During the first half of 2021, electric vehicle (EV) sales surged in all three major markets — the United States, Europe, and China, according to Power Technology. From the prior year, sales increased 160% to 2.6 million units. The growth in electric vehicle sales supports increased demand for EV charging stations.
88% of electric vehicle charging happens at home, according to a J.D. Power survey. Typically, charging occurs in single-family residences with dedicated parking, where EV charging station installation is fairly straightforward.
According to America’s Rental Housing 2020 more than one-third of Americans are currently renting their homes. Likewise, many multi-family properties are missing on-site EV charging stations, hindering EV adoption. That barrier also impacts owners who live in multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) such as apartments and condominiums.
For example, California is one of the highest contributing states for EV infrastructure in North America, with 50% market share of EV sales in the United States. However, among the 90% of EV charging equipment in homes, only 18% are stationed in multi-family housing. “Right to charge” laws require a portion of parking in new MUDs to include EV charging stations. However, installing EV charging in existing multi-family properties can be challenging without proper guidance.
Nevertheless, apartment and condo dwellers will increasingly expect communities to provide EV charging. This expectation benefits properties as EV charging can help attract and retain residents, raise property values, and increase brand value in competitive markets. Below are 5 things to consider as a property owner when choosing multi-family EV charging stations.
Designated versus community parking spots
“For existing buildings, equitable access to charging stations remains the biggest challenge,” said Andrew Croll, Senior Director of Commercial Sales, Enel X Way e-Mobility. Access depends mainly on the distance from parking spots that need EV charging to the electrical panel. MUDs generally apply two approaches:
- Designated charging: At these properties, each resident has a dedicated parking spot. But if EV owners are spread throughout a parking garage, installing charging infrastructure can prove difficult — from pulling the wire and running conduit to permitting and conducting coring studies.
- Community charging: In other complexes, select spots are dedicated to EV charging stations. This configuration lets MUDs put charging stations close to the electrical panel and keep construction costs down.
A final consideration is whether charging stations can be wall-mounted, which saves money on electrical prep work, instead of pedestals requiring running conduit through landscaping, asphalt, and sidewalks.
Paid or free charging
You must also decide whether to bill for EV charging. Before COVID-19, electric vehicle charging stations in MUDs weren’t used much until residents arrived home from work, usually during times when electricity prices were lower. However, demand for charging has changed with today’s home and office hybrid working models.
If MUDs want to recoup the higher kilowatt-hour costs for charging during the day, they need smart charging stations to calculate electricity usage and pricing. Smart charging features like those of the Enel X Way JuiceBox Pro also help manage costs. For example, in Los Angeles, utility rates are highest from 2-5 pm in the summer. Load balancing lets properties sync power consumption with utility rates. During the afternoon hours, a MUD may want 40-amp charging stations to dispense only 6 amps until the price drops later in the day.
In addition, the ability to access state and/or utility incentives typically requires “smart” network-connected chargers that collect data and analyze usage, which helps utilities better integrate EVs and renewables into the grid and lower demand.
EV-ready or make-ready infrastructure
For multi-unit dwellings built without EV charging infrastructure in mind, a limited electrical supply may create a constraint when planning charging stations. That limitation can be critical if a MUD decides to provide dedicated EV charging at every parking spot. Load balancing can help solve this problem.
Load balancing lets MUDs group multiple EV charging stations on a single circuit. By capping the amount of electricity pulled at any moment, load balancing eliminates the need for additional electrical wiring. At the Sage Condominiums in Phoenix, AZ, the Enel X Way JuiceBox’s load balancing feature lets the electrician install up to three EV charging stations on a single circuit, saving thousands of dollars in electrical costs.
Level 1, 2, or 3 charging
While more than 15 states now have building codes that require the installation of EV charging stations, multi-family property owners have a choice between three levels of charging, as shown below.