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Electric Vehicle charging in Apartment Buildings: Challenges, Alternatives, and Solutions

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Electric Vehicles (EVs) are a sustainable and energy-efficient mobility option that reduces carbon footprint. Owning an EV can be great for your economy and the environment, but the national EV charging infrastructure still has a long way to go, which is why electric vehicle charging in condos can be an important challenge to overcome.
In this article, we address some challenges and solutions for EV charging in apartments which will help you to successfully find ways to charge your EV, even if you live in a condo or an apartment building with limited EV chargers.

Charging Electric Car at Apartment

Electric vehicle charging in apartment buildings can be extremely hard if there are no EV chargers installed. Some forward-thinking condo councils are planning on installing EV charging stalls at parking spaces, but this is a challenging task in some buildings, especially old ones with low electrical capacity available.

The main available option for electric car apartment charging is using Level 1 Chargers with traditional 120V outlets, but this alternative takes up to 50 hours to charge EV batteries. There are a few interesting and innovative solutions that will allow you to charge your EV in condos, however they present some challenges that you need to watch out for.

The Challenges Are Many

Electric car charging at apartments may be a little more difficult than doing EV charging in a household where you are able to take completely independent decisions on your house infrastructure. Let us check on some of the typical challenges that restrict electric car charging in apartment blocks:

  • Buildings with restricted electrical infrastructures.
  • Small capacity service panels are located in the parking station area.
  • Condo councils refuse to install or allow the installation of EV Charging stations.
  • Agreements between tenants and property owners on EV charger stalls installation.
  • Fast internet connection in underground parking station areas.
  • EV parking arrangements: Private or shared?
  • Funding for the project.
  • Negotiating with landlords and/or condo board.
  • Installing at already built apartment buildings with underground parking can be difficult.

As can be seen, there are several issues that can arise when thinking of electric car charging in apartments, but this does not mean it is impossible. The following section illustrates several alternative solutions that can give you a chance to charge your EV, even if you are limited by one of these challenges.

Find a Supercharging Station Located Near You

One solution for EV apartment charging is finding a DC Fast Charger (DCFC) station or supercharging station near your home. You can charge your EV in around 1 hour at these locations. To find the nearest DCFC Station you can install EV Charging Station Finder apps like OpenChargeMap, ChargeMap, Electrify America, Chargeway, PlugShare, or ChargeHub.

Charge at Your Office

Another alternative to EV charging at your apartment is charging the vehicle at your workplace instead. Many office buildings are joining the e-Mobility revolution by installing EV charging Stations at the workplace, these feature Level 2 EV Chargers and can fully charge EV batteries in around 2 to 10 hours. If your workplace does not feature EV Charging Stations, you can be the force of change and promote the idea.

Run a Heavy-Duty Extension Cord from Your Apartment to Your Car

Desperate situations require desperate measures, but it is important to always be careful. Running a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your EV might is an alternative solution for EV charging in apartment buildings. However, you must keep in mind that this could only be applied in low-rise buildings or buildings with just a few stories (3 or 4 maybe). This would also need to be confirmed with the corresponding condo board, HOA or landlord for permission.

Technically, you can do this for Level 1 EV Chargers with 120V outlets or a 240V connection with a Level 2 residential charger, but this is not always recommended. Using an extension cord to charge an EV increases risks of electric shocks and electrical fires, on top of increasing the chance of voltage drops, which can reduce the performance or even endanger the EV charger equipment.

Look For Apartments with EV Charging

Moving to a condo with EV charging stations is a sweet solution to your problems. Forward-thinking condo councils have installed EV Charging Stations at the parking garage to suit the needs of current and future EV owners in the building or are currently planning on doing so.

Condos with electric car charging are more attractive to tenants. These buildings can become more attractive since they provide an elegant and futuristic look to the complex while at the same time sends a message that people living there are concerned about the environment.

Ask Your Landlord to Install an EV Charging Station

Asking the landlord or HOA of a building could be a last resource option for EV charging in condos. This would represent a considerable investment, which is why you should consider all possible challenges and come up with solutions beforehand to have a stronger case. Some challenges to address might be the following:

  • Who pays for the investment? Is it profitable?
  • How is EV charging scheduled?
  • Is the branding of the building suited for EV charging?

