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

Sharon Kelley 21 October 2020 57
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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57 Responses to IQ Smart Apartments the first strata committee in Canberra to retrofit electric vehicle chargers
Simon Azzopardi Simon Azzopardi 12:37 pm 31 Oct 20

Very soon they will have no choice as EVs take over! Better get it sorted now rather than leave it to later..

Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 11:03 am 31 Oct 20

Being on the EC side of things I congratulate the owners of IQ for allowing this project to proceed.

I’m hopeful that other EC’s can also convince their owners to be as forward thinking as IQ.

Simon Azzopardi Simon Azzopardi 10:07 am 31 Oct 20

Well done guys. EV is the way! Elon Musk would be proud!!

Nigel Jinleong Ho Nigel Jinleong Ho 6:13 pm 30 Oct 20

Electric car time Robert Azzopardi!

tim_c tim_c 4:58 pm 29 Oct 20

Can’t even park within the marked space

Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:02 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.

    JC JC 6:32 pm 26 Oct 20

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

    Heavs Heavs 7:30 pm 26 Oct 20

    Five superfluous words in that last sentence.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:34 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?

    chewy14 chewy14 7:42 am 27 Oct 20

    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 Retro Capital Retro 10:56 am 27 Oct 20

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

    A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 2:18 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.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:43 pm 27 Oct 20

    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 Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 3:55 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 Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 3:59 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 Retro Capital Retro 10:22 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 Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 11:59 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.

A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 10:13 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 Retro Capital Retro 9:54 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.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:18 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 Mouse A Nonny Mouse 10:17 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 Retro Capital Retro 11:28 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 Mouse A Nonny Mouse 2:25 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

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:53 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.

Peter Major Peter Major 1:26 pm 25 Oct 20

I gather the ppl using the chargers would compensate those not using them for the power bills.

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 1:42 pm 25 Oct 20

    Unlikely I'm currently in a argument with my strata - the hallway carpets get cleaned monthly but i don't use all the hallways in the building so why should I pay for that?

    Lynette Furness Lynette Furness 2:53 pm 25 Oct 20

    Who actually pays for the n r m a power outlets and hi peter denis here

    David Jackson David Jackson 2:59 pm 25 Oct 20

    Rob Thomas this is the reason you don’t buy in a strata development.

    Peter Major Peter Major 4:05 pm 25 Oct 20

    Lynette Furness fully agree

    Alistair Cohen Alistair Cohen 5:29 pm 25 Oct 20

    Peter Major as per the article, it’s a user-pays system, and they use an app called chargefox to manage payments.

    Kir Rin Kir Rin 6:31 pm 25 Oct 20

    Rob Thomas do you potentially pay for other things that others may not? Do you have a separate entry?

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 7:08 pm 25 Oct 20

    Kir not only that I have my own oxygen tank and mask. I've be arguing for a further discount as I'm not using the buildings air - but to date I'm still made to pay for it.

    Joanna Elkington Joanna Elkington 8:42 am 26 Oct 20

    Peter Major the system is set up so that you (the person charging the car) pay through the jet charge account. No one else in the building pays for your use of the power.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:22 am 26 Oct 20

    Lynette Furness The NRMA fast DC chargers are currently free to use. The intention is that they will remain a free service to NRMA members but non-members will be billed to use them.

    The NRMA has done a great service by installing these to get us past the 'chicken and egg' problem, whereby people would not have bought EVs if they could not take them on longer trips out of town but nobody would install commercial charging until there were more EVs.

    The NRMA chargers are deliberately installed in locations that will remain useful but should not compete with the eventual commercial provision of charging at highway service centres and the like.

Jessamine Bernadette Elena Perlibachas Jessamine Bernadette Elena Perlibachas 12:14 pm 25 Oct 20

Caillan lol. Just the important things

    Caillan Colville Caillan Colville 12:23 pm 25 Oct 20

    It's not bad news? Though I feel like maybe solar panels etc would be a better start

    Jessamine Bernadette Elena Perlibachas Jessamine Bernadette Elena Perlibachas 12:23 pm 25 Oct 20

    Caillan or you know. Lifts for equal access to people with disabilities.

    Caillan Colville Caillan Colville 12:26 pm 25 Oct 20

    To be fair I am sure they have one

    Jessamine Bernadette Elena Perlibachas Jessamine Bernadette Elena Perlibachas 12:27 pm 25 Oct 20

    Caillan lucky fork

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:24 am 26 Oct 20

    Caillan Colville The strata property where I live put in a communal solar PV system in 2012 and in 2019 passed an AGM resolution setting out how EV charging would be rolled out and managed.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 12:58 pm 30 Oct 20

    Caillan Colville one is not exclusive of the other. IQ Apartments have both solar panels and EV charging stations, both installed this year. The common area electricity charges have been reduced by over 50%, resulting in a saving of $30k to Admin costs (approx 5%).

