Home Charging for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs)

Information on charging stations and home charging for single family residences is available 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 timers have an override switch that allows them to begin charging immediately. 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, the management system could charge four vehicles from midnight to 6 am on 40 amps of available 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.

    If funding is available, it is a good time to take advantage of government rebates to install 40 amp circuits to as many parking spaces as possible even if the circuits are not energized most of the time. Future energy management systems will allocate charging power to a circuit when required, normally supplying only a very low voltage to detect when a vehicle requires power.

    In the longer term, building electrical management systems will handle power allocation. In the meantime, there is aggressive selling of expensive networked smart charging stations that connect multiple vehicles to one 40 amp circuit and allocate power to each. This limits the power available to a total of 40 amps while there may be other 40 amp circuits where none of the connected vehicles require charging. For some of these networked systems, there is a lower upfront charging station purchase cost, but ongoing monthly fees on long term contracts that result in higher total cost. A building management system can allocate power much more efficiently and allow the use of much simpler and cheaper charging stations purchased by the vehicle owner.

  • 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 building electrical supply management systems available that can service all of the parking spaces.

  • 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.

    A number of recent vehicles, including Teslas, Nissan Leaf Plus and Audi e-tron, are supplied with a portable 240V EVSE that plugs directly into the 240V outlet. Other owners can purchase the AmazingE FAST model (made by Clipper Creek) available from Sun Country Highway for $699. Amazon also lists it, but says it is unavailable. The cheapest reliable wall mounted option is the Canadian made NEMA-4 Grizzl-E plug-in, which can be set from 16 amps to 40 amps and is available for $499 with a 3-year warranty.

    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.

BC Government incentive for the installation of charging in Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs) and workplaces:

  • For MURBs, there is a choice between developing an EV Ready Plan for all of the parking spaces or only installing charging stations for a limited number of parking spaces. For the latter, the reimbursement is 75% (for a limited period, normally 50%) of purchase and installation costs before tax to a maximum reimbursement of $5,000 (for a limited period, normally $2,000) per charging station. Dual head stations count as two stations. There is a maximum reimbursement of $25,000 (for a limited period, normally $14,000) per building for up to four buildings. If the building was built recently and was subject to a municipal bylaw requiring the installation of 220V outlets at each parking space, the reimbursement maximum is $350 per charging station and $5,000 per building.

    This option also applies to workplaces. There is a maximum reimbursement of $25,000 (for a limited period, normally $14,000) per workplace for up to four workplaces. The workplace must have at least five employees who work primarily on the premises and the charging stations must be reserved for their use during working hours. The building must have been constructed by August 31, 2020.

    For a MURB which develops an EV Ready Plan for all of the parking spaces in all of its buildings, the rebate is 75% of the cost to a maximum of $3,000 for developing the plan, 50% of the cost to a maximum of $600 per parking space and a total of $80,000 for installing the electrical infrastructure and 75% (for a limited period, normally 50%) of the cost to a maximum of $4,400 (for a limited period, normally $1,400) per charging station and a total of $25,000 (for a limited period, normally $14,000) for the charging stations themselves. The installation of only 220V outlets is eligible for reimbursement.

    For both MURBs and workplaces, the charging station installation plan must be pre-approved by the incentive program. A consultation service is available.

    A detailed description of the program as well as information on the consulting service are available for MURBs here and for workplaces here. BC Hydro is administering the reimbursement process on behalf of the government. The reimbursement form and procedures are available for MURBs here and for workplaces here.

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