21 October 2020

IQ Smart Apartments the first strata committee in Canberra to retrofit electric vehicle chargers

| Sharon Kelley
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Robert Azzopardi, Jo Elkington and Peter Zakharoff standing next to electric vehicle.

Owners of properties at IQ Smart Apartments, Robert Azzopardi (left) and Jo Elkington (centre) with Vantage Strata’s Peter Zakharoff (right). Photo: Thomas Lucroft.

Residents at IQ Smart Apartments in Braddon say the installation of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in their basement carpark is one of the ways the strata committee is adding value to the apartments and ensuring owners have access to the latest technology.

In a first for Canberra, the residential complex’s strata committee has retrofitted EV chargers to ensure owners are futureproofing their homes.

“There are residents and visitors to the building who have electric vehicles,” says IQ Smart Apartments strata committee member Robert Azzopardi. “We wanted a system everyone could use, now and into the future.

“We’ve installed a generic charger which will work with any make and model rather than having owners install their own for their specific vehicle make.”

Vantage Strata managing director Chris Miller says it is important for strata committees to keep up with the latest in technology for their building to ensure they stay relevant to the day-to-day needs of owners and make best use of available technology.

“It’s becoming more important that privately owned strata title and mixed-use buildings keep pace with community expectation when it comes to amenities, particularly in the area of technology,” he said.

JET Charge stations for electric vehicles.

The generic charging stations at IQ Smart Apartments are supplied by JET Charge. Photo: Thomas Lucroft.

“It’s incumbent upon strata managers to be plugged in with developments and advances in technology and building operations. Not just EV chargers, but other green initiatives such as solar panels and advanced tech that might not be as obvious – access control and security monitoring; upgrading building infrastructure so people can access the building in the elevator using a code from their mobile phone; and licence plate recognition for building security and resident access to car parks.

“Those things are either coming or are already here, and it’s important strata managers are ahead of the game,” says Chris.

Residents at IQ Smart Apartments will now be able to fully charge their electric vehicles in the building’s basement car park overnight.

The technology is supplied by JET Charge, an Australian company that has installed more EV chargers than any other business in the country. Payment app Chargefox is also an Australian initiative, and it ensures only the owners are able to recharge.

“Electric vehicles aren’t going away,” says Robert. “They’re going to become the norm. Companies such as Volvo won’t even produce internal combustion engines after 2023, and Hyundai and Kia are expanding their range of EVs.

READ ALSO ACT to lead electric vehicle trial to drive power into the grid

“We’ve got an owner with a Tesla and she needed to install a charger for it. We wanted the infrastructure to be generic so we used JET Charge stations and Chargefox. We put four of them in.

“We’re trying to keep up with the latest trends. We put in solar panels in April and we’ve seen a 60 per cent reduction in the common area’s electricity bill. That saves $30,000 a year on electricity that we can use elsewhere or refund to owners. And now we’ve put in the car chargers.

“The time will come when people won’t buy into an apartment without a charging facility.”

Chris agrees there will be a greater number of electric cars in the future, and buildings must be kept efficient and environmentally friendly.

“The chargers are one step towards putting smart tech in the building,” he says. “I expect we’ll see more buildings retrofit car chargers and other intelligent infrastructure.”

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Can’t even park within the marked space

Capital Retro6:02 pm 26 Oct 20

It is clear that a lot of wiring will have to be retrofitted to extend this policy to existing apartment blocks. This will be very expensive.

It occurred to me that many apartments that currently have gas supplied for cooking and heating will only have a limited electricity supply to cover the requirements for lighting and appliances so it is going to be very expensive also to upgrade the electric power supply and circuits to cater for the mandatory replacement of gas.

What policy? Always trying to make a political point.
What’s clear is you don’t know much about electronics and electrical wiring.

Five superfluous words in that last sentence.

Capital Retro10:34 pm 26 Oct 20

One comment on this thread was the Australian Electric Vehicle Associate has given advice to the ACT govt. on its policy that all new strata properties must be ‘EV-ready and it has been announced by Rattenbury that gas is to be replaced by electricity.
Nothing political at all there.

And what the relevant things I don’t know about electronics and electrical wiring?

Capital Retro,
“new strata properties” need to be EV ready.

