Learn how electric vehicle charging is possible in multi-unit dwellings. Each section will provide guides, solutions, and learning points tailored to individual needs.
How to Get Electric Vehicle Charging Installed in a Multi-Unit Residential Building
Identify the Power Source and Connection Point
Understanding the equipment needed for installation possible and how it will affect tenants remains a critical role for the Board. Identifying the power source will also clarify practical information, like installation costs, billing, and feasibility.
Determine the Installation Approach
Once the best power source has been determined for the building, the next step is establishing how the installation will be deployed. Either an individual or global plan can be chosen.
An individual deployment consists in a full installation (the EV charger and accompanying electrical components) when a request is made by an individual tenant.
A global approach will regroup electrical components needed for multiple tenants into a single installation.
Plan Your Deployment
The third step will vary depending on which approach is selected.
Determine your Charging Policy
Every building is different and thus, has different prioritizes. What’s important is to remain fair and make sure that today’s installations won’t hinder any in the future. This is the main reason that, when an individual deployment is selected, we suggest the use of a Charging Policy.
A charging policy can take many forms – the goal is to standardize the process for future requests. Once the best solution for the building has been established, we highly recommend adding it to official procedure and avoid restarting the research process with a change in board members.
Source an Electrician
Your building may already have a preferred electrician. If not, we suggest searching for an electrician who specializes in electric vehicle charging installations. This electrician will handle the entire mandate for the building and serve as a contact point for future requests. Having a designated electrician also ensures a harmonious and aesthetic deployment.
Bring In A Consultant
If a global approach is selected, we suggest hiring a consultant for the most efficient strategy. In this strategy you should have specific details like:
- An overview of all work to be completed in the electrical room, including details like the addition wall space
- An overview of all individual work to be completed for each charger’s power source
- An overview of all common cable work and accessories (such as excavations, drilling, and cable tray installations
The type of consultant selected will vary depending on the building size and installation context. Speaking with an electrical contractor or residential engineering firm can guide you towards the appropriate selection.
Inform Tenants of Their Options
A key step to global installations is to properly inform all building tenants of their options when it comes to electric vehicle charging installations.
It’s also important to highlight that adding electric vehicle charging is a building upgrade and will assist in maintaining, or boosting, property value. It’s also a good idea to include any grants or reimbursements available.
Special Assembly and Budget Approvals
Once the general charging strategy is decided you will have the necessary details to host a general assembly for the project. This is where it’ll be decided if the installation costs will be covered by a contingency fund, a special contribution, or a loan.
We’ve seen higher success rate when a special assembly is held just for the electric vehicle charging project and recommend hosting a dedicated meeting.
Request for Proposals (RFP’s)
Once the budget has been approved and RFP can be held for the project. Share project goals, building plans and timelines when reaching out to electrical contractors. Sharing these details will also streamline the decision.
If your strategy included partial installations you can ask for the cost per individual components.
Hire Your Selected Electrical Contractor
Once all submissions have been received, select the proposal that best suits your building and proceed to the installation.
Resources, Templates, and Tools
Visit the Installation Approaches page for more information on the individual approach and the global approach. There you will find a video that explains the advantages of each and tips for making an informed choice.
Consulting residents of the complex to assess the general interest in installing charging stations can be very revealing. This makes it possible to assess whether the tenants are interested in the possibility of installing electric vehicle charging stations in their parking spaces and if so, in what timeframe. This will allow you to understand incoming requests and make a choice on the installation approach to adopt.
Here are sample surveys:
• Example Survey for Accessible Electrical Meters
• Example Survey for Accessible and Inaccessible Electrical Meters
Once the board is aware of the way that the charging stations in the complex will be powered (thanks to the questionnaire) and it has a good understanding of the present and future tenant interest (following the survey), a Charging Policy can then be voted in at a general meeting. This policy:
- Will allow standardization of installation and ensure fairness;
- Allows for a well established procedure;
- Will avoid having to start the process of finding a solution over again should there be changes in the board of directors
Here is an example of a charging policy created with input from over 500 condominiums across Canada to install EV chargers with the use of charge controllers.
This document can be used as a starting point and can be modified according to specific needs of the complex in a context where both the use of charge controllers and additions to infrastructure need to be adopted in order to meet all charging needs.
Approvals to Install an EV Charger
With the rapid growth in sales of electric vehicles, the board will no doubt see the number of EV charging installations requests to increase. Here is an example of authorization which can be used in a context where the charger is powered by a charge controller.
Choosing an Electrical Contractor
It is easier to make an informed choice when comparing different proposals from electrical contractor if the information is comparable. To do this, it is important to provide the contractors with a detailed list of the work to be carried out so that they can provide standardized information.
Here is an example of a request for proposals to use if the electrical meters are accessible and the individual approach is selected.
EV Ready Plan
Depending on the building context and culture, various options are available to a board preparing a plan for electric vehicle charging installations.
The objective may be to retrofit the entire building so that all the parking spaces are ready to charge an electric vehicle. In this case it’s possible to have all components installed for all parking spaces.
If the objective is rather to prepare the building for future EV charging installations, it’s then possible to proceed with a partial component installations.
An EV Ready Plan contains the technical and financial information that allows the condominium board to make an informed decision on the work that should be carried out.
Here is an example of an EV Ready Plan [French Only] that proposes different scenarios for installing the components in a global and partial way for EV Charging installations.
If the building has decided that an individual deployment is the best option, it’s stil possible to group multiple installations together for a better installation price. Here’s a form example that can be used when grouping individuals together.
