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Networked vs. Non-Networked Chargers for Hosts

Posted 01/10/2020

It’s essential to understand the differences in networked and non-networked stations before choosing an EV charging solution for your business. Both types of chargers provide the energy necessary to power an electric vehicle (EV); however, they have significant differences in the initial costs, ongoing costs, accessibility, and maintenance.

Networked charging stations are connected remotely to a larger network and are part of an infrastructure system of connected chargers. As such, the chargers have remote access to online management tools through an online portal known as an EVSE network.

In comparison, non-networked charging stations are stand-alone units that are not part of an EVSE network. Due to the fact that they are not connected to a network infrastructure, they are not accessible remotely.

It is important to understand the most important differences in networked and non-networked stations for host locations. There are many advantages beyond remote access to networked charging stations.

Purchase and Installation Costs

Typically, non-networked stations, such as the Blink HQ 100 (residential charger), are less expensive to purchase as they do not have integrated technology that allows them to connect to the EVSE network. They can cost anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to purchase. A Level 2 commercial EV charger which connects to an EVSE network may cost a few thousand dollars, depending on the technology and manufacturer. For example, the Blink IQ 200 typically retails for $3,500, although the purchase price can be offset with Blink’s various business models, as well as federal and state incentives and rebates.

The installation of the wiring required for both non-networked and networked EV chargers is the same and varies depending on the site. Installation can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re considering the installation of an EV charging station, it is best to work with a professional such as Blink’s installation team to help you understand why installation costs vary and how to minimize them.

Ability to Set Pricing of EV Charging

Since non-networked stations do not access internet systems, they do not have the ability to charge a fee for usage. This means that if you install a non-networked EV charger, you will be committing to providing free charging to anyone who plugs in. You are also unable to monitor usage. You will only be able to see the total electricity consumed by the unit in a given period of time. Because you cannot resell the electricity, costs of operation can vary from a few dollars a month for a station rarely used to thousands of dollars a month for stations that are continually in use.

By nature, networked charging stations offer full control of the units, including the ability to charge a fee for the electricity consumed. As they connect to a larger network infrastructure, they also store the station’s usage data, including the number of charges per day/time, time of use, electricity consumed per charge, and more. Detailed reports can be run from your EVSE network provider, such as the Blink network. These reports can be employed to understand your station’s use, revenue, and electricity costs. Although networked charging stations typically require a monthly network fee, because of the electricity consumed, some EV charging providers, such as Blink, may agree to reimburse you for electricity used at the charging station.

Promotion of the Charging Station

Non-networked stations do not appear on EVSE charging maps, as they are not connected to a larger network. They must manually be added to EV driver resources online, although they rarely are. If your EV charger is missing from Google Maps, Plugshare, and the Blink map, EV drivers cannot find and use your charging station. This means your charging station cannot be actively promoted like networked charging stations which are visible online to EV drivers everywhere.

Maintenance of the Station

From time to time, maintenance of your EV charger may be required or the charger may need to be rebooted following an electrical event. With a networked charging station, maintenance is simple and can remotely be troubleshot and often fixed without requiring any human intervention. EV charging station providers, such as Blink, have a Network Operations Center that remotely monitors, and fixes hosts’ chargers should they stop connecting to the network. Without this ability in non-networked stations, any repair will require a service technician to physically come to the unit to troubleshoot and repair the unit if it stops working. A maintenance visit of this type can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars every time the station has a problem.

What Other Types of Control Do Networked Chargers Offer Owners?

Owners of networked systems can control who has access to the charger, how long it can be used, which hours it operates, and have the ability to remotely start and stop the charger. Most business owners who install EV charging stations prefer the control that comes with networked systems.

When deciding if a networked or non-networked EV charging station is best for your business, these points will help make the choice that’s right for you. A non-networked charger is like a bottle of water left on a front porch. The homeowner cannot control who comes up on the porch and takes a sip or how much they take. Likewise, anyone can plug into a non-networked charger, and electricity flows. If you would like to control who can use the charger, how often, how much electricity they can use, and if they pay for it, Blink recommends a networked system.

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