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Should You Install EV Charging Stations For Your Eco-Conscious Customers?

If you live in a part of the country where electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly increasing in popularity, you may have already begun to notice electric charging stations popping up in parking spaces around your city. These charging stations can provide the convenient service of "filling up" an EV while the driver is running errands or otherwise occupied. How do you know whether it's worthwhile to invest in a few EV charging stations for your own parking lot? Read on to learn more about the costs and benefits of this process.

How do you know whether installing EV charging stations is worth it for your business?

Much like other alternative power sources, EV charging stations don't make sense everywhere -- and if your area has relatively few electric vehicles or if you already have an EV charging station set up just down the block, installing these stations at your own business is unlikely to be cost-effective.  

However, if a number of your customers (or potential customers) already have EVs, installing charging stations can help provide them with the additional security of knowing they'll be able to make a trip to your business without risking a drained battery. Because many EVs still operate on a fairly limited mileage range per charge, knowing that there's an available charging station at your business can encourage potential customers to travel to the area.

You'll also want to evaluate your customer base when making this decision. If you tend to offer products or services enjoyed by those with more disposable income, you're probably more likely to have success with EV charging stations than if you tend to cater to those who are living paycheck to paycheck or who don't have many assets at their disposal. Even the least expensive electric vehicles are often pricier than their gasoline counterparts, making it less likely that those with few economic means will be able to take advantage of your new charging stations. 

How much will you pay to install an EV charging station at your place of business? 

One of the most important factors to consider when taking the plunge into purchasing an EV charging station is cost. Unless you're deeply committed to the idea of EVs and are willing to take a financial loss to achieve the greater goal of encouraging EV use in your city, you'll need to determine whether you're likely to recoup enough to break even within the first couple of years. 

For a five-station parking garage EV charger, you can expect to pay around $4,000 -- including installation. Curbside charging stations are more expensive due to the additional wires and cables that often need to be run, and can range anywhere from $5,500 for a dual station to $9,000 for a single station. 

These installation costs can be defrayed by charging a per-hour fee to any customers or members of the public who take advantage of your charging station. You'll want to include the current electricity rate when figuring a rate to charge customers. Alternatively, you may be able to offer "free" charging in exchange for a minimum purchase at your business to help drive customer traffic.