Here are some ressources to assist when searching for an electrician specialized in electric vehicle charging installations. We recommend employing an electrical contractor with substantial experience with electric vehicle charging installations (generally look for those who have installed hundreds.)
All the entrepreneurs listed here specialize in the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Guide to Multi-Residential EV Charging by Hydro Quebec (French Only)
List from the Electric Vehicle Association of Quebec (AVEQ)
List from the Master Electrician Association of Quebec (CMEQ)
Quebec Multi-Unit Building Electric Vehicle Charging Rebate Program
A program is currently in place where up to 50% of installation costs, up to $5,000, can be reimbursed for EV charging installations in a multi-unit residential building. Find all of the details here.
British Columbia, Canada
Santa Monica, California
Frequently Asked Questions
01 — We want to install charging stations in our complex. How should we proceed?
To install charging stations in a multi-residential building, you must first identify the power source for the chargers and determine how the electricity will be billed. Answering these few questions can bring forward details of a solution adapted to your building context.
Once the solution has been identified, it is necessary to choose an installation approach. Visit this page for details of possible approaches.
02 —How do I know where to pull power from for the EV chargers?
03 — How to avoid a spaghetti monster in the parking garage?
Many fear an unmanageable mess of cables in the parking garage with the addition of electric vehicle chargers. In an effort to avoid the spaghetti monster, we recommend employing a few preventative measures depending on the installation approach selected by the building:
For an individual deployment we recommend selecting one electrical contractor who is mandated for all EV charging installations. By offering exclusivity, the electrician will be given the opportunity to clearly plan the project as to not hinder any future installations.
If the building is rather large, it is sometimes better to hire a consultant to develop a global EV Ready Plan. With this plan, it will be possible to identify whether certain structural components (wall space additions, new openings, cable trays, etc.) are necessary to ensure harmonious installations. It will then be possible to propose a phased project for the electric vehicle chargers at a general assembly that is actionable and efficient.
04 — How to inform tenants of the options available to them?
Depending on the size of the complex, the information process can take several forms.
In small complexes, it is possible to form a committee so that each member of it has a meeting with some of the tenants. This approach has the advantage of ensuring that all residents are informed of the project and have the opportunity to get answers to their questions before a general meeting. However, this approach requires a time investment from one or more people.
In larger complexes it is possible to send a form, to be return to the board, explaining the options available so that everyone can make an informed decision. This option has the advantage of requiring less resources. However, there is no guarantee that the tenants will take the time to read the form, complete it, and sent it back which may require subsequent management for the collection of forms.
05 — Are the electrical contractors that you've contacted not getting back to you?
It’s important that you reach out by phone, and not only over email.
Often, electrical contractors are involved too early in the process. They are frequently called upon to participate in several meetings to answer board questions without having an idea on timeframe for the work. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to become unincentivized and decide to withdraw from charging installation project when faced with a long approval process.
Instead, hire a consultant if you believe that your complex has specific technical issues or that you have several questions about the installation of EV chargers. This will provide the Board with pertinent answers and will then give the electrical contractor a specific installation mandate.
06 — Is the implementation of a charging policy mandatory?
As you’re probably aware, changes often occur on condominium boards. In order to ensure that the information-seeking work for the installation of charging stations is accessible to future administrators we strongly recommend that you set up a charging policy. This policy will serve as a reference document and will prevent the work of seeking information on the installation of charging stations from being repeated.
07 — We have several levels of indoor parking. Do you have any specific advice to give us?
When there are indoor parking spaces arranged on several floors in the building, piercing the concrete is generally necessary to pass the wiring if the electrical room is not at the same level as the parking space seeking EV charging. In this context, we recommend scanning the slab before authorizing any drilling. It is possible to adopt the individual approach or the global approach to do the scanning and drilling.
With the individual approach, when a tenants wants to install an EV charger in their parking space then they cover all costs related to sweeping the slab and drilling through it.
With this approach the work can be broken down into two stages. It’s possible for the board to take undertake of the sweep and drill work in part or in full.
It is possible to support only the slab scanning step in order to strategically plan the drilling areas. Subsequently, a tenant who wants to install a charger will have to manage the drill work at their expense.
In addition to the scanning step, it is also possible to take charge of piercing. At that time, the board drilled holes in strategic places of fairly large diameters through which all the supply conduits would eventually pass.
Using this approach minimizes installation costs and ensures harmonious path for the conduits.
08 — We have outdoor parking spaces that are not adjacent to the electricity meters because there is pavement in between. Do you have any specific advice for us?
When an asphalt pavement separates the parking spaces from the electrical room excavation is generally necessary to pass the wiring to the parking spaces. To do this excavation it’s possible to take the individual approach or the global approach.
With the individual approach, when a tenant wants to install a charger in their parking space they assumes all the costs related to excavation and backfilling.
With the global approach it’s possible for the board to take charge of the excavation and have the necessary piping or supplies installed for all the parking spaces affected by this separation. Using this approach helps minimize installation costs and recurrence of work.
If you plan to redo your parking lots in the coming years, this can be a good opportunity to plan the necessary components.
09 — We have outdoor parking spaces in which no surface is available to mount the chargers. Do you have any specific advice to give us?
If no surface is nearby to mount the charging stations it’s possible to have pedestals installed to mount them. An electrical contractor can present the options available to you.
10 — We have outdoor parking spaces that are not close to the electricity meters. What can we do?
In a context where outdoor parking spaces are not close to electricity meters it’s possible to make additions to the infrastructure to supply the charging stations. Take a look at this page on Inaccessible Meters.