There is a growing demand for EV charging for multifamily housing developments across the nation. These charging stations can serve as incentives to attract potential residents and buyers. It also helps multifamily housing developments maintain a sustainable community.
The Demand for EV Charging for Multifamily Housing
There are several advantages to using electric vehicles (EVs). For one thing, they have significantly lower fuel costs compared to traditional gasoline and diesel cars. Moreover, government initiatives incentivize the use of EV chargers in multifamily properties like the Charge Up Fairfax program in Fairfax County, Virginia. This initiative not only exempts fees for EV chargers but also focuses on supporting EV charger installation in HOAs.
The U.S. Department of Energy has also adopted a provision in the International Code Council that requires apartment communities to offer EV charging infrastructure. Initiatives like these encourage people to purchase EVs as the government provides legal, physical, and even financial support.
In addition, certain states have passed bills that protect people’s rights to access electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS). Virginia passed a Right-to-Charge Law in 2020 that prohibited condominium and homeowners associations from disallowing residents to install charging stations on private property under certain conditions. A few other states also have similar legislation in place.
As a result, the demand for multifamily EV charging stations has been growing. Electric vehicle owners are looking for communities that allow them to charge their electric vehicles at home. Some renters are even willing to pay a premium for the access. This will make the availability of EVCS much more than a luxury amenity. Over time, it can become a dealbreaker for those who want to rent or buy residential property.
How to Start Implementing Electric Vehicle Charging for Multifamily Housing Properties
Despite high demand, installing EV charging stations in multifamily properties is not easy. There are several unique challenges that multifamily housing developments face. These can range from parking and electrical service considerations to legal and financial concerns. How should EV charging for multifamily housing be implemented? Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Assessing Demand and Capacity
Not all residents of the housing development will have an electric vehicle. The multifamily housing owner or homeowner association must forecast demand correctly before implementing EV charging. Many communities start conservatively, converting only 5% of parking spaces to accommodate EVs. However, the number and range should ultimately depend on demand from the homeowners and renters.
They can do this by surveying the community. The results of the survey can help the housing community establish how many charging stations they need. Apart from this, multifamily housing communities should also assess the property’s capacity for EVCSs. It’s best to consult with an electrical engineer before converting parking spaces.
2. Choosing the Right Vendor and Equipment
There are two types of EV chargers multifamily housing properties can install. These include Level 1 (L1) and Level 2 (L2) chargers. The former is less costly and can cost between $300 to $1,500 per station. However, it can only provide 5 miles of range each hour.
Meanwhile, L2 chargers — the most common in apartment dwellings — can cost as much as $7,500. They might be more expensive, but they can also charge several vehicles and provide 16-25 miles of range per hour. These are also able to balance electrical loads and handle networking. Multifamily housing communities should choose wisely and plan according to their needs and budget.
Apart from the type, multifamily housing developments must also find the right vendor. A competent service provider can discuss the community’s charging needs with them. They can also create a project estimate that includes specifications and a utility distribution system.
In addition, certain providers offer unique features that others may not have. For instance, some may offer chargers that do not need the use of IT or network infrastructure. This can reduce the cost and allow EV owners to charge their vehicles without the internet. The right vendor will also provide ample warranty. There should also be no surprise ongoing costs that the developments must pay.
3. Contacting the Local Utility
Multifamily housing communities should contact the local utility early on. The local utility will be able to offer safe and trustworthy electric service to its clients. They will also offer support and may even provide special electricity rates for the service, like changing the rates based on time-of-use (TOU).
4. Contacting the Municipal Government for Inspections and Permits
Multifamily housing communities must obtain a permit from the municipal government. In the process, the government may require onsite inspections before the project can begin. They may also require electrical permits and building permits. This allows them to ensure that the property complies with proper building codes and installation processes.
5. Financing the Installation
Multifamily housing properties can mitigate the cost of installation if state grants and incentives exist. However, those without government incentives may struggle to pay the price. This may mean that condominium or homeowners associations within these developments will charge higher HOA fees to obtain the infrastructure. They may also add the cost of maintenance to these fees.
Hence, multifamily housing communities should create a careful financial plan and budget first. Apart from this, they may also choose to charge for the service. They may spur interest by providing the service for free initially. However, these communities can also decide to charge a premium. They can do this by charging for the service at a markup or adding the premium to the rent or rental fees.
Planning Pitfalls to Avoid
It can be easy to skip out on or forget a few considerations during the planning phase. Avoid these planning pitfalls when converting the housing development’s parking spaces to accommodate EVs.
1. Not Planning for the Future
While installing a few EV charging for multifamily housing properties is a good place to start, these communities shouldn’t fail to plan for the future. In a couple of years, the demand might increase even more. Renters in the market may only select properties with ample capacity for EV charging stations. Hence, it’s best to develop the underground wiring in the property to add more in the future.
In addition, it may be wise to implement a long-term financial plan to accommodate the installation project. The housing community may only add a few charging stations now, but it can gradually increase the number of EVCSs in the coming years. This can alleviate the community’s financial burden and maintain property values over time.
2. Unfit Installation Locations
Some multifamily communities, like low-rise condominiums and garden apartments, are prone to installing EV chargers in inconvenient locations. This is because their electrical service rooms are often far from the intended charging location. The distance can increase the installation cost, especially if it requires excavation and trenching. Make sure to place the EV charging stations near the electrical service access points as much as possible.
In addition, communities must consider placing the stations in assigned or common parking spaces. The former may be beneficial as it guarantees access to an EVCS for owners who need them. However, the community must still consider whether the assigned spaces are close to electrical service access points. If they choose to use common spaces, the community must keep in mind that the space may be far from the residents’ living areas. This may also require coordination and scheduling.
3. Choosing the Wrong Installation Approach
Multifamily housing communities can use three different approaches to install EV charging stations. These include:
- Installation by the individual homeowners for personal use
- HOA or property owner installation as part of an amenity
- Installation by third parties providing the service to the community
Each installation approach has its ups and downs. For instance, the first method may alleviate the burden of the multifamily housing homeowner association. However, a lot more coordination is involved as they need to coordinate with residents, the property manager, the local utility, and the electrical contractor.
Meanwhile, the second method has caveats about financing, installation, and reallocating HOA fees. The third option will have its complexities as there needs to be more coordination with the third-party service provider.
A Valuable Addition
It’s safe to say that EV charging for multifamily housing communities is a valuable addition. They serve the residents in need and allow communities to comply with state legislation that may grant EV owners the right to access. Moreover, they can attract homeowners and may even become non-negotiables for potential renters and buyers.
It can be hard for communities to manage the transition without help. Cedar Management Group can assist by offering excellent management services to HOA communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and more. Contact us online or call us today at (877) 252-3327 for more details!