Enabling Electric Vehicle Charging in Condominiums
EV CHARGING STATIONS
5 March 2020
80% of EV charging takes place at work or home. Naturally, people will choose to plug in their EVs in the places where they spend the most time. However, while installing a charging station at your house is fairly simple, doing so in condominiums can be more tricky. Indeed, the sheer concept of securing construction permits, tackling technical questions and getting the consent of your tenants can seem like a daunting prospect. But fear not, we’re here to help.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Why You Need an EV Charger for Your Condo
The first question you might have is why would I even need EV chargers for my condo? It’s simple: If you live in the condo and own an EV, having an EV charger on-site will allow you to charge up your car at home for utmost convenience. No need to drive around the area hoping to find a free charging point.
On the other hand, if you own an apartment or the entire condo, you’ll have even more reasons to install EV charging. First, it will increase the value of your property. Second, it will help to attract future and current eco-conscious residents to your condo, thus elevating the rent you can charge. Third, you can take advantage of EV charger incentives to subsidize the cost of your investment. Finally, on top of these financial gains, you’ll also contribute to facilitating the all-important clean energy transition. Not too bad, right?
What Are the Challenges Involved in Trying to Install an EV Charger for Your Condo?
Understanding the common challenges of getting an EV charger for your condo is key. Once you understand the main stumbling blocks, it’s easier to overcome them!
On the technical side, the largest obstacle is the set-up. Often there are hardware limitations because electric panels are limited to a specific amp capacity per condo. To install an EV charger, you might need to upgrade or go through the building’s panel used for common spaces, such as halls or garages.
Moreover, despite being the owner of the condo, you aren’t licensed to simply pick a charger and start setting up. First, you’ll need to get a permit from your local government to connect to the grid.
Next, as a homeowner, you will also have to add the cost of enabling an EV charger to your budget. Understandably, existing budget priorities such as property improvement upgrades, building renovations, and capital maintenance expenditures could take first precedence in annual budget decisions.
How to Enable EV Charging in Condominiums
So, you’ve come to terms with the challenges you might face and you’re ready to put your plan into action. But where should you begin?
1. Survey your residents & get their approval
There’s safety in numbers. Survey how many of your residents own an EV, plan to buy one or would be interested in having EV charging stations at their condo. This survey will help identify the number of charging units you’ll need, and how to lay them out.
Moreover, you might also want to check whether your fellow residents would be willing to pay a higher rent or negotiate another deal in exchange for this additional service. This would ensure you get a direct return on your investment as soon as possible.
When it comes to any of these questions, speaking to residents will also help you create a scalable plan. This means the solution you select should have enough charging stations in the short term, but also allow for easy adaption for potential future demand increase.
Most importantly though, make sure everyone is on board. This is important because by law all tenants may have to sign your EV charger off. As a result, you can only install a charger if everyone agrees to it.
2. It’s time to get technical: does the building have enough electricity to charge EVs?
Once your tenants are on board, you’ll need to check if your building has sufficient electrical capacity to accommodate the extra load from EV charging. Consider consulting an electrician to determine the necessary panel and/or meter upgrades. You can learn more about this process and how to gather metering data here.
If energy capacity is an issue, smart charging and bidirectional charging might help to ease the pain. Smart charging connects charging points with users and operators (yourself) to optimize energy consumption. In other words, it automatically distributes available energy evenly across all charging stations to ensure you’re not exceeding the condo’s maximum energy capacity. As a result, using smart charging might help you avoid expensive electrical infrastructure upgrades.
Bidirectional charging allows you to send energy both ways - from the grid into your vehicle (G2V) and from the vehicle to the grid (V2G) or building (V2B). This turns EV batteries into a source for power storage that can be leveraged to balance energy capacity in your condo. For instance, tenants could charge their EVs during off-peak hours (i.e. at night) and then feed energy back from their cars to the building during peak times. What’s more, if your condo has onsite renewable sources like solar panels, these chargers could also help you store this excess energy during the daytime to support energy demand at night. Hence, bidirectional charging can be used to provide extra energy capacity for your condo during specific times of the day.
