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Working with HOA for EV-Charging; California law

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
First step: Get an electrical contractor to give you a quote for the work that will meet your requirements. If anything touches or goes through common areas that are not under your exclusive control, you must get HOA approval for that portion of the work. If not, you're home free and don't even need to notify the HOA.

True, but I'll need HOA approval for common areas. I'm trying to get new power from the electrical closet that feeds the multi-unit building to my private garage, since I can't do anything with the inadequate 60a 'full' panel in a really inconvenient location.
 

miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,362
6,065
Los Altos, CA
True, but I'll need HOA approval for common areas. I'm trying to get new power from the electrical closet that feeds the multi-unit building to my private garage, since I can't do anything with the inadequate 60a 'full' panel in a really inconvenient location.
So the "electrical closet" has all the meters? Have you investigated the capacity of your existing meter to see if you can add the additional feed for the garage directly from the meter box?
 

matador4

Member
Dec 8, 2019
64
20
Diamond Bar, CA
True, but I'll need HOA approval for common areas. I'm trying to get new power from the electrical closet that feeds the multi-unit building to my private garage, since I can't do anything with the inadequate 60a 'full' panel in a really inconvenient location.

I had my pains dealing with HOA also, but like many mentioned, inside your unit you can do whatever you want.

In your case, it seems you definitely need approval from HOA. Not sure how they will meter the electricity you use from this new feed.
I am no lawyer, but from previous experiences with HOA, it seems they can do whatever they want.
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,092
9,840
SF Bay Area
We’ve been owners (both condo and now single residence in CA) in HOAs. From the condo docs, we own everything from the paint inward in our unit, walls etc are the HOAs. So if you are talking about any inner wall wiring its got to go through the HOA.

Those news reports of people charging and their cars catching on fire spooked HOAs. They also have a responsibility to other owners in the same building, which means liability through special assessment dues if a building burns down that everyone would have to pay. So they act out of caution. If the electrical is installed to code and approved by the city building inspector, the situation I don’t see being different from someone running a space heater and catching the building on fire. The financial responsibility would be the owner’s due to the appliance in their unit malfunctioning. So a charging unit would be no different IMO.

We use a NEMA 14-50 outlet to charge our car and I know others have made use of electric dryer outlets (NEMA 14-30??) and others who don’t drive far daily the regular 110. Are you planning on using a Wall Charger that is giving them concern. Maybe Tesla can help out with your HOA providing them info and answering their questions. Their units are pretty solidly built and trouble-free with circuit protection, as you would expect.

There was a Southern Calif owner on here (not sure if Model 3 or MS forum) who lived in an older condo complex and was ready to give up getting charging. Took him a while but in the end I’m positive it got approved to run the electrical he needed. Maybe try searching for Charging Condo California. He might be a good resource having gone through his HOA experience. As I recall they needed to bring electricity from a main panel outside the building to his unit as well and involved a complicated path.

BTW when we were in our condo we had to get permission for installing a DirecTV satellite dish on the exterior of our unit. The law had been passed and after taking a few photos and marking up with how the wiring would be run, agreeing to paint the wiring wall color and in writing stipulating that we would remove the dish if we sold the unit and otherwise keep in good condition, we got our approval. They had to have the HOA attorney draw up papers. On our house, we just got HOA approval on our solar panel/Powerwall application. I will say its easier if you’re not the first one asking for something. With EVs gaining momentum they need to realize they need to put something in place that grants approval while protecting the HOA and so need to talk to the attorneys about setting up an application procedure.
 
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Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,449
2,349
In a galaxy far, far away
I have a private garage, by my panel is woefully inadequate (60a, full) and no electrician will touch it as far as upgrades.
Plus, the panel is in the downstairs bathroom, meaning it has to go through my patio and then to a garage.
What I'm asking from the HOA is new power from the closet that feeds the building (of several units).
I would pay for the electricity and installation and all that.
Where is your electrical meter (not your breaker panel)?
In general the meters are located in the garage.

If so, how far and difficult it would be to install a connection box next to your meter
and have a wire going to your car.
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
So the "electrical closet" has all the meters? Have you investigated the capacity of your existing meter to see if you can add the additional feed for the garage directly from the meter box?

Hi,

This is my next move. Trouble is that now I have to go at the pace of the unresponsive HOA. Once they give me the go-ahead to take point I'll do that, only stopping to get approval where needed.
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
We’ve been owners (both condo and now single residence in CA) in HOAs. From the condo docs, we own everything from the paint inward in our unit, walls etc are the HOAs. So if you are talking about any inner wall wiring its got to go through the HOA.

