January 2, 2024

Plugging In: A Renter's Guide to Apartment EV Charging

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6 Min. Read

Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is on the rise. For many, at-home charging is the most practical option, prompting homeowners to upgrade their homes with charging equipment. As a tenant, access to at-home EV charging can be a challenge. Even though there is a growing demand for this perk, landlords are often reluctant to invest in electrification upgrades.

Here, we’ll discuss EV charging for apartments and how you can educate and collaborate with your landlord on EV charging and building electrification. This guide to apartment EV charging will cover the basics EV charger installation so you can plug in with ease and make the most of your EV experience.

Understanding the Basics of Apartment EV Charging

EVs currently represent 8.6% of all vehicle sales, and experts predict that, by 2050, EVs and hybrids could represent 13 to 29% of sales. For this transition to happen, charging needs to become accessible to the 44 million households living in rental properties.

EV Charging Options

EV owners have access to three different charging options:

  • Level 1. This option consists of plugging an EV into a standard 120V outlet. It’s generally accessible to everyone, given the low power needs and limited to no requirements for electrical upgrades, but it only delivers 1 kWh and can take over 50 hours to charge an EV battery, making it an impractical option for many EV drivers.
  • Level 2. Level 2 is the most practical option for residential customers and is the prefered method of charging for a majority of EV drivers. It delivers up to 19 kWh and adds 15 to 40 miles of range per hour of charging on average, with a full charge typically taking between 4-10 hours. Installing one or more Level 2 stations is a realistic project for property managers.
  • Level 3 or Fast DC charging. A Level 3 charging station can fill up a battery in less than an hour. However, the voltage ranges from 400 to 1,000 volts, requiring a commercial infrastructure that is not always available at the residential level. These high-powered chargers are often found along major roadways and may make sense for your apartment complex depending on the current electrical infrastructure, property use, and resident charging needs.

While a combination of charging levels can be a great strategic approach, most properties are more likely to install Level 2 EV chargers as they make the most financial sense, which still providing a great amenity to residents.

The Logistics of EV Charging in Rental Properties

Rental properties are diverse, and apartments, multifamily units, and even office buildings come with their own logistic questions.

Tenants should work with landlords to select EV charging solutions for apartments that create value for the entire community. Chargers should be in a convenient and accessible spot that also meets NEC requirements for clearance. Depending on your climate, indoor and outdoor charging stations can offer unique benefits.

In situations where the landlord is investing in the charging equipment and charges tenants using this perk, regulating access to this perk will be needed. For instance, your landlord might decide to build a separate parking structure to manage access to charging.

If your landlord isn’t on board with the idea, you can explore the possibility of purchasing and installing a charging station yourself. In this scenario, the property owner will have to offer a dedicated parking space that you can upgrade yourself. This works well if you already have an assigned parking unit or space with access to nearby electricity.

Lastly, a lack of off-street parking can be an obstacle to having EV charging at your apartment. Convincing the city to offer street charging might be a better option.

Costs and Benefits of Apartment EV Charging

The cost of installing a standard Level 2 charging station in a home can range up to $1,800, not including any additional complexities, wiring requirements, or commercial installation needs. But while a more simple home installation may fall within this price, installing an EV charging in a multifamily community can be significantly more complex and expensive. Keep in mind that there will likely be additional costs to consider, such as parking space modifications, signage, or even building an assigned garage.

Installing an EV charger is a custom process that will vary in complexity and cost for each project—there is generally not a standard price for the service as it requires a thorough assessment of the existing electrical infrastructure, building out the EV charging system to meet the intended user needs, and taking the property and building layout into consideration.

Electrical upgrades might also be necessary. A qualified electrician can perform a load calculation for the rental property and determine whether a new panel is needed to support EV charging and future electrification projects and can work with you to explore the different options that would meet your building and charging needs.

You can convince your landlord to invest in electrical upgrades by drawing attention to the benefits of community charging:

Navigating the Apartment EV Charging Challenges and Solutions

Apartment EV charging is still in its early stages, with fewer than 5% of rental properties offering this perk. However, a study found that 27% of tenants are interested in EV charging.

The upfront cost is a common barrier to adoption. A possible solution is to help your landlord navigate incentives and work together to agree on a billing model that would help cover the installation costs and increased energy demand.

Space can also be a constraint. For properties with limited parking or insufficient clearance, extending the parking infrastructure might be a necessity.

The key is collaboration. There needs to be a dialogue between renters and property owners to understand interests and expectations better.

You can also involve your local government to explore street charging, reach out to nearby businesses to form partnerships, or even discuss charging at work with your employer.

Advocacy and Action: Making Your Apartment EV-Friendly

As a tenant, you can make a difference by raising awareness of the demand for EV charging.

Petitions and surveys are a great starting point. You can gauge interest and see how many tenants would use charging or consider buying an EV if charging was available.

Next, you can put together a cost-benefit analysis. Research installation costs and incentives to get an idea of how much the project would cost. You can then ask your fellow tenants how much they would be willing to pay for charging in the form of a rent hike or other billing option.

You can also highlight benefits such as reducing the community’s environmental footprint, improving tenant retention, and positioning the property management company as a green leader.

Presenting your landlord with case studies based on other rental properties can be a powerful argument. Look for properties that offer EV charging in your area and contact them to ask a few questions about costs and benefits.

The Road Ahead for Apartment EV Charging

EV apartment charging is still in its early stages, but properties who act now will find themselves ahead of their competition. Residents can partner with landlords and share information about tenant interest and the benefits of installing EV charging stations, such as gaining a competitive edge or improving tenant retention. Once your landlord is ready for the next step in your community’s electrification journey, refer them to Qmerit.

With the largest network of certified installers in the U.S. and Canada, Qmerit’s network has installed over 269,000 EV chargers and is the most trusted partner in North America when it comes to EV charger installation and other energy transition services. A qualified technician from Qmerit’s network can assess the rental property and create a roadmap to electrification. Find out more about EV charging in multifamily buildings and how Qmerit can help by contacting Qmerit today!

Author: Greg Sowder Greg Sowder President, Qmerit Network