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Getting ready for electric vehicles in your strata property

With the rise in sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in Australia, strata owners need to be prepared for the growth of EVs. 

The environmental pluses of EVs have also added to their popularity immensely. In 2021, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor released a plan to deliver Australia’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. EVs are tipped to be a major part of Australia’s move towards sustainability, with most car manufacturers expected to shift to manufacturing electric vehicles over the coming decade. This along with the price of fuel surging, there is growing urgency towards alternatives, such as electric vehicles.

Sales of EV's in Australia have tripled in the past 12 months with more than 20,000 being sold. The push has been accelerated with state government rebates and a competitive market. NSW has the largest number of sales – 7430, followed by Victoria with 6396.

At the same time there are still limited EV charging stations and, besides public charging stations, there will be a major demand for stations to be in new or existing buildings, such as strata properties..

A number of local governments are requiring many new property developments to be “EV ready”. Developers will have to consider that, besides normal electrical usage, their buildings will need to accommodate the power used by EVs and, of course, stations within the car park.

But what does this EV surge mean to existing residential strata properties and their owners?

It’s estimated that nearly 50% of those living in apartments in Sydney plan to have EVs within the next few years. A survey by strata energy adviser Wattblock shows that 83% of people are interested in installing EV charging stations.

Installing individual EV charging in few spaces in underground residential car parks is fairly easy, with a number of qualified electricians able to do the job. Likewise, it’s relatively cheap to install.

However to provide chargers for nearly every parking space remains an expensive and complex task. There are professional advisers in Australia able to assist. Likewise, new technologies are making mass stations in car parks more feasible.

There are a few issues when establishing a large number of EV charging stations in an apartment parking area.

The biggest issue is who pays for the electricity? Not every strata owner may want to have a charging station and want to pay for others to do so. Surveys shows that many strata owners want to see user-pays arrangement for individual car spaces. This may require dedicated metered supplies if metering hardware is not built into the EV charging units.

The additional power usage can also be an issue. The power supply to strata apartments is limited, with little spare capacity available.

The body corporate/owners corporation will need to discuss this with the strata manager, who, in turn, would need to discuss it with the building’s electrical engineer. The good news is most EV owners charge their vehicles overnight when the demand when normal high usage is less. Again, this may require professional advice on making the power system more flexible.

Security can also be an issue. There are smart charging systems available which can be locked and unlocked remotely.

There’s no doubt EVs are the future of sustainable transportation and strata owners will need to get onboard. The question is how and when are they going to be ready?