There’s just a slight difference between this and needing to retrofit every old apartment block.

Although you’re close to a point on the Greens policy, you just weren’t very clear.

It will definitely be very interesting to see how the government handles the Greens wish to phase gas out quickly considering that the local electricity grid doesn’t remotely have the capacity at present to handle the peak loads that would occur from moving all gas supply to electricity.

Capital Retro10:56 am 27 Oct 20

And there probably isn’t enough “renewable” electricity available to take over from gas either.

A Nonny Mouse2:18 pm 27 Oct 20

There are EV charging systems that vary the charge rates to vehicles to avoid overloading a limited supply. These systems can use just the difference between a building’s total rated supply and the load taken by all the units and other loads. That difference might be small during the evening peak so the cars will charge only slowly. As the evening wears on, people stop cooking and turn off other loads. The supply available for cars goes up and the cars are automatically told they can take more current. Some cars might finish charging after only a small top up or they might disconnect and go out. The remaining cars are ‘told’ they can now charge a bit faster, sharing a larger pie among fewer vehicles. Eventually, the building load is much lower, many of the cars have stopped charging and the remaining cars are told they can charge at a much faster rate.
Cars plugged in during the day when many are out and the building load is lower could charge relatively quickly and may not contribute to an evening or overnight load.
If a building’s supply is capable of handling a building’s non-EV peak load, it will have ample capacity to charge vehicles for all but a few hours a day.

A nonny mouse,
Whilst there are definitely grid management techniques that will make EV charging easier, it’s not going to be practical for a large amount of people until the range/storage of the vehicles improves and parts of the grid are upgraded to accommodate the increased demands.

A petrol (or gas/hydrogen) car just goes when you want it to and only takes a few minutes to fill up.

People aren’t just going to give up that reliability and utility easily, when the alternative is not being able to use your car when you want to or having to wait long periods for them to charge.

And fast chargers will either require large on site batteries or further grid upgrades to work, so there is still someway to go and a mix of differently fueled vehicles will continue to be used.

Robert Azzopardi3:55 pm 30 Oct 20

You are 100% correct Nonny … the building might have the capacity to charge 50 cars … if 100 cars are connected at the same time the system only allows all 100 cars to charge at 50% the rate.
Albeit of course is that some of the older buildings will have no spare capacity at all … there will be no requirement on them to upgrade their facility.

Robert Azzopardi3:59 pm 30 Oct 20

chewy14 … I have undertaken much research on the points you raise. The facts are that EV’s cant compete with ICE at the moment on price. Battery tech at the moment costs approx $150/kw … once that figure comes done to $100/kw EV’s are directly comparable with ICE. That will happen in the next 3 years.

Capital Retro10:22 am 31 Oct 20

What if the price of petrol drops 50% which is likely due to overproduction and massive untapped reserves.

Governments are losing the appetite for subsidising renewables also.

Robert Azzopardi11:59 am 01 Nov 20

Capital Retro .. the price of petrol dropping to 50% will make no difference to the equation.
Atm the difference in purchasing an EV over ICE is the price … the current price of batteries makes EV’s more expensive … however is catching up and within 3 years the cost of those batteries will reduce by 30% making EV’s far more competitive.

Amanda Kiley3:55 pm 30 Jul 22

Do you know from when this came in? We are trying to get our apartment fitted for EV charging at building stage (they have only just started grading). I found it interesting that all newly built public housing is required to have an EV charger, yet privately built had no requirement.

A Nonny Mouse10:13 am 26 Oct 20

I have been charging our household’s electric cars in a strata titled property since 2009. In 2019, I proposed a motion to our AGM that passed and set out the principles by which EV charging could be rolled out on our site for all units.
Our situation is more complex than most. In contrast, an apartment block is relatively straightforward because usually all units have the same circumstances, typically, all the parking is in a basement and all the units are above.
Our large set of 1970s townhouses had a large minority who could sort themselves out on their own electricity meters in their attached carports. A majority, however, use share parking areas a short distance away from the individual units. Of those, some allocated parking spaces are close enough to the corresponding units that the owners could be given permission to run cable across a few meters of common property so they also can charge from their own meters.
Fortunately for those living to far away, our parking areas mostly each have a robust common property electricity supply adjacent that is used only for very light path lighting loads. Those supplies have enough spare capacity to be shared among the non-adjacent users of the parking areas. Each can get a single phase supply of 15A to 32A, which is plenty for charging at home. Each outlet will have a meter so that we can bill each EV owner pro rata for their share of electricity consumption added to the owners corporation’s account. Adding meters and running cable to outlets costs this large minority owners a few thousand dollars each.
So far we have two such outlets in shared parking areas, one being in my parking space, and one EV driver with his own attached carport.

