The Challenges of EV Charging Infrastructure in Multi-Unit Dwellings

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in the United States has been steadily increasing over the past decade. However, for EVs to reach their full potential, the charging infrastructure needs to improve, especially for the 12 percent of Americans who live in apartment buildings.

Access to inexpensive at-home charging is a significant economic factor for consumers when deciding to purchase an EV. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of charging at home make it the preferred option for many EV owners. However, installing chargers in multi-unit dwellings can be more complicated due to varying parking setups and electrical capacities.

The installation of EV chargers in multi-unit dwellings requires coordination with property managers, condo boards, or fellow tenants. Some states have “right-to-charge” laws that require property managers to allow charger installations, while others install chargers voluntarily to attract and retain residents. Once the decision is made to install chargers, property managers must determine access and payment systems. Chargers can be placed in assigned parking spaces or shared areas, and fee structures can be implemented to incentivize timely charging and prevent unnecessary charging.

Costs and complications associated with charger installation can be significant. The quantity and type of chargers, as well as the need for electrical upgrades, can add to the expenses. However, utility companies and government programs often offer rebates and grants to reduce these costs. Technological innovations, such as load management systems, can also help optimize charging efficiency and reduce strain on the electrical system.

In cases where at-home charging is not feasible, alternative options include workplace charging and publicly accessible stations. However, it is important to note that public charging stations are often less accessible in lower-income and BIPOC communities, exacerbating existing disparities in clean vehicle infrastructure. To address this issue, the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes funding for EV charging infrastructure, with a specific focus on increasing access in communities.

In conclusion, improving EV charging infrastructure in multi-unit dwellings is crucial to support the growing adoption of electric vehicles. It requires collaboration between property managers, governments, and utility companies to address the challenges and ensure equitable access to charging options for all communities.

– Mariko Yatsuhashi
– Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act(P.L. 117-58) (IIJA)