September 7, 2023

Overcoming Installation Challenges and Empowering Multifamily EV Charging Success


5 Min. Read

The global shift towards electrification means EV charging facilities are increasingly crucial apartment and condominium building amenities, but installing them can be complex and challenging. As such, multifamily property owners and managers must increasingly recognize the need to provide EV charging solutions for their residents as electric vehicle EV adoption surges.

However, installing EV charging stations in multifamily settings can pose unique installation challenges. In this article, we will explore the strategies you can use to overcome these challenges and provide your tenants or unit owners with the facilities they will soon expect and may already need.

Evaluating the Site to Determine Requirements and Installation Challenges

Before installing an EV charging solution in a multifamily setting, the property’s layout and infrastructure should be assessed to determine where the equipment should be placed and what electrical system upgrades or modifications should be made. Once this has been done, the necessary permits must be obtained before work can begin.

Deciding Where to Place an EV Charging Station

Deciding where to place an EV charging solution often involves making compromises, especially in older buildings with electrical systems designed to cope with unusual surges in demand. Placing charging solutions close to electric closets makes installation easier and reduces the amount of trenching required, but there may be more convenient locations for residents. Charging stations should be accessible for residents and safe to use, which means the ideal placement may be far from the existing electrical infrastructure.

Electrical Infrastructure Upgrades and Modifications

Most existing multifamily properties need more electrical infrastructure to charge multiple EVs simultaneously. Before work can begin, a qualified and certified EV installer should prepare an energy management plan that includes a load calculation and accounts for the building’s maximum kilowatt rating. Once this is done, the EV installer can determine what electrical system upgrades or modifications will be required.

Most EVs are charged overnight when electricity demand is low, but additional electrical capacity will probably still be needed. Contacting the electric utility to request additional capacity may also be necessary.

Obtaining Permits and Complying with Local Codes

Before an EV charging station can be installed, the local building code should be consulted, and the required building permits must be obtained. Securing the necessary permits is sometimes time-consuming, so anticipate delays and plan. In addition to state and local requirements, charging station installations must comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Choosing the Right Charging Solution

The EV charging equipment you choose should meet both your current and future needs. It should provide the charging speed that your residents expect, and expanding or upgrading the system should be possible when demand increases. Your chosen solution should also be networked to allow load balancing, remote control, and monitoring.

Charging Options

There are three types of EV chargers available. Level 1 chargers are inexpensive and can be connected to a standard residential 120-volt electrical supply. Still, they are not suitable for multifamily properties because they only provide about five miles of range per hour. This means that fully charging an EV can take as long as 20 hours. Level 3 chargers require a 480-volt supply, but they can charge an EV in about half an hour. Installing a Level 3 system is very expensive, so these chargers are usually found at commercial sites like malls and distribution centers.

Level 2 chargers make the most sense for apartment and condominium buildings because they are affordable and offer fast charging times. These chargers provide about 25 to 40 miles of range per hour and can fully charge most EVs overnight. Level 2 charging stations can also be networked to balance electrical loads and avoid surges.

A Networked Solution

The demands placed on your EV charging station will not be consistent because most residents will leave their vehicles plugged in overnight. Building owners and managers usually choose a networked solution to meet this demand. When EV chargers are connected to a network, the electrical load placed on the system can be monitored and controlled remotely. Networking also makes maintaining and expanding the system much easier.

Upgrading and Expanding a Charging System

The demands placed on an apartment or condominium building’s charging facilities will increase as more and more residents purchase EVs. Expanding or upgrading multifamily EV charging stations will always involve investing, but these costs can be reduced if the equipment is designed to be scalable. When it is, adding new charging stations does not require panel upgrades and additional software.

Choosing a Capable Installation Partner

Choosing a company to design and install your multifamily EV charging solution is not a decision that should be made in haste or without due dilligence. You should look for a company that employs certified installers that have been vetted and trained and have experience in multifamily installations.

Why Certification Is Important

You will expect your EV charging solution to provide reliable service to your residents for many years, so you will need installers that can perform the work in a professional manner. You should carefully vet and choose certified installers with all the required local licenses. They’ll be familiar with the latest technology and will not start work on a project until the necessary permits are obtained.

Experience in Multifamily Settings

When you choose an EV charger installation partner with experience in multifamily settings and uses only certified installers, you can be sure that the work will be performed by individuals who understand the unique challenges. You will also work with professionals who know the technology’s capabilities and limitations and know the various state and federal EV charging incentives.

This is important because rebates and incentives can reduce upfront costs significantly. Only six states do not currently have an EV charging incentive program, and 22 states have programs covering at least 75% of the costs involved. The Inflation Reduction Act provides tax credits for Level 2 EV charging installations, which could further reduce costs.

Simplify the Process

Electric vehicle (EV) sales in the United States increased by 65% in 2022, and it’s apparent to those keeping track that vehicles will be powered by electric motors rather than internal combustion engines in the near future.

Are you seeking to enhance the infrastructure of your multifamily properties while providing your esteemed residents with a dependable and secure EV charging solution?

Qmerit is a leading provider of turnkey solutions for EV charging with over two decades of industry experience and a network of certified installers specializing in electrification services and solutions across North America. We’ve built a track record that has earned the trust of Fortune 500 companies, attesting to the quality and reliability of our services.

Partner with Qmerit today and take the first step towards a future of sustainable and innovative property management.

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification