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 more electric vehicles hit the road, it's becoming more apparent that having easily accessible and convenient charging stations is essential. 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 community 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 the amount of energy consumed.

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

1. Become familiar with the laws of your state

Associations should be familiar with state laws regarding EV charging stations before installing them in their communities. Some states may have specific restrictions or requirements regarding charging station design, accessibility and placement. Furthermore, boards should become familiar with the legal implications or obligations of providing EV charging infrastructure. These include liability concerns or potential conflicts with existing community rules or covenants. Charging station vendors should be able to assist boards with navigating regulations and obtaining permits.

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2. Understand how governing documents address EV charging stations

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. Establish policies for EV charging stations

An association needs an EV charging policy to prevent disputes, conflicts, and other issues. The policy should detail the billing process, including how residents pay for power, restrictions or limitations for usage, and a schedule. For example, charging might be permitted only during certain hours or days of the week. A policy can help prevent conflicts or overcrowding, ensuring fair and equitable access for all residents with electric vehicles.

"Implementing EV charging stations without established community usage policies is like building a road without traffic rules, said Danny Ellis, president at FirstService Residential. “It may lead to chaos, inefficiency, and frustration for users. Clear policies not only ensure fair access but also promote harmony, sustainability, and effective utilization of this vital infrastructure."

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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. Learn about the different charging speeds

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. While level 1 charging is slow, it is an excellent option for overnight charging.

Level 2 charging typically utilizes a 240-volt power source, usually available in residential settings and public charging stations. A depleted battery can be fully charged in approximately 3 to 6 hours with Level 2 charging.

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.

The right property management company can work with the 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 a community, the 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 the 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.”

Once considered the future of transportation, electric cars are now a reality for many drivers. Consequently, the demand for EV charging stations has surged. With knowledge of what to expect and through proper planning, a community can successfully implement them while promoting sustainability and meeting residents' needs.

For help planning an EV charging station roadmap, contact FirstService Residential.

Friday March 29, 2024