Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condominiums
By Dan Tiernan / Published August 2021
In 2019 almost 1/40 new cars sold were electric vehicles (EVs). This amount is expected to almost double by 2022, with EVs representing 1/20 new cars sold, ultimately reaching 1/5 in a decade.
This trend is creating a need for a new amenity at condominiums: EV charging stations.
In Florida, condominium associations are required by law to accommodate an owner’s request to enable EV charging; however, the cost for this accommodation can be charged to the owner.
Electric vehicle charging is available at three levels, based on the rate at which a vehicle can recharge. Higher levels indicate faster charging levels. To keep things simple, the following generally applies:
– Level 1 charging is TOO SLOW, typically charging 3–5 miles of range per hour of charge.
– Level 3 or DCFC (Direct CurrentFast Charging) is very fast, charging 100-plus miles per hour, but TOO EXPENSIVE.
– Level 2 charging is JUST RIGHT as it is reasonably affordable and can fully recharge an EV overnight.
Some EV owners who drive infrequent, short distances may actually be ok with a Level 1 charging option, but that would be the exception rather than the rule. As tempting as it may seem to want the equivalent of a “Super Charger” in your condominium, that is not likely in 2021. This article is therefore focused on installing Level 2 charging stations.
There are two different ways to address the need for Level 2 EV charging stations in condominiums:
Install PERSONAL charging stations dedicated to assigned or deeded parking spots for specific owners. This is primarily oriented towards condominiums with access-controlled garages. For open parking areas, it may make better sense to pursue the next option; OR
Install COMMON charging stations in a space where they can be used by all on a first-come, first-served basis. These exist at newer apartment complexes, condominiums, and office buildings and typically include the ability for the user to pay per use. These are most practical when there is a parking area that can be dedicated to this amenity, which is not always the case at many condominiums.
How do we install Level 2 PERSONAL charging stations at your condominium association?
From our experience, here are the steps:
Hire a licensed electrician who has experience in installing EV charging stations. Make sure the electrician is familiar with the requirements, solution options, and potential challenges.
The first two things that need to be decided are as follows:
Where will the personal charging stations be installed, i.e., at which parking spaces? If the parking spaces for EVs owners are spread among many locations, is there a way to exchange parking spaces to simplify the installation and minimize the cost?
Can we add a single, dedicated power source to feed all the charging stations from a central location, ideally in the garage area, where a new panel can be added? This way each line can be individually sub-metered to measure the electricity used by each charging station/owner in order to facilitate billing.
The central panel that is installed should be designed to handle a reasonable number of personal charging stations that may be requested over the next few years. For example, if you have 200 parking spots, it may make sense to install a system that can handle 10–20 stations, which would represent 5 to 10 percent of the parking spaces.
The cost to install the central panel and sub-metering capability should be paid for upfront by the condominium association ($10K+ depending on requirements and current infrastructure) but can be recovered over time as owners pay for related items:
installations of personal charging stations and
monthly or quarterly fees for actual power consumption.
A standard personal charging station would typically utilize a240V/50 amp charge. This allows most EVs to fully recharge overnight. It is also important to remember that electricity prices are typically lower after 9:00 p.m. in most locations, which is another reason that “over-night”charging is so desirable. Most EVs offer charging cables that will connect to a 240V outlet, making it easy to install a simple NEMA 14–50 plug where the cable can be easily removed or stored as required. Alternatively, Tesla, for example, offers a wall charger for $500 that can charge the EV at a 30percent faster rate—and includes a cable, eliminating the need to utilize the portable Tesla cable.
After the condominium installs and pays for the central panel and submetering (steps 4–5), an owner would be able to request a personal charging station. The association can charge the owner a base fee for the connection to help recover the initial costs; e.g., if it costs $10,000 to install the central panel with a capacity for 10 personal charging stations, it may make sense to charge $1,000 for a personal charging station plus the cost to run power to the desired location and install an outlet. This cost to run power and install an outlet should be somewhere between $500 and $1,000-plus depending on the distance from the central panel to the parking spot and what is required to run power to that spot. The owner would also be responsible for the cost of the cable/connector. All the electrical work should be done by the condominium-designated electrician and billed backto the owner. This is important because the installation involves common area electricity and installation in a common area—the garage.
