How to charge your electric vehicle at your apartment

Electric vehicle owners residing in high-rise apartments, societies, etc., are facing the biggest challenges when it comes to charging their EVs.

BHPian shortbread recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

While the EV revolution is upon us, the prospective owners facing the biggest challenges in India are the ones residing in tall apartment blocks, building societies, etc.

While an immediate stop-gap measure would be to set aside a few parking spots for EV charging vendors, some builders like Lodha have already announced such plans. The big question is how do they allocate individual charging points for each flat?

The challenges are many

  • Simply getting the building associations/committees/owners to come to an agreement itself is a huge stumbling block. A clash of opinions, ideas, priorities means that getting a plan in place is nigh on impossible. Some will have the foresight while others will be stubbornly against it.
  • Getting the necessary approvals from responsible authorities, electricity boards, etc.
  • The costs of engineering charging points at individual parking spots. This will be expensive and will need considerable collective contributions to make this possible.
  • Deciding on the supplier. Whether to attach this with one’s current electricity bill, or a new EV charging provider etc.

What solutions are available to resolve such a challenge? Perhaps, seeing a few successful examples will set a template for others to follow.

Here’s what GTO had to say about the matter:

Once you get down to it, an EV charging port at home is very simple. I recently did up my driveways and installed 6 EV charging outlets to make my compound “future-ready”.

Fast-charging is the complicated one and that’s best left to commercial outlets or public facilities in my opinion. For home charging, a regular (slower) EV charging port will do just fine because the best time to charge your EV is overnight, while you are sleeping in bed and the car is parked at home. Like how most of us charge our smartphones.

All you need is simple wiring & a 15 A socket (the kind you’d use for heavy home appliances). A good electrical contractor & a willing society can install a slow charging port in a day. Societies & housing associations will come around once more & more of their residents buy EVs. Sharing my learnings here.

Individual meters are best. Each person should pay for his “own fuel”. Ideally, your line would be taken from your home electricity meter.

Here’s what BHPian Early_Adopter had to say about the matter:

I live in a high rise apartment complex in Hyderabad with about 1500 apartments with 3 levels of car parking.

I went through a lengthy process of installing a 7.5kW single-phase AC charger for my EV at my parking slot. This involved multiple stakeholders – the Management Committee of our society, the local Discom, the dealer (MG) and the contractor of MG who is authorised to install the charger. The cost of the charger and the installation (including the cabling) is included in the car price.

I finally got the charger installed negotiating my way through the process with all these stakeholders and, of course, with some luck too.

This involved laying a cable of 100 meters from the LT panel where my meter is located to my allocated parking slot.

As luck would have it, my sanctioned load is 10kW (3-Phase) and my RMD was about 2.4kW – so there was no need to upgrade the sanctioned load.

But, due to stringent processes set out by MG, the contractor refused to install the charger unless the wiring inside the LT panel upgraded from the current 6 sq mm to 10 sq mm. The society refused to undertake the wiring without permission from the local Discom. I wrote letters, spoke to the Discom personnel and finally, they approved the upgrade with a physical inspection.

Thanks to the local dealership team who obtained MG’s permission to lay 100 meters of 16 sq mm cable through the cable ducts, shafts and galleys and some supportive folks in the management committee of our society – the work was finally done.

Having gone through this experience, I offered my volunteering service to our society for future installations and I also suggested a roadmap for the future – wherein, first 20-30 EV owners will lay the cables to their individual slots (but sticking to the process), identifying common charging points to install AC slow chargers (a combination of 15A sockets, 3.2 to 7.5kW chargers) in phase -2, followed by installation of DC fast chargers in phase-3.

Overall, the process is lengthy especially in large apartment complexes and there’s less awareness as to how to handle the exceptions. A bit of perseverance combined with supportive stakeholders will make this experience smooth for future installations.

Here’s what BHPian Rajeevraj had to say about the matter:

The best approach would be points tied to the individual meter. This is mostly easy to do and only requires a willing society. It cannot be tied to a common or a commercial meter. At least in Karnataka, as far as I know, the common meter for the society falls under a different category and power is charged at a significantly higher cost per unit as opposed to individual home meters. So a common point will incur higher charges for the owner.