3. Money, money, money: figuring out the costs
The costs of a high-quality, safe and smart EV charger can be anywhere between €750 and €1500. Most EV charger providers can walk you through exact price breakdowns on their website. Keep in mind that aside from the expense of the actual EV charger, you will also need to account for installation costs. This is important because you want to make sure that a professional and certified installer sets up a safe charging environment (more on this below). Finally, remember to check our EU electric vehicle charging incentive guide to find out whether any rebates are available in your country. Some apartments and condos will be eligible for EV charger rebate offers, which often cover up to 50% of purchase and installation costs.
4. Cutting red tape - how to get your charging permit
The next step is getting a permit. You’ll need to identify the person or office responsible for your city or country’s permitting. Most local government resources will be located under public works or in the transportation/environment department. Many local governments also have sustainability initiatives that are responsible for vehicle planning and permitting. If you’re stuck, a quick internet search of “city permits + [name of your area]” should point you in the right direction.
5. Practical considerations when choosing a charger
When choosing an EV charger, you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible, safe and future proof. Firstly, this means checking that the charger you select is actually in line with the current and potential needs of your tenants and their EVs when it comes to connector type, power output and so on. That’s why surveying your neighbors (as mentioned in step 1 above) and potential users of the charger is so important.
Next, you’ll need to ensure your new charger is safety approved. This can be done by simply checking the protection rating. For instance, at Wallbox, our EV chargers have an internationally recognized protection rating of IP54 and IK08, meaning you can rest easy in the knowledge that they’re a safe option for your condo.
As outlined above (section 2), you might also want to check whether your new charger allows for smart charging and bidirectional charging. This is particularly crucial if you’re likely to face issues with energy capacity now or in the future.
Once you’ve covered these basics, there are other features you can explore to suit your needs (such as cord length, indoor or outdoor, etc.). If you’re new to the EV charging world, you might also want to read through some typical EV charger FAQs.
6. Take installation seriously: select a certified electrician
Once you’ve decided on your preferred EV charger, it’s time to get in contact with your local utility company. This is crucial for determining the specific electrical needs for the charger and the proper ways to connect it to your area’s electrical grid. When you’ve agreed upon the details with your utility provider, you’re ready to contract out the installation of your electric car charger.
Choose your installer with the same care that you chose the charging device itself. Your EV charger provider might offer an installation service, or you might be recommended to an external certified installer. The key is never to install your charger yourself. At first glance, the costs of installing your EV charging station might seem high, but it’s an investment worth making. After all, you don’t want to compromise the safety of your tenants or risk any fines. Hence, your charger must be installed per manufacturer specifications and local permit requirements. We’d recommend consulting with your provider to ensure you make the right choice for your new setup.
7. Let’s split: establishing a payment structure
A key decision to be made is how to allocate operating and electricity expenses. The former includes things like insurance and maintenance. These can be accounted for by simply adjusting the rent for current or future tenants that want to use your charging stations. Alternatively, you may ask EV owners to pay a fee every time they use your charger. In addition to that, you could also consider making your charging stations available to the public and set a higher usage rate for non-residents.
When it comes to allocating electricity bills to specific EV owners at your condo, the easiest way is to set up smart charging stations. As explained above (section 2), this technology enables you to connect electric cars and chargers with users, operators and the grid. Thanks to this, EV owners can simply use an app to monitor and manage the energy usage and costs resulting from charging their cars at your condo. What is more, it also enables you to remotely and automatically optimize charging to make sure energy demand never exceeds the building’s maximum capacity.
Fit for the Future: the Benefits of Installing an EV Charger in Your Condo
Installing an EV charger will ultimately give your building a competitive edge. It will help you to attract prospective residents and engage those current EV owners, making it well worth the initial effort and investment. It can also increase the long-term value of your property and safeguard its worth for generations to come. But the benefits of an EV charger in your condo won’t just be felt in the years to come, you could access subsidies and financial incentives as soon as you install your new charger too.
With EVs set to become an increasingly vital part of mobility and digital grids, installing a charger in your condo is part of developing a property that’s fit for the future. Follow these simple steps to installing an EV charger in your condo in no time at all - good luck!
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