Charge electric car on wall socket in apartment building

The number of electric cars on the market increases almost every day.

As a result, more and more car owners face questions regarding whether they'll have access to enough charging stations for their vehicles. When electric vehicles first hit the market, almost everyone who purchased EVs owned a home and were able to upgrade their garage with an appropriate charging option.

Today, with more electric vehicle buyers living in apartment buildings, the question of personal charging options gets more complex. Thankfully, many newer apartment buildings have parking lots with charging stations for electric cars. It's great when they do. But if they don't?

A valid question to consider before renting a new pad might be: how do you charge your electric vehicle on a daily basis if your complex does not have charging stations?

Fortunately, there are options to charge your car even if you are living in an apartment building.

Wall socket vs. wallbox?

Basically there are two options to charge your electric car:

  1. The nearest wall socket to your parking lot
  2. Installing a wallbox at your parking lot

While option #1 is certainly a possibility, view it as the last resort.

Charging your car from a standard power socket potentially causes several problems.

With 2.3kW, a 3 pin plug only provides up to 8 miles of range per hour. This means charging your electric vehicle from empty to full takes anywhere from 11 hours to 27 hours. Most people don't have the time to charge their car 27 hours.

Consumer advisors warn that standard power sockets are not designed to transmit high power over a long period of time. You can't compare charging your car with 2.3kW over several hours to charging your smartphone, which only needs .002% of the charging capacity your electric car requires. Even big energy guzzlers, like vacuum cleaners, for example, only need 1.5kW – and only use this capacity for a few minutes at a time. Using the full 2.3kW for several hours to charge your electric car carries risks, such as power sockets and power lines getting warm, which can cause a blown fuse or worse: a fire.

That's why the best option is installing a wallbox in the parking lot where you live.

Your wallbox gets matched to the loading capacity of your current electrical installation and communicates real time with your car the maximum current it can charge. If required, an electrician can also expand the electrical installation before charging your car with the desired loading capacity.

Several manufacturers provide appropriate charging solutions for your vehicle. To ensure compatibility with your car, in the event of future updates and services, you should always choose one of the quality manufactures that your car's manufacturer lists as approved.

Most garages in apartment buildings only provide loading capacity for a few cars. Thankfully today, we have startup businesses working to solve this problem. By sending data between the stations, smarter charging systems make it possible to retrofit even the oldest of buildings to support the charging of many more electric cars at once.

Are there laws and regulations for charging stations in apartment buildings?

There may still be one major hurdle if you live in an apartment building and want to charge your electric vehicle at home in your own spot: Talking to your building management and getting permission to hook up a charger. Nevertheless, there are several laws and regulations in place to help you get permission to install your own charging station in your apartment building.

California has Senate Bill 209, which requires apartment's and HOA's to allow installation at the EV owner's expense, as long as the installation is to code and meets the aesthetic requirements of the community.

If you live in Hawaii, please see HI Act 186 HRS 196-7.5 (2010) for more information regarding apartment charging installation.

As of late, the EU has a new European directive, which implies that refurbished apartment buildings with more than 10 parking spaces must provide an appropriate cable system. By 2025, the directive also provides simplifications in the approval procedure to install charging stations.

Take-Away

Even though there are hurdles, if you live in an apartment building and are thinking about having an electric car, there are many options for personal charging stations on the wall and legislation is on your side.