To keep up with all the electric vehicles that are making their way to Chicago them moving along, approximaltely300 charging stations will be installed at tollway plazas, shopping malls and public parking lots. Drivers living in single-family homes can charge up in their personal garages. So the big question is, won’t Won’t condominium owners want the same charging convenience where they park their cars?
Joseph Armenio, president of Chicago-based Sudler Property Management’s building services division, says yes they will.
“We are going to see more and more demand for electric cars, particularly as the government creates more incentives and the cost of energy continues to go up,” he said. “The question every board will face is, what do its owners need and how can it best be provided? It’s not too early to start looking at the issues.”
Owners’ needs will be on a case by case basis. Some of he factors that will contribute to making these decisions include technology, architecture, infrastructure and cost.
Charging is categorized at three levels/speeds:
- Level 1- The standard 110-volt household outlet. Just plug in your car. A full charge takes 12 to 20 hours, depending on the vehicle’s capacity.
- Level 2 - Requires a dedicated 220-volt outlet and a breadbox-size docking device. Charging takes four to eight hours.
- Level 3 – The fast-chargers need 480 volts and stand the size of a gasoline pump. Charging is complete in about 30 minutes.
The faster the charge, the higher the price will be. A Level 2 charging station costs $2,000, and a Level 3 station costs $50,000.
Paul Scott, co-founder of the nonprofit Plug In America in San Francisco, estimates that those prices will decrease over time.
Armenio feels that progressive associations should fit the bill for equipment and infrastructure.
“Progressive associations who are on board with the environmental movement might consider paying for the equipment and infrastructure, and then charging owners who use it for the electricity and cost of maintenance and repairs to the equipment,” Joseph Armenio said.
“Swipe-card technology allows charge-station users to add the bill to their condo assessments, credit cards or electric bills,” Scott said. Some other concerns are where to put these charging stations, who gets to use them and will there be a designated time to use them?
“Many garages are crowded, and associations can’t take away or arbitrarily rearrange deeded parking spaces,” Sugar said. “A unit owner can’t say, ‘I need a space near the charging station,’” he continued.
Some parking garages can be wired for individual chargers while others cannot.
In California, Paul Scott’s 26-unit association allowed him to install a Level 1 outlet at his underground parking space to charge his two electric cars. Scott connected the outlet to his unit’s electrical panel. This cost approximately $1,350.
Because of this procedure, Scott’s association now knows it has the electrical capacity to install one Level 2 charger for residents to share.
“The cost might be prohibitive, especially if you have to cut into concrete or asphalt,” Scott said. “But if the price of gas goes to $6 a gallon, and it will, those decisions might change. All of a sudden, a $5,000 cost might seem reasonable. Right now, it might sound like way too much.”
“There are plenty of obstacles, but if it’s something the unit owners and the association want done, there’s certainly a way to do it,” said Sugar.