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Charging at Mutidwelling units (MDUs)

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by ItsNotAboutTheMoney, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    To reach a very high percentage of BEV ownership there are two key infrastructural issues to deal with:
    (1) MDUs such as apartment buildings and condos
    (2) On-street parking.

    On-street parking would require government action and I don't want to discuss that here.

    While I think that enough people have control of off-street parking to allow market growth, and that cheaper, better BEVs will increase demand and lead to more market pressure for landlords and management boards to install or allow the installation of charging in MDUs, I still think that:
    (1) Access to charging in MDUs has a piecemeal approach (like much public charging), rather than with a long-term view to enabling charging in all parking spots.
    (2) Current attitudes are curtailing market growth

    Changing at MDUs isn't an issue that affects me directly (I'm a homeowner with a garage with its own electricity supply!) but it is something that exercises my brain so I thought I'd start a thread to discuss how the MDU problem might be solved in a structured way. I'm hoping that Tesla is working on this.

    So, here goes...

    The aims:
    (1) Low cost
    (2) Fair apportionment of costs
    (3) Reliable
    (4) Easy to manage

    Ideas:
    (1) Plan ahead for charging to all parking spots: gradually add charging spots but avoid unnecessary retrofitting costs.
    (2) Use a single utility meter: minimize utility costs;
    (3) User accounts: no complaints of cross-subsidy; "accurate enough" usage tracking; allow dwellers to use any charger
    (4) Local authentication: no dependency on Internet
    (5) Remote and local management: convenience of Internet; reliability of not depending on Internet access
    (6) Multi-plug EVSEs: lower cost per stall?; service sharing; installation enables multiple spots; (risk: higher impact of failure)

    I hope that Tesla's looking into this problem, because I think that being proactive and providing a solution that helps resolve the MDU issue sooner rather than later would be a good way to help sales now, and would help the brand overall.
     
  2. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    As a resident in a MDU, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. There are two distinct situations, which raise different issues:
    1. Assigned parking. I believe this is the primary model in most communities. The EV owner needs to get power to his or her particular spot(s), and there may also be a need for EV charging at some guest spots. Cost allocation for installation is fairly straightforward, though allocating power costs could be tricky without spending excessive amounts to meter each line. I'd suggest a monthly surcharge based on a plausible average energy consumption (e.g. 1,200 miles/month->400 kWh)
    2. General parking. Very similar to a public parking garage, and the same solutions suggest themselves, e.g. use ChargePoint with appropriate billing.
     
  3. miimura

    miimura Active Member

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    For assigned parking in a common area, I don't think you would have to use "expensive" revenue grade metering for rough apportioning of costs. Something like a home energy monitoring system should be able to measure energy delivered to EVSEs fed from an electrical panel in a common area. I think this is inherently less expensive than an EVSE with internal metering, but foregoes any kind of access control.
     
  4. arg

    arg Member

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    I've been surprised how cheap "proper" meters are. I don't know about your part of the world, but they are widely available here in support of solar installations - where the meter needs to be certified as to its accuracy, but is actually installed by the electrician installing the solar system rather than the supply company, hence they are stocked by ordinary wholesalers and you can see what the prices are. Around £30 one-off for a 100A capable meter - small change in the cost of such an installation.
     
  5. miimura

    miimura Active Member

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    In the states you can get "take-off" utility meters for next to nothing because so many utilities have changed to SmartMeters that have communication capabilities for remote reading and interval data reporting. So, if you want a revenue grade dumb meter and you are willing to buy a meter socket box, the meter is practically free. However, data collection is also an issue for this type of MDU installation. No apartment manager or HOA manager would want to walk around and read meters for this purpose. The reason that I proposed a solution like a home energy monitor is that they are inherently capable of monitoring multiple circuits. Aggregating data from multiple independent meters would still be painful in comparison.
     
  6. auger

    auger Member

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    Oh my God, I could write a graduate-level book about this subject after what I've been through the past year. I don't really want to do think about it anymore. Let's just say, I gave up.

    Fifty-eight percent of the population in my county lives in a MUD. I think this issue is a much larger long term problem for Tesla than the various state franchise laws. I love my car and would never get rid of it. However, when other people in my building ask me about my car, I advise them not to get one.
     
  7. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    I wish you would share the key pain points from what you've learned.
     
  8. Barry

    Barry Member

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    You and me both, Auger.

    Here's the Cliff's notes version of my condo (60 unit midrise) install. We have deeded parking spots in the garage level:

    Started the process 4 months ago by approaching the HOA Board with my plans. Board prez is a lawyer (very nice guy), so an official EV charging station policy was formulated to be added to the governing documents. I was kept in the loop and provided input. To my benefit, Colorado passed a law in 2013 that requires HOAs and landlords to accommodate the needs of EV owners (at the EV owners' expense, of course), so denying my request was never a consideration.

    There were concerns about future growth and a maze of conduit appearing overs the years, as more individuals get EVs. As the parking level is fairly large (about 400' from end to end), there was discussion of adding a subpanel near the midpoint, for future use. This was nixed due to the near-term cost and the question of when future growth of EV use would occur.

    Initially, they wanted the line metered, which would have added about $600 to the installation cost. Between me and the management company, who didn't want to start reading meters, we convinced them a flat monthly fee would be better for all (we currently have a flat fee for natural gas usage billed with our HOA dues.)

    Last week, about 4 months after we started the process, two lines were installed, for me and a neighbor who is contemplating an EV purchase in the near future. The run was 350+ feet using 6 ga copper through 1" EMT conduit. It took the electrician and helper about 16 man-hours and cost us $1650 each.
     
  9. Kevin Harney

    Kevin Harney Active Member

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    Another consideration is those of us with a townhouse. Some have reserved spaces and some do not. Some are in front of the house and some are not. Mine are not close enough to mount a HPWC on my unit and reach the parking space as it is about 30-35 feet away and the cords are 20-25 feet I think. Plus I have a sidewalk in front of my house to cross so putting the cord on the ground would probably be a tripping hazard.
     
  10. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    That case seems fairly easy, provided the HOA doesn't get in the way. You could just run conduit in a trench from your unit to your parking spot, then mount the HPWC next to the parking spot in some suitable way. I've got a similar arrangement at my summer house, where I've mounted a NEMA 14-50 box on a square fence post installed for the purpose.
     
  11. Kevin Harney

    Kevin Harney Active Member

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    I foresee problems with the HOA on that one but am hoping for the best. Technically the space between the sidewalk and the curb is theirs not mine. :crying:
     
  12. Kevin Harney

    Kevin Harney Active Member

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    Picture if you have one would be great !! Thanks.
     
  13. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Sorry, I don't have any to hand, and it will be months before the snow melts enough to get out there.
     

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