We recently published our first report focused solely on electric vehicle charging. It’s a deep dive into residential EV charging stations, public EV charging stations, commercial EV charging stations, EV service equipment innovations, EV charging business models, and electric vehicle adoption trends. Below is one short section of the report.
Multi-family housing poses a unique challenge when it comes to hosting EV charging facilities. It also provides some unique opportunities when it comes to servicing more vehicles in a smaller area as compared to traditional residential or public EV charging stations.
First and foremost of the challenges is the potential constraint of limited electrical wiring and transmission capability to the grid. Level 2 EV charging draws 30 amps for hours at a time just to service a single vehicle. Scaling this up to 5, 10, or 100 plug-in vehicles creates a significant high-density draw on the grid that can easily overwhelm the electrical system of a multi-family housing complex.
To manage the complexity, load-balancing solutions from providers like EverCharge, EVBox, and others are increasingly available and integrated into Level 2 EV service equipment (EVSE) from the OEM. Numerous white papers have been authored on load balancing alone as industry standards organizations and academics attack the problem from different angles. Tesla utilizes a load-balancing system at its Supercharging locations that balances the available current between pairs of Superchargers, with the first car plugged in taking priority and the second car getting a reduced flow.
There are three types of load-balancing solutions that solve different problems for different consumers, depending on the need:
Load balancing is integrated into the EVSE by the OEM — when a single EVSE with two charging connectors has been designed to share the incoming power between the two charging connectors.
Static load balancing — regulates each EVSE in the system to a fixed power that fits into the total available power, which simplifies the ongoing management but does not allow for the best use of incoming power.
Dynamic system-wide load balancing — automatically adjusts power to each connector as loads on individual connectors change or in the event that the available incoming power changes over time.
Just as a percentage of residential EVSE buyers in our survey expected to invest in infrastructure upgrades to support a new Level 2 EV charging station at their home, some property owners or managers will be forced to invest larger amounts for more electrical infrastructure to support EVSE for multi-family houses. The same applies for any high-density application of EVSE, including parking structures and high-density workplace parking.
Further complicating matters, multi-family houses are governed by a code of conduct, leasing agreement, property management company, homeowners association, or the building owners that ultimately have to be convinced to invest their money in EV charging equipment for tenants.
To help EV owners and building owners/managers with what can be a difficult and at times costly situation, some EV-friendly utilities have developed guiding literature with dedicated staff to support the process. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District even offers rebates to multi-family housing complexes installing chargers — up to $1500 for up to 20 Level 2 EV charging stations or up to $100,000 for a Level 3 EV charging station. (Source: CARB)
Guidance and support from utilities, including rebates, lowers the bar for building owners/ managers and increases the likelihood that residents will be able to successfully petition management to install plug-in vehicle charging stations in their complex.
On the sales side of the equation, EVSE network operators (like ChargePoint, Blink, SemaConnect, and others) have robust repositories of resources with teams staffed to support property owners or managers on the road to installing shared or dedicated EVSE. As they stand to financially benefit from the effort, these teams are able to offer more support and resources, including connecting interested parties with information about relevant rebates, utility partnerships, load balancing options, and the like.
Startup Envoy took a different angle on the challenge, offering a one-stop shopping experience for electric vehicle sharing as an amenity for property tenants. The model charges property managers a fee for the end-to-end service while providing the benefit of an onsite electric vehicle sharing service.
On the regulatory and academic side of the equation, California is again pushing the envelope with legislation introduced in 2015 that prevents property owners/managers from unreasonably denying a resident’s request to install an electric-vehicle charging station in their assigned parking space. Similar to the battles fought between tenants and satellite television service providers, regulation can help pave the way for the adoption of plug-in vehicles and is especially critical given the not insignificant financial investment required for the purchase and installation of an EV charging station.
California is also leading the way with the integration of EVSE into the building code, by mandating a minimum number of EV charge points be installed in parking areas of multi-use dwellings.