Capital Retro9:54 am 26 Oct 20

Someone said Mercedes have already stopped making petrol powered cars. I think they plan to do that but petrol powered cars are still being produced. By 2025 every car sold by the luxury brand will have some form of electric assistance, even if just a 48V mild hybrid system. And by 2030 Mercedes is planning for half the cars it makes to be pure electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Robert Azzopardi4:00 pm 30 Oct 20

Volvo have already announced they will not produce traditional ICE cars after 2023. Many of these changes are occurring because of the stricter emissions restrictions in Europe.

Capital Retro1:54 pm 31 Oct 20

Volvo said in 2017 that this would happen in 2019. They are probably just virtue signaling.

Meanwhile, their Polestar EV JV continues to be plagued by problems: https://carthrust.com/2020/10/30/polestar-electric-vehicle-recall/

Capital Retro9:18 am 26 Oct 20

On April 21, 2019, a Tesla Model S was exploded in an underground garage in Shanghai, China. Five cars were damaged by the fire. (Wikepedia)

There are many, many more reports of EVs catching fire while charging. I wouldn’t like to live in an apartment block which had EVs simmering in the basement car parks.

A Nonny Mouse10:17 am 26 Oct 20

I am not sure I would like vehicles with tens of litres of volatile explosive fuel in them. Petrol car fires are hardly unheard of!

Capital Retro11:28 am 26 Oct 20

I’m not sure what your point is there. While it is very unusual for petrol powered cars to spontaneously catch fire there have been a few deliberately set on fire in underground car parks in Canberra. They never “explode” (like they do on Netflix) but they burn fiercely and create a big smoke hazard.

A Nonny Mouse2:25 pm 26 Oct 20

My point is that vehicles containing many litres of volatile and highly flammable fuel are a non-trivial fire risk. This paper analyses causes of vehicle fires in parking buildings. Fuel leaks are one cause. Arson is another. If you can engage in whataboutism with respect to EVs, I can do so with equal validity with respect to petrol cars. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226866435_Analysis_of_Vehicle_Fire_Statistics_in_New_Zealand_Parking_Buildings

HiddenDragon5:53 pm 25 Oct 20

Another great thing about electric vehicles is that they’re exempt from those old-fashioned rules about parking between the yellow lines.

Amanda Kiley3:58 pm 30 Jul 22

I find many, many more petrol vehicles doing exactly that.

For once a visionary body corporate. In my view no apartment building should be being constructed that doesn’t have solar panels on the roof and EV charging in the carpark. We need to be prepared when the EV revolution hits us. Maybe this is something the newly elected Greens should be taking up.

Capital Retro9:19 am 26 Oct 20

Do you have an EV dolphin?

A Nonny Mouse10:51 am 26 Oct 20

It has already been ACT govt. policy for a couple of years now that all new strata properties shall be ‘EV ready’. What seems to be taking some time is working out what exactly needs to go into the building code. ‘EV ready’ could, for example, mean cabling in place to one of the allocated parking spaces for each unit but terminated in blank plate or perhaps terminated with a plain, cheap 15A power point, even if the cabling is capable of handling 32A.
The ACT branch of the Electric Vehicle Association has strongly argued that relatively slow charging at each units parking space is preferable to fewer but faster charging outlets in shared spaces. Ideally, the wiring to outlets would connect back to the meters of the individual units so that the unit owner can have whatever electricity tariff they prefer and the owners corporation has no administrative burden as a supplier of EV charging.
On the other hand, some building structures make wiring back to individual meters difficult so the charging has to come from a common property supply. Then there are relatively simple DIY approaches to pro rata billing for an owners corporation (OC) or the OC could outsource the metering and billing to a company such as Chargefox, as was done at the apartment in the article above.

no. I don’t own a car at the moment

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