Condo Charging Station UPDATE - FINALLY Operational!

NickyM3

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#1
Hello all! New to the forum and Model 3 ownership, picked up my Black w/ white interior Model 3 Performance in January. Joined up here for obvious reasons, love discussing the car with fellow owners. My first topic I wanted to start was soliciting some opinions on the home charging installation I'm planning and sharing the process.

I live in a nice but older condo community from the 70s in Fort Lauderdale. We have limited common element parking deeded to our condos which allows me to install charging infrastructure within my parking space as per the condo EV laws passed in Summer '18. I had to go through it with my condo board right off the bat explaining these laws to them as they were immediately spooked about me adding this to the property and were trying to tell me I wasn't allowed without a vote at the next meeting. (Trying to explain brand new EV laws to an elderly condo board is about as fun as it sounds)...

After sorting that mess I went through Tesla's referral page for an electrician and the first one had the highest Yelp rating so went with them. They have done several home charging installs and came out and assessed it would be a cheaper job to run a NEMA 14-50 station off the power pole in our lot than to run it off the building's panel through a concrete wall into the carport. Fortunately my neighbor next to that pole is willing to trade spots with me should the job go through.

The estimate still came in hefty however at ~$2,800. I'm guessing because this is a bit more involved with the electrician needing to bring out a boom truck to work on the pole and thus the higher price. Has anyone else had a similar job done? Is this about average? I've attached a copy of their estimate and a picture they sent me of a similar installation. Thank you for any input!
 

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Ed Woodrick

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#2
If I'm reading this right, you aren't getting a new plug, you are getting new service. That's a electric meter, distribution panel, and then the plug.
But more importantly, it's a new bill. That will mean that you will have to pay the monthly minimums as well as a second bill.

At that point, I'd say that it was a reasonable cost.
 

NickyM3

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#3
Yes correct, new service as per the Condo EV laws. However I'm not aware of any monthly minimums with FP&L, just paying actual usage and the one-time $25 new service fee. I will have to look into this.
 
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Ed Woodrick

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Looks to be $8.04 https://www.fpl.com/rates/pdf/March2019-Residential.pdf
Not huge, but dependent on how much charging you do. If my numbers are right, 1000 miles would be about $18 in use, So the base charge would be 50% of the bill.

But then again $26 per month is laughable compared to gas costs.

Some other thoughts...
  • Some folks worry that others may use their charger, others respond "so what"
  • It may be advantageous to place the plug so that it could reach more than one space, as there may be other EVs at the facility in the future.
  • Maybe want the electrician to build the pole so that additional HPWC or NEMA 14-50 can be added in the future (heck, a 14-50 add-on would probably be cheap if you do it now.)
 

NickyM3

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#5
I remember another Model 3 owner with home charging telling me he worked the math as well and similarly came out to around 5 bucks of actual meter usage each time to charge the car from dead. I will certainly meet that $8 minimum in a month! ;)

As for other future EV owners using my plug, I really don't want that as it's my own metered service I'm paying for and liability reasons. I will be having mine installed in a weatherproof pad-lockable enclosure. Although they did leave the door open for any future EV owners needing to run additional plugs to their spaces, it will just be at their expense.
 
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Ed Woodrick

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#6
I don't read the $8 as a minimum, it's a customer charge. It's above whatever your usage is.

But still, the $25/month is comical. The worse part will be having to pay a separate bill every month. And if you are used to average billing, it will probably take a year or so before they would offer it.
 

NickyM3

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Ah I see. In that case I never even noticed it in my normal bill. I live alone with my pup in a 1 bed 1 bath unit, the bill is only like 40 or 50 bucks monthly anyway! A second minor bill for the car won't bother me at all and with auto bill pay I'll forget about it entirely after a while :p

You are absolutely right though, this whole not paying for gas thing and tiny electric bills is bonkers awesome. Also enjoying the 6 months free supercharging till that's up. The novelty of gas stations and gas prices being completely irrelevant to me now still hasn't worn off :D
 
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#9
The most expensive part is not renting a "cherry picker", it's installing a 'new service riser on the existing 10" pole' See that grey metal jacket going down the pole? There's going to be another one on the other side that contains your power connection, and it's going to lead into an underground conduit that will go a few feet below ground to the charging location, and then ascend to the new meter. Beware of extra costs like required permits, FPL hookup/activation fees, utility location services, cost of rerouting due to water/gas lines, or the condo association making you pay for landscape/bushes repairs after the work.

I'm not an electrician, but I don't think I'd agree that it should more expensive to cut through a concrete wall to the carport, even if the electrical panel is on the opposite side of the building. I see electricians do that all the time (twice, in fact, to install a backup generator at my house). Maybe there's some particular about it that I don't know, like if it must be on a separate service drop and meter, or something crazy like main electrical service being on an upper floor in a hallway.
 

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#10
Yes, I just meant the totality of working and running service off a pole is probably a more expensive affair than the usual run it off a garage panel approach. The electrician did specify other more technical reasons it was a tougher job to run it off the building's panel though. The electrical room is right in the carport area but he did not like the way power was running to the building from the pole. Something about service drops like you said, it was jargon over my head. Also, apparently a 100A service was required for permits and the building panel would have to be upgraded. And finally the carport idea was all contingent on someone trading me one of those spots anyway; could not swing it. We only have 4 carport spaces and all owners are holding onto them tightly. That was one part of condo logistics I couldn't get around. It would be a very long way to run it to my current spot on the other side of The building. All this taken together and they strongly advised to go with the power pole option.
 
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JasonF

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#11
I might be able to solve the puzzle now with the info from your last post. Correct me if I'm wrong, because some of it is just best guess.

