There is a lot to consider for condos, commercial buildings and other multi-unit residential buildings looking to install EV charging infrastructure. A panel of experts discuss how to get the job done right
Last week, Electric Autonomy Canada hosted a panel on the ins-and-outs of bringing electric vehicle charging infrastructure to large-scale buildings like condos and workplaces, and why working with a trained electrical contractor is key. The event was sponsored by the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Here’s a summary of the main themes and comments. To view a recording of the entire event, click on the video player at the top of this page.
Multi-unit buildings are a special breed
Installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure in a single-family residence is fairly straightforward, but is significantly more complex in shared spaces like condominiums and office buildings. Who is going to pay for what? How can the whole community be served? What kind of panels are needed and where will they go? These are questions Mark Marmer, founder of Toronto-area electrical contractor Signature Electric, considers when he’s installing EV-chargers in these spaces.
Client education is a big part of Marmer’s job. As an electrical contractor, he has a holistic view of the market and knows the right questions to ask to find the right solution for a particular case.
“Sometimes, by the time [the client] comes to us, they’re having a really challenging time finding the right [information]. It’s amazing, after a 15- or 20-minute conversation, I can feel the concern being lifted off their shoulders,” said Marmer.
The politics of installing EV chargers in condos
Terry Ferster, a longtime property manager who works for Crossbridge Condominium Services in the Greater Toronto Area, shares that condo residents need to speak up if they want EV chargers.
“Condo boards don’t actually have to consider an installation until there is a request to do so,” Ferster explained, citing the case of his property where EV chargers were recently installed.
“It was a journey and I’m sure it’s going to be a different journey for everybody,” he said.
Ferster turned to Signature Electric for his condo’s EV charger install.
“Any good property manager has to make sure they’ve got a properly licensed and insured contractor to do the work,” said Ferster.
Not all electrical contractors are created equal
Not all electricians necessarily have the expertise to install EV chargers, says Melissa Young, Executive Director of the National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO), which holds the Canadian rights to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) together with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Electric vehicle adoption is expected to increase tenfold by 2030. Incentives like the federal government’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program covers 50 per cent of the costs for new EV charging installation in multi-unit residential buildings, workplaces and on-street, but there’s going to be a huge increase in demand for charging infrastructure and qualified people to do it, particularly in large-scale implementations.
Young says NETCO is addressing any potential trades deficit by expanding its training program.
“Skilled trades should continue to do some type of development for new products and services — and EV chargers are just that: a new product,” said Young. “Training is necessary to ensure that the consumer is getting properly qualified individuals to do this installation in either their home, condo or commercial business.”
NETCO expects to certify 400 electricians by the end of next winter in just Ontario alone, she added.
Ensuring your charger is installed correctly is vital, Young said. “If there is an issue and it has not been installed properly, you might not receive any type of insurance coverage.”