28 July 2022

What it takes to get an EV charger in your apartment's car space

| James Coleman
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EV charger.

A Porsche Taycan 4S charging up. Photo: James Coleman.

Pulling up in the garage and plugging the electric vehicle (EV) in to charge for the night isn’t an option for everyone.

According to recent studies, as many as 70 to 90 per cent of EV owners charge up at home. But about 33 per cent of all dwellings in the ACT are either part of a multi-unit complex or semi-detached, and this number is only growing.

So chances are there isn’t a plug hanging up on the wall in these car parks.

And the thought of all these people running extension cables from their apartment down to their own private charger gives Alex Boundy the heebie-jeebies.

An electrician by trade, Alex now oversees Facilities Management across the ACT for Civium Property Group. He has spent the last 10 months deep diving into exactly what’s involved in getting EV chargers into more apartment car spots.

READ ALSO Planning report says EV charging in all new ACT developments a must

“It’s easy to say the juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” he says.

“Installing charging infrastructure is an intrinsically hard thing to do. But with my facility management hat on, I understand it really isn’t fair to dictate what kind of car people can and can not buy.”

The ACT Government commissioned a report into future charging needs last year. ‘EV Ready Developments’ by Australian consulting firm Urbis called for all parking spaces in new multi-unit residential developments to be fitted with the necessary infrastructure for slow charging.

The generic charging stations are supplied by Jet Charge.

Charging points in private apartment car parks are few and far between. Photo: Thomas Lucroft.

Alex says the first hurdle to this is securing enough electricity.

“Drawing extra current also adds pressure to a street electricity grid that is already having to contend with gas going offline,” he says.

“For many urban dense areas, such as the Kingston Foreshore and parts of Woden, they’re already at a capacity.”

An electrician can install a proper set-up that runs off your personal meter box, but it costs between $3500 and $4800 – that’s provided there’s a column or wall on which to mount the charger.

Having a communal-type charger isn’t always a solution either. A lot of Canberra’s apartment complexes only have one allocated car spot for each unit.

READ ALSO Civium Property Group’s interstate growth built on strong Canberra foundations

Then there are the body corporates and owners’ corporations with which to deal.

“Many of them like to window shop without their wallet, so they often baulk at the quotes,” Alex says.

“It’s a grand expense, so it has to be taken to an AGM and the demographic in certain buildings are more reluctant. Getting everyone on board is going to be the biggest road block.”

Alex says the technology, logistics and appetite are in place – it’s just a matter of applying the right fix – and he has ideas.

Residents at IQ Smart Apartments in Braddon will now have electric vehicle chargers.

Residents at IQ Smart Apartments in Braddon with their electric vehicle chargers. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“Our approach is to do it in stages in line with the uptake of EVs. So for Stage 1, we could install eight chargers; for Stage 2, 16; and Stage 3, 24,” he says.

“Based on the current trajectory, we’ve kicked the can five to 10 years down the road.”

This ‘smart charge’ model also allows the chargers to talk to each other and share the power between them. This means they aren’t all drawing a massive amount of power at once from the building’s grid.

“No matter how many cars are plugged in along the line, the chargers will ensure every car has at least 50 km of range by the following morning,” Alex says.

READ ALSO Not driving an EV yet? A government inquiry wants to know why

The expense remains high but Alex says there is return on investment.

“If you’re renting out your unit and it has the capability to charge, you’ve just differentiated your property from the rest of the market, and that’s a value add every day of the year.”

The Urbis report also suggested a charger in the car space increased capital value per square metre by between $250 and $4500, while rent could be increased by $10 to $130.

Civium’s most recent upgrade gave a development 16 charge points across 180 car parks. But Alex says the team – with local building developers – is looking to take things to the next level.

“The appetite is definitely there and we’re ready to go.”

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YAWWWWWWRRRRNNNN!

The oft-expressed desire on this board – that we ALL should buy an EV is being run again. Why?

While Canberra folks are not a whole LOT smarter than other conurbation’s residents. Most of us can do the ROI – in our heads – almost without conscious thought – on buying an EV – as against keeping our existing petrol-powered vehicle/s.

Constant articles about ‘going green’ may help this author and the Canberra Times feel better.

But, it is beginning to read like a personal Crusade. IE one driven by Commitment and Belief but not by common sense.

NB The Crusades FAILED.

Many ACT residents have already done a lot to reduce their fossil-fuel use. Most of our neighbour-hood’s homes have followed us on solar panels and upgraded insulation. ? Lower bills.

Our homes are at least as good a target for energy efficiency / cutting fossil-fuel consumption, than are cars. Given that most family residences are ON 24/7. Possibly a better target, given the growth of retirees.

Few of our acquaintances / neighbours – some are retirees – would be happy to come home to a cold OR hot house.

But for some folks us car enjoyers / users, are just ‘wrong’, almost immoral.

Noting that the proportion of retirees will keep rising for a good while. If we two are typical, car mileage and fuel consumption will fall substantially.

LBNL, many of us older folk have invested in solar panels and effective insulation.

Tim Bailey

TimboinOz, who here told you ALL must buy an electric car?

I am happy to take the issue up with them on your behalf which I shall do briefly, without rattling on and on about your many undoubted virtues, if you would just name for me the person and point out the particular post in which they said it.

Then you can stop yawning and go back to sleep.

Hmm…..so people go out and buy an electric shopping trolley, then get upset they can’t easily charge it?

Not seeing the problem. Hey, if you bought a spark without working out you couldn’t install a charger at home, the problem is all yours and yours alone.

Personally ,having seen a fire in an underground car garage before, electric vehicles should be forced to be charged and garaged outdoors. In Denmark, the fire service have car sized steel boxes they put burning EVs in until they burn themselves out.

You want to get a fixed Quote our complex was charged $253 to change a light bulb in the outside car park

Capital Retro1:54 pm 30 Jul 22

I would have thought the body cooperate would have to give approval for these first.

Then there is the problem of property and public liability insurance.

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