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Condo Install Experience & Pictures

MrMassTransit

Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2019
299
506
Washington, DC
Just in case anyone was interested, I figured I'd share my story about getting a Tesla HPWC installed in my condo parking lot. I have an assigned space in an outdoor, gravel parking lot. Unfortunately, the space is among the farthest from the electric meters and transferring it was not a possibility because I am specifically deeded that space with my unit.

Background:
I had a 2017 Leaf (w/ the 30 kWh pack) for two years with no home charging. There is a level 2 charger about six blocks away which was free when I bought the Leaf and eventually switched to being .75/hour for four hours. As I'm in a major urban area, I either bike or take the metro the four miles to work each day and I got by just fine without home charging with the Leaf. Some months I would only take it over to the charger once or twice. When I purchased my Model 3, I was looking for a car that would be better suited to road trips (plus the Tesla was just a lot more fun!). I had planned to just stick with using the L2 charger nearby, perhaps supplemented by urban superchargers once Tesla gets more installed in the area. I had previously requested a quote to install home charging for the Leaf but I passed due to the cost.

The decision:
Pretty quickly after getting my Model 3 I changed my mind. One major factor was the cost of local charger goes up from .75/hour to $2 hour after four hours. The larger battery pack of the Tesla meant that I'd likely need to charge more than four hours at times and overnight charging would be most convenient (which could rack up quite a bill until I came back in the morning to disconnect the car). Plus, there's just a tremendous convenience to having at home charging. DC would give me a $1k tax credit toward the install (50% of install price, which I'd max out) and I figured it would add value to my property when I sold it. I did some research on various electricians and after getting estimates, brought one firm out to solidify their estimate after an on-site inspection.

The plan:
My install involved about 55' of conduit running along the side of the building from my meter, before dipping under a sidewalk and proceeding out to my space in a 20" trench underground. I have a 100 amp panel and was told I could install a 30 amp circuit or could install a DCC-10 to get to a 50 amp circuit for an extra $1k. I went with the 30 amp circuit. I later decided to add a 120v outlet to the install, so I could have a convenient source of power if I needed to vacuum the car or perform other tasks out by my space. This required swapping the planned cutoff switch for a sub panel that included a 240 30A breaker and a 120v 20A breaker.

I was offered either a 14-30 outlet or the install of a HPWC. I was told that 70-80% of customers go with a 14-50 or similar outlet. I went with the HPWC because I felt that it was more secure in an outdoor environment (both against weather and theft/tampering) and it looked better from an aesthetic perspective, which was important because I was essentially installing this in shared space, even if the parking space itself belongs to me.

Getting permission to install from the condo board was made easier by the fact that I volunteered for the board in January when they needed an extra member to fill a vacancy (there's only 26 units in the building), so I was known and (as far as I know) liked by the other board members. I photographed all of the areas where work would be done, annotated the images to show the modifications that would be made, and submitted a detailed plan to the board with my electrician's written estimate of the work to be conducted.

After about two weeks of deliberation and addressing questions and concerns (what happens if more residents want chargers? what happens if I sell the unit and it falls into disrepair and becomes and eyesore?), I received approval to move forward.

The install:

The install took almost eight hours, including two electricians and a trenching crew of 3-4. They did a phenomenal job and you can barely tell any work was completed. Electrical inspection is next week and then they will remove some pipes have been placed along the route of the conduit allowing the inspector to measure that it was buried at the proper depth.

Pictures are below. I would highly recommend HavePower, LLC to anyone in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area looking to have a 14-50 or HPWC installed, or any electrical work done for that matter. They have an excellent reputation, which is why I went with them for this relatively complex install, and they certainly lived up to their billing.

Hope this was informative for some considering the same. Let me know if you have any questions!

The install:
View media item 119608View media item 119609View media item 119611View media item 119610View media item 119614
Final product:
View media item 119607View media item 119612View media item 119616View media item 119615
 

mrbulk

Member
Sep 5, 2017
426
335
Las Vegas NV
Certainly looks like pro workmanship and I congratulate you on taking this adventure which may also aid other condo-type dwellers who have Teslas as well.
One question, is there a mechanism in place to prevent another Tesla from charging up when you’re not there? Just wondering...
 

