March 5, 2024

How to Choose the Fastest EV Charging Station for Multifamily Buildings


7 Min. Read

Multifamily properties have an ever-expanding role in developing a modern EV charging infrastructure.

Providing onsite EV charging stations can support hundreds or even thousands of tenants and residents who may be considering making the switch to an EV, and with the future of electrification, having EV chargers will soon become a requirement for many renters looking for the convenience of charging at home.

For property owners, choosing the fastest EV charging station, conducting a cost-benefit analysis, and assessing tenant expectations are crucial steps for planning a successful electrification project.

This guide will help you understand your options as a multifamily property owner or property manager looking for the best property technology and will help you assess and understand the needs of your community to choose the right EV charging level for your property.

Charging Infrastructure Assessment: Understanding User Requirements

Your first step should be to assess the charging needs of your property and how they might change in the future.

With 17.5 million EV sales predicted for 2024 and a third of consumers saying they are very likely to consider an EV purchase, EV adoption rates are at an all-time high. It’s also worth noting that offering EV charging can encourage EV adoption among your tenants.

Once you know how many tenants would be likely to use EV charging, it’s important to assess their potential usage habits. Make projections about how often and when these EV owners will need access to the chargers.

Where charging will happen is another consideration. Some multifamily owners offer charging in residential garages attached to each unit, but you can also provide dedicated parking spaces or install charging stations in communal spaces. Depending on your billing model, you might want to restrict access to the charging equipment.

Commercial Fast Chargers: Meeting High-Demand Scenarios

Level 3 EV charging, also known as Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC), are the fastest EV charging stations available.

These stations have an output that ranges between 50 and 350 kW and can typically charge a battery to 80% in less than an hour.

These stations run on 400 to 1,000V, requiring access to commercial electrical service, and will require a commercial electrical contractor with additional certification and training on EV charger installation to install and maintain the EV chargers.

Besides investing in the fastest EV charging station equipment and a professional installation, you’ll likely also face additional costs linked to upgrading your electrical infrastructure. Your utility might also have to upgrade its infrastructure to deploy commercial service to your multifamily property.

Investing in the fastest EV charging station equipment creates a broader range of use cases for revenue generation. It’s ideal for high-volume scenarios where multiple tenants would need charging at once, but you can also form partnerships with nearby businesses or properties to offer fast charging to more people outside of your community as well.

However, even in a heavily trafficked area, if you plan for this charger to also be open to the general public or other members of the local community, it should be in a highly visible and easily accessible area to ensure that it will be a profitable EV charger installation.

Planning for a Level 3 EV charging project includes ensuring easy access to the stations for short charging sessions and high usage volume. Billing will also have to account for the higher upfront cost of the project.

Residential Level 2 Chargers: Balancing Cost and Convenience

Level 2 EV charging is a more accessible alternative that requires a dedicated 240V service.

These charging stations can be installed both in a shared community space or in a resident’s attached or detached garage, making them a great choice for multifamily communities.

Your multifamily property will likely need a panel upgrade or a subpanel to handle multiple stations, but the upfront cost is much lower than DC Fast Charging. Additionally, if you install the Level 2 EV chargers in the garages of your residents, you may not need to introduce a billing model as their utility meter will measure their energy use when charging their EV.

Depending on where you choose to install these chargers and which Level 2 EV chargers you select to install, these can be hardwired for a more secure and permanent connection or your licensed EV charger installer can install NEMA 14-50 outlets that will allow your residents to purchase and provide their own EV chargers.

With Level 2 EV charging, tenants can charge a plug-in hybrid for a fully charged battery in typically two hours or less or a full charge for a battery electric vehicle in four to ten hours. Performance varies based on the vehicle’s charging capacity and the station’s output, but most EVs will gain 10 to 50 miles of range per hour of charging, which is ideal for most daily commuters and allows for a full battery with overnight charging.

While they may not be the fastest EV charging station, Level 2 EV charging station installations come with a lower upfront cost and are suitable for multifamily properties where extended or overnight charging makes sense for the needs of most tenants.

Although this type of EV charging does not require as much power as DCFC installation, it should always be performed by a licensed electrician with EV charger installation training and certification to ensure your property and investments are protected and avoid any issues with permitting, liability, or a loss of reputation as a result of poor workmanship.

You can enhance user satisfaction by investing in charging equipment with a higher output and offering an EV charging experience adapted to extended parking sessions, such as installing charging stations in individual garages or communal spaces.

Collaborative Planning: Engaging Stakeholders

Plan for your multifamily EV charging project by involving stakeholders early on. You should involve tenants, but you can also contact your utility provider, a licensed EV charging station installer, nearby businesses and property owners, and your local government.

Engaging stakeholders will help you assess interest in EV charging as well as any potential user expectations. You can discuss preferred charging speed, usage patterns, and pricing.

A survey is a great way to find out how many tenants are interested in EV charging. You can collect additional information by planning weekly or monthly brainstorming sessions so you can research charging options together.

Energy Consumption and Cost Analysis: Ensuring Financial Viability

Multifamily EV charging comes with an upfront cost. You will recoup this cost in the long term by billing for usage. EV charging can also result in property premiums that are 22 to 32% higher compared to similar properties without this perk.

EV charging can generate revenues by attracting new tenants and increasing tenant retention. It can also attract investors with strong ESG values if you’re thinking about exploring other real estate projects and can help earn your property a LEED accreditation.

Some multifamily building owners are creating additional value by making EV charging stations accessible to local businesses and their fleets or by offering subscriptions to nearby residents.

Your first step should be to assess the total cost of the electrification project. This will include the cost of the EV charging equipment, any electrical upgrades, EV charger installation costs, ongoing maintenance, and the increased electric bill. You can then look for ways to offset this cost by developing a billing model that makes sense for your EV charger installation project, leveraging incentives, and negotiating a preferred rate with your utility provider.

Scalability and Expansion: Planning for Growth

With only 5% of apartment and office buildings offering EV charging, being an early adopter will help your property stand out. It also puts you in a unique position to plan for future growth and anticipate higher rates of EV adoption.

Besides ensuring performance, a panel upgrade can pave the way for adding more EV charging stations in the future. You can also explore bidirectional charging, energy storage solutions, or even solar panels to power EV charging stations with clean, renewable energy while also lowering your property’s energy bills.

Scalability can include planning for a parking or garage expansion as you add more spots with EV charging. You should discuss scalability with a licensed EV charging station installer to prepare and plan ahead for any changing EV charging needs in the future.

Make Your Multifamily Property Stand Out With EV Charging

Multifamily properties can stand out by offering Level 2 EV charging or DC Fast charging stations as a unique perk.

Conducting a detailed cost-benefit analysis to compare both options is crucial. Getting tenants involved in this process will also ensure that you invest in an EV charging solution that aligns with their needs and expectations.

You should also seek help from an experienced EV charging station installer early in your project. An expert can help you consider your budget, EV charging needs, and project scalability to choose the EV charging stations that best align with your needs and your budget.

Qmerit’s nationwide network of licensed contractors is powering the energy transition with start-to-finish project guidance, professional installation services, ongoing EV charger maintenance, and more. As the most trusted and experienced network of EV charging station installers in North America, we’re here to support you and your property through every step of your electrification project to ensure you can make the most of EV charging in your community.

Contact Qmerit today to learn more about our custom EV charger installation services for multifamily properties and become an electrification leader in your market!

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification