Installing EV Charging Stations in a Condo

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Residential EV charging is 35% cheaper than charging at public EV charging stations, but EV drivers in condos might not have it easy. Condo buildings have restrictions and regulations regarding what owners can do with the infrastructure of the building, making the installation of an EV charging station more difficult, but not impossible.

Charging stations in condominiums considerably reduce driving costs while positively impacting the environment, since EV drivers in the building will be charging at lower costs while reducing their carbon footprint. If you want to learn more about the installation process of EV chargers in condo buildings, the challenges you may face, possible solutions, and more, this is the right article for you.

Installing EV Charger at Condo

EV charging stations are the charging technology developed for e-mobility, which has risen in popularity in the last decade. Currently, there are 3 million electric cars on U.S. roads, and this number is expected to grow beyond 26 million by 2030, the problem is that the EV charging infrastructure in the U.S. needs to grow at a faster rate than it is currently doing so.

A possible solution to mitigate the EV charging problem is the acquisition of residential EV chargers. Houses have it easy, however, installing an EV charger at condo buildings can prove slightly more difficult. The following overview explains the steps required to enable electric vehicle charging in condominiums:

  1. Tenants should ask permission from the condo board, or Homeowner’s Association (HOA).
  2. A certified electrician is hired to determine the electrical capacity of the service panel and the best location for the charger.
  3. Local laws should be consulted to determine what permits are required to install the circuit for an EV charger and the connection of the device.
  4. Contractors work hand-in-hand with the electrician to install the electrical circuit of the charger.
  5. For communal EV charging in condo buildings, a user agreement is established with a lawyer before presenting it to the residents. An alternative is paying fees to an external operator to administer the chargers.
  6. Pre-approval for rebates should be submitted.
  7. An EV Supply Equipment (EVSE) should be picked and acquired. A 7.4 kW or higher power rate EV charger is required.
  8. The charger is installed in place and connected.
  9. The final rebate application is submitted.

Some states require by law that HOA and condo boards meet the EV charging requests from apartment owners, but this varies between states. Considering the high number of steps, installations of EV charging for condos are bound to have a few challenges.

What Are the Challenges Involved in Trying to Install an EV Charger for Your Condo?

Challenges tenants face regarding EV charging in condos are many, including limitations in the electrical infrastructure of the building, bureaucratic issues, budget limitations, and more.

Limited Electrical Capacity

Condo buildings should have installed high-capacity EV chargers, considering the high number of apartment owners living in the place. Single-phase chargers demand around 32 amps per phase, delivering 7.4 kW, and some like the  CSE1 can reach up to 11.5kW. There are also three-phase chargers that can deliver up to 22 kW.

The electrical capacity of service panels in parking areas or in old buildings might be fairly limited, which is why they might have to be upgraded to fit several chargers. Alternative options such as the EVMC can facilitate this process by enabling the use of existing electrical capacity without requiring expensive upgrades.

Budget Limitations

The cost to install a condo charging station often surpasses the initial expectations of apartment owners in condo buildings. The installation may require a larger budget if the electrical connection of the building or the service panel has to be upgraded.

The budget for communal condo electric car charging needs to cover upgrading the service panel, hiring a certified electrician and contractor, the cost of the device, and a few additional expenses.

Members of the HOA or Condo Board Might Not Support the Installation

Some old-fashioned or misinformed HOA or condo board members might not be so lenient towards supporting the installation of condo EV charging stations, mostly because they do not understand the benefits of e-mobility. While this might be an inconvenience, there are always ways around it, some of which we will analyze further in this article.

Steps You Can Follow to Get a “Yes” out of Your Building: 7 Steps to Installing

Getting approval for an EV charger project from the HOA can be challenging. In this section, we give you 7 steps to get a positive answer out of your building for the installation of condo EV charging stations.

1. Survey Your Residents & Get Their Approval. You might not be the only EV driver in your building, which is why surveying fellow condo owners might prove fruitful in the approval and installation of communal EV charging. In some cases, your neighbors might have considered acquiring an EV, but feel shy because of lack of access to an EV charger. Installing EV chargers in the condo building might encourage them to switch to e-mobility.

