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Electric Vehicle Charging Station Safety

Embracing eco-friendly technologies has become increasingly important to businesses and consumers alike over the past decade. With the rising adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by the public, the demand for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) on insured properties has risen as more organizations look to better accommodate drivers and enhance the appeal of their property. Here we will cover some key precautions and considerations that should be taken if you decide to have EVCS on your property.

Equipment Selection

Selecting the type and brand of your EV chargers is one of the first steps to implementing an EVCS and can depend on the specific needs of your organization. Electric vehicle chargers come in different levels that indicate their charging speed and type. The three main levels are:

  • Level 1: Charging through common 120V residential outlet. This is the slowest charging option but can usually be self-installed without special equipment.

  • Level 2: The most commonly installed charging stations for commercial areas, they charge at 240V and offer faster charge times than level 1.

  • Level 3 (DC Fast Charging): Also known as rapid charging, level 3 chargers provide the fastest charging speeds. Many vehicles currently on the road are not equipped for level 3 charging, but it can be a good way to future-proof as this charging type becomes more common. It’s important to check which types of EVs will most commonly be charging at the station when determining the appropriate level.

Level 2 and 3 chargers typically require professional installation due to the higher voltages used, so keep this in mind when planning your EVCS. If your charger is federally funded through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, you will need to meet additional equipment and installation requirements. Information on the NEVI guidelines can be found here.

Physical Location and Accessibility

The location of the charging station plays a key role in safety. Ensure there is ample space and clearance around the charging station to avoid potential hazards. Be sure to check local government zoning laws and restrictions when considering the location. Adequate accessibility for emergency services and users with disabilities is essential to address any unforeseen emergencies effectively. Adding signage on the property can be a good way to indicate the location of charging stations to avoid confusion.

You should also consider locating the stations in well-lit visible areas and in view of security cameras if possible. This will help protect against criminal acts like vandalism and will give users added peace of mind. You can also install bollards to protect the chargers from intentional or unintentional collision by vehicles.

Installation and Maintenance

Proper installation by certified and experienced professionals is crucial for the safety and performance of the charging station. By ensuring things are installed professionally you can minimize the risk of electrical hazards and ensure a smoother user experience. Look for electricians and contractors qualified to install the charging station following industry standards and according to the manufacturer’s requirements.

Regular maintenance and inspection of the charging station will help identify and address potential malfunctions before they escalate into safety risks. Consult the charger manufacturer’s instructions for the proper inspection timeframes and procedures. Some chargers may require periodic maintenance by a professional.

Liability Concerns and Protection

There are a variety of safety concerns associated with having an EVCS on the property that may open you up to additional liability. Common safety concerns include:

  • Electrical Hazards: The risk of electrical hazards is one of the main concerns with EV charging stations. Charging stations should be installed by licensed and experienced professionals and adhere to all safety codes and regulations to minimize the risk of electrical malfunction.

  • Trip and Fall Hazards: Charging cables can create trip and fall hazards for users and nearby pedestrians. Avoid placing charging stations in high foot traffic areas or walkways without proper cable management and warning signage.

  • Property Damage: If a charger malfunctions and causes an electrical fire, this has the potential to impact nearby vehicles, structures or equipment. Try to place chargers away from flammable materials.

Finally, be sure to discuss plans with your insurance agent or broker to confirm your EVCS is properly protected with insurance coverage to address any claims arising from the operation.