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Electric Vehicle Charging 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Strata Managers 

With electric vehicles (EVs) becoming common on Australian roads, strata managers must now accommodate the growing demand for EV charging infrastructure. 

In 2023, EV sales doubled from the previous year, making up 8.45% of all new car sales, bringing the total to over 180,000 EVs nationally. This significant growth reflects a clear shift towards sustainable transport options and brings a new set of practical considerations for residential complexes. 

This guide is designed to give strata managers a clear overview of EV charging – from the types of chargers available to implementing charging stations within their properties. It will also cover how to navigate the installation process, manage the infrastructure efficiently, and understand the financial aspects of bringing EV charging to their communities. 

Addelec + Gemtek is ready to work as your partner in this venture, offering comprehensive turnkey solutions for EV charging infrastructure. 

Types of EV Chargers for Strata Complexes 

There are two types of EV chargers: AC and DC. 

AC Chargers are the most common type for residential settings due to their slower charging speeds and suitability for overnight use. These chargers range from basic 7kW chargers to 22kW, which are more cost-effective and easier to install. 

DC Chargers offer much faster charging rates and are suited for public or commercial settings where quick turnover is a priority. They are more expensive and require complex installation procedures, with charging capacities often exceeding 100kW. 

While the initial costs of EV charger installation may be high, the long-term benefits can be substantial, including potentially increased property and rental values. It’s also important to assess the electrical capacity of your strata complex to identify which charger type suits the building. 

Designing Safe and Efficient EV Charging Locations in Strata Properties 

Planning an EV infrastructure for strata properties must prioritise safety, functionality, and cost-effectiveness to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the charging system. Doing so allows strata managers to provide a valuable amenity to residents and contribute to the broader goal of reducing carbon emissions. 

  1. Safety Measures and Compliance

A central distribution board should manage all EV chargers on each parking level. This setup not only facilitates easier maintenance but also ensures that power to all chargers can be quickly and safely isolated in case of a fire or an electrical issue. 

Clear signage should also be installed to indicate the locations of EV chargers. It’s helpful for daily operations and emergency services in the event of an incident. 

  1. Load Management

To prevent power outages, the energy load for the EV chargers must be managed from the main incoming supply, rather than at the individual unit level. This approach simplifies management and ensures the building’s electrical system can handle the additional demand from the chargers. 

  1. Cable Routing and Infrastructure

The route for cabling should be as direct as possible to each EV charger. This minimises the cable length required, improving charging efficiency and reducing costs. 

Excessively long cabling can decrease charger performance and cause surrounding cables to become de-rated, affecting overall infrastructure integrity. 

  1. Equitable Access and Cost Management

Ensure that all residents can access EV charging, regardless of their parking location within the complex. This may involve strategic placement of chargers or implementing a booking system for shared chargers. 

Consider the cost implications for all residents, ensuring that the installation and maintenance costs of EV charging stations are shared fairly and do not disproportionately impact any individual owner. 

  1. Retrofitting Existing Structures

Assess the building for potential retrofitting challenges, such as structural barriers or limitations in existing electrical systems. It’s important to consult a licensed electrical contractor to perform a detailed evaluation and suggest necessary upgrades that comply with the National Construction Code. 

Plan for a retrofit that will serve current EV owners and is scalable to meet future demands as EV ownership increases among residents. 

Implementing EV Charging Policies and Maintenance 

Integrating electric vehicle (EV) charging stations into a strata complex requires careful planning and clear policies. You can follow the framework below based on the ACT Government’s Everyday Climate Choices initiative: 

  1. Conduct a Resident Survey

Survey your residents to gauge their interest in EV charging. You can use a standardised survey template to assess their current and projected EV usage, their readiness to transition to EVs, and their willingness to contribute financially to the infrastructure upgrades. 

The survey results will provide a foundation for decision-making regarding the scale and timing needed for EV charging infrastructure installation. 

  1. Perform an Energy Assessment

Engage a qualified energy auditor to conduct a comprehensive energy assessment of the building. This assessment will determine the building’s capability to handle the additional power load required for EV charging stations. The assessment will cover: 

o Current circuit breaker sizes 

o Historical energy consumption 

o Peak load times 

o Energy efficiency actions (lighting upgrades) 

  1. Evaluate Installation Options

The installation of EV charging stations can vary depending on the building’s needs. Here is a reference for the building size and its EV charger capacity, according to NSW Climate and Energy Action: 

o Small buildings (up to 10 apartments) comprise about 75% of apartment complexes, with an average of 1 EV per building. They typically suit an individual EV charging approach due to fewer apartments. 

o Medium-sized buildings (11-100 apartments) account for 24% of complexes. They may adopt a modular approach for EV charging or use common property spaces supported by a scheduling system to manage access. 

o Large buildings (over 100 apartments) represent 1% of complexes. They benefit from a comprehensive building-wide approach to EV charging infrastructure with charging access at each owner’s car space. 

  1. Establish Billing Methods

After determining the infrastructure approach, decide how to bill residents for using the EV charging stations. Options include a flat rate, metered usage, or a third-party pay-as-you-go system. 

Each has its benefits and challenges, and the selected method must be transparent, fair, and agreed upon by the residents. It should be backed by a sustainability infrastructure resolution and included in the EV charging by-law. 

Strata managers should also establish a routine maintenance schedule, including regular inspections, cleaning, software updates, and immediate troubleshooting as needed. This will ensure that the charging stations remain functional and reliable for resident use. 

Through strategic partnerships with solution providers like Addelec + Gemtek, you can effectively meet the growing demand for EV charging facilities in strata properties. 

For more information regarding this or any other inquiries, please contact Gemtek at 1300 109 762 or gemtek.com.au.