Those news reports of people charging and their cars catching on fire spooked HOAs. They also have a responsibility to other owners in the same building, which means liability through special assessment dues if a building burns down that everyone would have to pay. So they act out of caution. If the electrical is installed to code and approved by the city building inspector, the situation I don’t see being different from someone running a space heater and catching the building on fire. The financial responsibility would be the owner’s due to the appliance in their unit malfunctioning. So a charging unit would be no different IMO.

We use a NEMA 14-50 outlet to charge our car and I know others have made use of electric dryer outlets (NEMA 14-30??) and others who don’t drive far daily the regular 110. Are you planning on using a Wall Charger that is giving them concern. Maybe Tesla can help out with your HOA providing them info and answering their questions. Their units are pretty solidly built and trouble-free with circuit protection, as you would expect.

There was a Southern Calif owner on here (not sure if Model 3 or MS forum) who lived in an older condo complex and was ready to give up getting charging. Took him a while but in the end I’m positive it got approved to run the electrical he needed. Maybe try searching for Charging Condo California. He might be a good resource having gone through his HOA experience. As I recall they needed to bring electricity from a main panel outside the building to his unit as well and involved a complicated path.

BTW when we were in our condo we had to get permission for installing a DirecTV satellite dish on the exterior of our unit. The law had been passed and after taking a few photos and marking up with how the wiring would be run, agreeing to paint the wiring wall color and in writing stipulating that we would remove the dish if we sold the unit and otherwise keep in good condition, we got our approval. They had to have the HOA attorney draw up papers. On our house, we just got HOA approval on our solar panel/Powerwall application. I will say its easier if you’re not the first one asking for something. With EVs gaining momentum they need to realize they need to put something in place that grants approval while protecting the HOA and so need to talk to the attorneys about setting up an application procedure.

Great post. Yes apparently I'm the first one asking, I can tell the HOA would rather not think about this (they're extremely slow to respond right now), but they have to know that this is among a wave of EV owners who will want the same charging options.

I'm trying to get new power from the main closet, and yes somehow there will have to be a way to track costs or allow me to absorb those costs. My situation sounds very similar to the one included as an example.

We'll see how it goes!
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
Where is your electrical meter (not your breaker panel)?
In general the meters are located in the garage.

If so, how far and difficult it would be to install a connection box next to your meter
and have a wire going to your car.

The meter is in the main electrical closet housing all meters for each building unit; A, B, C, D, etc. This is the closet where I'm hoping to run new power to my garage, with trenching under pavement or asphalt. There are drainage ditches that could serve as a path for my unit and would be easier to trench than asphalt.
 
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kkillebrew

Banned
Jun 23, 2019
401
124
austin, tx
This is especially interesting to me. My HOA has no problem with my curbside charger (photo attached) but Baltimore County forced me to remove it about a year ago. The County’s currrent policy is to forbid EV chargers on or near a County right of way, even if they’re part of common property in an HOA, which is my case. I’ve taken my case up to the County Executive and still waiting to hear if they’ll join the current century. Plugging in an EV is no more dangerous than pugging in a toaster or dryer, but some bureaucrats don’t seem to get that. The County permits all manner of gas stations and gas pumps, which are far more dangerous than EV chargers, on or near County right of ways. Go figure.

View attachment 508251
Wow I have never seen a Tesla charger like that... sorry off topic but what charge rate does it support?
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
**UPDATE**

I just got written (email) permission to take point and get the work done! I just need to have the electrician submit architectural plans and a spec write-up to get HOA approval and commence work. I will obviously pay for this myself, as I don't expect other owners to bankroll this. This will be a great test case. What's awesome is that when people see my Tesla and EV-charging solution, they're gonna feel better about getting their own EVs.

WOOT!

Has anyone had experience with architectural plans and spec write-ups? Is this something electricians do? I'm gonna start Googling. I'll update this thread later with any progress I make for those interested.

Thanks!
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
Good news!

So what did you do with this "EV-hating", "unresponsive", "slow" HOA board to convince them?

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-1K24...ywords=leviton+submeter&qid=1581006166&sr=8-6
(This is but one example. Note that many require purchasing CTs and enclosures separately. Also, many of the less expensive ones are not UL listed or considered "revenue grade".)

Howdy, apparently they're pretty cool. The main contact has always been great. I just feared that if there was personal bias against EVs that this would be a long row to hoe. I'm already not keen on having to go through an HOA but it is what it is! Either way, glad I can actually take action now. Thanks for the link!

I just wrote to them first, to convince them that EV owners are going to want options for charging, that the incidence of EVs will go up (not down), and that the law is on my side (CA is a right-to-charge state), and I did it with kindness and professionalism. ;)

Basically, I just needed permission and for them to let me handle it at my own brisk pace until we got to the point where we just needed final approval to commence work.
 
