March 9, 2023

It’s Time To Install EV Charging In Multifamily Buildings


8 Min. Read

Are you a multifamily property owner or manager looking to attract environmentally conscious tenants, improve your marketing, and boost your revenue? Installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations may be the solution you’ve been searching for.

However, navigating this new frontier can be overwhelming. You may be faced with many questions and decisions that make moving forward challenging. What kind of charger should you buy? Where should you install it? How much will it cost? How will tenants pay for charging?

This article will provide answers to these questions and explore the benefits of offering EV charging stations in your multifamily properties. We’ll also discuss the demographics of EV owners, tax incentives, and how to meet tenant expectations when it comes to EV charging.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a roadmap to help you navigate the process of installing EV charging stations and reaping the benefits for your property.

What are the Benefits?

EVs are the future for people committed to energy security, reliability, and environmental sustainability.

Homeowners are on their way to adopting these vehicles and their charging solutions. Light-duty fleets are getting on board also. Is it time for you to install EV charging at your multifamily buildings?

Many renters say they want to rent in a building that has onsite EV charging: 27% who took part in a 2022 survey told the National Multifamily Housing Council that they are interested in having EV charging where they live. Respondents to the survey also said they would be willing to pay about $28 more in monthly rent for onsite charging. So maybe it’s time to think, then act.

Projections point to EVs accounting for more than half of all new vehicles sold in the United States in 2030. Federal incentives are accelerating the electrification of the nation’s motor vehicle fleet.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed into law in 2022, consumers are eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 per vehicle when they purchase a qualified EV. New requirements mean that the vehicle’s final assembly must have taken place in the U.S. and that a certain percentage of the components for the vehicle’s battery were sourced here. A range of EVs at various price points and features are eligible for the credits, and more models will be added to the eligibility list. And for the first time, used EVs are also eligible for the credit.

In addition to the federal tax credits, states and utilities offer tax credits and rebates for purchasing an EV. An applicant’s income will determine how much tax credit they can receive. To qualify for the credit, they must report an income of $150,000 or less on their tax return. Vehicles eligible for the tax credits must be placed in service after January 1, 2023. The credits can be claimed until December 31, 2032.

You’ve Got the Memo

Installing on-site EV charging at your multifamily property is good for business.

Tenants want it, they’ll pay extra for it, there are incentives available, and it’s good for the environment. But does your property attract a demographic likely to seek to take advantage of EV charging?

Are your current or prospective tenants mid-aged, with active lifestyles, and economically secure? Do you have reason to think that based on the location of your multifamily property or the amenities your property will offer, you will rent to many men? If you answer yes, you have a green light to take the next step.

Next Steps for Electrification

Now you’re thinking, what must I do to make it happen? As with any improvement to a multifamily property, there are variables and contingencies you need to consider.

Here’s a suggested road map to help you navigate your way to getting a charging station plugged in.

Demographics are Key

A good first step is to examine your multifamily community’s demographics or the neighborhood where your property is located.

Some key statistics you need to know are:

  • Middle-aged consumers and consumers approaching middle age are the demographic most likely to own an EV. While many younger consumers aspire to EV ownership, they may not have the financial resources to purchase one until later in life.
  • Men are more likely to own an EV than women. Although women slightly outnumber the number of men in the U.S. population, currently, men account for about 60% to 75% percent of EV sales.
  • Higher-income households buy more EVs than lower-income households. In fact, 57% of EV owners have incomes above $100,000 annually.

Meeting Tenant Expectations

Ask your current and prospective tenants (if you are pre-leasing) what they think.

You’ll want to meet their expectations for cost, convenience, and accessibility. Some questions you might want to ask are:

  • If the tenant owns or plans to buy an EV. If so, would they prefer the convenience of charging where they live instead of a public charging station?
  • What is the tenant’s expectation for the rate they would pay per hour of charging to charge their vehicles at home?
  • What type of charging model would tenants prefer? Three charging models make sense for a multifamily property:
    • Tenants can be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, using their credit or debit cards to charge up like at a public charging station.
    • Tenants can pay a flat-rate monthly subscription fee to charge as much as they need. In this case, you want to ask tenants how much they are willing to pay for charging access.
    • EV charging can be included as an extra on the leases of tenants who want access to charging, with a flat rate service charge included in their rent.

