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Working with HOA for EV-Charging; California law

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
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).

You know I should really test the outlet I use. I think it's at least 12a (not sure if it's 15a) and it's 120v standard for the U.S. I used it to charge my LEAF when I had it. I work at home and I can get away with trickle-charging, but I want the option to charge faster (or charge my girlfriend's EV if she gets one as she drives more than I do).

I would also use the Supercharger but don't want to rely on it (for all of the reasons Tesla-owners are aware of). Plus, it's the principle of the thing. I want to see what I can do for best-practices as it relates to charging with a 32a outlet, as it affects whether I will want to remain in this place long-term. I don't want to settle yet, as I can't assume I will get to work from home forever (or until I retire, anyway).
 
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docbrown

Member
Jun 7, 2018
175
144
Austin, TX
A couple of comments:

- Regarding your "slow, unresponsive" HOA board. I'm on the board of our neighborhood HOA. The position is totally unpaid and any time we have to put into it is done in our spare time. I assume your board is the same, so keep that in mind. BTW, I love approving solar power related projects!

- Do you have a dryer outlet where it would be feasible to run a cord to the car? I charged off of our dryer outlet when I first got the Tesla, and the charge rate was more than acceptable. I only got the wall charger in the garage for the logistic convenience. But if I had your constraints, I might have done that permanently, and just put in a high power switch that would have allowed me to switch between dryer and car without having to plug and unplug.
 

A.N. Gineer

Member
May 30, 2019
72
52
Pacific Northwet
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

Meh. Get a right of way - either for your property as a private one, or have the utility get one ...
 
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A.N. Gineer

Member
May 30, 2019
72
52
Pacific Northwet
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.

Another pseudo-sketch idea you might look into. If you're on a gas dryer, which I suspect you are with such a dinky service panel, there's a simple concept you might want to explore. If you locate two outlets (or circuit breakers), one on each phase, you could look into having a Y-adapter made that connects to each of them. That could at least get you double the charge rate you'd get with one 120V outlet (240Vx12A/1000 is your kW available)....not horrible (too lazy to calculate, but about 8 miles per hour doing it in my head). That means if you have the car plugged in for 12 hours a day, Bob's your uncle if you restrict average use to about 100 miles* daily.

Mind you, at 120V, you may not realize that if you use about 50 miles* a day or less, you don't really need anything other than a regular extension cord if there are no outlets in the garage (extension cords are a bit sketchy, so your responsibility - I'm just enlightening you that the kneejerk of having a charger may not be necessary at all).

These are just ideas, do your due diligence and anyone that does anything further with them assumes full responsibility for its consequences (which is why due diligence must be done before taking it beyond mere ideas).

* less if you need to run the hvac or battery warmer, obviously. Mileage is also AVERAGE, so, using the 50 mile model, that would be your weekday average, as an example.
 
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Bill25cycle

Member
Mar 31, 2011
103
69
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.


Hi Spacep0d, I'm an electrician, but not in California. Sounds to me like the HOA doesn't want to risk greatly increased load to their main service equipment, unless you'd be willing to pay for the huge expense to upgrade the entire joint. So here are some key questions.

1). It sounds to me that since you OWN the interior, including the 60 amp loadcenter to your condo - is it full in the sense of loading or is it full in the sense of no spare spaces? Its easy enough to substitute half size breakers to free up 2 poles for a 240 volt feed to your garage.

2). What is the air conditioning load, and do you have an electric or gas range? Sounds to me surely 16 amperes at 240 would be a big improvement, and if you're not really using any electricity in the condo even a 24 or 30 ampere wallbox might be possible depending on your particular circumstance. But even a 12 ampere 240 volt wall box would be an improvement over charging at 120 volts.
 
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imjustdave

Member
May 3, 2013
16
11
Bonney Lake WA
The current line to your panel is it in conduit? Is it big enough to pull a larger feeder in? Just because your panel is 60 amp doesn't mean the current wire or conduit won't support more just means they purchased a cheap small panel. The cost difference for conduit is cheap you may get lucky and they ran it all the way. What size is your feeder lines to your unit?

Just for reference my hot tub is 50 amp, dryer 30 or 40 and range is 40. Doing laundry and cooking dinner pop. I'm just really shocked you only have 60 for entire home.



