Electric vehicle purchases are on the rise. If you’ve driven anywhere in the ‘burbs of South Florida, you’ve probably seen the warm, red glow of a Tesla charging station at night or pay-per-charge stations at some stores. But what’s an urban high-rise dweller to do? Should you and your fellow Board members consider providing electric vehicle charging stations to your residents?
Increased Need for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, electric vehicle purchases rose more than 30% in 2020. Analytics firm Blastpoint is projecting a 71% increase for 2021, despite significantly less car use with people working from home and restricting travel. Blastpoint’s report speculates that shorter drive times increased the appeal of electric vehicles, which are more limited in range than hybrid or traditional engine cars.
With that increase in sales came an explosion in the installation of public charging stations, which increased by 25%, or 6,000 new stations, in the same time. Americans have access to more than 35,000 charging stations coast-to-coast. But, according to the report, most of those charging stations are found at stores, gas stations, hotels and offices.
“For the last couple of years, we’re seeing more and more EVs showing up at our properties,” says Doug Weinstein, Vice President of Operations at AKAM. “As more people purchase EVs, pressure is being put on buildings to provide the infrastructure to support those residents. For most Boards, the issue is where to put the units and how to bill for the use.”
Options for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condo Buildings
Weinstein explains that there are different kinds of charging stations that provide different speeds of charging for electric vehicles, or EVs.
- Level 1 is a basic outlet, like plugging a car into an outlet in your home garage.
- Level 2 is the type Weinstein says he sees most commonly being installed in condominium garages and public spaces. They charge more rapidly than Level 1 but aren’t as fast as the
- Level 3, which is direct current and what you might see at a Tesla charging station or similar large charging facility.
For South Florida’s condo Board members, there are several questions to answer.
- Should your charging stations be operated by the building or a third-party vendor? Weinstein says he’s seen both approaches taken. If the building is large enough, and the charging stations will be busy enough, a third-party vendor may be willing to take on the expense of installing the stations and handling the charging of users, with a potential revenue share going to the association. They may accept all major credit cards or have their own special payment card that users reload as needed.
If the building decides to take on the expense, the stations could be billed by use, similarly to the way a third-party vendor would handle it. They might choose to have residential users sign up and be billed a flat monthly rate. Some months, the user may come out ahead in a flat fee arrangement, but the expectation is that it will balance out over time.
A flat fee arrangement is best if the stations are not available to anyone but building residents; it’s important to remember that adding stations to the parking garage might require shuffling of parking spaces.
- Should your electric vehicle charging stations be available to building guests? Some buildings choose to make EV charging available to all building guests; others limit it to residents. That largely depends on the logistics and space available.
Weinstein describes one building that installed its EV charging outside in a covered area, available to both guests and residents. Because the stations are outside the garage, no parking spaces had to be juggled in the garage. The outdoor set up provides extra revenue to the association; building guests can pay a fixed fee through the building’s valet station and residents pay a flat monthly fee.
Simple logistics are driving a lot of the decisions around EV charging stations, Weinstein explains. He notes that AKAM manages a condo building with entirely surface lot parking and a large senior population. The Board is trying to figure out how they can install charging stations dispersed across the property in a way that is convenient to where residents already park their cars, rather than grouping a bunch of stations on just one part of the lot.
- Should residents be allowed to install charging access in their own parking spaces? Florida law says yes. The law also says the owner has to pay for all associated costs as of 2018. (Initially, the law was unclear on that point.) Weinstein explained that this can be a delicate issue to manage. Some boards are requiring the owner to pick up the costs to take the power from the garage to the parking spot and the Board shares the cost of getting additional power to the garage itself.
But then how does the building recoup the extra power costs? Not everyone is using the charging amenity, and not everyone should have to pay for the power. It might require a submeter, with the associated costs of that installation passed on to the owner, to make sure that the use is billed accurately.
It’s important to note that the Florida statutes that allow for the charging access to be installed in personal parking spaces also require that the installation cannot cause “irreparable damage” to the property, and that the owner is responsible for any additional insurance costs, as well any repair or removal of the charging station. All installation must be done according to local building codes.
Are EV charging stations going to become an important amenity?
Weinstein believes EV charging stations are going to become more important as the sales of these vehicles continue to rise. “This is definitely a hot topic and a lot of our Boards are talking about it,” he says. “Down the road, it might widen the desirability gap for buildings, especially for older buildings that are already having a hard time competing on amenities.”
Electric vehicles are here to stay. Savvy Boards are looking to that future and planning to capitalize on that highly desired charging station amenity.
Capital projects, including installation of electric vehicle charging stations, require expertise and knowledge to execute successfully. To learn how a professional property management partner can help your condo Board manage any capital improvement project, contact AKAM today.