Installing Electric vehicle (EVs) charging stations in houses is relatively easy, but this is not the case for condos and residential buildings. EV sales reached 6.6 million in 2021, while the first quarter of 2022 reached 2 million sales. As EV sales increase even higher, the need to update and upgrade the EV charging electrical infrastructure around the country rises, especially in condos and residential buildings.
To install EV chargers at apartment buildings, the available electrical capacity in common areas needs to be considered. Additionally, the number of EVs in the building and an expansion capacity to charge vehicles for future EV owners must also be taken into account. In this article, we will elaborate on the aspects that should be considered when installing EV chargers at condos, strategic plans, installation steps, and more.
Homes can install EV chargers right next to a service panel in a garage, and that is the end of it, but installing an electric car charger in a condo is not as easy. EV charging stations at condos have to be installed at common area service panels, and additional factors should be considered. Condos require installing several EV charging ports to suit the needs of current and future EV owners in the building.
If the condo council approves single requests to install electric car chargers in the condo, there will be no electric capacity for future EV owners.
Several strategies can be considered to successfully install an electric car charger in an apartment building and keep everyone satisfied. The following have worked best for different buildings:
- Assigning EV charging ports to condo owners on a first-come-first-served basis (limited capacity should be considered).
- Installing a charging station in condo for public usage.
- Instating load-sharing technology, which allows installing more EV chargers with the same electrical capacity although may take longer to charge.
- Prepare for the future by assigning EV charging station stalls to all or eligible apartments.
These are the five most popular options available to solve the condo EV charging puzzle. In truth, the possibilities are endless and can vary depending on the needs of EV owners and the decision of the council.
The steps to install an electric car charger in an apartment might vary depending on the chosen strategy, but most of them remain the same. The following is a general guideline of the installation steps for an EV charging station at a condo:
- Decide the best strategic plan among the previously mentioned ones, at a council meeting. This will decide the course of action for the installation.
- Set up a meeting with one or several EV charger providers to determine the viability of the project, considering the desired number of stalls and electrical capacity.
- Get a quote for the final plan and set a payment plan. Inquire about EV Charging incentives, since these can greatly reduce installation costs.
- Finally, follow the typical steps for installing an electric car charger in condo.
- Hire a certified electrician to perform the installation plan for the EV charging station suiting the required number of charging ports.
- If required, set up the electrician and the utility to increase the power capacity of the building and install a dedicated infrastructure.
- Have the electrician perform the installation, while a contractor embeds wires through walls and underground, performing any other required task.
- Once installed on site, perform commissioning of the EV chargers to operate successfully.
Installing EV charging stations requires certain permits, and with approval from the council, the proper paperwork can be processed. The installation has to be inspected by a safety officer before it can finally be used.
Electric capacity should suit the requirements to install the EV chargers at the condo, especially considering the desired number of charging ports. Level 2 EV charging station can demand up to 19.2 kW (240V voltage and 80 amps current), but residential options consume around 7.2 kW ( around 30 amps).
While the power requirements for particular EV charging stations vary depending on the device installed, load-share technology can increase the viability of the installation. This option increases the possible number of charging ports without increasing the electrical capacity of the building.
The best course of action is not always the desired strategic plan. Sometimes it is necessary to change the approach because the electricity requirements of the building or its budget do not fit the desired solution for EV owners. Some long-term solutions include sharing EV charging ports between different apartment owners, assigning charging schedules for the installed EV chargers at the condo, and others.
Worst-case scenarios in old buildings that do not have the required electrical capacity to install electric car chargers in the condo, might require EV owners to charge their vehicles at public fast-charging stations. This is an undesired solution, but the good news is that the National EV charging infrastructure is growing and will keep on doing so in the future.