May 30, 2023

Top Five Ways the 2023 NEC Will Impact EV Charging Station Installation Contractors


8 Min. Read

As global efforts shift toward eco-friendly energy solutions, electric vehicle (EV) usage is becoming increasingly widespread. This trend has led to a surge in EV demand, prompting electrical service providers to frequently install charging stations in residential and commercial spaces. 

This situation allows businesses to cater to the expanding market, but setting up EV charging stations poses several obstacles that are actually great opportunities. EV owners often seek extra electrification services to optimize their experiences, such as smart panel installation, battery storage integration, and solar panel connectivity. 

In addition to managing the volume of installations, electrical service providers must navigate various technical and regulatory hurdles to satisfy this demand. One challenge is ensuring that residential and commercial electrical systems comply with the most recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes and standards. To achieve this, electrical service providers must become well-versed in these regulations. 

In this article, we examine the top five challenges electrical service providers encounter while setting up EV charging stations, and we suggest practical solutions to tackle these obstacles.

1. Finding Enough Qualified Electricians

The first challenge the electrical service providers face is finding enough qualified electricians. Let’s look at this issue in more detail in this section. 

According to recent JD Power Research, charging station availability is a significant concern among US consumers and a top barrier to greater EV adoption. Those concerns are becoming a reality with the rise in demand for EV charging stations. 

As the country moves towards a more sustainable future, climate laws and regulations mandating the use of EV chargers, heat pumps, and other electrification equipment have increased the demand for electrical services. And with that growth, the need for skilled electricians also increases. 

Currently, the existing pool of qualified electricians is not sufficient enough to meet the growing demand for EV charging stations, leading to delays in installation for homeowners, multifamily properties and other organizations. The country now faces a challenge in finding enough qualified electrical service contractors to install and maintain these stations. 

Meanwhile, concerns still remain that the shortage of skilled workers may impede the industry’s growth and prevent the United States from achieving its climate goals. 

Despite the challenges, electrical service contractors are exploring new strategies to attract and train more qualified workers. Solutions include investing in training programs, apprenticeships, on-the-job training and certifications to expand their existing pool of qualified electricians. 

Additionally, partnering with local trade schools and vocational programs to attract and train new talent can also help alleviate the shortage of skilled electricians. In relation to that, there are companies specializing in electrification services that electrical contractors can partner with to build out their workforce of electricians. 

The installation of EV charging stations requires specialized knowledge and expertise to ensure they are installed correctly and safely. To comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and other local regulations, contractors must keep up with the latest industry standards and regulations. 

2. Differing Electrical Services for Homes and Businesses 

Electrical services and existing electrical infrastructure for homes and buildings can vary widely. Additionally, these electrical infrastructures may need to be upgraded or load shedding technology must be implemented to accommodate the new EV charging load. 

The challenge for electric service contractors here is twofold: 

Electrical Contractors Must Determine if the Service is to Code

In line with the 2023 NEC updates, all EV charging supply systems must now be calculated (for feeders or services) at either 7,200W (volt-amperes) or the charging system’s nameplate rating, whichever is higher. Furthermore, there may be a need for extra emergency disconnects or updates to other parts of a user’s electrical system. Such additional electrical tasks will generally lead to increased installation expenses. 

Although some states have not embraced the most recent NEC, electrical service contractors should adopt the current standards for optimal results and safety. We will discuss this in greater detail below. 

Electrical Contractors Must Determine if the Service and Panel Can Support the Added Electrical Burden

Before initiating the installation of EV charging stations and other electrification services, it is crucial to consider the amperage requirements of the charging stations. 

An appropriate load calculation must be carried out to guarantee that installing an EV charging station will not strain the electrical panel or subpanel excessively. 

Electrical Contractors Must Stay Abreast of Recent Changes to the NEC 

Electrical contractors should also be aware of recent changes in the 2023 NEC edition. Recent changes include the NEC 220.5 (C) Load Requirements for dwelling units. Load requirements are the demand and energy for which a party is obligated to supply. The demand and energy go to homes, businesses, multifamily housing, etc., where people reside or spend time (dwelling units). 

NEC 220.5 (C) Load Requirements for Dwelling Units 

Electrical contractors should be aware of recent changes regarding general lighting load floor area for dwelling units. 

The following requirements are in the NEC 220.5 (C):

“For dwelling units, the general load shall not be less than 100 percent of the first 10kVA with 40 percent added to the remainder of the following loads: 33 volt-amperes/m2 or 3 volt-amperes/ft2 for general lighting and general-use receptacles.” 

“Areas such as garages, or unused or unfinished space(s) are no longer excluded from the calculated floor area of the building, dwelling unit or other area.”

