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A Solution For Unit Charging Outlets In Apartment Building

What is the most cost-effective way to install a facility for unit charging your electric vehicle? For those who rent or live in apartments where their car parking is remote from their metered power, it is a difficult question. Mindful of the surge in EV uptake currently occurring in Australia coupled with a requirement to future proof their investment, a group of residents in a Redcliffe unit block decided to take action.

Unit Charging

Charging from a 15 amp power point in a unit block. Photo courtesy of Noel Tesch.

Four of the 18 units are currently occupied by drivers of EVs. One has a Tesla Model 3 (with a Model Y on order), one has a Mercedes EQS, another an Ioniq, and there is also an Outlander PHEV.

This apartment block is only 8 months old and the developer had originally set aside money to install a single higher capacity charger. Fortunately, this work had not been completed when most of the owners moved into their new homes. After discussion amongst all the residents, it became apparent that a single high-speed charger would not be adequate for the EVs already owned, let alone those ordered and the many that would arrive in the future. Other issues that became part of the considerations by the group included the need for growth, how the power the EVs consume would be paid for, the total amount of power available to the building as a whole, and situating the charging stations in a place that did not disrupt traffic flow in the basement car park.

Unit Charging

Keeping track of the costs. Photo courtesy of Noel Tesch.

In the end, it was decided to use the money available from the developer together with a top-up from all the residents to install up to two 15-amp power points in each resident’s garage (most units come with a three-car garage). An extra $11,000 was allocated to this project — which is fairly minimal when spread across 18 units. All of the power points are on separate mini-meters which are read every three months. Each unit holder reimburses the Body Corporate for the power they use. The final step in this evolution will be to put a large solar array on the roof of the building. This will reduce the cost of electricity for the Body Corporate. The follow-on benefit of this step is a reduction in the cost to charge EVs, as they will be charged at the cheaper Body Corporate rate.

Unit Charging

All units can draw power to charge their EVs. Photo courtesy of Noel Tesch.

Besides the economic advantage, the use of a large solar array to produce electricity that offsets the power used by the EVs is great for the planet. Residents without an EV may also benefit from the power point install, perhaps running a wine fridge or a freezer, or even undertaking a power-hungry hobby like welding. Should a resident want to sell, they can advertise their unit as “EV ready” and hopefully get a premium price!

 
 
 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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