Electric vehicles (EVs) are revolutionizing the way we think about transportation, offering a greener and more sustainable future. However, apartment EV charging presents unique challenges. This guide aims to provide a roadmap for EV charging in apartments in Australia, including overcoming body corporate electric vehicle charging issues and installation tips.
Understanding the Basics of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging
Before diving into the complexities of EV charging in apartment buildings, it’s crucial to understand the basics. EV charging is the process of supplying electric energy to recharge an electric vehicle’s battery. To enjoy the convenience of never needing to visit a petrol station again, having a method to charge your vehicle at home is es.
Types of EV Chargers
- Level 1 Chargers: These chargers can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet and are typically used for charging at home. Although they’re convenient and require no additional setup, they charge rather slowly.
- Level 2 Chargers: A step up from Level 1, these chargers need a dedicated circuit and deliver a higher charging speed. They’re often found in commercial settings but can be installed at home with the right setup.
- DC Fast Chargers: Not feasible for apartment complex EV charging due to their hefty infrastructure requirements.
Challenges: Apartment Building Power Supply vs EV Charging Load
You may think, why can’t the new owners of the electric vehicle just pay for their own chargers to be installed on their own meter?
There are several problems to solve:
Firstly and foremost, almost every strata building we have examined does not have sufficient power supply for every parking space to have an operating EV Charger without tripping the power supply to the whole building. You might be able to get away with the first couple of EV Chargers, but at some point you are going to need a solution.
Most solutions will apply some guides to the owners on what type of charger they can install, how the cables are connected to the main switchboard and how they pay for the electricity used.
It is recommended that the building has a strategy and roadmap in place for EV Charging before they give permission to an owner to install a charging device.
If there is already power running to the parking spaces and each space has a power outlet, it is quite common that this power is run from the common property meter. This means that the whole building will be sharing the cost of charging the vehicle.
Speak to an expert about EV Charging for your building
Solutions for EV Charging in Apartments
The feasibility and costs of each solution will vary greatly depending on the existing power supply and electrical infrastructure, the design of the parking areas and the requirements of the owners in terms of the EV charging equipment.
Visitor parking bays
One way to get started with EV charging at your apartment without committing to a bigger solution is to install EV charging equipment in the visitor parking bays.
Some rules can be embedded into the charging devices which help limit the maximum use time to ensure the charging equipment can be shared.
Clearly, this isn’t a long-term solution, but can buy some time for the building in lieu of a larger solution.
Trickle charging only
There are different levels of EV charging which require different amounts of power. Trickle charging (level 1) is the slowest option which usually uses a regular 10 Amp power socket.
In some cases, we have seen that there is sufficient capacity available on the power supply for most residents to install a trickle charger without risking an overload on the power supply.
This solution is more likely to be available in smaller apartment blocks with less than 10 parking bays.
Load management systems
The only foolproof way of ensuring that your building doesn’t risk turning the lights off is introducing a ‘load management system’.
The load management system has the ability to control the power draw of the EV chargers so that it does not exceed the building’s power supply.
The are several different solutions on the market varying in capability and cost. The below table outlines some of the choices:
|How They Work||Cost||Evaluation|
|Branded Solutions||Some EV Chargers have the capability to speak to each other via Wifi or data cable and can control the maximum power draw of all devices to a certain limit. After measuring the draw for the building and the capacity on the power supply you can set that limit to reduce the risk of exceeding the building’s power supply. All chargers must be connected on the same electrical circuit (common property meter) so payment software is required on the charger for users to pay for electricity.
Examples:Tesla Gen 3
– Cheapest solution
Cons:– Every owner must install the same EV Charger
– Often a limit to the number of chargers that can be connected
– Max power limit for the chargers has to be set lower than the busiest time for the building
|3rd Party Load Management Systems||A central device is installed that can communicate with any charger that is compatible with Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). These solutions also connect CT sensors to the incoming mains so that the amount of available energy can dynamically be measured which greatly increases the charge rate of the EVs in the system.
For some smaller apartment buildings, it might be possible to connect the EV chargers to individual meters, eliminating the need for a payment solution from the common area meter.