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Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
Congrats.

What ballpark of coin are we talking about?

Remind me: will the electrician be putting in a 14-50 plug?

How about a photo from a distance to give us a general feeling of where you'll park and plug?

I'm anticipating a couple grand, but I don't know yet. I was quoted that just to run power from the full 60a panel to the garage, but there's no room in the panel. The difference is that I can get 30a-50a with new power to my garage for some real charging options for myself and my girlfriend if she gets an EV later.

Yeah I'll post more pictures in this thread soon! :) Thanks!
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,092
9,840
SF Bay Area
Really happy for you as being in an HOA asking for outside approval can be frustrating a lot of the time (Really didn’t want to buy a single family residence in one but up here anything newer is in one unless the home is custom).

Your electrician (BTW do your background check for licensing etc on him) will work with your power company and will be doing the drawings. Let him file the necessary permit plans with the city for the work as opposed to you...otherwise there was something in our city permits about the homeowner’s liability responsibilities applying if I recall. We ran into this when we were getting our NEMA 14-50 and 50amp circuit installed. We paid our electrician to pull the permit and submit the drawings. He knew what was involved and has coverage for that sort of thing should something go wrong.

Trenching from what I’ve read on here can really add to the cost so be prepared. Hopefully your run won’t be long. At our condo our unit was at the end of the building with our garage wall opposite the building’s utility closet and our panel box was on opposite side of the garage. Didn’t own an EV back then to have to worry about this. Our second garage space which we “owned” was on another building. Both units at least had 110 availability in them. Other people’s second garage unit was in a separate shared garage structure not necessarily near their unit, where the electricity wasn’t individually metered either but on the HOA’s dime. Remember seeing the HOA having issue with large electricity bills being generated by EV owners charging in those garage units. Not sure how that eventually got sorted out. Hadn’t been an issue prior to EV usage for the little draw for running a vacuum to clean out the car or garage door opener and overhead light. Complex built in the early 1980s. But definitely every situation will have its own complexities since these were built prior to EV popularity.

Will be following your thread to see how work progresses and what it entails.
 
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Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,449
2,349
In a galaxy far, far away
The meter is in the main electrical closet housing all meters for each building unit; A, B, C, D, etc. This is the closet where I'm hoping to run new power to my garage, with trenching under pavement or asphalt. There are drainage ditches that could serve as a path for my unit and would be easier to trench than asphalt.
So if I understand, you will be able to use your own meter to connect your EV?
In this case request to have ToU (Time of Use) from your electrical company.
 

theflyer

Active Member
Feb 1, 2015
1,180
2,318
Northern Virginia
I have a private garage, by my panel is woefully inadequate (60a, full) and no electrician will touch it as far as upgrades. Plus, the panel is in the downstairs bathroom, meaning it has to go through my patio and then to a garage. What I'm asking from the HOA is new power from the closet that feeds the building (of several units). I would pay for the electricity and installation and all that.
As the President of a Condominium Board and a Tesla Owner (and a Volt), I encourage you to work collaboratively with your Board if at all possible. They have a fiduciary duty to the entire Association and that forces them to be fairly conservative and cautious with stuff like this.

In my building, One of the biggest issues is the total amount of power available. If we start allowing 50 AMP L2s (we have one right now), we will quickly run out of power as more people want one. So, your Board may also have to consider similar constraints. If they allow you to pull power from the Association's mains, what's the impact on the Association downstream?

Try not to go all legalistic out of the gate. That will only force the Board to go legalistic back and then no one wins. Try to build a relationship with them. Ideally, you've been participating in the Association activities such as Board meetings so they already know you. If not, I recommend trying to establish some relationships. It's always frustrating as a Board member when people pop out of the woodwork making demands and they've never bothered to participate in any other way. Maybe try to talk with the general manager if you have one. If not, reach out to a Board member and ask to work with them to develop a proposal. Use that process to work through some of the questions and details and then give the presentation to the whole Board. Education and thoughtfulness can go a long way. You indicated earlier you see yourself as being on the vanguard of the issue. If true, your goal is to not only "win" for yourself but position your Association to win.

A Condominium trade magazine "Common Ground" had a feature article on electric vehicles in its June 2019 issue. Someone in your Association may have a copy of the June issue laying around. If you hit me up in a Private Message, I'd be happy to share that article with you. It has a lot of good info on it regarding the complexities of installing charging in Associations.

