benefit in kind.

This exemption allows employees to benefit from workplace charging providing they are at their place of work and they are either driving or are a passenger in the vehicle being charged. The exemption will cover the electricity charge and the costs associated with the employer installing the charging station.

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