Do you have gas heat dryer water heater? Because honestly 60amp is low in my mind.
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
A couple of comments:

- Regarding your "slow, unresponsive" HOA board. I'm on the board of our neighborhood HOA. The position is totally unpaid and any time we have to put into it is done in our spare time. I assume your board is the same, so keep that in mind. BTW, I love approving solar power related projects!

- Do you have a dryer outlet where it would be feasible to run a cord to the car? I charged off of our dryer outlet when I first got the Tesla, and the charge rate was more than acceptable. I only got the wall charger in the garage for the logistic convenience. But if I had your constraints, I might have done that permanently, and just put in a high power switch that would have allowed me to switch between dryer and car without having to plug and unplug.

I think most homeowners probably fear pushback when they're the first to broach an ask of this type from an HOA with an unknown position on this type of work. It's not that I'm getting pushback (thank goodness), but I was very worried about it. Anytime your lifestyle choices aren't up to you (or where one individual can create a thorny legal battle), it can be a bit nerve-wracking. This is in part why California has laws that favor the owner, not the HOA. Without these laws, I could see some HOAs (for any reason) getting in the way. Sometimes it only takes one bad apple.

It's amazing how unreasonable people can be. So far so good, but I don't think my concerns are unfounded. It's one known downside of having an HOA, and not meant as an affront to HOA specific board members here. ;) How much someone gets paid (or not) for this role matters little if they're getting in your way and/or are in violation of the law pertaining to EV-charging options.

Good idea about the dryer outlet and I did think of that. The trouble with this good idea is that my dryer is gas (not even electric) and it's upstairs. To get power to the car, I'd have to run the cable downstairs, through the house, across a small patio, through a small garage door (which I prefer to keep locked) and to the rear of the garage. It's pretty much worst-case scenario. I can't upgrade the panel or run new power from it for similar thorny reasons. Even if the panel weren't woefully small or full, it would still cost about 2k just to get the power to where I need it from the panel (downstairs bathroom) to the garage.

Considering all this, I'd just trickle-charge before bothering with running a cord from dryer to garage. I work at home so I could get away with it. On principle (and out of curiosity), I do want to exhaust all options for a proper L2 charger in the garage for a Tesla and to futureproof for a second EV.
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
Another pseudo-sketch idea you might look into. If you're on a gas dryer, which I suspect you are with such a dinky service panel, there's a simple concept you might want to explore. If you locate two outlets (or circuit breakers), one on each phase, you could look into having a Y-adapter made that connects to each of them. That could at least get you double the charge rate you'd get with one 120V outlet (240Vx12A/1000 is your kW available)....not horrible (too lazy to calculate, but about 8 miles per hour doing it in my head). That means if you have the car plugged in for 12 hours a day, Bob's your uncle if you restrict average use to about 100 miles* daily.

Mind you, at 120V, you may not realize that if you use about 50 miles* a day or less, you don't really need anything other than a regular extension cord if there are no outlets in the garage (extension cords are a bit sketchy, so your responsibility - I'm just enlightening you that the kneejerk of having a charger may not be necessary at all).

These are just ideas, do your due diligence and anyone that does anything further with them assumes full responsibility for its consequences (which is why due diligence must be done before taking it beyond mere ideas).

* less if you need to run the hvac or battery warmer, obviously. Mileage is also AVERAGE, so, using the 50 mile model, that would be your weekday average, as an example.

I did look in to this, but the only reasonable path I have for a solution like this is blocked by the fact that I don't have two outlets near each other which fulfill the requirements. Either they're not out of phase, are shared circuits, or there's GFCI involved. I may press on this option more if this new power line doesn't pan out. The ball is in my court for now and I'm having an electrician out Monday to assess in person. :)
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
That is how I saw it when I installed one in my Townhome garage.

They can't stop me, but I have zero room on my panel to do that, and the panel is in a downstairs bathroom (I know) separated by a living room, a small patio, a locking door, a neighbor's stairwell behind drywall in the garage (drilling becomes dicey), etc. So even if there were room on the panel, it would cost 2k just to route it all to where I need it. I've had 5-6 electricians assess the situation and it's pretty much worst case (not as bad as an apt. with carport) but terrible with respect to amperage overhead and logistics.
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
Hi Spacep0d, I'm an electrician, but not in California. Sounds to me like the HOA doesn't want to risk greatly increased load to their main service equipment, unless you'd be willing to pay for the huge expense to upgrade the entire joint. So here are some key questions.

