It’s an electric transportation revolution, and there’s no slowing down. Yet as more and more commuters turn to electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid alternatives, the movement is placing pressure on residential property managers to accommodate their choices. For many, the need to install electric vehicle charging stations is a matter of “when” and not “if.”
How are EVs changing the built environment, and why should property managers take notice? Here’s Brian Millar, Manager of EV Projects with Plug’n Drive to discuss.
What are electric vehicle charging stations?
There are three main kinds of charging stations. All EVs come with a cord-set in the trunk that can be used to charge using a standard wall socket. In the industry, we call that Level 1 charging. An EV charging station, what we call Level 2, is just a box no bigger than two feet by two feet that is easy to install at the side of your house or in the garage. Most EV drivers will install a Level 2 charging station at home.
Lastly, we have Level 3 (or DC-Quick charging). These are gas station replacements for EVs that are about the same size as a gas pump and will charge the vehicle’s battery from empty to 80 per cent in 30-45 minutes. Level 3 stations are quite expensive to install and can cost upwards of $50,000, which is why they’re only really practical for public charging applications along highways and major travel routes. By contrast, a standard Level 2 home charging station is pretty straightforward as they have roughly the same electrical requirements as a clothes dryer or stove, and any electrician can install them. They cost about $750-$1,000 to buy and an additional $500-$1,000 to install.
What are the benefits of accommodating EVs in a residential building?
The main benefit is to offer another value-added amenity, just like a gym or swimming pool. EVs are only going to increase in popularity, and a driver’s choice of property is ultimately going to come down to where they can charge.
In short, EV charging stations help retain existing residents and attract new ones. Buildings also get LEED points for charging stations and, who knows, there may come a time when buildings don’t have a choice but to offer charging, and it’s always better to be ahead of the curve than behind it.
What maintenance is required for EV charging stations?
Little to none, really. Once they’re installed, they pretty much take care of themselves. Most charging stations that are appropriate for an apartment or condo will have a networking fee attached to them. Typically, this fee isn’t too much – maybe $25-$30 per charging station – and it keeps the stations online while allowing the building to charge a fee-for-use. It also gives property management access to usage and maintenance reports.
What are some misconceptions about EVs or EV charging stations?
Number one is that they will spike the electricity use in the building and cause a blackout. As I mentioned earlier, a charging station uses about the same electricity as a clothes dryer or stove, so it’s not a significant draw on the electrical system. That said, electrical upgrades will probably be required, but these won’t be over-the-top million-dollar projects.
Another misconception is that EVs cost a fortune to charge. To give some perspective, an EV in Ontario costs about $500 per year in electricity per year, which equates to around $41 per month or $1.50 per day, and there are ways that you can charge EV drivers a fee-for-use. The charging stations themselves can be set up to bill whoever is using them so that no one is getting an unfair advantage, and everyone is paying their fair share.
How prevalent are EVs in the Canadian market?
There are about 110,000 EVs on the road in Canada right now. Ever since they were introduced to the market in 2011, sales have only increased and Canada has been experiencing around a 100 per cent year-over-year EV sales growth. Worldwide, there are about 5.1 million electric cars on the road and every single global auto manufacturer has an EV on offer or is close to releasing one.
The moral of the story is that EVs are not going away. They are, quite literally, the future of the auto industry. I suspect automakers aren’t researching internal combustion engines anymore and there will eventually come a time when you’ll only be able to buy an electric car. That’s a good thing since they offer better performance, they’re cheaper to drive and maintain, and they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which makes them considerable assets in the fight against climate change.
Brian Millar, Manager of EV Projects with Plug’n Drive (plugndrive.ca).