It’s no surprise the majority of electric-car owners today own their own homes.
When you own your property, it’s much easier to install a changing station in your garage, car port, or even on the wall of your home by the driveway.
You only need to get permission from yourself, and possibly your significant other, on the cost of the job.
But what if you live in a condo or some other type of shared building, where everyone parks in a common area—perhaps an underground parking garage—and you don’t own the electrical infrastructure outside your unit?
Electric-car charging network ChargePoint has a few tips on how to get your condo board or HOA to let you charge your electric car in the place you park it.
If you don’t live in a locale with a “Right to Charge” law, like those in California or Oregon, getting permission to charge your car in a shared parking garage can be a difficult task.
Most property managers still don’t know the actual costs involved or the benefits they may reap by providing charging for current and future plug-in electric cars.
Worse yet, some may not care—and a few may simply issue a blanket denial without investigating.
Talk to your HOA
In 2014, for instance, a Chevrolet Volt owner in Michigan was told by her home-owner association (HOA) that she’d need to pay $200 a month to charge her car.
That was roughly the equivalent of 150 charges per month for a completely discharged Volt.
She made a mistake: She didn’t talk to the HOA before she began plugging her Volt into a 120-volt outlet in the HOA’s garage, using power that was paid for on the HOA’s dime.
Instead, the association found out about her charging after the fact—and reacted with surprise and anger.
She likely only cost the HOA $50 or less per month, but because the HOA still owned the electrical infrastructure, it had the right to cut off power or permit its use as it saw fit.
This is one of those situations where, contrary to the old saying, it’s much better to ask for permission than forgiveness.
Openly speaking to your HOA about the benefits of allowing charging—and how such a solution could add value to the property if done right—establishes the negotiation in a more conciliatory tone.
Who else wants in?
Chances are if you want on-site charging, other residents have either want it now or will consider it in the near future.
It has the added benefit of alerting your neighbors to that idea they too could drive electric, ChargePoint suggests, as “access to charging at home or work greatly increases the likelihood that someone will choose to drive electric.”
If there’s not much pent-up demand for on-site charging in your building, a shared community charger may be a good solution.
But if there is a general want for charging, it will give you more bargaining power with an HOA or condo board.
A decent proposal: Who pays? And for what?
Electric-vehicle owners shouldn’t expect a free ride and the vast majority aren’t looking for one.
ChargePoint suggests offering to pay the costs of charging-station installation if you want it located at your assigned parking spot.
The company also recommends adding a metered station (which ChargePoint sells) so the HOA can charge you for the exact amount of electricity used.
But as with any complex system, charging infrastructure needs to be planned and its future scalability needs to be determined before the first charger is installed.
There are three proven solutions to implement charging in this scenario.
The first is a power-management model that allows residents to tap into an existing electrical panel. Power management will allow others to install chargers almost immediately and will manage charge load so as not exceed the capacity of the current infrastructure.
If your HOA is open to a more scalable, managed solution, the hub-and-spoke model may be the better choice.
With it, a separate “hub” panel is installed by the HOA in the electrical room, from which drivers pay to install a “spoke” for their own charger, thus paying for the shared hub over time.
The third solution is for an EV driver community to come together to pay for the hub up front. This is known as the charging-fund model.
As an example, if a hub costs $10,000 and there are 10 EV drivers in your building, each would have to shell out $1,000 for the hub.
There are many ways for residents to sell EV charging as a win for all stakeholders.
While your effort may ultimately be self-serving, the addition of electric-vehicle charging stations and the associated infrastructure can increase property values—something HOAs may appreciate most of all.