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Installing EV Chargers at Condos and Apartments in California

EV charging station at a condominium in California

Charging your electric vehicle (EV) at home is convenient—but it also requires special equipment to ensure expedience and cost efficiency. But what if you live in an apartment or condo? If there aren’t charging stations already available at your building, it’s something you’ll need to consider.

While using public charging stations is an option, you don’t always have that kind of time. Public EV charging stations take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, so it’s always better if you can do it at home.

Electric vehicles now account for 5.6% of all cars sold, which is expected to grow as manufacturers make the switch. With that in mind, you’re probably not the only one in your building with an EV, so a shared charging station might be an option.

So, let’s talk about what it takes to get an EV charger installed in your building.


EV Charging Stations for Renters and HOAs

Whether you hope to install an EV charger solely for your use or are pitching your HOA to put in shared units, one thing is sure; you’ll need permission. However, if you live in California, you’re in luck. They can’t turn you down if you’re paying for the charging station out of your own pocket.


Shared EV Charging Stations

If enough residents are interested, the HOA may agree to install shared stations. This approach may help you avoid the cost of installation, but you’ll need to prepare your pitch.

First, find out how many of your neighbors with EVs are interested in having a charging station. There might also be tenants who want to buy an EV but have held off because there is no charging station nearby. The higher the demand, the stronger your case.

Be ready to provide the management company or HOA with information on installation, cost, how much energy the charging station will use, and who will pay for the electricity. Shared use will require a commercial-grade charger, which is more durable than the type you’d typically purchase for residential use.

Several companies offer multiple-user EV charging stations ideal for apartment buildings and condos. Access control is app-driven, meaning users can schedule their charging time in advance, and costs are attributable to individual accounts based on usage. Shared use will also require Wi-Fi to work. Any network fees incurred are generally charged back to the users, so the management company is not out-of-pocket.

When pitching the property management company, it might be helpful to mention that an EV charger is a desirable amenity and may help them attract high-value tenants in the future. Electric vehicles are gaining popularity, and the market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.


Personal EV Charging Stations

If you have a dedicated parking space, you may be able to install an EV charging station for personal use. Most of the aforementioned recommendations apply, as you’ll still need permission to install and hook up the equipment. Since you’re installing the unit for yourself, you will need to foot the bill for the charger and installation.

Building management cannot deny your request if you’re willing to pay the charging station installation costs. In California, landlords and HOAs are required to accept any tenant’s written request to install charging equipment for their own use. The law also states that tenants must pay additional electrical costs, which may be added to their rent.

When installing a charging station for personal use, the electrical contractor will connect the unit to the building’s panel, allowing electricity use to be metered.

You might also think about sharing the costs to offset your investment. For example, you could allow other tenants to use your charger when you’re not around and charge them a small fee.


Choosing an Electrical Contractor

Ideally, you’ll want to engage an electrical contractor early in the process, as they’ll be able to tell you whether the building will require any upgrades to the electrical panel. Hiring an electrician certified by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) is also recommended.

While an EVITP certification is not required, it might help you qualify for rebate programs. You’ll also need permits in place before the work proceeds, and an electrical contractor will manage that process. In some cases, having a licensed contractor may also help you avoid purchasing additional liability insurance.


Portable EV Chargers

Many EV drivers invest in portable chargers as it’s a way to connect to power when no other options are available. If you have no other options and want to connect your portable charger to power in the parking garage, be sure to inform your landlords or HOA. Any outlets other than those in your dedicated space are likely connected to the building’s meter, so you’ll need to let them know.

However, if you have a dedicated outlet in your space, a portable charger might work for you, at least in the short term. Installed EV chargers are about three times faster than portable chargers. If you’re using a portable charger, you’ll definitely need to plan to leave your vehicle overnight.

Portable EV chargers cost less than installed charging systems. You won’t have to hire an electrical contractor, get a permit, or pay for installation. You will, however, need a 240V outlet. You can also purchase a 240V splitter, which is handy if you have two EVs and an adjacent space.


Hub Panels

Another multi-user solution for apartment buildings and condos would be to install a dedicated hub panel specifically for residents who want to install EV chargers. The community would share the installation cost, and each user would pay a fee to connect their charging station to the panel.


Final Thoughts

If you live in California, are a renter, or own a condo and have an EV, an on-site charger offers convenience and value. For condo boards and HOAs, installing multi-user charging stations is a way to delight your current residents and appeal to future tenants and buyers.

To reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and make our world more sustainable, encouraging EV use is a step in the right direction. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of installing a multi-user EV charging station in your building, speak to us today.


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