MrMassTransit

Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2019
299
506
Washington, DC
Certainly looks like pro workmanship and I congratulate you on taking this adventure which may also aid other condo-type dwellers who have Teslas as well.
One question, is there a mechanism in place to prevent another Tesla from charging up when you’re not there? Just wondering...

Not at the moment. I'm not too worried, since I figure most people who can afford a Tesla are not cruising around the neighborhood looking for a place to charge off someone's meter (maybe I'm wrong, though). This is not visible from the main road, although I have posted it on Plugshare in case anyone might be in need of a charge with no other options (posted as a home charger, of course, not public!). I may decide to get a lock or other means to secure the end of the HPWC, just wrapping it around the cables, but I'm in a wait and see stance right now. If anyone has any good tips on securing it, let me know!

I'm more concerned about the 120v outlet, actually. I worry that if it were noticed it could invite folks to loiter and charge their phones (minimal cost but the association wouldn't be happy to have folks camped out in the parking lot), or for those doing work on the property to tap into it. I'm happy to let my neighbors use it to vacuum their cars or perform other tasks, but don't want it to be taken advantage of. There is a small hole in the cover of the receptacle box and I've already ordered a lock to run through it.
 

mrbulk

Member
Sep 5, 2017
426
335
Las Vegas NV
Not at the moment. I'm not too worried, since I figure most people who can afford a Tesla are not cruising around the neighborhood looking for a place to charge off someone's meter (maybe I'm wrong, though). This is not visible from the main road, although I have posted it on Plugshare in case anyone might be in need of a charge with no other options (posted as a home charger, of course, not public!). I may decide to get a lock or other means to secure the end of the HPWC, just wrapping it around the cables, but I'm in a wait and see stance right now. If anyone has any good tips on securing it, let me know!

I'm more concerned about the 120v outlet, actually. I worry that if it were noticed it could invite folks to loiter and charge their phones (minimal cost but the association wouldn't be happy to have folks camped out in the parking lot), or for those doing work on the property to tap into it. I'm happy to let my neighbors use it to vacuum their cars or perform other tasks, but don't want it to be taken advantage of. There is a small hole in the cover of the receptacle box and I've already ordered a lock to run through it.
Sentry Mode?
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,313
2,215
In a galaxy far, far away
full

Good story and good idea to have a fixed HPWC and an additional service plug.

I was amused to see all those 16 flexible conduits hanging under the meters.
I was wondering if it would not be require to have some rails to support them and to have them attached every feet or so?

Do you have a picture or have you seen how the subpanel is connected to your meter?
- In my case I used a junction box to split the wires coming from the meter between my home and my charger.
It seems that they connected the wires directly to the main circuit breaker.

What is the diameter of the conduit?
Do they use metal or PVC conduit for the underground part?
Do you know how many wires and the wires size they put inside the conduit?
- I think for the 30 A, they might have not put the neutral, since it was not used by the HPWC,
and put smaller wires for the 20 A and share the ground, so it would be a total of 5 wires?
 
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Dan123

Member
Jun 19, 2018
451
297
Miami
Good job.

I think condo buildings should think ahead in these circumstances, and install a conduit that in the future can accommodate additional EV chargers in the parking lot. I think the electrical code allows multiple conductors in one conduit, or they can run 3-4 conduits in one trench.
 

eprosenx

Active Member
May 30, 2018
2,072
2,499
Beaverton, OR
Good story and good idea to have a fixed HPWC and an additional service plug.

I was amused to see all those 16 flexible conduits hanging under the meters.
I was wondering if it would not be require to have some rails to support them and to have them attached every feet or so?

Do you have a picture or have you seen how the subpanel is connected to your meter?
- In my case I used a junction box to split the wires coming from the meter between my home and my charger.
It seems that they connected the wires directly to the main circuit breaker.

What is the diameter of the conduit?
Do they use metal or PVC conduit for the underground part?
Do you know how many wires and the wires size they put inside the conduit?
- I think for the 30 A, they might have not put the neutral, since it was not used by the HPWC,
and put smaller wires for the 20 A and share the ground, so it would be a total of 5 wires?

Yeah, I am curious about all of this as well. The new install does appear to be really professionally done.

What was the total cost?

