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Home Charging for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs)

Information on charging stations and home charging for single family residences is available here.

In addition to the overview information on charging in MURBs provided below, you can obtain more detailed information from:

  • The guide prepared by the City of Richmond and BC Hydro to help local governments understand the need for EV charging in residential buildings and the types of solutions currently available: Residential Electric Vehicle Charging: A Guide for Local Governments.

  • The much more detailed guide prepared by the City of Richmond and BC Hydro on the types of solutions currently available for charging in MURBs: EV Charging in Shared Parking Areas.

  • Personalized advice from Plug-in BC for your particular situation is available here.

  • Personalized advice from Plug-in Richmond is also available. Details here.

Installing EV charging infrastructure in MURBs:

  • Most electric vehicles have charging timers that control when charging starts. Almost all charging at home can be done overnight. The technology for managing electrical consumption in MURBs is advancing rapidly and the ideal long-term solution will be to use such systems to allocate electrical resources to household uses during the day and to EV charging at night when household demand on the electrical grid and on the individual MURB infrastructure is very low. The idea is to avoid requiring a power entrance for the MURB that is very much larger than is required at present.

    Those management systems are expected to be able to allocate power to individual EV charging circuits on a shared basis if there is not sufficient power available for all the EVs to charge at once. Although vehicles can charge using an ordinary 120V outlet, this can take most of the day. Vehicle charging systems typically use 240V outlets on 40 amp electrical circuits that can recharge average daily consumption in about 1.5 hours. If each vehicle requires 1.5 hours to charge, four vehicles can be charged sequentially from midnight to 6 am on one 40 amp supply.

    In the short term when charging is only required for a small number of electric vehicles, the most economical strategy is to assign them parking spaces as close to an electrical panel as possible and supply each with its own 40 amp circuit.

  • For new MURBs under construction, the City of Richmond now requires a 240V outlet at every parking space. For existing MURBs, the objective is to implement low cost temporary charging arrangements for the very few existing EV owners in the MURB by installing dedicated 240V outlets where required. Clustering these parking spaces where possible minimizes the cost. Most likely by the time there is a problem with available electrical supply capacity, there will be lower cost electrical supply management systems available that can service all of the parking spaces.

  • For those who have an immediate need to charge more than one EV on a single 40 amp circuit, electrical load management devices are now coming on the market that can charge four vehicles on one circuit automatically by either charging the vehicles sequentially or by reducing the power to each vehicle and charging them all simultaneously. A load management device that is already on the market is described here. Note that electric vehicle charging timers have an override switch that allows them to begin charging immediately if required whether they are connected to a load management device or not.

  • ImageA number of charging station accessories are available including a simple lock placed through a hole in the charging connector button. This prevents the charger from being connected to the vehicle. There are also mounting pedestals available for situations where there is no wall nearby on which to mount the charging station.

Recovering the cost of EV charging electrical consumption in MURBs:

  • Most strata and coop housing councils focus on the concern that they will wind up paying for the electrical consumption of the electric vehicle and insist on carefully metering consumption and invoicing the vehicle owner. Given the relatively small electrical consumption cost, Plug-in Richmond recommends that MURB councils take a step back, consider flat rate monthly charges and examine the rationale for tracking and invoicing actual vehicle electrical consumption to ensure that they are not being "penny wise and pound foolish."

  • As explained here, the maximum cost per month for a vehicle's home charging electrical consumption is $35 if the highest domestic BC Hydro rates are used. At normal domestic base rates, the maximum cost is $28. MURBs should seriously consider whether a flat monthly charge added to the MURB unit's monthly maintenance fee will save major vehicle charging infrastructure installation costs, monthly costs for remote monitoring and invoicing and turn a profit for the MURB on average electric vehicle owners who consume much less than the maximum.

  • For MURBs determined to have the vehicle owner pay for the exact electrical consumption at the parking space without the need for tracking consumption, it can be done efficiently if the electrical meters for the residential units are not too far from the parking area. The Thermolec DCC-9, is a device that is inserted after the residential unit's meter to split off a circuit for the parking space from the main electrical supply to the residential unit. The vehicle charging consumption is automatically registered on the residential unit's meter. The cost of the device is in the $1,000 range, but it is a one time only cost.

  • Where tracking individual vehicle charging consumption is essential and it is not possible to register the consumption on the residential unit's electrical meter, a document on the cost of installing a separate consumption meter, whether it requires manual reading or is networked for remote reading, is available here.

  • Note that all of the above solutions allow the MURB to supply the wiring, outlet and meter (if required) while the vehicle owner supplies the charging station (EVSE) that hangs on the wall and plugs into the outlet. The vehicle owner is then responsible for the EVSE and can take it with the vehicle when moving. Although Tesla vehicles can use an EVSE, they have that functionality built into the vehicle and can plug directly into the 240V outlet.

    An industry is developing to promote and install systems that use proprietary hardware and software to remotely monitor the vehicle charging equipment and invoice the vehicle owner. In that case, the EVSE is part of the system hardware and is not supplied by the vehicle owner. Some service providers will subsidize the infrastructure cost to make the systems very attractive to MURB councils, but then understandably make it up in monthly charges over long contract periods. EVSEs and remote monitoring systems are a rapidly advancing technology with increasing competition that is very likely to lower prices in the near future. While a service provider could provide the best solution, it's important that MURB councils carefully evaluate the total cost of the arrangement over time for both the council and the vehicle owners.

  • There is a charging station purchase and installation rebate program for building representatives who reside in or have oversight of a multi-unit residential building. The rebate is 75% of project costs up to $4,000 per Level 2 station with a max of 2 stations per property. The program requires pre-approval after which the installation must be done within four months. Due to high demand for rebates, the program is placing new requests on a wait list. Details here.