1). It sounds to me that since you OWN the interior, including the 60 amp loadcenter to your condo - is it full in the sense of loading or is it full in the sense of no spare spaces? Its easy enough to substitute half size breakers to free up 2 poles for a 240 volt feed to your garage.

2). What is the air conditioning load, and do you have an electric or gas range? Sounds to me surely 16 amperes at 240 would be a big improvement, and if you're not really using any electricity in the condo even a 24 or 30 ampere wallbox might be possible depending on your particular circumstance. But even a 12 ampere 240 volt wall box would be an improvement over charging at 120 volts.

Hi!

Unfortunately, no electrician offered any solution like this. If they had I'd have jumped at the chance. Heck I would hire you if you were out here to take a look.

A/C load is minimal. We barely use A/C and the HVAC combo unit is brand new (efficient). We have a gas range and gas dryer, so it's not like I can convert electric to gas to free up amperes there. I can't easily run cord from dryer because it's upstairs, and our connection to the garage goes through a small patio with locking door. It would be a somewhat ugly solution even if the dryer were electric and had a nice spot to plug in. I work at home so trickle-charging would be better than that. But, I still want to pursue this new line install to see if I can get it done for a reasonable price.
 

St☰v☰

Member
Aug 27, 2019
787
530
SoCal/Texas
Hi!

Unfortunately, no electrician offered any solution like this. If they had I'd have jumped at the chance. Heck I would hire you if you were out here to take a look.

A/C load is minimal. We barely use A/C and the HVAC combo unit is brand new (efficient). We have a gas range and gas dryer, so it's not like I can convert electric to gas to free up amperes there. I can't easily run cord from dryer because it's upstairs, and our connection to the garage goes through a small patio with locking door. It would be a somewhat ugly solution even if the dryer were electric and had a nice spot to plug in. I work at home so trickle-charging would be better than that. But, I still want to pursue this new line install to see if I can get it done for a reasonable price.

Not sure of your set-up, but I too have a gas dryer, and when the house was built they also added a 240v outlet in back of the dryer in case the buyer wanted to have an electric dryer.
 
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Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
Not sure of your set-up, but I too have a gas dryer, and when the house was built they also added a 240v outlet in back of the dryer in case the buyer wanted to have an electric dryer.

Interesting. Although getting a cord to the garage would be a bit of a nightmare, it's worth checking out. Thanks!
 

St☰v☰

Member
Aug 27, 2019
787
530
SoCal/Texas
Interesting. Although getting a cord to the garage would be a bit of a nightmare, it's worth checking out. Thanks!

IF... if you have an outlet, there has to be a breaker(s) supplying the juice. Again, only if you have an outlet in back of your dryer. If you do, then it's a matter of taking that breaker(s) and rerouting the power to your garage.
 
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user85352

New Member
Jun 14, 2019
3
3
San Francisco
Apologize in advance as I haven't read the whole thread, but I wanted to say that I've worked with my HOA (I'm also on the board), to install chargers for interested owners. We have a common garage where the electricity cannot be tracked to individual owner, so we ended up installing ChargePoint chargers. It cost about $2k for equipment and installation, ongoing costs are $20/month to Chargepoint. Upside is that commercial garage electricity is cheaper than my residential rates. The way it works is, we set a kwh price, owners pay that price to ChargePoint, ChargePoint sends a check to the HOA.

Been using this now for about 6 months and it's been working out ok. There as some caveats, but no show stoppers.

Let me know if any questions, I can probably answer most of them. I'm located in SF area.
 
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IchDochNicht

Member
Sep 4, 2016
305
214
Bay Area, CA
I have gone through a similar story with the HOA of my vacation rental in Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA. I did a write-up on how we solved the power limits with an intelligent switch called "DCC-9" that my contractor found:

How to Install EV Home Charging in a Condo with DCC-9

Installed a charger in an older Multi-Unit Building

Throughout the process, the HOA was very supportive; maybe it helped that the President's wife has a Model 3, and one of the other board members lives in a different complex where they have installed chargers before.

I also listed it on PlugShare. It is the only vacation rental in the whole area with a charger, so I'm really grateful I got this done.

Feel free to ask questions or send me a PM.
 
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Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
Apologize in advance as I haven't read the whole thread, but I wanted to say that I've worked with my HOA (I'm also on the board), to install chargers for interested owners. We have a common garage where the electricity cannot be tracked to individual owner, so we ended up installing ChargePoint chargers. It cost about $2k for equipment and installation, ongoing costs are $20/month to Chargepoint. Upside is that commercial garage electricity is cheaper than my residential rates. The way it works is, we set a kwh price, owners pay that price to ChargePoint, ChargePoint sends a check to the HOA.

