Detailed question on CONDO EV charger install / CA Law...

Detailed question on CONDO EV charger install / CA Law...

** Apologies for reposting this, but it's pretty detailed and I thought it might be better in this forum than the general one **

I live in a pretty new condo complex in San Jose - I have a deeded parking space in a condo parking structure that holds about 150 cars and have been struggling to find an EV charger install option that (a) would not be prohibitively expensive and (b) would be acceptable to the HOA board.

I would like to install a level II (220v) charger, but as with many parking structures, we don't even have any 110v outlets close to any of the parking spaces.

I have been getting info/quotes from a couple of installation companies and I seem to have 2 options:

[1] Tap into the power conduits that carry power from the parking structure meter rooms directly to individual condos (so would be metered) - these conduits actually run fairly close to my parking space - the challenge is that this would require installation of a new breaker panel box and the EV charger on the wall by my parking space - HOA do not appear to be agreeable to this because (a) they believe the breaker panel box would be "unsightly" and (b) they say that we cannot tap into the "power conduit" that is going from the meter room to my condo, because that power conduit is HOA property rather than my property...

[2] In the parking structure meter room - there do appear to be several spare/unused breakers - we could possibly connect to one of these and run conduit/cable to my parking space - however, this would be an "un-metered" supply and the HOA will not allow this, even if I pay them an agreed amount every month - I am currently looking into the possibility of a "sub-meter", but am not sure whether PG&E currently allow sub-meters to be installed...

The biggest challenge I see at the moment, is that even though CA law allows condo owners to install EV chargers, there are a few caveats and nobody has really laid down any practical guidelines for doing so.

For example, the law appears to state the following with regards to EV charger installs in exclusive-use condo parking spaces:

"Prohibitions are not acceptable. Any language in governing documents effectively prohibiting or restricting installation or use of electric charging station is void or unenforceable; except that:

Reasonable restrictions are allowed. These are restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost or significantly decrease efficiency or performance; but just remember that the State promotes the stations and courts determine what is "reasonable" (so be reasonable!).

All permitting requirements and health and safety standards apply and all building codes apply. An "Electric vehicle charging station" has to be designed to comply with the California Building Standards Code. The charging station may include several charge points simultaneously connecting several electric vehicles to the station and any related equipment needed to facilitate charging plug-in electric vehicles."

Well that's great, but who determines the definition of "reasonable restrictions" and "significant cost increase"... ?

Has anybody successfully challenged an HOA refusal to allow install and do we have any data/test cases yet around how the courts are likely to interpret "REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS"... ?

Would love to hear from anybody who has experience (particularly in the SF Bay Area) of EV charger install in a condo parking space.


Tâm | July 31, 2013

Thanks for keeping us updated of HOA progress.

You are indeed a pioneer in persuading HOA to do the green thing.

The law is on your side but the question is how much effort you have to spend to enforce it.

The cheapest plans were the one you mentioned in 1 & 2.

How about more expensive way by having an electrician to draw up a plan for power company to bring in a new feed to your garage area and present it to the HOA?

If your HOA is still giving you a hard time, then it's time for hiring a lawyer.

Docrob | July 31, 2013

I would simply come up with a solution that us practical, come eight and minima cost and send them a copy of it along with a letter from a lawyer stating that it is illegal to unreasonably restrict the installation of charging infraststructure under Ca law, plenty of quotes from the act etc. the act clearly discusses that they can not restrict the installation in any ay that significantly adds to the cost. Send them this letter and I nearly guarantee they ill quickly back down, the law is clearly on your side here.

Docrob | July 31, 2013

Is practical, convenient and minimal cost* damn iPad keyboard is being funky today.

shop | July 31, 2013

"Unsightly?" It's a friggin garage for pete's sake. *That* sounds like unreasonable restriction. A friend of mine just went through this with his condo association and managed to figure it out - I'll see if he can post his experiences here.

mymontreal | August 1, 2013

"Unsightly?" It's a friggin garage for pete's sake. *That* sounds like unreasonable restriction."

Shop - My thoughts exactly... I would love to hear what experiences your friend had with his condo association.

I am hoping to get an additional quote over the next few days and will keep everyone updated as to progress with the HOA - current quote I have is $2500 to $3500 + cost of $1M Umbrella policy that the law says the condo association can request... this is for option (1) above.

