by Glen Gordon, P. Eng, MBA – Co-Founder and CEO, Unico Power Corp

Making Your Condo EV Ready

The age of Electric Vehicles is here. It’s not just California and Vancouver that have seen them on the roads, but right here in Alberta. Chances are you already know someone that drives electric, and if your building doesn’t already have an EV parked in the lot– it soon will.

What makes owning an EV different is how we plug in. For most people, 80-90% of their charging is done at home, provided they have access to a charging station.

What about condos? The truth is that charging in condos is relatively common. While not difficult, there is some extra leg work that needs to be done to ensure that your building is ready for that upgrade. Newer technologies don’t need a newer unit to function, as most solutions can be scaled to meet what you’re already working with. What your condo needs is a plan to make sure that EV charging is an available and fair feature for all owners. 

The term ‘EV Ready’ might not be in the dictionary (yet), but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your condo in preparing for the installation of charging stations. What EV Ready means is that your building has a long term plan of action for the installation and the support for all owners who are looking to get their charge.

Multi-Unit EV charging isn’t the same experience as single-home charging. Instead of one household, your building is the home to many. That means your plan can’t just be any plan, it has to be a good one. Finding the right people for the job can be tricky. Condos have their own systems, building codes, technologies, and so on and so forth. With the advancements in the field of Energy Management, EV charging has become easier and more accessible to a greater number of buildings. Make sure the people you work with understand condos and how they work. 

A good plan is cost efficient, accessible, flexible, and holds the door open for phasing things in over time. Having a plan is the biggest and most important step in your building being EV Ready.

Creating an EV Ready Plan is as easy as six steps. No, really.

Step One: Establish an EV charging committee within the Board. With new technology comes the need for new education. Luckily, many companies already have a presentation lined up and know the ifs-ands-or-buts when it comes to getting started. Your committee needs to know what the options are before committing to a solution. Reach out to experts in the industry to keep up with the latest know-hows on Condo EV Charging.

Step Two: Find the right person or company to help build your building’s plan. There’s a lot to consider when reaching out to an expert. Understanding federal, provincial and municipal programs and bylaws, as well as your utility rates and tariffs are important. If you can find someone local who knows the know-how when it comes to Multi-Unit EV charging, you’re in business. 

Step Three: All good plans start with a site visit. Have a consultant make an assessment of your building’s current state and electrical system. Utility bills and electrical drawings can help build a thoughrought and accurate report. Knowing your building and what it’s capable of is a crucial part in developing the next few steps. 

Step Four: The EV Ready plan developer will present options to review with the committee and/or board. These discussions will focus on function. Things like: How many EV stations per circuit would you like, whether you’d want private charging stations, shared, or both, the options for billing, and how the system will work with your building overall. Step four is the meat and potatoes of an EV Ready plan, if your consultant shows up for a site visit and goes straight to Step 5, that’s a problem.

Step Five: An EV Ready plan that’s specific to your building and what it’s capable of is developed. In addition, a cost estimate provided by the installer you plan to use will be provided. The question of “How Much?” and “Who Pays?” doesn’t have a specific answer. We’ve installed more than 50 multi-unit buildings, and we’ve seen more than a dozen different approaches. Ranging from the Condo Corporation paying for it all, to the EV owners doing the same– and sometimes a solution between the two. 

Step Six: You’ve reached the end! Once you have a plan, you’re ready to be EV Ready. You can either go ahead and start implementing, or take a bit more time to tweak the plan as time goes on.