2. It’s Time to Get Technical: Does the Building Have Enough Electricity to Charge EVs? Going over the technical details is always a must to convince the HOA or condo board of a building. You need to determine how many EV chargers the service panel of the parking area can power. For instance, a 250 amp three-phase (400V) service panel can power around four 22 kW EV chargers, but this excludes other necessary loads, which is why an electrician should assess the possibilities.  Evaluating options like the EVMC is always advisable.

3. Money, Money, Money: Figuring out the Costs. In the end, everything comes down to money. You should figure out the costs and present an expected budget to convince the building of performing the installation. For instance, some EV owners pay $2,000 or more to install level 2 EV chargers, meaning that six chargers can cost around $12,000 or more, but the investment might be worth it for EV owners in the building.

4. Cutting Red Tape – How to Get Your Charging Permit. An important step is cutting the red tape. You can do this by thoroughly analyzing with whom you have to talk to get a charging permit for your building, the bureaucratic requirements, and solving any other detail you might be missing.

5. Practical Considerations When Choosing a Charger. Choosing a charger needs to be entirely about being practical. For instance, you should choose an easy-to-use EV charger that is compatible with all or most EVs in your condo building. It is better if the charger is future-proofed, meaning that it features a high power rate and the right energy management features.

6. Take Installation Seriously: Select a Certified Electrician. Everyone who does not know their way around electricity and EV chargers should consider hiring a certified electrician. The right electrician will not only perform the installation but also advise you on everything technical regarding the installation.

7. Let’s Split: Establishing a Payment Structure. Most condo buildings install communal electric car charging stations in condominiums to suit the EV charging needs of every electric car owner in the place. To ensure fairness, all users of the charger should establish a payment structure that covers expenses for the usage of the charger and future maintenance.

Establishing fixed access monthly payments or  a cost per kWh consumption that reasonably takes into account the electricity expenses and operational costs.  EV charging solutions for condos could be the installation of chargers operated by external services, while another one includes a software that internally manages the whole process.

Options for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condo Buildings

Determining beforehand the device and operation type of electric car charging stations for condos will help you plan accordingly for the installation. The first thing you should do is choose a charger type:

Level 1 EV chargers can take up to 50 hours to charge a single vehicle, while level 3 EV chargers can cost up to $40,000, making level 2 EV chargers the best option. Level 2 EV chargers take around 4 to 10 hours to fully charge an EV, making them an excellent choice for condo buildings.

The Benefits of Installing an EV Charger in Your Condo

Installing a charging station in condo buildings will help grow the EV charging infrastructure in the country and ensure more citizens can switch to e-mobility without worrying about how to charge their vehicles. Some of the most important benefits of installing an electric car charger in a condo are the following:

  • The building will be future-proofed for generations to come, as e-mobility grows in popularity.
  • Profit can be made by condo buildings with communal charging, using those profits in other projects of the building.
  • Tenants will be more lenient towards living in a condo with a level 2 EV charger rather than going to a level 3 EV charging station.
  • The condo building is bound to attract forward-thinking residents.Installation costs can be reduced by accessing subsidies and rebates.
  • The value of the property might increase as EV charging stations for condos are more desired in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

EV charging stations can administer the EVSE with energy management software, being an extremely user-friendly solution. Another option is hiring an external charging operator to manage and administer the whole thing, paying them for their service.

Most EV drivers recharge their vehicles around twice a week, but this can vary depending on their driving habits. It is expected that a single charger could be enough to supply power to around 10 vehicles, however, this assumes the charger will be used constantly throughout the day, which is not the case in a residential building, so the demand should be further analyzed to install enough electric car charger units in the condo for all neighbors.

DC Fast Chargers (DCFC) can rapidly fill up the battery of your vehicle, however, they take a heavy toll. It is expected that DCFC will degrade your battery 10% faster compared to a level 2 EV charger like the one used for electric vehicle charging in condos, meaning that charging at your condo will increase the lifespan of your EV battery.

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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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