Hope to get a firm quote for option (2) in next few days, BUT it will be dependent on whether CA/PGE will allow a sub-meter to be installed on the unused HOA breaker.

shop | August 1, 2013

Well, my friend did reply with this:

"For my installation, I have to install a new panel in the condo's electrical closet next to the garage. This panel needs to match the ones installed there when the condo was built in 1991. The specific panel is now obsolete. So a new one is being custom built."

Maybe check out other car EV forums, like the Nissan Leaf one - they've also had to deal with these problems and their cars have been out longer so maybe they have more experience figuring out condo associations.

Tom A | August 1, 2013

Just to be clear...unless you are installing the Tesla high-power charger, all you need is a 14-50 NEMA outlet, single-phase, 240V @ 40A.

It's just a clothes dryer outlet, very inconspicuous.

The only challenge in that situation is to get the electrical feed to the outlet, as you have outlined above.

Docrob | August 1, 2013

The law specifically says the HOa can not place a requirement that significantly adds to the cost of the installation, making their demand of your friend to have a custom cabinet made illegal.

shop | August 1, 2013

I would imagine that if a condo association was being too prickly (as in specifically disallowing something or demanding something too expensive) a toughly worded letter to said HOA quoting the relevant law with an explicit thread to sue would do wonders. But I'm no lawyer.

D and K | August 1, 2013

We worked with our HOA for about 4-5 months prior to delivery. We live in a high rise where our parking space is on P3 (lower third level) while the electrical meter room was on P1 (first lower level, one level below ground level).

There were several conditions we had to meet in order to receive approval to install the HPWC:
- Engineering drawings needed to be submitted to the HOA
- City permit must be pulled and work approved by city inspector once completed (this was also a requirement by the power company before they would install a meter)
- Licensed electrician must perform the work
- Prior to any drilling/coring of concrete slabs, the drilling/coring site must first be x-rayed or ground penetrating radar must be done
- Exposed conduit must be painted to match surrounding area
- Indemity and Maintenece agreement
- Insurance Liability Policy providing for $1M naming the HOA as additionally insured

The HOA allowed us to tap the power from one of the panels in the meter room. There was an empty socket/circuit with 208V/200amp of power. The empty socket was granted to us on a "licensed basis" meaning the HOA retain ownership, but we are granted exclusive use. Additionally, if down the road, technology improves and allows for sub-metering the socket, we agree to allow the HOA to do so since there was still 100 amps of unused power remaining. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) installed the meter free of charge.

As for running the power conduits from the P1 meter room to our parking space on P3, we made the consciencous decision to use a commercial electrician, Dynalectric (the same company that did the original electrical work when our building was built). Our reasoning was due to the fact that we wanted the work to the same specifications as the original electric work of the building -- especially since we were taking on liability for the HPWC and installation site.

In the end, the total cost for everything was approximately $9500. Everyone was happy with the work, which blends right in with the rest of the conduits running throughout the garage space and because we are on a separate meter, we were able to take advantage of the "Time Of Use" (TOU) rate offered by our power company.

RobRube | November 5, 2013

We live in Silicon Valley and have a place in Tahoe ... a condominium complex. There are no garages; a very few condos have carports; rest of the condos park outside with no assigned spaces. There are 3 or 4 Tesla owners at present. This is generally a 2nd home for most and those folks only sporadically take the car to Tahoe.
It probably would not make economic sense for a 3rd party charging provider due to the minimal use of the charging station, as well as the fact that the HOA does not want to open the complex to the public to use a charger.
The question is "what options do we have with the HOA?" regarding charging stations on the property.

Gizmotoy | November 5, 2013

Seems like you should talk to the other Tesla owners in the complex, and present the HOA with a proposal that involves the current owners splitting the costs of installation? While not ideal, you could purchasing something like a ChargePoint system to recoup electricity costs (owners of the station set the price), and you can set it as access-controlled (not public). It would be 208V/30A, but it'd be convenient and sustainable.

jbunn | November 5, 2013

I agree with Docrob. If the condo needed to replace a box inside that closet, would they have had one custom made? I cannot imagine it.

It is unreasonable.

Elon's_Right_Ha... | December 17, 2013

Take a look @ EverCharge. (google it) They seem to be the only service providers for condos and apartments.

Dramsey | December 17, 2013

I'm in the final stages of having a 14-50 installed n my carport in my San Jose condo. There was only 110 in the carports, so this required digging a trench across the parking lot to run a buried conduit carrying the lines.

That was fun.

The actual wiring and outlet should be installed in the next few weeks. Expensive, but the process was relatively easy, probably helped by the fact that I've had that condo for 25 years and was once board president, although I live in Reno now.