Our electric vehicle specialists regularly get correspondence from condo owners, who have purchased electric vehicles, only to find out that they are unable to charge them in the building parkade.
In many cases, the new EV owners assumed that plugging in their vehicles to the outlets in the parkade would not be an issue, only to get a warning from the strata telling that they need to refrain from doing so. The reality is that the parkade is a common area, and all electricity for lighting and outlets in these areas is paid for collectively by the building owners through their monthly strata fees. The rest of the building’s owners should not have to pay for the energy consumed by your electric vehicle.
This marks the beginning of the complex situation in navigating your strata bylaws and working with the council to install EV charging or simply use the plug in your parking stall.
If you are new to living in a Multi-Unit Residence or a building complex that is governed by a Strata Council, there are a few things you need to consider BEFORE rushing out to buy your new electric vehicle.
Do your homework
- If you are planning to buy an EV, start by doing a scan of nearby public charging facilities that are accessible around your building or place of work. Use www.plugshare.com to check the chargers available near you. Ask yourself if these would be sufficient to charge your vehicles vehicle and whether this would be an appropriate solution if your strata denied you the ability to charge in the building.
- Find out if there are other EV owners in the building, how do they charge their vehicles?
- Find out if there have been EV charging requests to strata in the past, how have these been dealt with or have they been denied?
- Find out if there any existing bylaws or rules in place that prevent you from charging your vehicle?
- Use online resources from Plug in BC and Metro Vancouver EV Condo to find out the best ways of working with your strata to get EV charging installed.
- Check out incentive programs from BC Hydro and see if your building is eligible for an EV charging incentive.
Don’t rely on regular Outlets
The outlets you see if your parkade are designed using a shared 120v circuit at 15a. When you plug in your Electric Vehicle, you run the risk of exceeding the available load of the circuit and trip the breaker. This system was never designed for charging an EV so we would not recommend using it as a reliable source of charging. The Canadian Electrical code recommends a dedicated 20a circuit and outlet to be installed for EV charging.
Is L2 Charging an Option?
Some new buildings (built after 2015 in Vancouver and 2018 in other areas of the Lower Mainland) may already be considered “EV ready” with electrified stalls or conduit in place. In many cases it just requires an electrician to hookup the service and install the charger. You will need to inquire with your building manager or strata to whether this is an option.
Approach your strata or write a letter explaining that you are considering purchasing an EV and find out if there was EV charging available in the building. You need to ask permission to use the Level 1 outlet in your stall and whether this would be ok in return for a monthly fee for the energy consumed by your car. Many Stratas allow EV charging for a flat rate fee that varies from $30-50 a month which sufficiently covers the cost of the energy consumed and any other costs the strata may have to incur for maintaining the electrical system
Champion a EV Owner Committee
Strata Council members are volunteers therefore you need to be respectful of their time and not add another job to their workload. If you would like to get EV charging in your building or develop a new strata policy, then take on the challenge by being the head of a Strata Steering committee and show that you are dedicated to helping the strata navigate this new project.
Understand Common and Limited Common Property
In many cases, your parkade area is considered common or limited common property, meaning is shared by all the owners in the building. You as a single owner can’t just come along and make a change to common or limit common property (such as installation of conduit, coring etc.) Any modifications require a ¾ vote at an Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting of owners. This can result in an incredibly time intensive, costly and frustrating process for all involved.
Talk to a Professional
Before approaching your strata, get an idea of EV charger installation costs and what your options are. A qualified Electrical Contractor can help you gather the information you need to present to your strata council. Plug-In BC offers a Strata EV Advisor program that can help you with information on your installation project or give advice on the best steps in the installation process.
If your building strata is interested in exploring EV charging, we can help. Cielo EV Charging Systems offers full system installation, comprehensive site assessments, feasibility reviews and system designs that can be customized for your location.