After the owner’s EV charging station is completed, the power usage can be monitored on a monthly or quarterly basis and billed back to the owner. The actual cost of the electricity consumed will obviously vary depending on the type of EV and miles driven.As an example, if a condominium owner in South Florida owns a Tesla Model 3 that he/she drives 1,000 miles per month, the cost to charge this vehicle would be between $20and $30 per month, depending on when it was charged and the driving habits of the owner. The condominium would be justified to include a surcharge on the actual electricity cost due to the need to monitor usage, maintain the system, bill and collect funds from the owner, etc. It could be a flat surcharge, such as $10per month, or a percentage, such as 25 percent of the actual cost. Also, the condominium could choose to keep it simple and charge a flat $40 per month per charging station.These energy cost estimates are based on the following:
Tesla Model 3 (compact)consumes .260KwH/mile
Per FPL, the avg cost perKwH in South Florida is$0.1142
1,000 miles X .260KwH/mile X $0.1142/KwH =$29.69
Tesla Model S (sedan) consumes .330KwH/mile andTesla Model X (SUV) consumes .390KwH/mile.
How do we install level 2 COMMON charging stations at your condominium association?
Define a preliminary plan for your shared charging station or stations by addressing the following questions, which may require the assistance of a licensed electrician who is familiar with your building.
How many electric vehicles do you plan to support, and based on the owners’ driving habits, how many charging points do you expect to need?
Where does it make sense to place the charging stations? This will depend on availability of spaces and proximity to an electric panel with the required capacity, which may be new or existing.
Choose a service provider. Some providers have stations that operate best indoors, while others have solutions that can be installed in parking areas. Work with your service provider to develop a specific plan for your property.
Your service provider can typically recommend an electrician who can complete the installation, which may include electrical panel upgrades or installations, installing the charging stations, and connecting the charging station(s) to the electrical panel(s). In some instances, your electric utility provider may need to get involved.
The ongoing billing is much simpler compared to personal charging stations. The service provider will collect fees from owners who use the common charging stations and then reimburse the condominium association for the electricity consumed, typically on a monthly basis.
Recovering the cost for the initial installation is quite a bit different. If the cost of the full installation is $20,000, you could require a payment from the owners of a one-time, $1,000 payment to be able to access the chargers. After the funds have been fully recovered, future funds can be used for more stations and/or upgrades.
The cost for the actual charging stations provided by the service provider tend to cost between $1,200 and $2,500per station for one car to charge. Many of the service providers offer single stations with two charging cables, so two vehicles can be charged at the same time.
There are many other great features offered by the various service providers. In addition to collecting the usage fees and reimbursing the condominiums for the electricity, these options may be available:
– Online visibility to available/open charging stations
– Pricing changes based on time of the day
– Availability for guests to use stations based on time of the day and availability (e.g.,only residents can use the station between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.)
Regardless of the approach you choose, don’t expect to complete this project in a few weeks. These kinds of projects typically require permits from the local municipality. Don’t be surprised if it takes at least a few months as you have several parties involved: property manager, board of directors, EV owners, electricians, service providers, local code enforcement/permit authorities, and even your electric utility provider.
EVs are catching on quickly, and accessible EV charging stations at your condominium can absolutely improve resale value.
Chief Operating Officer, Campbell Property Management & Tesla Model 3 Owner
Dan helps develop and deploy the best practices and tools, which are used by our managers to continuously improve Campbell’s services. Dan started his career with Accenture and later ran consulting and software businesses in the purchasing, human resources, and financial services industries. Dan and his wife, Amy, have four children who are active in school and sports. He and his family relocated from the Philadelphia, PA, area when he joined Campbell in 2011. Dan graduated as an industrial engineer and is proud to be a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech. For more information on Campbell Property Management Services, call (954) 427-8770 or visit www.CampbellMGT.com.
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