The revision in section 220.12 of the NEC 2023 stipulates that the floor area calculation should now encompass the entire dwelling unit. 

This modification differs from a previous requirement, which instructed electrical contractors to exclude open porches, garages, or unoccupied or unfinished spaces unsuitable for future use from the calculated floor area. 

Other additional recent updates to the NEC include: 

  • 220.70 – Energy Management Systems: A new section has been introduced to outline load calculations for Energy Management Systems (EMSs). It expands on specific allowances, offering a fresh alternative for any load connected to a feeder or service conductor. In addition, these loads are controlled with a maximum limit that effectively limits the total simultaneous operation of loads. This enables property owners to implement EMS equipment without necessitating extensive electrical system upgrades. 
  • 625.6 – Listed Electrical Power Transfer: This amendment clarifies the required listing for electric vehicle power transfer equipment (encompassing charging, power export, or bi-directional current flow). 
  • 625.49 – Island Mode: A new section has been introduced, specifying that electric vehicle power export equipment and bidirectional electric vehicle supply equipment are permitted to be components of interconnected power systems functioning under island mode conditions. 

3. Consumer Requests for the Latest Technology and EVSE 

The demand for acquiring and setting up EVSE has been surging quickly. As a result, it has reached a critical point, signaling the potential for exponential growth and widespread acceptance in the upcoming years. 

EVSE encompasses equipment like: 

  • A meter-collar adaptor (MCA). 
  • A Level 2 EV charging station. 
  • Bidirectional charging. 
  • A microgrid interconnect device (MID). 

MIDs, MCAs, and bidirectional charging are spearheading the evolution of EVSE installation practices. 

Frequently employed as surge protectors, meter-collar adaptors help protect valuable appliances and electronic devices from lightning-induced surges or utility distribution malfunctions. Furthermore, MCAs enable the provision of power to charging stations without requiring an upgrade to the primary electrical panel. 

In compliance with the NEC’s electrical service disconnection requirements, microgrid interconnects devices are utilized with MCA installations. MIDs can disconnect and reconnect power sources and loads from the utility provider as needed. We can expect a seamless integration of MCAs and MIDs in the future. 

The installation of bidirectional charging allows residential and commercial property owners to use their EVs as alternative power sources. The viability of this function is contingent upon the specific EV and charging station installed. This innovative technology can also be deployed in EV fleets, potentially powering businesses and office complexes. 

Relatedly, Tom Moloughney shows the benefits and details some requirements for installing a bidirectional transfer system and is a great EV charging station education resource for yourself and your customers. 

Therein lies a challenge for electrical service contractors in this case. While EVSE can provide the benefits described above, it can also increase the difficulty in installing a charging station. 

4. Local and State Fire Protection Requirements 

The fourth obstacle electrical service contractors face pertains to the unique fire protection specifications tied to each EV charging station variant. These specifications rely on aspects like charger type, location (interior or exterior), and adjacent activities. Therefore, contractors must stay informed about these factors and their influence on EV charging station setups. In doing so, they can guarantee improved customer satisfaction and maximum safety. 

5. States Lagging in 2023 NEC Standardization 

The NEC undergoes updates every three years to enhance electrical safety standards. A significant challenge is that not all states follow the same NEC standard. Contractors must tackle this hurdle to install EV chargers and related equipment successfully. 

Although the 2023 NEC has been released, many states still adhere to 2020, 2017, or even 2008 codes. This slow adoption of updated codes can render EV charging stations and associated equipment unsafe for users and their installation more dangerous for electrical service contractors. 

To sidestep potential problems, EV charging station installation contractors should adhere to the latest NEC, irrespective of the state’s adopted version. By doing so, they are more likely to prevent complications associated with charging connectors, electrical services, fire protection, electrification technologies, and EVSE during usage or installation. 

How Qmerit Can Help 

Electrical service contractors must consistently strive to keep up with best practices and industry benchmarks such as the NEC. 

Qmerit’s Certified Solutions Partner program aids electrical service contractors in developing proficiency in cutting-edge electrification technologies through extensive training and ongoing education programs to support mastery of EV charging station technologies.

Members of Qmerit’s Certified Installer Network also benefit from unlimited access to on-demand training, resources, technical guides, and additional materials via the Qmerit Resource Center. 

Qmerit assists in growing your business by keeping you informed about best practices and offering ongoing education. Moreover, we grant companies exclusive access to electrification projects involving fleets, leading automakers, utilities, EV charger manufacturers, and more. 

Contact Qmerit today for more information about electric vehicle installations and other electrification technologies and to learn more about available resources for members of the Qmerit Certified Installer Network. Build your business for the future with Qmerit.

Author: Matt Trout

Matt Trout

President, Trout Electric