Charge me up, says the electric vehicle in the strata basement

A friend of mine bought a Tesla model S for his residential home in Chatswood. After paying for an upgrade to his switch box and running a new line from the switchbox to his detached garage at the back of the block and installing a Tesla home recharger, the additional cost on top of his new Tesla was ~$50,000.

What does this mean?

Strata buildings are actually better places to recharge electric vehicles than residential homes, whether it is your Nissan Leaf or shiny new Tesla. The main distribution board in the switch room will generally have the capacity to charge an electric vehicle, or two or three at a time.

In the U.S., the first apartment buildings to install an electric vehicle recharger put it in the visitor car parking space. This worked well for the first apartment owner who bought an electric vehicle. He or she was able to charge every night by parking in the visitor car parking space. Once you have electric vehicle recharging in an apartment building, it actually encourages other apartment owners to buy electric vehicles.

As soon as there was a second electric vehicle owner you had a problem. The two electric vehicle owners would race for the visitor car parking space to get there first for recharge. The first person to get on the recharger would have to share the ‘scarce’ resource with the second electric vehicle owner. You would then need communication happening between the two electric vehicle owners to share charging during the evening.

This led to a new solution for apartment buildings. Install electric vehicle rechargers in each car parking space for each electric vehicle owner with charge coming from the common area meter. The first recharge unit (equipped with 4G connectivity to the cloud) is about $1250 but if you buy four of them you might get them for $850 each.

Yes, the electricity bill is paid by the strata for the electric vehicle recharging upfront but then it is reimbursed to the strata by the individual electric vehicle owner based upon how much he or she uses.

Next problem to be solved is when you get more than 4 electric vehicles with their own charging station in the same apartment building. You need a smart recharging solution which will actually time share the recharging of all electric vehicles plugged in overnight, so that the main distribution board is not overloaded.

Now from an environmental perspective. Once you have electric vehicles being recharged in apartment buildings the grid-based energy consumption of the building goes up.

So now you know why we need to upgrade apartment buildings in this order:

* Energy efficiency to reduce the common area consumption and maximize the future solar array productivity

* Rooftop solar with a monitoring solution to make sure it is functioning in an optimal working state

* Batteries – Tesla, AGL or Panasonic, take your pick!

* Electric vehicle recharge with energy coming from the batteries charged up by solar during the day

This solution will make for clean electric vehicle recharging and bring down the overall carbon emissions of the building while the overall electricity consumption of the block is rising.

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