Fueled by significant technological improvements and a push to move towards clean, sustainable energy, the demand for electric vehicles has exploded. According to Kelly Blue Book estimates, electric vehicle (EV) sales were at 7.6% of the total U.S. vehicle market in 2023, up from 5.9% in 2022. And in the last quarter of 2023, EV sales achieved a record in quantity and market share – 52% higher than in 2022. As the number of EVs on the road grows, the need for accessible and convenient charging infrastructure has become increasingly apparent. As a result, stakeholders across many industries, including residential property management, are moving towards building infrastructure to meet the needs of EV owners who want to conveniently and efficiently charge their vehicles in their own homes.

Installing EV charging stations in condominiums and residential communities offers many benefits, including:  

Increased property values - Adding upgrades is one of the most effective methods to boost property values, with EV charging stations being among the most sought-after enhancements.

Reduction of the community’s carbon footprint - Because EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, offering charging stations in residential communities showcases a commitment to cleaner transmission options, differentiating itself from others by promoting sustainability and convenience.

An opportunity to increase an association’s revenue stream - For example, a fee-based charging system can be implemented, where residents and guests pay for usage. Fees can be structured based on energy consumption.

Installing EV charging stations in a community requires careful consideration. Keep reading to learn 7 things the board of directors should do before installing them.

1. Become familiar with state laws

Associations should be familiar with state laws regarding EV charging stations before installing them in their communities. Some states may have specific requirements or restrictions regarding charging station placement, design, and accessibility. Additionally, boards should familiarize themselves with any legal implications or obligations associated with providing EV charging infrastructure. These include liability concerns or potential conflicts with existing community rules or covenants. The charging station vendor should be capable of helping boards navigate regulations and necessary permit requirements.

Learn how the right capital improvement projects can save your association money. Read: How LED Upgrades Saved $428 for One Community

2. Understand how governing documents address EV charging stations

Some states are seeing a rise in electric vehicle usage and must adapt quickly. Florida is no exception, as it follows California as the state with the second most electric vehicles, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Condominium and residential community governing documents likely have provisions for modifying common areas, and EV infrastructure could fall under these guidelines. Boards should speak to their association attorney to learn more about the association’s powers, rights and obligations if the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) do not have provisions for EV charging stations, which can be the case for some older communities.

3. Create EV charging policies

An association needs an EV charging policy to manage charging stations within your community effectively. Otherwise, conflicts, disputes, and other issues may occur. The policy should outline billing, including how residents will pay for power, and a usage timetable or schedule outlining any restrictions or limitations. For example, the schedule might designate certain hours or days of the week when charging is permitted. Or it might allocate specific time slots for each resident each day. By establishing a policy, the association can manage usage demand, prevent conflicts or overcrowding, and ensure fair and equitable access for all electric vehicle residents.

“Like all amenities, new technology or new service offerings being launched, it is critical to have consistent, vetted and proven operating procedures around the product,” said Landy Labadie, vice president of community solutions at FirstService Residential. “EV charging is no different. Leaning on subject matter experts for insights into setting expectations and operating procedures is paramount.”

Learn 3 tips to help your community save energy and money. Read: Tips for Reducing Energy Consumption and Costs in Your Community.

4. Assess the community’s electrical capacity

Charging an electric vehicle requires more than just an outlet. Weather conditions, building codes, and electrical capacity are just factors that should be considered. An electrical technician is needed to assess the property's readiness and ensure a safe and reliable charging infrastructure.

5. Become familiar with the different charging speeds available

Several charging levels are available, but Level 1 and Level 2 are most commonly used in residential communities. A standard three-pronged, 120-volt AC wall outlet is all that is needed for Level 1 charging, which charges at a rate of about 2 to 5 miles of range per hour. Level 1 charging is slow, but it’s an excellent option for overnight charging. 

Level 2 charging is much faster than Level 1, taking anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to completely charge a depleted battery. Level 2 charging typically utilizes a 240-volt power source, usually available in residential settings and public charging stations.

Level 3 charging, also known as a Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC), is the fastest charging option available. DCFC charging stations require significantly higher power levels than Level 1 or Level 2 chargers, operating at 400 volts or higher. Meeting these power requirements would necessitate substantial electrical infrastructure upgrades in residential areas, which might be considered too expensive and impractical.

6. Review the different equipment management options

There are three primary equipment management options to consider:

  1. The charging station is owned and managed by the association.

  2. The charging station is owned and managed for a fee by a third-party vendor.

  3. The charging station is owned by the association and managed by a third-party vendor.

Boards should carefully evaluate each equipment option, weighing their respective advantages and disadvantages, to determine the most suitable choice.

A solid property management company can work with your board to determine the option that’s best for a community.

7. Choose the right vendor

To choose the right EV charging station vendor for your community, a board should:

  • compare pricing, warranties, maintenance and support offered

  • seek recommendations from other communities that have installed charging stations to gain valuable insights

  • evaluate the vendor's experience to ensure they understand community association needs well

  • request proposals from shortlisted vendors

  • involve relevant stakeholders in decision-making to ensure alignment with your community's needs and preferences

“Vetting vendors is so important, which is why we have a thorough vetting process for vendors looking to join our exclusive EV installation program,” said Marilyn Zajac, energy advisor for FirstService Energy, the energy management arm of FirstService Residential. “Additionally, our team understands the complexities of managing a community, and we work closely with boards to streamline the charging installation process.”

Installing EV charging stations in a community requires careful consideration and preparation. With knowledge of what to expect and through proper planning, a community can successfully implement them while promoting sustainability and meeting residents' needs.

Contact FirstService Residential for help planning your EV charging station roadmap.

Thursday March 28, 2024