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Using Cellular Repeaters for Your EV Chargers

Posted 04/21/2020

It’s happened to us all. You’re in the middle of an important conversation in a large building, take the elevator down to the garage, and lose the call. It’s difficult to stay connected to a call from inside a garage, and if the garage is underground, it’s nearly impossible. EV chargers in garages face the same issue — the inability to get a clear signal. Without the ability to connect to their network online, chargers cannot set schedules, create reports, or charge for electricity. More owners of garages are installing EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) every day. How do they make it work? There is a solution that makes EV chargers usable practically anywhere — a cellular repeater. It can instantly help almost any location receive a signal.

What is a Cellular Repeater?

A cellular repeater system captures an available signal using an outside antenna. It takes the cellular signal from outside where the signal is clear, amplifies it, then repeats the signal inside the garage. Sina Khanifar, CEO of Waveform says, “The two main things are power and connectivity. In order to be able to create reservations and bill users, most manufacturers are choosing to use cellular connectivity. And since most indoor parking garages are all concrete, that means getting cellular signal into the buildings.” There are three essential pieces to a cellular repeater: an outside antenna, an amplifier, and an inside antenna.

If I Deploy EVSE in a Garage, Do I Need a Cellular Repeater?

If your equipment is unable to connect to the network, probably. When a garage doesn’t get good cell reception, a cellular repeater is the best answer for getting the chargers to communicate. It allows the chargers to use their cellular modems (versus wi-fi) as well as allowing your clientele to make phone calls in the garage. You locate it near the chargers and power it with a 120-volt circuit (or just a regular outlet). The unit itself has an antenna that broadcasts the cell signal to the chargers (which is why you locate it near the chargers). There is a cable coming out of the repeater that goes to the receiving antenna. You locate the receiving antenna outside where it gets a cell signal. That signal travels through the wire down to the cellular receiver. A cell signal is also necessary if a driver wants to use the Blink App to start a charge or if they need to call Blink Support for help.

How Well Do Cellular Repeaters Actually Work?

Cellular repeaters are common in many parking garages, especially those with electric vehicle charging stations. As long as there is a spot outside that gets a good connection, the amplifier will repeat the connection inside. They also come with the added bonus for your clientele to able to use their cell phones even in the deepest garage. As the number of EVs on the road grow exponentially, more and more EV charging stations are necessary. In urban areas, there are many dark spots for signals, in garages, around corners, and in the shadow of skyscrapers. Cellular repeaters are the key to gaining a signal in blocked areas that will allow every garage facility to become an EV charging destination.

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