Charging an EV in your apartment building is an amenity that will increase the value of the property and therefore the rent cost, but some landlords might still be reluctant to the idea. You could consider pitching in alongside other EV owners to partially or completely pay for the installation and explain the profits of EV Charging in the building.

As for scheduling, if the EV chargers will be installed privately for special apartments then there is no issue at all. However, scheduling EV charging for condo communities (considering the EV charger as an amenity of the apartment complex) can be challenging as some tenants might leave their vehicles plugged all night with a full battery. Applying a fine or setting hourly fees could be an incentive for owners to connect the vehicles and move them after they are charged. Enabling charging reservation ahead can also be a solution to this.

Finally, while some new, luxurious or modern apartment complex will find it attractive to add EV charging, landlords in medium or low-rent cost buildings may not be up to the idea for different reasons. While it is expected eventually that there will be more EVs than gasoline vehicles in the future, some landlords may not be prepared or interested in making the investment on EV chargers. In this case, the best is to negotiate with your landlord to see if you can carry on the EV charger installation for a private stall on your parking spot.

Consider Your Charging Options before Buying an EV

EV charging in apartments is considerably more difficult than in a house. If you have not yet acquired an EV, it is important to consider charging options before buying the EV.

With that being said, it is important to also not to feel discouraged. The EV Fast-Charging electrical infrastructure is growing at a steady rate of 16.56% every year. This means that you might get a new DCFC station or a commercial EV Charging station near your home soon. Who knows, you might even get an EV charging station at your workplace.

What Does The Apartment Gain From Having Charging Stations?

Granting tenants the possibility of electric vehicle charging in apartments will not only deliver benefits to them but also the owners of the apartments and buildings. The following list, shows the benefits of buildings with installed EV Charging stations:

  • Tenants are more prone to rent expensive apartments if they have the possibility of charging an electric car at an apartment.
  • Buildings with EV Charging stations have a better brand (reputation) and prestige.
  • Condos with EV Charging Stations can make regular revenue from EVs electricity consumption.

Apartment buildings with EV Charging Stations are prepared for a future where e-Mobility becomes the preferred choice in America.
These are some of the most important benefits of electric vehicle charging in condos. EV charging stations are beneficial for landlords, tenants, and even for the building community in general.

Frequently Asked Questions

Several doubts always rise regarding the subject of charging an electric car at an apartment building. In this section, we aim to answer some of the most Frequently Asked Questions.

1. How Long Does A Level 2 Charger Take to Charge an EV?

Charging time for a Level 2 Charger to fill the battery of an EV depends on the battery capacity and power rate of the charger. A 32 amps Level 2 EV charger with a 208V connection (6.65kW), can charge the 95 kWh battery of a Tesla Model S Dual Motor in 14 hours and 17 minutes and the 71 kWh battery of the Porsche Taycan 4S in only 10 hours and 40 minutes.

2. What happens if there are more EV owners than EV Charging Stalls at my building?

Buildings with limited public community EV charging stalls in apartment buildings can use one of two solutions. The first one is restricting EV chargers usage with a scheduling system by apartments. The second one is installing a higher number of EV chargers by installing an energy or load management system that allows to install more EV chargers with the same electrical capacity at the building.

3. Is it better for the battery to charge at a DCFC Station or my building?

According to Tesla, Ford, Kia, and other EV manufacturers, regular charging EVs with DC Fast Charging can deteriorate the durability and performance of the battery at a faster rate. This is a consequence of batteries being subjected to higher heat generated by the rapid charge system of the battery. Using standard charging instead of DCFC over 8 years can extend the lifespan of a battery by around 10%.

Nick Zamanov
Head of Business Development | Website | Posts

Nick Zamanov is a head of sales and business development at Cyber Switching. He is an expert in EV infrastructure space and he is an EV enthusiast since 2012, Since then Nick strongly believed that electric vehicles would eventually replace Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars.

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