April 27, 2023

Why Your Next Multifamily Property Upgrade Should Include EV Charger Installations


8 Min. Read

As a property owner or manager in the multifamily industry, you are likely already in the process of determining which upgrades to implement either later this year or in 2024. 

Among the top priorities, in addition to necessary repairs, should be the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and other electrification improvements. Even if your tenants are not currently requesting access to EV chargers, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a common expectation. Therefore, it’s crucial to start considering these upgrades now to stay ahead of the curve and meet the growing demand for EV infrastructure in the future. 

Thus far, the majority of EV drivers have typically been homeowners, making charging their vehicles at home accessible and more convenient. In fact, charging at home is the preferred and most recommended option for convenience, cost, and long-term vehicle condition. 

However, as electric cars and trucks become a more prominent percentage of vehicles on the road, an increasing number of the 80 million Americans residing in multifamily dwellings (MFDs) will own these vehicles and want to charge them at home. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how to anticipate this growing demand and start implementing EV charging solutions in MFDs to accommodate EV drivers in the multifamily sector, attract residents, and grow your business. 

Benefits of Multifamily EV Charger Installations 

Adding EV chargers to your complex will eventually become essential to attract and retain more tenants. The addition creates a win-win situation for owners and tenants. 

Here’s how residents and property owners will benefit from the addition of EV charging stations: 

Residents of MFDs: 

One of the primary advantages is added convenience and comfort for tenants. While charging an EV does take longer than filling a gas tank, having the ability to charge at home allows residents to come home, plug in, and do something else – such as sleep – while the car charges. 

Depending on the number of charge ports installed, tenants may also be able to avoid waiting for a charger to become available. Comparing charging stations to adding washers and dryers may seem simplistic, but the convenience of onsite laundry capabilities is viewed as an everyday convenience and expectation. Charging stations are likely to become just as common in a few decades. 

Additionally, residents with EVs can take advantage of off-peak electricity prices by charging their vehicles overnight, presumably for less money than using pay-as-you-go public chargers. Overall, installing EV charging stations in MFDs offers significant benefits for tenants and should be considered an essential upgrade for multifamily property owners and managers. 

Property Owners: 

By adding EV charging stations, you will be able to market your complex for meeting demands from new tenants and demonstrate that you are eager to meet the needs of your current residents who are considering an EV and considering moving to a property that can provide at-home charging. 

Additionally, you will attract environmentally focused residents. While many people living in apartments want to reduce their carbon footprint, they believe it will not be easy to have an EV where they live. Some residents may even be willing to pay a premium to live in a LEED-certified building or at least one that promotes EV usage and will allow for them to conveniently charge where they live. 

Bidirectional capabilities are an additional opportunity to consider. If the charging equipment is set up to take advantage of bidirectional charging capabilities on many EVs, the vehicles could be used as a power source to cut electric bills during the day when electric demand raises the price per KwH and then be charged up overnight using off-peak electricity. 

Concerned About the Cost?

Be sure to take advantage of equipment and installation incentives available from federal, state, and local programs that have been designed to assist MFDs in adding EV charging capabilities. You will undoubtedly be adding charging ports at some point, so why not take advantage of the current incentives, which can often be combined, to cut the cost? 

Here are some resources and incentives to consider: 

  • The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center has a wealth of information on incentives nationwide. These include the federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit and programs from nearly every state. 
  • Another source to find incentives in your area is the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. 
  • Even many utilities and cities offer rebates for adding charging stations. Southern California Edison, for example, offers rebates up to $10,000 per port, up to four, at smaller multifamily buildings. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) takes going electric at MFDs further than offering $4,500 rebates for adding EV chargers. SMUD offers rebates for switching from gas cooktops to electric induction ones, moving to heat pump water heaters, and a list of other property improvements. 

In addition to all of the many benefits EV charges can bring your property and residents, they will also allow you to establish a potential revenue stream. You can opt to offer free charging to your residents, which can be an attractive amenity depending on your market. Many complexes price the use of their EV charging stations to be an additional money maker, or a means to recoup the costs for the installation and maintenance of the equipment. You can add to the rent for tenants with EVs or offer charging as a service, for which residents pay 15 to 25 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the local electricity rates, or even offer free charging to a set limit and then tiered or set pricing after that point. You are offering convenience and can still price it more favorably than other public charging options in the area. 

Choosing the Right EV Charger for Your Property 

You want to make an informed decision that will benefit your property for many years to come. Take the time to learn about the various multifamily EV charger installations and the technologies, what type of chargers would work best for your users, building, and installation steps. 

Charging stations for EVs come in three levels: 

  • Level 1 units use standard household outlets. While these are the most convenient and least costly, they use 120 volts and charge a car very slowly. They add about 5-6 miles of range per hour, so charging each night may work for those with short commutes but will not work for all drivers. 
  • Level 2 charging stations are the most common in apartment buildings. They operate at 240 volts, like electric clothes dryers, and charge significantly faster than Level 1 chargers, even up to 80 miles of range added per hour. These chargers can fully charge EVs overnight, which is why many homeowners with EVs will get a Level 2 charging station installed. They also provide the best installation cost and functionality for most MFDs. 
  • Level 3 units (DC (Direct Current) Fast Chargers) are the fastest. These high-powered chargers require a 480V service and operate at 50-350Kw. Most can deliver a full charge in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, residential areas usually are not set up for higher power levels required by DC chargers. They are more commonly found along highways and commercial corridors. Even if your area can handle one, Level 3 chargers are larger and far more expensive. 

While people often want the best possible or fastest, they might not need that power most of the time. Survey residents and potential tenants to determine if they would pay for dedicated chargers or if they would prefer a less expensive setup. 

Being Strategic

Your survey of tenants and competitive properties in the area will help you decide whether to offer free EV charging as an amenity, as part of the rent, or on a per-use basis. You can gauge how much of a premium people put on the added convenience based on this feedback and incorporate this into your pricing strategy. 

If most tenants do not have EVs, determining how many are thinking of getting one in a year or two will also help determine how many chargers your property needs and allows you to build the infrastructure in advance. It is best to think long-term for when all new cars will be EVs, as you likely won’t want to upgrade again in 2030. 

Many areas, such as Denver, Colorado, and Oakland, California are already requiring parking spots in new buildings to be EV-ready. Some suggest equipping at least 20% of parking spaces with chargers and having the electric infrastructure already set up to add more as needed. If you are competing for renters with newer units in your area, you need to be competitive or at least on par in amenities with these properties. 

Lastly, if you plan on shared charging stations that charge based on usage, you also need the chargers to be networked. This will better allow you to control user access, session times, billing, data collection and analysis, and other details. 

Getting Help Moving Forward 

Finalizing your plans and getting accurate estimates of the time, money, and steps involved requires expertise. There are a lot of players out in the market. 

You need an experienced partner who will do a site review and offer recommendations based on your property and community needs, if the parking area’s current electrical capacity is ample, and whether trenching and cement work may be needed. You need recommendations you can trust and a company that can help you find the right charging equipment for your budget and building. 

EV charging stations offer a fantastic opportunity to increase revenues and the marketability of your MFD properties. While there are uncertainties in the process, that can be clarified by a thorough planning process with a company with a successful track record in EV charging implementation. 

Qmerit is that company. We are the leading installer of EV charging stations in homes and multifamily properties in the U.S. With a long track record and deep expertise in multifamily EV charger installations, Qmerit will stay with you from start to finish.  

Contact Qmerit today to navigate your multifamily project to success with the most trusted installing network in America!

Author: Tom Bowen

Tom Bowen

President, Qmerit Solutions and Commercial Electrification