How Sustainable is Your Property?

Are you building your multifamily property to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards? Or are you planning to upgrade your property to LEED?

Generally, LEED-certified buildings rent for more and have higher occupancy rates than non-LEED competitors. On-site EV charging earns you Silver, Gold, and Platinum LEED certification points.

If your multifamily property is a new project, you’ve probably already checked to see if installing EV charging on your property is mandated by your local building code. If you haven’t, make sure you do. New or old, you’ll also need a local municipal or county government permit to install a charger.

Will You Need Electrical Upgrades?

Before installing an EV charging station, you’ll want to understand if your property’s electrical system can support EV charging.

You’ll want an electrician to help you understand what’s needed. You also may want to check with your electric utility to ensure your property has sufficient electric service to support the additional electricity needed to charge your tenants’ vehicles.

Most likely, you’ll be installing Level 2 charging stations. Level 2 chargers operate on AC 240 V outlets, the same as used for home electric dryers. Forty-amp chargers should serve most tenants’ needs, charging a battery at about 40 miles per hour.

DC fast chargers are not suitable for most multifamily properties. They are expensive, and frequent fast charging will shorten the life of an EV battery. Level 2 chargers charge twice as fast or more than Level 1 chargers, and you won’t want your tenants to wait in long lines to recharge, lest they decide to seek alternative charging options.

If your property is newer or is still to be built, it probably already has or will have the needed electrical capacity to support Level 2 charging. You may need electrical upgrades if it’s an older building. Again, a licensed electrician experienced in installing Level 2 chargers is your best source of advice.

What Will it Cost?

The cost of installing EV charging for multifamily is directly proportional to how many stations you install.

Another factor to consider is installing EV charging equipment capable of bi-directional and smart charging technology. Bidirectional charging enables EV owners to hook their cars up to chargers when they’re not being driven and feed electricity stored in the vehicle’s battery back to the grid or for consumption in your building.

Depending on your utility’s policies and your lease terms, you or your tenant may be able to receive credits for kilowatts fed back in. With Smart Charging, your tenants can automatically reserve charging times and pre-set how much charging they want during the session.

Costs will vary based on what charging unit you buy, where you want the chargers installed, and the system upgrading you need, including wiring extensions. You may choose a home-quality Level 2 charger for low-volume smaller installations. Level 2 charger prices begin at about $400 and can go up to $1,500 or more for a bi-directional charger.

Installing commercial-grade charging equipment to serve higher volumes of EV owners might benefit you. Prices for these units begin at $5,000. Your best guarantee is in speaking to a qualified electrician for an installation cost estimate.

EV Charging Station Incentives

Research what incentives you are eligible for when installing EV charging equipment.

Under the federal IRA, businesses are eligible for a tax credit of 6% of the cost of purchasing and installing qualifying charging equipment. The maximum tax credit owners can claim is $100,000. The tax credit is in effect through Dec. 31, 2032.

States and utilities also offer tax credits and rebates for purchasing EV charging stations. Additionally, check with your local electric utility as many offer incentives for multifamily EV Charging station installations.

Why Qmerit?

Multifamily EV charging stations are an excellent opportunity to increase your properties’ revenues and marketability. Uncertainties in the process can be made clear by a careful planning process with a company with a track record for success with EV charging implementation.

As the leading installer of EV charging stations in homes and multifamily properties in North America, Qmerit is the most trusted company recommended by automakers, EV charger manufacturers, business owners, and homeowners alike.

With a long track record and over 269,000 EV charging station installations to date, Qmerit will be by your side from the beginning to the end, with a peace of mind guarantee so you can rest assured that it will be done right the first time. Contact Qmerit to seamlessly navigate your multifamily electrification project to success.

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification