The US will need 9.6 million new electric vehicle charging ports by 2030. Where will all those chargers be located? According to recent research, almost 80% of those will be in single and multi-family residential buildings. That’s a big change. Homes in the US are typically built with wiring for only a few 240V outlets in the garage, just enough to handle a washer and dryer. But the International Code Council (ICC) has foreseen the need for this radical increase in EV chargers, and it approved changes to building standards in a 2020 provision that will allow all new homes built in the US to be EV-ready.
In 2019, there were more than 68,800 Level 2 and DC fast charging units throughout the United States. Of that total, 16%, or approximately 10,860 units, were DC fast chargers that make long-distance travel more practical for electric vehicles (EV), according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project argues that EV-ready building codes are one of the most effective and low-cost strategies for states and local governments to encourage consumers to buy or lease electric vehicles. At their most basic, they say, the codes establish EV infrastructure requirements for new construction projects, including the electrical capacity and pre-wiring to make possible the future installation of EV charging stations. States and municipalities around the country have developed their own EV-ready building codes to accommodate local EV market trends and to meet community-specific climate goals.
The new ICC guidelines call for installing panels, outlets, and conduits capable of charging at least one full-size EV in a single-family garage overnight. Multi-family buildings will need two spots, along with more that can be easily retrofitted, a standard known as “EV capable.” Homeowners will still need to install their own EV charging equipment.
Here’s the actual ICC language of the new EV-ready standard:
R404.2 (IRC N1104.2) Electric Vehicle (EV) charging for new construction. New construction shall facilitate future installation and use of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) in accordance with the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70).
R404.2.1 (IRC N1104.2.1) One- to two-family dwellings and townhouses. For each dwelling unit, provide at least one EV Ready Space. The branch circuit shall be identified as “EV Ready” in the service panel or subpanel directory, and the termination location shall be marked as “EV Ready.” Exception: EV Ready Spaces are not required where no parking spaces are provided.
tR404.2.2 (IRC N1104.2.2) Multifamily dwellings (three or more units). EV Ready Spaces and EV Capable Spaces shall be provided in accordance with Table R404.2.2. Where the calculation of percent served results in a fractional parking space, it shall round up to the next whole number. The service panel or subpanel circuit directory shall identify the spaces reserved to support EV charging as “EV Capable” or “EV Ready.” The raceway location shall be permanently and visibly marked as “EV Capable.”
The definitions for the ICC EV-ready construction are as follows:
ELECTRIC VEHICLE SUPPLY EQUIPMENT (EVSE). The conductors, including the ungrounded, grounded, and equipment grounding conductors, and the Electric Vehicle connectors, attachment plugs, and all other fittings, devices, power outlets, or apparatus installed specifically for the purpose of transferring energy between the premises wiring and the Electric Vehicle.
EV CAPABLE SPACE. Electrical panel capacity and space to support a minimum 40-ampere, 208/240-volt branch circuit for each EV parking space, and the installation of raceways, both underground and surface mounted, to support the EVSE.
EV READY SPACE. A designated parking space which is provided with one 40-ampere, 208/240-volt dedicated branch circuit for EVSE servicing Electric Vehicles. The circuit shall terminate in a suitable termination point such as a receptacle, junction box, or an EVSE, and be located in close proximity to the proposed location of the EV parking spaces.
A 2016 study determined that installing PEV charging infrastructure during initial construction is very cost effective. The cost for installing complete or nearly complete 240-volt 40-amp electric circuits as a retrofit is several times more expensive than installing this infrastructure during new construction. The study authors concluded that installing infrastructure during new construction can avoid retrofit costs including breaking and repairing walls, longer raceways (also referred to as conduit) using more expensive methods and upgrading electric service panels. In addition, the soft costs such as permitting and inspections and project management are much lower for new construction.
The ICC is the building standards organization which sets voluntary guidelines for new homes. The ICC, a non-profit trade association, develops model codes and standards used worldwide to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. It has 64,000 members with 377 chapters worldwide.
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