Before selecting an EV Charger for your property, it’s important to understand the difference between networked and non-networked (i.e. stand-alone) charging stations.
While both chargers will satisfy your main goal of providing electric vehicle charging, there are some major differences in terms of usage, maintenance, initial costs, and more.
Networked charging stations are connected remotely to a larger network and are part of a digital infrastructure system of connected chargers.
With network access, EV chargers have additional capabilities that are beneficial for both the driver and the site host.
With networked chargers, drivers can use a smartphone app to gain real-time updates about their charging session, payment options, station locations, availability information and additional options such as reservations, summary reports, and more.
For site hosts, network access allows them to access services such advanced analytics, energy management features, usage reports, customer support, and more.
In Canada, there are 8 main networks:
- EcoCharge (primarily in Quebec)
- Electrify Canada
- SWTCH Energy
Individual provinces also have additional charging networks, such as BC Hydro EV in British Columbia, Ivy Charging Network in Ontario and the Electric Circuit in Quebec, to name a few. A full list is available on Electric Autonomy’s blog.
Non-networked chargers are stand-alone units that are not part of a broader network and cannot be accessed remotely. They allow safe and secure charging, but are limited in terms of the features available.
For one, without network access they cannot process payment the same way a networked charger can, so they are generally reserved for private residential groups or fleet applications. Although, depending on the charger, site hosts can install credit card readers to receive payment, but this may not always be an option.
Additionally while some stand-alone chargers provide you will not be able to generate detailed reports on station usage and energy management features like you would with a networked charger.
So which one is right for you?
When deciding which type of charger to purchase, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much am I able to invest up front?
2. Do I wish to require payment for usage of my charging station?
3. How do I plan to service my EV Charger when needed?
Purchase & Installation costs
In terms of purchase & installation costs, stand-alone chargers typically cost less money as they do not have the integrated technology that allows them to connect to a main network.
They are also slightly less expensive to install and usually have lower ongoing costs since there are no activation fees or recurring networking fees incurred.
Networked chargers have more bells and whistles built into their infrastructure, so as a result the charging unit itself will be a little more expensive as well as the cost to install them since there is additional work to get the charger up & running on the network, plus network fees.
While more expensive, networked chargers do provide more key benefits for both users and site owners.
Plus, you can often offset the purchase price with the provincial and federal rebates currently available as well as options for 3rd party financing, which is something our team will be introducing in the near future.
There is also potential to earn back some of your investment via a Carbon Credit Monetization program, like the program currently offered in British Columbia.
Setting a price for usage of your charging station
Networked charging stations offer the ability for site hosts to set a price per usage. Some chargers will accept universal payment methods such as credit cards, while others may be based on a subscription, which would require you to utilize a specific charging manufacturers app in order to pay for charging.
ChargePoint’s app for example allows you to add funds onto the app and will generally act as a payment card that you can actually tap against the charging station to make a payment.
For stand-alone chargers, some chargers may have an option to install credit card readers to receive payment from the public, but more often than not they are offered as a free service for a defined user-base.
When it comes to station maintenance and troubleshooting a networked charger, its fairly simple and can often be handled remotely via the manufacturers support team or the designated networks operations team (depending on the issue). As a result, many issues can often be resolved quickly!
Stand-alone chargers will likely require a service technician to come In-person to troubleshoot the unit, which can end up costing a couple hundred dollars or more with every visit.
So which option is right for you and your property?
There are many factors that can affect your decision to go with a networked charger or a stand-alone charger. When you're in the consideration stage, take a moment to answer those 3 questions above.
The next step after that would be to discuss your options with knowledgeable EV Charging Consultants who can provide you with pricing and help weigh the pros & cons of either option.
If you are considering an EV Charging project and would like a no-obligation consultation, feel free to reach out to our team!