It sounds like you are willing to pay to get the power pulled. That can go a long way to getting to yes. Our owner who I helped get the L2 had to pay about $3k in total and we didn't even have to pull the power very far (only about 100 feet from an existing circuit breaker).
 

theflyer

Active Member
Feb 1, 2015
1,180
2,318
Northern Virginia
I have a private garage, by my panel is woefully inadequate (60a, full) and no electrician will touch it as far as upgrades. Plus, the panel is in the downstairs bathroom, meaning it has to go through my patio and then to a garage. What I'm asking from the HOA is new power from the closet that feeds the building (of several units). I would pay for the electricity and installation and all that.
So you at least have a standard 15 Amp 110V outlet in the garage, correct? Are you using it to charge your car? How's that working? We survive charging both our cars off a single 110 outlet (and a few random trips to a supercharger if I have to put lots of miles on).
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,035
1,233
Wildomar, CA
As the President of a Condominium Board and a Tesla Owner (and a Volt), I encourage you to work collaboratively with your Board if at all possible. They have a fiduciary duty to the entire Association and that forces them to be fairly conservative and cautious with stuff like this.

In my building, One of the biggest issues is the total amount of power available. If we start allowing 50 AMP L2s (we have one right now), we will quickly run out of power as more people want one. So, your Board may also have to consider similar constraints. If they allow you to pull power from the Association's mains, what's the impact on the Association downstream?

Try not to go all legalistic out of the gate. That will only force the Board to go legalistic back and then no one wins. Try to build a relationship with them. Ideally, you've been participating in the Association activities such as Board meetings so they already know you. If not, I recommend trying to establish some relationships. It's always frustrating as a Board member when people pop out of the woodwork making demands and they've never bothered to participate in any other way. Maybe try to talk with the general manager if you have one. If not, reach out to a Board member and ask to work with them to develop a proposal. Use that process to work through some of the questions and details and then give the presentation to the whole Board. Education and thoughtfulness can go a long way. You indicated earlier you see yourself as being on the vanguard of the issue. If true, your goal is to not only "win" for yourself but position your Association to win.

A Condominium trade magazine "Common Ground" had a feature article on electric vehicles in its June 2019 issue. Someone in your Association may have a copy of the June issue laying around. If you hit me up in a Private Message, I'd be happy to share that article with you. It has a lot of good info on it regarding the complexities of installing charging in Associations.

It sounds like you are willing to pay to get the power pulled. That can go a long way to getting to yes. Our owner who I helped get the L2 had to pay about $3k in total and we didn't even have to pull the power very far (only about 100 feet from an existing circuit breaker).

Excellent post, and very informative (rated thusly).

I should clarify that my thoughts here don't reflect my communication with them. Here, I'm being a bit more plain-spoken about my concerns with the HOA being slow, unresponsive, blocking me through inaction, unconcerned, recalcitrant, and there may be anti-EV bias from any of the links in the chain. This is a concern with anyone I depend on whose interests don't align with mine. I've read the HOA horror stories, and there are lawyers who specialize in helping HOAs realize the rights of their owners, especially in an EV-friendly state like California.

As far as the HOA and my writing to them, I'm extremely polite and professional. I've been an owner since 2004 and have had a pretty good relationship with my main point of contact for at least 5-7 years now, perhaps longer. To reveal a bit more, he was extremely understanding when I was struggling financially and I never forgot that. I thanked him as such and haven't had issues in a while, but this may have helped our relationship before I ever asked about adding new power.

With my emails to them, I was mostly just covering all bases, in part doing a sales pitch but also pre-empting any pushback by quoting relevant law pertaining to California's status as a 'right-to-charge' state. This was just to get everyone on the same page, and to show I had done my due diligence. It's also helpful to let someone know that you know your rights, which reduces any exploitable weakness. It's also a genuine provision of information for those who may not know better.

That said, the board has approved the work in concept. All I need to do now (a process I've already started) is to get a qualified electrician out who can also do architectural plans and write a spec sheet for the work to be approve by the HOA before work commences. I've agreed to the terms and we're off to the races! I think my concern about pushback was the worst bit. In reality they're being quite accommodating. :D I braced for an impact that never arrived. Good problem to have.

Considerations for power draw are well-noted. I'll see if I can get at least 32a, but I don't necessarily need 50a. Either way, I'm going to absorb the cost of installation and electricity-usage and I'm happy to do it. It's also going to be a good test case for the HOA to get through this process as there are sure to be others who will want a charging solution in the nice private garages we have. This is SoCal, and EV adoption is huge here. Although I'm the first (as stated by my contact), I certainly won't be the last.

Thanks so much for your information. Your perspective is uniquely helpful given your role as President of a Condo Board (and Tesla owner).
 
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