KNOW YOUR INSTALLER: Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Electrician to Install your Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Before you trust your charging station to just any electrician, know what questions to ask – your new EV’s performance depends on it!
EV Charging Stations: Installed
Your Electric Vehicle Charging station specialist (say that five times fast….!) probably works in a larger contracting office. How does the office operate? Since installing your charging dock is a bit more complicated than hanging a chandelier, it’s a good idea to find out whether the office has a written and enforced health and safety program, and that the person performing your service has an updated license. Because the install process requires certification, permitting, warranty administration and inspection, it also helps if the office has administrative staff to handle the paperwork behind the scenes – so you won’t have to worry about it.
➢ Updated licenses
➢ Health and safety program
➢ Ability to manage documentation
Is your EV charging specialist close by, and what’s his response time? If your charging dock is down, is the contractor at first capable of helping you over the phone? A good majority of troubleshooting issues can be resolved remotely – your specialist should be well-versed in easy fixes. But if you need him to show up on site – how quickly can he come? And if you’re having trouble charging and it’s after-hours or on the weekend, will he be available – and will he charge you for the service? Does the contractor have a 24/7 call center hotline?
➢ Proximity to your home
➢ Response time
➢ Phone troubleshooting support
➢ Weekend/after-hours availability
➢ 24/7 call center
Your installer or his contracting company should come to you with a lot of experience already under his belt from actual installations, installation training and, certification in Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) installation. Training and certification should include in-depth installation training as well as a detailed review of the market, electric vehicle models, frequently asked questions about EV charging, product features, how to individualize each custom installation, and how to train drivers in using the charging dock. Does the company hold any additional certifications or belong to any related organizations? Does the installer or the contracting company make use of any field service tools, such as an EV troubleshooting or load simulating device? Does the contractor have experience in other alternative energy or sustainability projects? Is the contractor well versed in various EV models and does he know what’s coming in the future, so that your installation won’t need to be upgraded again next year? As part of the EV charging certification, has the installer been taught the “ins and outs” of a standard Level 2 EVSE charging dock, and is he prepared to train you on how to use and troubleshoot it, once it’s installed? Driver training is especially critical – you want all your questions answered, and you want to know that once the installer leaves, you’ll be able to successfully use your charging dock and get on the road.
➢ Certified to install EV support systems
➢ Additional certifications/organization membership
➢ Availability of service and diagnostic tools to verify proper installation and troubleshoot the charging dock
➢ Experience in alternative energy projects
➢ Knowledge of various EV models (present and future)
➢ Understanding of the EV market
➢ Knowledge of Level 2 EVSE equipment
➢ Troubleshooting expertise
➢ Real-life EVSE installation experience
Commercial EV Charging Installations
If you own a car dealership, a business, retail establishment, or other commercial property, it’s even more important to investigate hiring a contracting company. Commercial installations can be very involved and require fairly complex installation schemes involving an array of charging station models in various locations. The installation may even involve a high-powered, high-voltage DC fast charger that is considerably more complex to install than the Level 2 AC EVSE. In addition to the above questions for residential installations, here’s a checklist of questions to ask if you are a business owner looking for someone to install charging stations at your commercial location:
1. Does the contractor perform criminal background checks on employees? Is there a drug-free workplace policy? Electricians hired by your contractor will be in and out of your facility and may interact with your employees. It’s best to know that all contractors on the job are professional and safe.
2. (If dealership) Does the contractor currently provide services to automotive dealerships? If you’re an auto dealership, it’s a big “plus” to hire an installer who is familiar with the ins and outs of dealerships and where to install the charging systems for maximum operating efficiency.
3. Does the contractor have on staff commercial electricians who are certified to install both Level 2 AC EVSEs and Level 3 DC “fast” chargers? If you’re looking to install high-power fast chargers that refuel in minutes, certification in these technologies is a must-have – short cuts could result in safety hazards or ineffective installations.
4. What is the contractor’s Experience Modification Rating (EMR) for 2009 and 2010? EMRs are an indicator of workers? compensation claims and a good indication of the contractor’s past safety issues.
5. Does the contractor utilize bar code scanning to track and manage inventory? If you’re installing more than one charger, you’re managing inspection, warranties, and documentation on a charging station “fleet.” Bar code scanning and in-field monitoring devices such as PDAs and smart phones help your contractor to manage the paperwork and inventory for you – so you don’t have to worry about it.
6. Does the contractor provide training for your employees or residents on how to use and service the Charging Dock? Getting the necessary knowledge from a certified professional on how to use and service the Charging Dock is especially important when you have to train your employees. Make sure your installer runs through all the steps for charging and servicing so that you are prepared for questions if they come up.