Per the National Multifamily Housing Council, there are over 44 million renters in the United States. Of which, over 16 million live in apartments. With the electric vehicle (EV) rising in popularity, many individuals want access to charging an EV at an apartment complex.
One of the biggest barriers to owning an EV can be the lack of charging infrastructure. For those who are homeowners, it is just a matter of installing the home charger in the garage. If this applies to you, check out this article on How to Choose Your Home EV Charger. For those who are renters, however, it can get tricky. There are landlords or HOAs that own and regulate building and site improvements. You are one of these millions of apartment dwellers interested in purchasing an EV and want to charge your car.
There are a number of solutions to get charging for your EV at your apartment. This article details the various conditions and solutions to get EV charging installation at apartment sites. Furthermore, this article will also detail how to request EV charging at an apartment complex.
There are three typical parking scenarios for EV charging at apartments:
1) Personal Garage
2) Assigned Parking
3) Shared Parking
Those who have a personal garage have the least amount of friction for charging an EV at an apartment. For those with assigned or shared parking, you will have a few more hurdles; however, there are still ways to charge an EV at an apartment complex. In any case, you will need to get the approval of the property management company before any installation takes place.
Options and Ideas
Below, you will find several suggestions for ways to get an EV charging station installed at an apartment complex.
Install an EV Charging at Your Apartment
Installing an EV charging station at your apartment is incredibly convenient. In fact, per the Department of Energy, 80 percent of EV drivers charge at home. This is because charging takes place overnight while the vehicle is not in use. Every morning the EV driver wakes up to a 100% charged battery just like their phone.
How to Request EV Charging at an Apartment Complex
You will need to receive permission from the property management company (or HOA if at a condominium). They will ask you a number of questions about the EV charging installation, so come prepared with an electrician or EV charging consultant at your disposal.
Common questions may involve installation costs, electricity costs responsibilities, networking costs, and insurance requirements. It also will be helpful to explain to the property management company that access to EV charging can attract and retain tenants.
In most states, the property management company decides if they will approve or deny your request to install an EV charging station. Fortunately, some states such as California or Florida have EV charging access laws that prohibit landlords, property management companies, or HOAs from denying a renter or owner from installing an EV charging station at his or her own expense. It is best to request proper legal assistance on this matter before approaching management.
Community Charging for Shared Parking
For those who have shared parking, you will need to install a commercial-grade EV charging station connected to the house meter. These chargers are a bit more durable than a residential grade.
They are networked, which means they have software connected to the internet to assist with various features such as access control, payment and billing, maximum session limits, and more. This network, however, comes at a cost per connector, which can vary by network.
Usually, these network fees range from $100 to $300 per connector per year. The payment to use the station can include a minor upcharge to account for the network fees as well as the electricity cost. In other words, all of the station’s operating expenses can be passed off to the EV driver.
Since the shared parking charging station is considered a public amenity, the installation will need to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. This includes accommodations to the size of the parking stall for accessibility loading and unloading as well as improvements to the path of travel from the parking location to the building entry. A licensed architect will be able to assist in this portion of the design process.
As you can see, proper research and steps need to be taken to install an EV charging station at an apartment complex. There are several role-players throughout the process including an architect, electrical engineer, and electrician. When the proper team is assembled, the project may proceed forward efficiently and successfully.
EV Charging for Your Personal Garage
For those who have a personal garage, then the path to install an EV charging at your apartment is frictionless. A licensed electrician will install the residential-grade charger of your choice and wire it to the electrical panel in your garage. The charger is connected to your apartment meter. You will not need to pay for networking as the use and electricity costs of the station will be exclusive to you.
If your electric utility company offers time-of-use (TOU) rates, it may be cost-effective to switch to that rate schedule. With TOU, electricity rates vary depending on the time of the day. Typically, rates at night are cheaper than in the afternoon. Since most charging takes place overnight, it may be the cheapest way to charge your EV at home.
Charge Electric Car on Wall Socket or Wallbox in Apartment Building
If you find yourself in a situation where your assigned parking stall is near a wall socket, it is highly recommended to check with property management before plugging in your portable EV charger.
First, you will need to confirm who is paying for the electricity. It is likely the outlet is suited to support landscaping or maintenance, which would be connected to the house meter. If so, you will need permission from the property management company to use it.
If they refuse, then you will need to install a commercial charging station like a shared parking situation. This commercial charging station will handle who pays for electricity and network fees, which would most likely be you as the EV driver. Once installed, you will have access to overnight charging at home!
Can You Own an Electric Car if You Can’t Charge at Home?
Yes! There are many EV drivers who do not have home charging access. it is possible to own an electric car with a home charger. In fact, Tesla Joy, a Youtuber, has explained her experience in owning an EV without charging at her apartment in this video here. As Tesla Joy describes, she can drive an EV without home charging by accessing public charging stations on a weekly basis.
Electric Vehicle chargers come in two flavors: Level 2 and Level 3 (more commonly known as DC Fast Charging stations). Level 2 public charging stations typically require a fee to use, though there are some that are free. In fact, the public charging provider, Volta, requires no payment for use. Instead, Volta chargers include a large screen to display advertisements to people who pass by.
For stations that require payment, tap an RFID card or use the network’s app for access. This process is the same as shared parking charging stations at apartment complexes.
To find these public charging stations, download the popular app, Plugshare. The Plugshare app is crowdsourced by thousands of EV drivers. The app includes key station information such as location, number of connectors, cost, nearby amenities, photos, and user reviews.
Fast Charging Stations
For those who are traveling or want a short charging session, charge at a DC Fast Charging station. Per the name, these charging stations are very fast and powerful. For most EVs, a DC Fast Charging station can recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent in about 30 minutes per Plug in America. This is enough time to stretch the legs, take a restroom break, or grab a bite to eat after a few hours of driving.
Not all DC Fast Charging stations are created equal. Variations include different plugs, costs, and charging speeds. To filter out which ones don’t apply to your vehicle or your preferences, use the Plugshare app.
Altogether, these DC Fast Charging sessions are few and far between. As aforementioned, most of the charging will take place at home since it is the most convenient. In the few instances where a quick DC Fast Charging session is needed, it is just a matter of 30 minutes before you are back on the road.
Nevertheless, charging an EV at an apartment will be much easier than relying on public charging stations. For commercial EV charging installations at apartment complexes, it is highly recommended to utilize a licensed and professional technician for any EV charger maintenance, repair, or installation.
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