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How To Charge Electric School Buses

Charging for electric school buses

Many school districts are beginning to transition to electric school buses. As electric buses become more commonplace, fleet operators are finding that keeping their vehicles operational can become complicated and expensive. Between knowing when to charge, balancing energy costs, charger maintenance, and more, electric bus charging is not easy to manage.

In this quick start guide, we'll go over basics of running an electric bus fleet and solutions that can simplify the process.

What you need to run an electric school bus fleet

Fleet electrification plan

If you're looking at how to transition to electric school buses, creating an electrification plan early on is critical for smooth operations. There are key infrastructure decisions to consider such as the installation of chargers, whether your facility has enough electric capacity, and even the selection of electric buses themselves.

Regardless of your fleet’s specific needs, every project should start by clearly defining the operating requirements for the EVs you are planning to deploy. This exercise allows you to build all other project components around properly charging the selected EVs so that you can operate them in a way that best fits your fleet’s bottom-line characteristics and most common duty cycles.

There are services available that can simulate vehicles, infrastructure, and energy models, based on the unique operational characteristics of each bus fleet. A data-driven analysis allows stakeholders to understand the impact on their fleet, and what to expect as they electrify.

Electric infrastructure at your facility

As part of your electric bus operation, having access to a facility with charging stations is crucial. After all, this is where the electricity comes from that will fuel your vehicles. A typical facility will have:

  • Transformers: Electric devices that change electricity from one level of voltage to another.
  • Access to an electric grid: An interconnected network for delivering electricity that will go to  charging stations and subsequently to the EV.
  • Charging meter: A device that records the amount of power flowing through a circuit
  • Charging stations: A physical station where EVs are parked and charged.

When transitioning to electric school buses, your existing bus depot can be converted into a charging facility as well.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)

By the time your first electric school bus arrives, your charging infrastructure will likely be in place already. The charger or EVSE keeps you and your electric bus safe while charging. Every EVSE includes a safety lock-out feature, preventing current from flowing when the charger is not connected to the bus. It ensures that if a cable is not correctly inserted, power will not flow through it.

EVSEs also detect hardware faults, disconnecting the power and preventing electric battery damage, electrical shorts, or worse still, fire. A good starting point is to work with a fleet electrification service to determine your vehicle's energy consumption. Energy usage is calculated in terms of kWh per mile (or kWh per hour for some vocational fleets).

Software that controls charging

Electric vehicle charging software helps improve how you handle the charging for your buses. Most organizations don't need to keep their buses 100% charged. Why? Depending on the routes and how often your buses are used, you can see cost savings by keeping your buses charged at optimal levels. Keeping your buses 100% charged could result in unnecessary electricity costs. 

EV charging software helps fleet operators optimize energy and bus use by setting driving schedules and routes, charging intervals, and vehicle maintenance in alignment with demand, power prices, traffic conditions, and charging-station availability.

Charge your electric school bus fleet with Electriphi

Still running a gas or diesel-powered school bus fleet? Or going at electrification on your own? Consider transitioning to an electric fleet powered by Electriphi.

Simplified fleet management

Manage your electric bus fleet with ease with Electriphi. Our software makes it easy to monitor your vehicles and get ahead of issues that can disrupt service operations. With integrations into existing systems like vehicle telematics and route management, keep your fleets optimally charged in one centralized dashboard.

Save total cost per mile

School districts can save on electricity using Electriphi’s charging management software. Instead of keeping your vehicles at full charge and overspending, we make it easy to determine the optimal charge levels for your EVs. This helps to save money on EV costs and improve the TCO of fleet electrification.

Optimized TCO and charging strategy

Find out the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your electric school bus fleet so you know what to expect. Electriphi helps you visualize the cost and benefits of going electric like identifying maintenance and energy savings with electric school buses. 

What we can do for your electric bus fleet

1 - Plan

Find the right set up for your fleet, including grants and incentives, and begin the transition process. During the planning process, we'll simulate the day-to-day activity of your buses to determine optimal energy levels and route planning. Software helps with route planning and energy management, so you know when to charge your buses to keep them running.

2 - Deploy

Once your electric school bus blueprint is prepared, we work with you to deploy the pieces, including vehicle and charger infrastructure. We give you turnkey solutions that combine the best of Electriphi’s fleet and energy management with partners specializing in construction, site installs and permitting, utility, and more. 

3 - Operate

With our industry-leading software, we make it easy to manage your bus fleet as they run their routes and need to be charged. We make it easy to measure the performance of your fleet and ensure your vehicles are fueled for the next day’s operation. 

4 - Scale

As you partner with Electriphi, we’ll work with you on a plan to expand the size of your fleet as you scale your EV operations.

Conclusion

By knowing when to charge your electric school bus fleet and how much to charge, you can ensure your fleet is running smoothly while saving on energy costs. 

To learn more about how Electriphi can help with electric school bus fleet management, contact our team by clicking the contact us below:

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