Electric Car Charging Stations: an Update

As we enter 2022, there has been a surge of interest in electric cars. In 2018, there were a million electric cars on the roads in the U.S. Last year, Tesla sold more than one million cars. General Motors announced a big move into the electric car space. PolicyAdvice and Business Insider say that by 2025 there will be more than 18 million electric cars on U.S. roads, with local municipalities providing free electric car charging stations.

Electric car owners will need to charge their cars at home, at the mall, at work and in every parking garage. The question remains: who should pay for an electric car home charging station if you live in a condo building? These are some comments from readers who responded to a recent story on electric car home charging stations. Sign up for Ilyce Glink’s free Love, Money + Real Estate newsletter for more commentary.

Where should you charge your electric car? 

Americans are buying more electric vehicles every year. In a recent column, we discussed the installation of a charging station all condo owners could use.

That struck a nerve with some regular readers who are condominium association board managers or owners. We wrote about locating electric vehicle car chargers in the common areas of an association and how the owners might want to handle the cost of the installation and the electricity they consume.

Here are a few comments we received:

Condo owners say installing electric car charging stations is problematic

Comment: Your advice for condos to accommodate owners with the need to charge their electric cars by requiring owners to sign up for a slot is wrought with administrative problems, including: Settling owner disputes, managing a sign up system, and the cheating some owners will inevitably attempt.

As president of our 64-unit condo association, I have given this a lot of thought, especially since our enclosed parking lot cannot accommodate an electric plug for every owner. I’m hoping that the solution will be the improvement in technology that will enable each car owner to remove the battery and charge it in their own unit. That will eliminate the need for communal access and the numerous problems that come with it and makes the question of who foots the bill mute.

Ilyce and Sam Respond: It’s an interesting idea, but unfortunately we’re stuck (for now) with the electric car charging systems we have. Wishing for improvements only won’t make this issue disappear. More owners are buying electric cars and need a way to charge them. It’s forcing more condominium associations to deal with this issue, and decide where and how to install car chargers, and how to allocate the initial and ongoing costs plus how to allocate the usage. It won’t be easy to make these decisions, but wishing for portable batteries won’t solve this problem anytime soon.

Condo owners say not all garages ready for Level 2-240 volt charges

Comment: Charging an electric vehicle is not a simple matter when it comes to condos or apartments, generally referred to as multi-unit dwellings. Electric vehicles can be charged with a Level 1-120v charger or a Level 2-240 volt charger. Available data suggests that the majority of vehicle owners will charge overnight at home. In a condominium or similar building, a consideration is whether the building has a parking garage or lot with reserved or dedicated parking spaces or if an attendant parks vehicles randomly in the first available space.

  • Level 1 charging is via a common wall outlet. With this approach, an outlet must be located near the parked electric vehicle. Level 1 charging is slow, like filling a gas tank through a straw. Having multiple wall outlets in a garage doesn’t present any major issue.
  • Level 2 charging presents some issues for associations. There are limitations on the electric load that can be placed on the building’s electric grid and it may only have the ability to handle one or two Level 2 charging stations. Some municipal governments are now requiring new residential construction to install electric supply grids to accommodate electric vehicle charging.

Overall it’s a complex issue. Automakers are aware of the issue and working with the Department of Energy and others for solutions. Electric vehicles work very well in large, densely populated cities. The charging infrastructure is an issue that needs addressing. For example, how do we charge all the cars that park on the street overnight?

Electric car changing stations: cities and towns step up

Ilyce and Sam Respond: Thank you for your insightful comments on charging electric vehicles. We especially appreciate your question about charging cars that park on public roadways. We are seeing local municipalities pay for charging stations as a public service.

Let’s talk about condo association parking for electric cars. If an assigned parking spot is adjacent to that owner’s living space, the ability to charge the vehicle is easier. When it comes to large parking areas, the ability to charge vehicles is more complicated. It’s not impossible, but owners need to be flexible while the board or management company figures out the best way to handle a growing number of electric vehicles. Assume fairness for all owners is the goal. 

There’s more than one right way to do this, by the way.

Electric car charging: How can you make it far for all condo residents?

Comment: I read your Real Estates Matters each Sunday. Our condo building pays for the electrical power for all 12 units and 12 parking spaces. What happens if someone purchases an electric car? How does that unit pay more for their additional use of the power?

Ilyce and Sam Respond: Your association could set up a system where it meters the usage for the electric vehicle owner. Then, the owner’s account is billed directly for their electric usage. We suspect there are companies that offer these systems available for purchase or rent by associations. And, there are mobile apps that can connect usage to billing. Your association would need to determine the best system that would allow the electric vehicle owners to simply charge their cars and get billed for the electric usage much the way everyone else visits a gas station and pays by credit or debit card.

We’ll continue to publish your comments in future columns.

Read More about electric car charging stations

Electric Car Home Charging Stations