Benefits of Home Charging Electric Pickup Trucks

July 3, 2024
Charging EVs at home ensures that employees start the day at full charge while reducing operational costs.

Construction equipment managers are no strangers to the complex responsibilities of ensuring vehicles and drivers are utilized to their fullest potential in a safe and cost-effective manner. Many fleets have integrated electric pickup trucks such as the Ford Lightning, Rivian R1T, and Chevy Silverado. Charging these EVs at home can be a practical solution for ensuring employees start the day with a full charge while reducing operational costs.

Many companies hesitate to implement take-home EV programs, however, mistakenly believing that high-cost Level 2 home chargers are necessary. This misconception can delay the transition to an efficient, cost-effective, fleet-charging solution.

Read Tom Berg's evaluation of the Lightning pickup truck.

Here are some considerations that enable a fleet to enact a take-home EV program that meets drivers’ needs and benefits the organization’s bottom line.

Level 1 charging can work well for low-mileage pickups

For many pickup trucks, especially those working close to the employee’s home and covering less than 10,000 miles annually, a Level 1 charger that plugs into a standard 120V wall outlet is enough to make it through the week. This solution allows users to avoid the upgraded charger question entirely, saving organizations on charger hardware and installation costs, reducing potential liability, mitigating employee turnover concerns, and allowing organizations to add EVs to their fleet sooner. 

By sticking with the charging cable provided with the vehicle, organizations can minimize their financial outlay while still supporting many of their employees’ daily charging needs effectively.

Consider non-networked Level 2 chargers for high-mileage pickup trucks

Higher mileage drivers will require a Level 2 charger to set out with a full charge each morning. Level 2 chargers require a 240V power supply, similar to what is used for household appliances such as dryers and ovens. If a 240V outlet is not available in a convenient location, the employee may need to have additional electric work done on their home.

Many options exist for Level 2 home chargers. They can range in power (from 2.9 kW to 19.2 kW, typically) but also in functionality. Networked or “smart chargers” cost more and require an internet connection. For fleet managers looking to improve ownership costs, non-networked Level 2 chargers are a compelling option. In this scenario, it is advantageous for the employee to pay for the unit and installation and to then be reimbursed by the company for their costs (assuming the company wants to cover the investment). This approach has several benefits:

  • Tax rebates and incentives: A number of tax write-offs and incentives for individual homeowners do not apply to companies. For example, there is currently a federal tax credit of 30% of the charger’s cost, up to $1,000. Many states, municipalities, and even some utilities offer incentives to support private charging infrastructure development. These can make the installation of a Level 2 charger more affordable.
  • Ownership and choice: Allowing drivers to choose the equipment and contractors removes the administrative burden from the company and may also reduce liability in the event of an accident or issue.
  • Enhanced home value: Installing a Level 2 charger can increase the value of an employee’s home, providing them with an additional benefit that they can use for future vehicles—including their family’s vehicles. By contrast, a dedicated smart charger should only be used by the fleet vehicle, which limits its utility and value.
  • Accurate reimbursement: Modern electric vehicles record charging data, eliminating the need to obtain this information from a smart charger. Software such as ReimburseEV can connect the dots and calculate accurate usage, costs, and reimbursement from any Level 1 or “dumb” Level 2 device.

Opting for non-networked Level 2 chargers can be a cost-effective and beneficial solution for high-mileage drivers, as they cannot lose important data due to connectivity issues and can still provide the charge needed.

The worst at-home charging option: company-owned and networked chargers

In some instances, it might make sense to install company-owned networked chargers, but this is arguably the least favorable option for several reasons.

  • Increased costs and liability: Networked chargers are significantly more expensive, often bumping up costs from several hundred dollars a unit to thousands.
  • Increased data privacy risk: Networked chargers use the employee’s home internet network, opening up data privacy and security risks that do not exist with non-networked devices.
  • Legal liability: Many fleet managers are wary of owning electrical equipment situated inside their employees’ homes. If you choose to use company-owned assets, make sure to discuss the potential risks and liability with your company’s counsel in advance.
  • Connectivity and compatibility issues: There are numerous reports of networked chargers becoming disconnected due to spotty internet service. In these cases, the data they share may be inaccurate or incomplete—rendering it virtually useless for certain applications, such as accurate home charging reimbursement calculations.
  • Risk of fraud: Even though they are “smart,” networked chargers have no way of detecting which vehicle they are charging. This opens them up for risk of misuse and can complicate cost and energy management.
  • Brand lock-in: Some networked chargers are tied to specific OEM brands. This limits the fleet’s ability to swap out vehicles or diversify as needed.

The disadvantages of company-owned and networked chargers underscore the necessity of thoroughly assessing charging requirements and choosing solutions that provide flexibility, minimize liability, and manage costs effectively.

How to choose an at-home charging strategy

Fleet managers should employ a decision tree approach to identify the most appropriate charging solution. This process includes evaluating drivers’ annual mileage, charging accessibility, tax incentives, and the long-term implications of charger ownership and liabilities. By taking a thoughtful and structured approach to at-home charging decisions, fleet managers can pinpoint cost-effective and efficient solutions that align with their organization’s operational goals, culture, and drivers’ needs.

Integrating electric pickup trucks into a fleet with reliable at-home charging doesn’t have to be a daunting task with significant infrastructure costs. By understanding the unique needs of the construction fleet and drivers, managers can implement practical and cost-effective at-home charging solutions. Starting with a low-tech, low-cost approach not only saves time and money, but also can help minimize operational challenges and liability, allowing the fleet to add more green vehicles faster.

About the Author

Kate Harrison

Kate L. Harrison is the co-founder and head of marketing at MoveEV, an AI-powered EV transition company that helps organizations convert fleet and employee-owned gas vehicles to electric by accurately reimbursing for charging electric vehicles at home.

With more than a decade of experience as a serial entrepreneur and seasoned marketer, Kate has worked with small businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations to make the world a better place. She is a best-selling author, thought leader, and frequent speaker at conferences and events, sharing her insights and experiences with others who are working to create a more sustainable future.