Going from Zero to Net Zero - A Condo’s Guide to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Interest in owning Electric vehicles may vary from condo to condo but one thing is for sure, they’re coming. We don’t have to look further than the available stats. In 2019 (the last full year of vehicle sales not affected by global supply chain constraints) Stats Canada reported Nova Scotia sold 51,201 new light-duty vehicles. If Nova Scotia hits British Columbia’s adoption rate from 2021 of 12% of cars sold being electric, that means there will be 6,144 new electric vehicles on the road each year. This rate is expected to increase every year until we hit the federally mandated goal of 100% electric by 2035. So, every Condo owner who is currently shopping for a new vehicle has a 1 in 10 chance of it being electric. Based on a recent poll by KPMG, that rate jumps up to 7 out of 10 in the next 5 years, or a 68% chance of a consumer’s next car being fully electric. So, with all this adoption on the horizon, what can we do? 

Let’s tackle a few of the main questions condominium boards and owners may be asking. 

Should we form a committee to tackle the installation of EV chargers? 

The short answer is yes. To start, determine how many condo owners are interested in making the building EV-ready. Would they be more likely to purchase an electric vehicle if there was charging infrastructure at their building? Gather information from these interested persons so that you have a clear scope of the interest.  Based on the number of owners interested in EV infrastructure, you can start to determine your budget for EV readiness, and what kind of timeline you’re looking at. Once your committee is in place and your condo owner survey research is complete, you’ll be able to answer some commonly shared questions as they arise, like: 

“I’m interested in purchasing an EV... but we don’t have chargers in our building… Do you know what I can do?”  

“I wonder if our property will go down in value if we don’t start thinking about a charging solution?”  

“I’m looking at buying a condo in your building and I already have an electric vehicle. Does your building have chargers or a policy in place?” 

What type of electrical equipment or upgrades will be required? 

This can vary extensively from condo to condo, but a great first step is to start identifying things like how many electrical rooms there are in the building, where the electrical meters for the condos are located, (i.e., Are they in the parking garage, on each floor, in a single service shared between the owners, etc.), and if there is space on the walls and ceiling inside or outside the electrical room for components like panels and transformers to supply electricity to the chargers. Once you have a basic understanding of the building’s electrical system and layouts, you can start to consider your infrastructure. 

In scenario one, the condo owners’ electrical meters are accessible from the parking spaces, offering you the most cost-effective deployment. With the owner’s meter accessible from the parking space, you’ll be able to install an electric vehicle energy management system, allowing the owners charge to be tied directly to their electrical meter. It involves the installation of a stove outlet, and the owner can use whatever EV charger they prefer. No additional equipment or billing system would be needed.  

In scenario two, electric vehicle chargers are unable to be connected to the owner's electrical service and are required to be connected to the building's power. In this scenario, an energy capacity study should be carried out by a certified electrical engineer. Some basic insights on how much power could be required are as follows.  

For simplicity, every charger runs off a 240V 40A circuit, the same as a kitchen stove. The average Canadian drives 67 km per day and 87% of the time an EV owner charges at their destination, which in this case would be when they're at home in their condo. This means they would only require 1-2 hours of charging at home per day to top up their EV. If Condo owners arrive home every day with a span of 8 to 12 hours before they depart again, it means the building could charge 6 cars per day on one 40A circuit that would share its power. What we’re seeing in most deployments is one 40A circuit per 4-6 chargers. Since these chargers are tied to the building’s power, they would be deployed with commercial chargers so the condo board could bill for the energy used by the owner of the vehicle. As vehicle charging hardware is maturing, selecting the right charger is becoming clearer. It’s safe to say if you choose hardware and control software that meets the OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) standard, you will be future proofed for all scenarios including utility rebate programs for chargers that can be networked and controlled. 

Is there any funding to support our installation?  

The good news is there is currently funding available to purchase electric vehicles, and for those looking to install charging infrastructure to support EV adoption. In Nova Scotia, up to $8,000 in provincial and federal rebates is available to purchase a vehicle that meets the criteria, and furthermore, there is funding that will cover up to 50% of the cost to install a minimum of 20 chargers through Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP). The application process for infrastructure funding opens once per year and can be a complicated process. It's recommended if you want to pursue this route to work with a manufacturer or consulting firm that can guide you through the process and assist you with your application. 

Find out how Electric Avenue can help you achieve your condos’ electrified future, email info@goelectricave.com to connect with an EV charging expert.