Been using this now for about 6 months and it's been working out ok. There as some caveats, but no show stoppers.

Let me know if any questions, I can probably answer most of them. I'm located in SF area.

Clever thinking and a good solution. Thanks for being a great HOA board member. I may have underestimated how EV-friendly board members are likely to be, especially in California. ;) I was just braced for the worst I suppose. Thanks for your input here.
 

Spacep0d

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
1,031
1,231
Wildomar, CA
I have gone through a similar story with the HOA of my vacation rental in Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA. I did a write-up on how we solved the power limits with an intelligent switch called "DCC-9" that my contractor found:

How to Install EV Home Charging in a Condo with DCC-9

Installed a charger in an older Multi-Unit Building

Throughout the process, the HOA was very supportive; maybe it helped that the President's wife has a Model 3, and one of the other board members lives in a different complex where they have installed chargers before.

I also listed it on PlugShare. It is the only vacation rental in the whole area with a charger, so I'm really grateful I got this done.

Feel free to ask questions or send me a PM.

Awesome! Thanks so much for your contribution to this thread. Yeah it must be nice if the President's wife has a Model 3, but people that don't have Teslas or EVs can still be fans of these and the EV movement in general.

I do know about the DCC-9/DCC-10 and thanks for bringing that up. It is an option I'll make known to the electrician as an option if needed. Hopefully we can run at least 32a of power to my garage without too much fuss.

Once all is said and done, it'll be fascinating to see how people react to a Tesla Model 3 in the complex and my new charging setup. I have a feeling it's going to start a bit of a trend. We shall see. :D
 
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user85352

New Member
Jun 14, 2019
3
3
San Francisco
The DCC devices look pretty neat. Wanted to add that ChargePoint allows to setup "load sharing" where you tell them that you have say 4 chargers on a 40 amp circuit, and before the station starts charging, it checks the status of other stations on the circuit. If other people are charging, it'll lower every station's capacity (maybe from 32 amps to 16). I think lowest I've seen it go is 10 or 12 amps. It's basically a "cloud controlled" solution.

Like i mentioned earlier, generally it works ok with some caveats. Also ChargePoint gateways require AT&T or Sprint connectivity which could be problematic in underground garages. We had to get another vendor to install cell signal booster which benefited us in other ways - now Tesla app can actually connect to our cars :)
 
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theflyer

Active Member
Feb 1, 2015
1,179
2,317
Northern Virginia
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).
Sounds like you're doing a great job all around. I certainly know the struggles. I was the first person with an EV in our Association (the Volt) back in 2014 and it was quite the journey with the Board at the time (I was not on the Board then). We reached an agreement to track the electricity used on a 110V outlet at my garage spot. We then established a committee to develop a comprehensive charging plan for the two different types of parking at our facility, which we completed in 2015 and put forward to the Board. I thought we had the politics in place but then one of them changed their mind and we couldn't get approval to proceed. I then ran for the Board (again) and became the President. One of my planks for running again was EVs. We're still not where I'd like to be but we are up to four plugins on the facility: two PHEVs and two Teslas. Everyone is charging off 11o outlets right now except the Model 3 owner I spoke about in the first post, who we just got the L2 in January. While I'd prefer, and am continuing to work toward, a comprehensive plan, we are doing whatever we can to accommodate anyone interested in buying a PHEV or BEV.

The just-installed L2 is a pilot to see if we can use Juiceboxes instead of the costly ChargePoint, Blink, or EVgo solutions that charge $20+ per month for the connectivity. Juiceboxes can be paired to share power and they have a dashboard that tracks usage, which we'll use to charge for the electricity. Unfortunately, our network design is causing us some headaches but I think we'll get something worked out. My personal objective is to find solutions that keep any monthly fees to a minimum. Obviously, we also have to manage limited power and comply with the various governing documents and laws. The rest of my Board is quite supportive with the big caveat that those who desire to have charging need to cover the costs.

Personally, I've stuck to using the 15A/110V outlet for both our Volt and the Model S to avoid the perception of favoritism since I'm the Board president. Its usually enough but when I have to do lots of driving, I need to use one of the local superchargers, which is thankfully much easier than 2016 when the nearest one was almost 25 miles away. We typically charge the Volt twice a week and I try to plug-in the rest of the nights.
 
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