Electric Vehicle Charging not Condo Ready

August 2019

Someday condo dwellers may drive electric vehicles and charge them at home.  That day, however, is not soon.

Battery and charging technology have a ways to go before being widely embraced.  Condo communities choosing to upgrade electrical systems to facilitate electric vehicle charging, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, would still have to deal with practical considerations and current technological limitations.

It takes about five minutes to fill up a vehicle with gas.  An electric vehicle may require an entire night to charge.  Even the fastest of commercial chargers can take an hour or longer.  A public charging station for a community may only be able to regularly service one or two vehicles an evening.  This is unacceptable in a community where multiple vehicles may require charging each and every evening.  Personal charging stations, where a personal parking space is retrofitted to include a charging station paid for by the resident, have not been popular.

At present there are two levels of electric vehicle charging.  Electric vehicle charging using a standard consumer electrical outlet charger can take about 30 hours.  A professionally installed charger connected to a higher voltage outlet can take about 5.5 hours.  Newer technology can reduce this time to about 30 minutes.  Charging times for electric vehicles are expected to shrink to a little more than ten minutes although this is still many years down the road.

Another challenge is that charging standards are not consistent.  Vehicle manufacturers have not yet embraced a single charging technology.  Practically speaking, an electric vehicle charging system for a Tesla vehicle is incompatible with requirements for Volkswagen or Nissan. That newer technology, which can reduce charge time to about 30 minutes, is incompatible with any vehicle currently on the market.

Today’s electric vehicles are not yet comparable to gasoline or diesel vehicles.  More than 90 percent of vehicle charging is done at home.  This requires a personal charging system for exclusive use and compatible with the owned vehicle.

Electric vehicles and charging systems have a ways to go before they can be seriously considered in condo communities.