Most electric vehicle owners charge their cars at home. It makes sense – you must park your car while you sleep! But what if your home isn’t already equipped with an EV charging station? If you own a single family home with a garage, it’s easy to install a personal charger. However, if you live in a condominium, townhouse, or community with a Homeowners Association (HOA), you may need to ask for approval before installing a charging station in your parking lot or parking garage. Several states such as California, Oregon, and Maryland have “Right to Charge” laws that allow condo residents to install a charging station at their personal parking space, but most EV drivers do not have this guarantee yet. In communities without “Right to Charge” laws, residents must ask their HOA for permission to install charging stations at their personal or shared parking spaces.

There are many reasons why more drivers are buying electric vehicles: reduced pollution, cleaner air, lower maintenance costs, domestic energy sourcing, and government rebates. For multifamily communities, supporting these EV drivers with smart EV charging stations can attract new residents and raise the stature of the community. That said, there are some key considerations that an HOA must think about before installing electric vehicle charging stations for residents.

Infrastructure Requirements

One of the biggest questions when considering any electric vehicle charging project is this: Can this installation be done using the existing infrastructure? Level 2 charging stations, which are perfect for overnight charging at an apartment or condo, require dedicated circuits with 30 to 50 amp power supply to deliver 7.2 to 12kW of electricity to the vehicle. If your building is already at maximum capacity, you may need to upgrade your electrical infrastructure or use smart load management features to limit the electricity delivered to each station.

In addition to power supply, your property will need a parking space for each charging port, preferably located near the electrical room. That may mean that you install your charging station at your personal parking space or several stations at shared parking spaces. In some states, adding EV charging stations in the parking lot may affect the number of ADA-accessible parking spaces required by law. If your charging stations are installed in a parking garage, it is also recommended to check the cellular signal at each new EV parking space and add a cell signal booster if necessary. Adequate cell signal is required for smart charging features such as restricted access, payment, load management, and station monitoring.

Installation and Usage Fees

After determining infrastructure requirements, you and your homeowner’s association must decide who is responsible for the installation costs. If you live in a state with Right to Charge laws, your HOA cannot prevent you from installing a station at your own parking space. In this case, you would be responsible for assuming all costs. However, if you buy the charging station, you can also uninstall it if you decide to move out from the community. Many communities that offer EV charging stations to residents prefer to assume the purchase, installation, and maintenance costs in order to maintain control. And for communities that are not ready to purchase new charging stations, SemaConnect offers Charging as a Service (CaaS) options to install stations as needed for a low monthly fee.

While electricity costs are low, averaging $0.13 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), you and your HOA must decide who is responsible for paying for your electricity. It’s simple if your stations are connected to a meter that you already pay for. But if your stations are connected to a community power meter, your homeowner’s association may prefer to charge usage or access fees to cover your costs. With the SemaConnect Network, your property manager can assign a charging station to you, so you pay a monthly fee for your exclusive access and/or usage. At shared stations, your HOA can charge an hourly or kilowatt fee to everyone who charges their vehicle. Finally, your community can simply add an access fee to your annual HOA membership dues rather than charging for your actual usage.

While installing EV charging stations at a community with an HOA is a little more complicated than installing a station in your home garage, it does not have to be difficult. By talking with your neighbors and making a plan, you can make EV charging possible in your community. Ready to get started with charging at your condo? Ask your SemaConnect sales manager for a quote today!