The biggest barrier to EV adoption


Signature Electric installed its first electric vehicle (EV) charger in a condominium in 2012. At that time there were very few EV’s on the road. Many boards and managers were convinced that EV’s might be a passing fad.

Fortunately, when I speak with boards and managers today they are much more receptive to EVs in their condominiums. They seem interested in figuring out how best to accommodate the requests from owners for garage charging options. Some even want to be proactive and work this out in advance of any requests.


EV Journey

Back in 2012, we typically installed about 1 charger per month, whether in a single family home or condominium. Today, in 2017, we install a charger almost every day.

The technology for EV chargers has advanced and many new manufacturers have entered the market. These manufacturers make a variety of chargers. Some can accept credit cards, and several can “talk” to each other to efficiently spread the load between multiple vehicles.

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Signature Electric even manufactures and installs an electric vehicle distribution and metering panel. It can eliminate the need for multiple meters by using cloud-based technology to display energy consumption. The system uses a computer based program to better handle the load sharing. We’ve installed several of these units in GTA condominiums.


The challenge

With all this acceptance and improved technology why are we still having issues with the installation of these chargers?

Deeded parking spaces.

The inability to find a reasonable way to exchange spaces is the real stumbling block. We are just now getting calls from apartment owners and managers that want to install EV chargers.

I suspect that they’re getting calls from prospective tenants inquiring if the building can accommodate an EV. If they respond to these requests they’ll have an edge in the rental market and maybe even a new source of revenue.

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Apartments are a relatively easy install. We carve out a number of spots near the electrical room, install the infrastructure needed for the EV’s and simply assign these spots to new EV owners. If a spot is taken by an existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, the space is simply reassigned.

While this approach is not as easy in a building with deeded spaces, boards and managers often think that they might have a work around.


Common questions

When we are discussing EV’s with condo boards and managers I can always count on getting this question;

“Can’t we just take a few spare or visitor parking spaces and install chargers that can be shared?”

Of course you can. In fact, we’ve done this in a few cases. The issue here is really about the functionality of an EV. Something that is not always fully understood by ICE drivers and owners.

As an EV owner myself, I can tell you that when I get in my car each morning I want it fully charged. I truly don’t care how long it took to charge overnight. I just need my full range for the day.

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Some questions to ask yourself when you are considering shared charging:

  • How will I know that the charger(s) will be available when I arrive home after work?
  • If I’m presently the only EV owner in the condo is this my new parking spot?
  • If there are other EV owners am I expected to remotely monitor the charging of my car and come down at midnight to make space for others?
  • How will the other EV owner(s) know that the charger is available?
  • Once the charger is available do I have come down at midnight to charge my car?
  • Will this arrangement allow me enough time for a full charge?

If we are able to agree that the shared charger(s) is not ultimately a solution in our condominiums and that the charger truly needs to be in each owner’s assigned space, how do we overcome this issue?

We could continue to install chargers in each owner’s assigned space. In fact, this is how almost all of our installations are done now.

Overcoming barriers

Unfortunately, this approach comes with its own set of challenges and issues.

It’s costly to install each charger.
In addition to the cost of the wiring and inspection, each new installation requires a separate Section 98 agreement with the legal costs being passed on to each of the owners.

Costs are not equitable.
Someone with a space near to the electrical room will pay less than someone who parks further away.

There is a limit to how far the wiring can be run.
Depending on the layout of the garage and the location of your space, it may simply not be possible to feed a charger from the central electrical room.

We can’t predict the location of the next charger.
Because of this, it’s hard to size and route the conduits in an effort to minimize the number of new conduits in the garage.

The answer is to find a way to group these chargers together and re-assign spaces without excessive legal costs and fees. This will likely need some assistance by government intervention. Perhaps organizations such as ACMO and CCI should lobby the government for these changes.

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What if we were to place the chargers in the furthest spot in the garage and ask the existing owner (on an as-needed basis) to move to a better spot? This might in fact be a win-win for EV and ICE drivers.

As the adoption of EV’s increases and technologies such as autonomous driving arrive, we may see a completely different view of automobile ownership.

We already service many condos in the downtown core that have near-empty lower parking levels.

I guess that maybe not all of the residents in these towers actually need cars.

Let’s see if we can be open-minded and find ways to help each other with the adoption of this new, fun, and environmentally friendly EVs. Something that we all need to share.

Curious about the world of EVs? Give Signature Electric a call at (416) 490-8093