In addition, in a home location scenario, everyone would want to charge overnight. So even if 3-4 points are installed, it will become unsustainable soon. Such public charging points work best in public locations like malls, highway stop points, etc.

One more point to add is that in apartment complexes, whether small or large, parking is already a premium and getting properly covered parking itself for all residents and having adequate visitor parking itself is a challenge. So dedicating additional space for EV charging is unlikely to be feasible.

One thing that builders should do for new properties going forward is to plan for enabling lines to individual parking slots so that those who want a charger set up can easily do it. Should be part of the ‘amenities’ list builders market.

Here’s what BHPian Axe77 had to say about the matter:

For context, I live in a large apartment complex (~500 apartments) in Mumbai, spread across a reasonably large area with parking split across two underground car park levels. We have the rare benefit of a fair amount of surplus parking that is under the control of our society.

Currently

Society is still evaluating long term charging needs. Until then, they have put simple 15 AMP charging points at a few locations and will continue to increase the number of such locations as and when new owners come up with EVs. The current mechanism is a flat fee of INR 1000 per month to be able to charge your registered EV at one of these points whenever needed. If you want a scooter the flat fee would be Rs. 500 per month. This is just a temporary charging and fee solution (back of the envelope calculations on cost I guess) pending us getting our long term solution in place. I think there are barely 2 – 4 EVs at present in our society, availing this feature. One is a Reva and one MG ZS – not sure what others, if any.

Eventually

Most likely we will have an external service provider that will provide some sort of an app-based solution with a corresponding rate which will be like an AC slow (but faster than above) sort of charging solution. I am hoping what this will translate to is a reasonable (ie. Not public charging infra prohibitive) cost solution that is administered and managed by a third-party provider. There are a number of third-party providers who are pitching for such solutions, with conventional power cos like Adani and Tata just being one end of the spectrum but many other smaller players too.

I doubt (but can’t rule out) that it “might” also have a few DC fast chargers but I don’t think this should be an essential requirement. Perhaps, if they do that it might have a higher rate for this facility.

What we won’t do

I am reasonably certain that what we won’t do is be pulling wires from our individual meters into our “own” parking spots so it can bill on our own home meters. Logistically that is just not feasible I believe.

Here’s what BHPian srini1785 had to say about the matter:

Every house connection has a Sanctioned load and a Connected load component. In Karnataka, for a Single-phase 230V connection, the max Sanctioned load is up to and not above 5kW.

Following is as per the information available:

3.2 Classification of Supply

At 230 V., Single Phase

  • All installations (other than motive power) up to & inclusive of 5 KW of sanctioned load.
  • Motive power installations up to & inclusive of 4 KW of sanctioned load.
  • Public lighting system up to 10 K.W.

My understanding is that normally the sanctioned load (at least in Bangalore) is not more than 1.5Kw for residential buildings. Your connected load SHOULD be lower than this value. Connected load is the peak power that you draw from your meter. If it exceeds the Sanctioned load you are liable to pay a surcharge. BESCOM usually takes an additional deposit too if you regularly cross this value.

The sanctioned load has a direct impact on the fixed charges that you pay monthly. So if you add an extra EV point then you are adding an extra load on the existing meter. If now the connected load crosses the limit of the Sanctioned load then you are liable to pay an extra surcharge. In order to avoid this surcharge, you can apply for an enhanced Sanctioned load and depending on the infra in your locality like the load on the street distribution transformer, availability of poles etc, the state DISCOMS would or would not provide that extra Sanctioned load to you. Contrarily, you can also surrender the extra KW in your Sanctioned load and go for lower fixed charges.

The above (rather lengthy) explanation is provided to understand how electricity infra works. Now, in a big-gated apartment complex, it would be much easier and better to request for an extra HV line and provide EV charging via that connection rather than loading your existing metered points. The advantage is that fast charging is possible with dedicated infra. If you connect a fast charger to your existing meter, you are going to blow some fuses.

Of course, it all depends on how many of the residents have or are going for an EV. HV connections are not cheap, infra alone would cost around 7-10 Lakh.

Being an apartment dweller myself, I can fully understand what that means.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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