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 11:54 am 25 Oct 20

How about smarter systems to prevent thieves breaking into underground carparks at unit complexes

David Ward David Ward 11:35 am 25 Oct 20

I love this but have 2 questions. 4 cars can charge overnight at a time so what do the other electric car owners do? Pay for something only 4 people get to use? It might be a shared facility but has severe limitations unless strata are planning to put in more; enough that everyone has their own when they buy an EV. Perhaps I'm missing something in terms of the practicalities and am very happy to be educated if anyone knows the answers.

    Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 12:03 pm 25 Oct 20

    David Ward contact Vantage Strata to get a copy of the proposal put to IQ, it’s interesting reading and explains everything. It’s pretty impressive. When we bought our hybrid, it needed a power point next to our parking spot in our complex carpark, so we had one installed at our own expense. The EV units are placed in non-owned car spaces so anyone with an EV can park and power up, but you must vacate that spot, you can’t leave your car there. EV no longer take for ever to power up using these units. Once everyone has an EV more units can be added to the system. This is going to happen as many car manufacturers are no longer making petrol driven cars. Mercedes has already stopped making petrol cars. It’s only a matter of time before they’re all doing that.

    David Ward David Ward 12:05 pm 25 Oct 20

    Annie Wyer makes total sense and I'm looking forward it. Thanks for explaining. I imagined the same cars hogging the chargers all night every night.

    Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 12:13 pm 25 Oct 20

    IQ is a brand new forward thinking complex, ours is 7 years old and this was never planned for, so upgrading our electricity supply is first on the list, then working towards EV power units and solar panels on the roof. It all costs money, and you need to get all residents on board to agree to the expenses via increased levies...

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:33 am 26 Oct 20

    Annie Wyer I would anticipate that you will soon need the expanded system with charging outlets in allocated parking spaces. My concern with charging in shared spaces is that they could get occupied and lead to situations when nobody has been able to find the car owners for days! That then could introduce a policing burden on the strata management. Not a problem at first and it sounds like you have anticipated it.

    It seems to me that more slower chargers are more useful than a few faster charging outlets, especially as cars have larger batteries these days. I have a charging outlet in my own allocated parking space, so it does not matter that charging is slow. I can leave it charging and I don't need to make another trip to the parking area to move it.

    I will also contact Vantage Strata for a copy of the proposal. As a member of the ACT branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Associate, we have given advice to the ACT govt. on its policy that all new strata properties must be 'EV-ready', so I would be interested to see the detail of the proposal you had.

    Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 11:01 am 26 Oct 20

    Peter, a lot of complexes have just enough parking spaces for residents only and don’t normally include visitor spaces, like our complex. We are in the process of looking into turning all our visitor car spaces into “leased spaces” for residents who require more than one or two spaces, in the expectation that this will put a stop to public servants tailgating into the complex to get free parking. Several spaces will be made available to EV vehicles.

    Our is a complex (pardon the pun) situation here, as the builder never contemplated the future, leaving buyers into this complex to make substantial changes, firstly our electricity supply needs to be upgraded before we can install these EV units, and we also need to purchase solar panels for the roof which was not built for them, and we also need to purchase battery storage. These together are a costly exercise, but will modernise our complex and future-proof us.

    Please, by all means, contact IQ or Vantage and ask as many questions as you can think of. This is the future.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 1:04 pm 30 Oct 20

    Peter Campbell the system at IQ is upgradeable. Four stations are currently owned by the OC to be used by anyone that has an EV. One owner has purchased their own Station for her personal use located on her parking space. IQ has also provided some backbone infrastructure for others to "plug and play" into the system. Personally I think 4 common stations will be sufficient for at least the next 3 years. When EV's become more popular individuals will have to install their own station.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 1:07 pm 30 Oct 20

    Annie Wyer I agree with you post however battery storage is not recommended atm. IQ solar installing will get a pay back after 5 years .. incorporating batteries into the system would add at least another 4 years to the payback period by which time the batteries may need changing.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 1:20 pm 30 Oct 20

    Annie Wyer Im not sure of your apartments but I would be very surprised if your roof structure cant take the load of solar panels. The solar panels have a supporting structure of its own which distributes the load over thereof structure (similar to what you see in suburbia).

dolphin dolphin 11:33 am 25 Oct 20

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 Retro Capital Retro 9:19 am 26 Oct 20

    Do you have an EV dolphin?

    dolphin dolphin 9:23 pm 27 Oct 20

    no. I don’t own a car at the moment

    A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 10:51 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.

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