Be well prepared – and ask for help
by Jørn Wad
It’s incredibly important to learn as much as you can about what this actually is. Buying a charging station for electric cars for a housing cooperative or co-ownership scheme is not just ‘a slightly more expensive socket’. It really is a lot more than that.
Bjørn Myhren is head of a garage co-ownership scheme and looks back to the start of the process of putting the infrastructure in place to enable them to install charging stations:
Fortunately one of the board members had some expertise and a network with experience in this field. It quickly became clear that we would need specialist support, and the choice fell on OBOS Prosjekt. They found us a project manager who took care of the specialist details. For administration, the board appointed a project team to take care of the non-specialist administration, such as information, moving vehicles, applications from members who wanted charging stations, invitations to courses, etc. The whole process went tremendously smoothly, and the board received no negative feedback at any time in the process.
It’s already become a jungle of different systems out there, and in our situation, where we have 245 spaces, we could easily have made some very wrong choices. Our system comes from Zaptec, and I can’t praise OBOS Prosjekt and Elektro Nettverk Service AS highly enough, as they have been excellent partners. It’s one thing to deliver a good system, but it also has to operate smoothly and cost-effectively. And this is what we have achieved, he says.
How did the technical installation go?
Well, we had to have a ‘state of emergency’ for several months and allow people to park wherever they wanted in the garage, which meant that owners of numbered garage spaces which were occupied had to park in other available spaces or beside the walls. No one had any objections to this, but we had one situation when an owner had not read the information. That person was extremely negative until the misunderstanding had been cleared up and the offended party had received an apology. And now that everything has been finished with no particular problems, everyone is happy, he smiles.
You have chosen something called a ‘smart system’. Why, and how does that work in practice?
It is vitally important to have this kind of system, because it will both save energy and ensure that everyone gets a full charge. It also simplifies things for the people who need to make sure that everyone is paying the right amount for their share of consumption.I currently manage this 100% online, and I am aware at all times of how many kW every person has used. It also gives us a monitoring system that everyone has access to, and we are really happy with that. Although it sounds simple, there is some advanced technology behind it. All this means that you have to make sure your suppliers are highly skilled and offer good-quality products. We received help from day one, and that’s something for which we’re particularly thankful. Without this help, we could have made a lot of expensive mistakes.
I noticed demand for something like this starting around 18 months ago. Initially the enquiries were fairly vague, but things have picked up lately, explains project manager Arild Myhre of Elektro Nettverk Service AS.
People want bigger and bigger systems, even though they may not have the expertise needed to make the right choices.
But this is something a lot of people want?
Yes, even though many of them may not have electric vehicles yet. In fact, you can now assume, at OBOS at any rate, that your apartment will go up in value by NOK 100-150,000 if it comes with an electric vehicle charging point.
What are the important things to bear in mind when choosing a system?
Find a system based on giving everyone equal access within the system, and make sure that it is intelligent enough to ensure that everyone will receive as much charge as possible, i.e. when one vehicle is fully charged, this power is distributed across the rest of the points. For administration, it’s important that this can be controlled through the cloud, i.e. over the Internet. The power available to these systems will be limited, which is why it’s extremely important for people to think about this and choose a system which can make the best possible use of the power which is available.
How much power is needed?
An electric car uses an average of 2 kWh for every 10 kilometres of driving, so you have to weigh up the need against the number of parking spaces.
A good system should allow all the available power to be distributed to all the connected cars, so that when they are fully charged, capacity is released for someone who puts their car on charge later in the day.
It should also have the capacity to ensure that almost all the cars receive some charge. In our experience, the minimum capacity of a charging station should be the number of electric vehicles x 1.4 kW. This design capacity, along with a dynamic load and phase-balanced system, will give you a charging system designed for future needs, not a minimum system which only meets current needs. After all, we have to assume that the number of electric vehicles will only continue to increase. 1.4 kW is the minimum charging power for most electric vehicles currently on the market.”