The wires coming out of the building into all those meters are horrible! If I am not mistaken, that is NOT waterproof conduit. How on the heck did that pass code??? (Your install used liquid tight conduit which is great)

I am guessing they tapped power direct off your main feed. I suspect they used the “tap rule” to tap the larger feed to your unit and as long as the next breaker was within 7 or 10 feet (whatever the spec said) it is allowed. I am curious on conduit sizes and wire gauge gauges as well. You might be able to upgrade to higher speeds in the future if needed (with a new upgraded electrical service of course) with that size conduit.

Great install btw! Certainly adds value to your unit! This is the future! I bet others will envy you and I would not be surprised if others ask if they can use it... lol
 

MrMassTransit

Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2019
299
506
Washington, DC
Sorry about the delayed response - I headed out Friday afternoon and have been traveling much of the weekend. Thanks for all the interest!

The questions about the flexible conduits off the meters are interesting. The meters would have been installed in 1996 when the building as it stands today was developed - I'm not sure if it was permitted under code at that time and have never heard anything raised about it.

I was working from home for the day of the install, so while I occasionally poked my head outside to chat with the electricians, i didn't have a chance to watch specifically how certain items were done. I can check the conduit sizes sometime this week when I am back at home. Once the conduit is run underground, it switches to PVC.

I am pretty sure they tapped power directly off the main breakers by the meter. They ran 6 AWG wires from the meter to the sub panel and there is a 50 amp breaker as the primary shutoff in the sub panel. From there, the run to the charging station is 8 AWG, which would allow me to upgrade the capacity of the HPWC slightly but not significantly. In retrospect, I probably should have bumped up both of those and run 6 AWG all the way out to the parking space, but I invested the money in the 120v/sub panel instead.

I am not 100% sure how the 120v was wired and how many wires are running out - I will pop open the box where the conduit switches from metal to PVC and can report back.

Total cost was $5k, plus $500 for the HPWC. The subpanel/120v added $700 - the original estimate was $4,300. I'll get $1k back on my DC taxes next year.

Good job.

I think condo buildings should think ahead in these circumstances, and install a conduit that in the future can accommodate additional EV chargers in the parking lot. I think the electrical code allows multiple conductors in one conduit, or they can run 3-4 conduits in one trench.

I agree and this was a point of discussion when I brought the proposal to the board. The challenge is that if the association is going to build infrastructure for a future charging installation, then they really need to build it out for both sides of the lot and the third parking area behind the common backyard, so it is available to all residents regardless of where they park (and have enough infrastructure to charge multiple vehicles). The cost to do such a buildout was significant and the building is facing some other major expenditures this year. I sensed there was not an appetite for tackling this right away and I didn't want to put my project on hold indefinitely (perhaps for years).

I rarely need to charge every night and would be happy to allow other residents access the HPWC for a negotiated monthly rate (to cover anticipated electric usage) until a critical mass was reached that made sense for the building to move forward.

I'm pretty sure that someone will ask you if they could use your 120 V plug to recharge the 12 V battery of their car.
(Typical issue in winter when a car has not been driven for a while)

Definitely and I'd be happy to let them do so. There are a few 120v outlets on the outside of the building but a 100' extension is needed to reach the more distant parking spots, so there's a real convenience in just plugging into mine. The only concern I'd have is someone who wanted to use the outlet for a relatively continuous load over a lengthy period of time - something like an engine block heater or a even a battery maintainer (although that's a pretty minimal draw). If that's the case I'd just work out the anticipated electrical usage and they can reimburse me.
 

eprosenx

Active Member
May 30, 2018
2,072
2,499
Beaverton, OR
So I am curious now:

Can you post pictures of your main indoor panel that shows all the breaker amperages and what they are used for? Also any pictures of the panel specs? (Inside the door, etc...)

I am also curious to see the same on the main service disconnect outside and the associated panels (looking for a model #).

Since you just have a 100a service it would be good to have a very tight and accurate NEC load calculation of exactly what your calculated draw is. That might inform whether you could support later moving up to a 40a circuit (32a continuous) or even 50a (40a continuous). 8 AWG in conduit is technically good to 50a. Voltage drop may be more than optimal, but in general the EV chargers in the Tesla don’t care unless it drops so much it thinks there is an electrical issue.

I doubt you will be able to get any more than 24/30a you have now, but it is worth having those numbers handy.

