How to Get an EVSE For My Condominium / Apartment

MAR 10 2014 BY MARK HOVIS 19

evse3The following information is being reported from the linked document provided by the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Colaborative.

Utilities estimate that 80-90 percent of PEV charging occurs at the home, of which the majority are single family dwellings. In many, cases the charging equipment consists of a simple 120V outlet (Level 1 Charger). Much less progress has been made in making electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) available for condominiums, apartments, and mobile homes referred to as Multi-unit Dwellings (MuDs).

The linked document provides infrastructure and operations issues specific to MuDs. The intent is to help all involved from owners, property managers, home owner associations (HOA), tenants, contractors and more understand the requirements and issues involved in providing EVSEs.

The above graph gives an informative multi color outline of the steps and roles of the tenant/unit owner (green), property manager/owner (blue), electrician (orange),  and utility (purple) .


Understanding Charging Requirements

Understanding the miles of range per hours of charge will help in determining what type of EVSE will be required. Most commutes of 50 miles per day or less can be handled by a Level 1 charger. The electrical requirements and capabilities go up from here as seen in the left table.



Building Architecture and Physical Electrical Design

Garden Apartments, Low Rise Condominiums, and Mobile Homes

The primary issue with garden apartments, low rise condominiums, and mobile homes is that the electrical service is not always located near the desire parking area.

If installation involves, trenching and excavation of concrete and asphalt, the construction costs could exceed the cost of the EVSE . To minimize these cost, the focus should be on placing the EVSE as close to the electrical service as possible.



mud1mud2Mid- and High-rise Apartments

Most garages have limited power near the deeded or assigned parking. Electrical loads in these structures were generally designed for lighting and elevators. Electrical upgrades will require coordination of the electrical contractor with the local utility. Boring the garage walls and parking decks are costly and will require services of a structural engineer. On the up side, low-cost surface-mounted conduit is generally accepted in garages.

Mid- and High-rise Apartments or Condominiums Without Parking Structures

When MuDs do not have parking structures or assigned parking then installation of an EVSE and or ownership of a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) can be a challenge.

Parking Ownership Models

Assigned Parking: Most MuDs have assigned parking as well as a common area parking for guests and other needs. The key is always getting the EVSE near the electrical service. Whether this entails swapping of parking spaces which often are the choice locations, or installing the EVSE in a more remote common area, long term planning can help make this transition easier.

Common Area Parking: A solution can often be made with the compromise of installing an EVSE in a common area. If you are the owner of a PEV and can’t see why someone will not give up their choice spot, then empathize by giving up yours.  When retrofitting an existing structure, convenience and cost to the electrical service must always be considered.


Low Cost – High Cost Reminders

The above diagram gives a really quick breakdown of cost associated with multi-unit dwellings.

A Level 1 (120V) EVSE near and existing meter, using existing wiring, that has TOU rates is going to be an easier sale.

A Communicating Level 2 charger in a specialized location, assigned to an independent meter and requires commercial rates is going to be at the other end of the cost spectrum.

These are the technical issues, but do not underestimate the human factors involved in getting individuals to swap parking spaces or educating HOAs on the cost and process involved. The key is education.  Be willing to negotiate and compromise with a dose of patience.

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19 Comments on "How to Get an EVSE For My Condominium / Apartment"

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Yup, besides the pretty apartment buildings, confirms what I’ve been saying all along, that a 120 volt 15 amp circuit on the Tenant’s meter or if that is impracticable for an existing structure, an island of outlets with a time lock on them that bills the tenant for the time he is using the outlet, assuming a constant 1.4 kw draw.

EV apartment dwellers you’ll find aren’t fussy. Absolutely anything ( such as 120 volts and 12 amps, at a reasonable price ) will satisfy them, and not greatly load down the existing facilities.

While I believe 120V 15amp is all most need to top off at a workplace, I personally believe no less than 240v 30amp should be the minimum at a dwelling.

So all you have to do is get someone to pay for the increase. Whom did you have in mind?