– Increases the amount electricity available to the EV chargers (faster charging)- Greater choice of EV chargers- Can usually connected unlimited number of chargers
Cons:– Higher cost for additional hardware- Potential requirement for data cable connecting to each charger
Benefits of Installing an EV Charger in Your Apartment
Despite the initial costs and challenges, there are several benefits to apartment electric car charging:
Having an EV charger in your apartment means you can recharge your vehicle overnight, making it ready to go when you are. This is especially convenient for charging a Tesla at an apartment or any other electric vehicle.
Lower Operational Costs
Electric vehicle charging in apartment buildings often turns out to be cheaper than using public charging stations, where a premium is often applied to underlying electricity costs.
Increased Property Value
As EV charging in condos and apartments becomes more common, having an installed charger can significantly increase the value of your property. This is particularly true as electric vehicle adoption in Australia increases.
EV Charging Feasibility Assessment
Before giving permission for EV charger apartment installations, it’s recommended that the building completes a feasibility assessment and establishes a roadmap for enabling all owners to have access to EV charging infrastructure.
Solar Choice has completed EV charging feasibility assessments for strata buildings all across Australia and is highly experienced in advising apartment owners on the best and most cost-effective solutions.
Our approach includes the following:
- Organising a qualified and experienced electrician to complete a detailed site survey of all the existing electrical infrastructure, including the incoming mains, main switchboard, meters and breakers, parking bays and potential cable pathways
- Installing a temporary power consumption logger onto the incoming mains so we can determine the power consumption within the building and how much available capacity exists to dedicate to EV Charging
- Solar Choice’s engineering team will review all collected information from site and set out the recommended options for enabling EV charging infrastructure for ALL apartment owners, including staging out the project where possible to avoid a big upfront cost
- A Solar Choice consultant will explain the recommendation and finds to the owners
- Solar Choice can recommend an reputable electrical contractor in every state with experience installing EV charging infrastructure within apartment buildings.
Solar Choice is the leading consulting firm in Australia working on EV charging projects for residential apartment buildings.
If you are looking at other consultants to complete a feasibility study, we highly recommend ensuring that a qualified electrician attends site and installs a power consumption monitoring device as part of the assessment.
Speak to an expert about EV Charging for your apartment
How much does it cost to install an EV charger in an apartment?
A typical wall-mounted (level 2) electrical vehicle charger can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,500 just for the hardware. Installation will depend heavily on how the charger will be connecting to electricity.
Some considerations that impact costing:
- Can the charger be wall-mounted or is a free-standing solution required?
- Will a bollard need to be installed to prevent vehicles from accidentally reversing into the charger?
- What distance a cable will need to travel to connect to the main switchboard or closest sub-distribution board?
- Will trenching be required for the cable to pass underground?
Each installation will need to be assessed by an electrician. When creating an EV charging roadmap for a strata building often we recommended that some of the above-mentioned costs be covered by strata which will make it easier and cheaper for individual owners to connect their own chargers.
For example, a building with 15 parking bays may decide to put in 3 strategically located sub-distribution boards across the car park so that when each parking bay wishes to connect a charger they have a simpler task and shorter cable run. This also minimises the connections required at the main switchboard and can often mean that any trenching needs only be completed once.
What are the voting and strata requirements for EV charging decisions?
Strata legislation usually requires that changes to common property (including installing electric vehicle chargers in parking areas) follow specific voting requirements.
In most states a special resolution is required, meaning that no more than 25% of the votes (based on the unit entitlement set out in the strata plan) are against the motion.
In NSW, motions relating to EV charging infrastructure are considered ‘sustainability upgrades’ which means the vote only requires that less than 50% are against the motion.
Can’t I Just Install My Own EV Charger at My Apartment?
The short answer is no.
Most strata buildings have limited power supply from the grid which would be exceeded if a small number of residents installed a charger. In this event, the breaker on the mains supply would trip and power would be lost to the entire building.
Installing EV chargers without a plan in place may result in additional costs to replace installed EV chargers with something compatible with the future solution or replace wiring.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Due to the high power requirements, installing a DC Fast Charger is generally not feasible for electric car charging in apartment blocks.
While there are no specific incentives for EV charging stations for condos, some states offer general incentives for sustainable upgrades, which can include EV chargers.
Yes, it’s necessary to inform your home insurance provider about the new addition to ensure you’re covered.
EV charging for apartments in Australia is a complex but increasingly necessary undertaking. From understanding the basics of EV charging in apartment buildings to navigating the challenges and costs associated with body corporate electric vehicle charging, this guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview to help you make informed decisions.
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