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ARA works to develop battery power standard

By Brock Huffstutler

October 31, 2023

Download and print a copy of the Battery Charging Standards white paper.

Powering up is becoming something of a problem for rental companies who present product line diversity in their equipment fleets: Fuel is fuel as far as gas-powered equipment goes, but battery charging systems can vary across manufacturers. When batteries and chargers can’t talk to each other, it can mean headaches.

That is why the American Rental Association (ARA) is working with organizations like the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) to drive forward battery power standards that are effective and efficient for rental companies.

“We put together a white paper with some examples to help both contractors and rental companies who have mixed fleets,” says Josh Nickell, ECP-SM/MI, American Rental Association (ARA) vice president, equipment segment. “We understand that manufacturers want to differentiate themselves with their equipment, but the way that equipment hooks up and is charged should not be a differentiating factor.”

Battery packs with different charging speeds and battery degradation lifespans will inevitably vary by manufacturer, but “The equipment has to charge the same way,” Nickell says. “If you think about the electric vehicle space, everybody is adopting the Tesla charging standards. We want to see the same thing in the rental industry; likely the exact same thing that they use on electric vehicles being used by our manufacturers.”

Nickell provides a scenario around this vision. “You could pull in your mini excavator or backhoe that is electrified, plug it into a wall outlet and slow charge overnight. You can plug it into a 240 and charge it faster. You could charge it from your Ford F-150 Lightning, from the DC fast charger down the street or at the Tesla charger. Just like you would your vehicle, your equipment should charge wherever you are.”

The crux of the issue, Nickell says, is that “We can’t have 17 different dongles and try to figure out what we send out with each rental customer because it’s specific to the manufacturer.”

Gaining buy-in on charging standards from the manufacturing sector is critical for alleviating the brewing issue.

“The manufacturers that will be successful in this change — particularly with rental companies and large contractors — are those who understand that charging needs to be standardized,” Nickell says. “There are many ways to differentiate your piece of equipment, but the way that it plugs in and the types of things that plug into it — that needs to be all the same. If you must have completely different systems for a different manufacturer, rental companies will not buy that piece of equipment because it will be too difficult operationally for our branches and our customers to effectively charge those items.”