I just got 120 volt 12 amp service installed at my parking spot and the cost was so minimal the building engineer didn’t even charge me anything above the $30 I had been billed already for electrical service that hadn’t started yet. (I pay $20 a month for the right to plug in and it took them 6 weeks to get around to putting the plug in.) 240 would be nice, but don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of good enough.

I had a bit of a problem with calling 240 volt perfect… 😉

I just realized that I am charging consistently at 12 amps with no problem so my plug is probably 120 volt 15 amp, not 12 amp. Just wanted to be clear.

I live in a mid-rise condominium in Honolulu with a parking garage below the apartments. My assigned parking stalls are more than 100′ from the electric meter room. No one with a closer parking space wants to swap which is understandable because my parking spaces aren’t very desirable. I’m trying to install a 20-amp time-of-use charging circuit with both 120 v. and 208 v. outlets for use with Level 1 and 2 EVSE’s. The local electrical utility has an EV charging pilot program with a 6¢/kWh discount for off-peak charging. The charger on my Mitsubishi i-MiEV is only 3.3 kW, so 20 amps is sufficient and should remain sufficient even if I buy another EV in the future considering how little we drive. With limited electrical capacity available, my condo board doesn’t want to approve circuits with higher than necessary amperage so that as many other EV owners as possible will be able to install charging circuits. Steps 1-9 were pretty easy and quick for me because state law makes condo board disapproval difficult unless insufficient electrical capacity exists. However, I’ve been stuck on Step 10 since July, 2013! Getting an electrical permit for what is considered a commercial electrical… Read more »

You just want a 20 amp circuit. Why not just get a standard electrical socket approved, and don’t even bring the charger into it. You can provide the charger as a standard plug in item.

I live in Arlington VA, my association agreed to allow the installation of 30 amp outlet, the local government required commercial specifications for 220V “for condominiums” what brings the price around $7000, this is an effort to support the no EV agenda in Virginia what a shame.

MDEV, I live in Arlington as well, and I found that approaching the condo board first with just a verbal, “what if” before I leased my Volt worked fairly well. They asked the engineer to be ready to put a plug in what ever parking spot I rented, and though it took a month and a half for my work order to come to the top of the queue, I am really happy with my 120 volt 12 amp service. Although, come to think of it, it may be 15 amp service because my 12 amp charging hasn’t made the plug warm and has been flawless.

So you have to go through a 12-step program to get an EVSE? That doesn’t sound good. 😉

My first thought when looking at the Installation Guide was “who in their right mind would go through all that???” You would have to be a true believe or glutton for punishment to push through all that garbage. This is a perfect example of how (well meaning??) people put roadblocks in front of very reasonable projects.

While the obvious reaction is “we need to pass more laws”, I surely don’t see that as simplifying the process at all. I cite as prime evidence that CA has laws that are supposed to smooth the process but all this complexity comes from CA. Basically, it looks to me like EV owning apartment dwellers are deeply screwed.

It is a clumsy system but it is a start. And it provides a way for apartment dwellers to get charging facilities if they really want them. Apartment dwellers in other states have absolutely NO PROCESS to get charging facilities if they want them so something is better than nothing.

And yeah, we do need more laws. All new or remodeled apartment complexes should be required to PRE-WIRE parking facilities for chargers (not fully install chargers but make it very easy to add them when people want them). This is very cheap . . . just plastic tubing & wire.

“…just plastic tubing and wire…”. Low Cost, true, that is IF the law doesn’t require a service entrance change so that the electric service is commensorate with the number of spaces required. If the law states everyone has to provide the equivalent service entrance for a model S at every spot, then it aint happening.

STG, for an EREV owner 120 volt 15 amp service is sufficient. And when you get down to it, it would work for most BEV80 types like the Leaf and FFE, the vast majority of the time.

Yeah, some mornings you wouldn’t have all 80 miles, but you would have at least 10-12 hours charging at 4-5 miles of AER per hour of charging, plus what you had when you got home, which isn’t too bad.

I am a believer in KISS. 120 volt 15 amp is about as simple as it gets. In my world 20 amp service is a potential upgrade for some car of the future! 😉