Electric Car Charging Solutions for Apartments
Charging an Electric Vehicle (EV) at home is an essential part of the complete EV experience. If you can charge your EV at home, you will avoid spending idle time at charging stations, however, this is easier said than done for EV drivers living in apartment buildings. Most buildings developed in certain states after 2023 will be EV ready, but this is not the case for old buildings.
Here we explain what an EV ready building is, available options to install your EV charger, challenges you could face in the process, and possible alternatives in case you are not able to install the EV charger.
EV Ready Buildings: Is Your Building Ready For EV Charging?
It may be possible that your apartment building is already EV ready or can be turned into one. Living in an EV ready building would make the whole process much easier.
EV ready buildings feature the right electrical infrastructure to plug and power EV Supply Equipment (EVSE), known as EV chargers. Since it is expected that by 2030, EVs will represent more than 10% of new vehicle sales, some states are mandating newly developed buildings to be EV ready. It is important to keep in mind that an EV ready building does not necessarily mean that the building already has EV chargers installed, but that it has the electrical capacity in parking areas to install EV charging stations if desired.
If your strata apartment building is not EV ready, you can take up the idea with the strata committee and propose making the building EV ready. Except for Queensland and Tasmania, all Australian states have financial subsidies in place to incentivise upgrading the electrical infrastructure of buildings for EV charging. These financial subsidies will make this upgrade much cheaper.
Assessing the Options to Install an EV Charger in Your Apartment Building
Individual Installation With No Pre-Existing EV Charging Infrastructure
If your building features no EV charging electrical infrastructure, there is still a possibility to install an EV charging station. This is only possible in small buildings where the electrical meters are easily accessible and the installation works similar to a house.
This would probably still be the most challenging option if you are the only person in the building currently interested in installing an EV charger. This is why it is important to convince neighbors and if possible other EV owners to promote the upgrade of the electrical infrastructure in the building to accommodate EV charging stations.
In this case, a certified electrician would need to assess the electrical capacity and determine the possibility to install the dedicated circuit. You may have to pay additional expenses to embed the wiring installation to your parking spot for design purposes, depending on the regulations of your building.
Individual Installation in EV Ready Buildings
The second option is the installation of an EV charger in case your building is already EV ready. Most EV ready buildings have a suitable electrical infrastructure that allows EV owners to install their EV chargers without going through strata committees or body corporates since the infrastructure is already in place.
If this is your case, you only need to learn about the rated electrical capacity of the available circuit to install the right charger. A 32 amp single-phase circuit could easily power a 7.2kW EV charger like the single-phase Ocular LTE and the single-phase Wallbox Pulsar Plus. For three-phase 32 amps circuits, you could power 22kW EV chargers like the three-phase Zappi EV charger.
Shared EV Charger Installation for Common-Usage
There is another solution for most apartment buildings featuring a limited electrical infrastructure and several EV drivers in the building: installing a shared EV charging station. The strata committee or body corporate could install a few charging installs that would be shared by all EV drivers equally. To avoid any inconvenience, the building would create a schedule or limit usage time. Installing EV chargers with power sharing capability such as the Tesla Gen 3 EV Charger can also be a good option in these cases with limited infrastructure.
For these installations, there is also the subject of billing. Strata committees could opt to charge EV owners a flat fee, metered rate, or outsourced subscription fee provided by an external EV operator. These fees may include the cost of EV charging and the cost to recover strata-provided EV charging infrastructure.
What Type of Challenges Could You Expect When Installing an EV Charger in Your Building?
Sadly, installing an EV charger in an apartment building is not always as easy as it sounds. EV drivers could face many challenges when installing an EV charger in residential strata buildings. Let us not forget the case of a Sydney doctor who after many attempts to fight against the corporate body on getting an EV charger in his building, he ended up selling his EV because he was not allowed to charge his vehicle.
It is important to learn beforehand the possible limitations and challenges you may face when attempting to install an EV charger in your building. Some of the most important ones are the following:
- Some old buildings feature such a limited electrical infrastructure that EV charging is simply not possible.
- Body corporate or strata committees may refuse the permits to install the EV charger.
- If you are a tenant, the apartment owner could refuse to install the electrical infrastructure.
- If no one steps up to fund the EV charging project, it could make it infeasible in the end.
Viable Alternatives to Look For If You Cannot Install an EV Charger in Your Building
There are always alternatives when it comes to charging an EV. You could:
- Find a Supercharging Station near your building: The Australia EV charging infrastructure features 291 public fast charging stations and 1,580 regular charging stations. You could always make EV charging part of your routine and charge at these stations.
- Promote EV charging at your office: Workplace EV charging is a great benefit to offer employees. If the problem is a limited electrical infrastructure, using 22kW EV charging stations with load balancing capabilities such as the Wallbox Pulsar Plus and Zappi charging stations, can be of great help for this application.
- Consider moving to an EV ready building: If installing an EV charger becomes unviable at your building, you could always move to an EV ready building. Many strata buildings nowadays incentivise EV charging. You could move to one of these and solve the issue. This is a valuable option especially if you are a tenant.