Jurisdictional Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Requirements
By Christopher J. Barker, PE | Principal, Electrical Engineering | Seattle Office
As EV charging increases in demand, facility owners and operators increasingly find that the requirements governing the installation, use, and required number of charging stalls have differing jurisdictional standards. EV charging requirements vary by state jurisdiction, and for some cities, local jurisdiction requirements must also be complied with.
In addition to knowing and understanding state and local requirements, the codes that make EV charging a requirement are not consistently located. They can be in energy codes, electric codes, building codes, land use code, and in local ordinances. To further complicate projects, EV requirements can change location from one code cycle to the next. Codes often go from an ordinance to part of an energy code or building code as a jurisdiction grows its EV charging capabilities. Coffman Engineers is well-versed in designing EV chargers and infrastructure while complying with new and evolving jurisdictional codes.
EV charging infrastructure requirements for commercial buildings vary by municipality, facility type, and the number of parking spaces. Jurisdictions often use the same terms but not necessarily the exact definition. Some frequently used terms and their most common definitions include:
- Infrastructure: An electrical room, sized to accommodate distribution equipment required to serve future EV charging stations. Some jurisdictions also require distribution equipment to be installed.
- EV-Capable: A raceway must be installed to accommodate future EV charging stations.
- EV-Ready: A raceway, breaker, and wiring must be installed to accommodate future EV charging stations.
- EV-Installed: Operational EV charging stations must be installed.
Types of EV Chargers
EV chargers come in different voltage power levels. Level 1 is a household 120V, single-phase 20A power outlet. Level 2 is a 208V, single-phase power outlet of varying capacities, from 20 Amps to 50 Amps, and DC fast chargers. One important consideration is that not all electric vehicles can take power from a DC fast charger. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers use a car’s onboard charger to convert AC to DC to charge the batteries. DC fast chargers convert AC to DC before giving it to the vehicle. Each Level of charger also comes as a stand-alone, dual head, or as a part of an automatic load management system (ALMS). The following provides additional details of each charger level’s capabilities:
Level 1 chargers are commonly found on single-family units. Individual charging stations are fed from separate breakers and circuitry.
Level 2 chargers are commonly found at business locations and occasionally at single-family residences. Equipment options include dual head stations that can power share. They are fed from one circuit, and the load is shared between two heads (Level 2). For example, a 70Amp breaker would feed a dual head that shares 50A of charge between both heads. This way, if only one car is charging, then it gets 50 Amps if two cars are charging, both get 25 Amps until one is charged, then the other car gets 50 Amps again.
DC Fast Chargers
DC fast chargers are often found at freeway charging stations and can provide up to an 80% charge in 20 minutes. This equipment creates a large electrical load on a building’s electrical system.
Stand Alone/Individual Charging Station
Individual charging stations are common where a few charging stations are required. Individual stations can be mounted by themselves or in pairs. Each station is fed separately.
Dual Head Charging Station
Dual head station can have 1 or 2 power feeds. Some single-feed models can sense if both heads are being used for charging and divide the power between them or provide all the power to one head if only one car is charging. Dual-head charging stations are common where medium to small chargers are required.
Automatic Load Management Systems
Automatic Load Management Systems (ALMS) are allowed by many jurisdictions in place of individually fed charging stations. An ALMS has a single power feed with a set maximum power usage. The maximum power usage can be at the building level or the EV charging level, depending on the infrastructure installed. If more cars are charging than the power available, the ALMS will give less power to each vehicle. This method allows more cars to charge at once and works best for parking lots with workers parking for eight hours at a time or in residential buildings where a person would park overnight. An ALMS can also provide faster charging to a car with less than eight hours to charge for an additional fee. An ALMS can also notify the driver that their car charging is complete. ALMSs are often where the user pays a fee for charging and provides an incentive to move the car when charging is complete so the next car can charge. An ALMS works well where many charging stations are required to be used concurrently.
As EV technology evolves, our infrastructure naturally follows. Coffman can help navigate the frequently changing jurisdictional requirements and life safety and code requirements that are now required when creating a new or renovated facility that includes EV charging or parking. We are here as a resource to help your project efficiently integrate EV infrastructure.
For more information, contact Christopher Barker, PE.