But really what I am interested in is figuring out if you might be able to be even more creative. You might be able to swap the main breaker to 125a, run that into your little sub panel, and then have a 100a breaker feed the unit and then you have another 25 amps to play with for EV charging! We would need to know the exact model of main panel and it’s specs (is there a sticker anywhere?)

It would be good also to know what type of wire (copper/aluminum) and gauge it is up to your main panel and if it is in conduit the entire way. If sufficient, you may be able to just direct swap from the existing 100a to a 125a breaker and change nothing else other than the branch breaker in the new panel to 40a or 50a and crank up the rotary dial in the Wall Connector a notch or two. All completely code legal.
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,313
2,215
In a galaxy far, far away
Thank you for taking the time for following up and the explanations.
I assume the conduit (internal diameter) might be 1 inch.
- Do you know how deep the PVC have to be buried?

Using 6 AWG all the way would have been a better choice but they might have to use a bigger conduit.
Spending about $5k seems reasonable, especially considering digging a trench and putting a pole.
What you paid is mostly Labor, there is like $500 of hardware, wires, and conduit.
So you can evaluate the number of workers, number of days, and hours a day.
- Did you have to paid for a permit, or was it included?

When you will have several tenant interested for getting a plug, in general it is more simple
to get a company like ChargePoint installing a pool of chargers using a dedicated power line.
So there is no upfront cost for the users, maintenance issue,
but charge cost is a little higher than if you can use your own meter.
Do you have Time-of-Use? If so, charging at night would certainly advantageous.
- If you plan sharing your EV plug, your electrical company might give you access
to your daily and hourly usage. In this case it would be easier to calculate the other user cost.
 

MrMassTransit

Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2019
299
506
Washington, DC
I assume the conduit (internal diameter) might be 1 inch.
- Do you know how deep the PVC have to be buried?

PVC was buried to 20”, the electrician said 18” was the minimum.

Spending about $5k seems reasonable, especially considering digging a trench and putting a pole.
What you paid is mostly Labor, there is like $500 of hardware, wires, and conduit.
So you can evaluate the number of workers, number of days, and hours a day.
- Did you have to paid for a permit, or was it included?

Yes, there were eight workers on site for a full day, so there’s no question that there was a significant labor expense. Permit was included in that price.

When you will have several tenant interested for getting a plug, in general it is more simple
to get a company like ChargePoint installing a pool of chargers using a dedicated power line.
So there is no upfront cost for the users, maintenance issue,
but charge cost is a little higher than if you can use your own meter.

Am I understanding you to say that Chargepoint would finance an install of that nature and build the cost into the monthly charging price? I was completely unaware they’d do something like that, but I’d love to find out more just for future knowledge. I discussed Chargepoint units as a future approach the association could take when we had more EV owners in the building.

Do you have Time-of-Use? If so, charging at night would certainly advantageous.
- If you plan sharing your EV plug, your electrical company might give you access
to your daily and hourly usage. In this case it would be easier to calculate the other user cost.

I don’t have time of use at the moment but I may look into whether or not it is available. In any event, I do plan to largely charge overnight as using off-peak electricity is generally better for everyone, whether I’m getting the savings passed along to me or not.
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,313
2,215
In a galaxy far, far away
Am I understanding you to say that Chargepoint would finance an install of that nature
and build the cost into the monthly charging price?
I was completely unaware they’d do something like that, but I’d love to find out more just for future knowledge.
I discussed Chargepoint units as a future approach the association could take when we had more EV owners in the building.
Here is the program presented by my local electric company (See the video overview)

There might be something similar in you area, may be with GreenLots.
 

MrMassTransit

Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2019
299
506
Washington, DC
Yes, I’ll grab some photos and also open it up and get specifics on the wires. I might not have time until this weekend, but I’ll definitely update the post once I do!
 

MrMassTransit

Supporting Member
Mar 7, 2019
299
506
Washington, DC
Here you go!

To answer the earlier question, yes, there are five wires. Appears the ones for the the 120v service are smaller, either 10 AWG or 12 AWG. I'd guess the latter but couldn't get the right spot on any cables to know for sure.

IMG_4209.jpg IMG_4210.jpg

Also I did a little research into the Chargepoint solution and you were spot on. They will absolutely install everything upfront at their expense and just bill for it over time. That is definitely the road I will send the association down once there's more widespread interest in installing charging infrastructure.

Chargepoint as a service.
 
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