I see a high-voltage connection running down the pole in the photo already. I would guess that's the connection for the condo building, and it runs to a transformer somewhere on the ground outside the building. Inside the building, the household mains coming in doesn't provide enough amps to support a 100 amp charger on top of what's being fed to the condos already (being a building from the 1970's).

The likely reason the electrician doesn't want to mess with it is he can't shut off the whole building for pretty much an entire day and replace the incoming mains and the circuit box with higher-amp ones; and he's not certain if the transformer will support a new drop. If it doesn't, it would take lots of arguing to MAYBE get FPL to upgrade/retrofit the transformer, and they might end up passing the cost to you (that could be thousands of $$ more)...and it could still involve cutting power to the building for a couple of hours. Even if it will support another drop, it still involves a shorter building outage and some arguing with FPL.
 

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#12
I think you've neatly hit every nail on the head here haha. I remember him looking at the pole and then the panel and just shaking his head a lot about the loads and he did mention that as well about the logistics of having to cut the power to the building during work. It was enough for him to write off the building panel within the first 5 minutes of the first site visit.
 

gary in NY

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#13
It'd be nice to have a more comprehensive solution as there may be additional EVs in your complex in the future. Sounds like that would involve your board in decisions they may not be prepaired to make. As EV adoption increases, this may be an issue for many condo/apartment dwellers.
 

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#14
Now here are the big issues with installing the charger the way the electrician proposes. And bear with me here, because I'm not a lawyer, but I have been in a condo before.

- Your condo contract almost certainly considers anything from the "inner walls" of your condo out to be shared property that all of the owners share the maintenance cost for, with the exception of items attached to the outside of your condo such as an air conditioner. When some the other owners finally re-read their contracts after seeing a private Tesla-only charger installed outside, they might just petition the condo association to either formally take ownership of it - which means you were kind enough to pay to install a free community charger - or order you to remove it at your own expense so they don't become responsible for its maintenance now or in the future.

- Condo insurance will probably not cover accidents or damage to or caused by the charging station, because it's outside. If it gets hit by lightning, you will have to repair it at your own expense. If it catches fire and burns your car to the ground, there's a lot of grey area of whether any of the damage will be covered. The condo association might also be afraid of liability and ask you to remove the charger once their lawyer comes to their senses. Or FPL might cut the power supply once they realize it's not insured, and the condo association won't cover it. There might be special insurance policies for it, but I haven't seen one.

I have two possible suggestions to get around it:

- Since the charging station is 100 amp service, change the plan to have two 50-amp weather protected NEMA 14-50 outlets (or if you can get 150 amp, make it 3, over a wider charging stand). It will limit your charging to 32 amps via the mobile connector, but if you're doing most of your charging overnight, it's not that big of a deal. If the condo association or other residents challenge it, you're still basically paying for a free community charger, but you can make the case that any owner with an EV can use it. There would still be insurance issues, but the condo association would be less afraid to take over the billing and insurance if it's not private for one resident.

- Call the Chargepoint people. I have no idea how that works out, but I assume they have some experience dealing with all of this stuff. https://www.chargepoint.com/businesses/apartments-and-condos/
 

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When some the other owners finally re-read their contracts after seeing a private Tesla-only charger installed outside, they might just petition the condo association to either formally take ownership of it - which means you were kind enough to pay to install a free community charger - or order you to remove it at your own expense so they don't become responsible for its maintenance now or in the future.
Florida has passed a law to prevent that.
https://www.floridahoalawyerblog.co...light-for-electric-vehicle-charging-stations/

the new law stipulates that a declaration of condominium may not be enforced to prohibit a unit owner from installing an electric-vehicle charging station at their own cost and within the boundaries of their designated parking area.
- Condo insurance will probably not cover accidents or damage to or caused by the charging station
The new law also covers the insurance aspects.

...the installing owner will also be responsible for any hazard caused by the charging station, for any liability insurance on the charging station, and for any increased insurance premium to the association’s insurance coverage attributable to the charging station.
 

NickyM3

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#16
Yes, correct. The new Florida Condo EV Charging laws passed last summer took nearly all the legal grey area and guesswork out of it for us. Covers just about everything, read more here:

Florida Condo EV Charging Laws 2018

I already spoke with my insurance people and they assured me all was well with the installation, they only recommended I bump up my personal liability coverage. The annoying part will be if the condo's premiums somehow go up because of my charger, as the law stipulates I would need to pay them that extra difference each month. Hopefully this won't happen.

The law also stipulates I would need to pay for removal of the station if I sell my place and the new owners don't need it. In that regard it definitely is in my interest to pitch to the board to keep it if I leave as expandable for the future and saving them money since I paid for the initial station. Either that or market my place to other EV owners once time comes to sell and the charging station is a selling point ;)
 
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JasonF

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The law also stipulates I would need to pay for removal of the station if I sell my place and the new owners don't need it. In that regard it definitely is in my interest to pitch to the board to keep it if I leave as expandable for the future and saving them money since I paid for the initial station. Either that or market my place to other EV owners once time comes to sell and the charging station is a selling point ;)
In that case, I'll stand by my suggestion to install a pair of NEMA 14-50 outlets instead of a Tesla Wall Connector. Or at least leave the capability for the Wall Connector to be replaced with dual NEMA 14-50 outlets.

I wasn't aware of that new Florida EV charging law (I told you I'm not a lawyer!). I didn't think Florida had any EV friendly laws, so it's a bit of a surprise to me.
 

NickyM3

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Oh I was never going with the wall connector to begin with, that sample picture of another station they built just happened to have one. It would be nice, but I had concerns about how its cosmetic appearance would hold up in the beating Florida sun and rain and I need a plug that can be locked in an enclosure anyway. I've seen a few other Teslas rolling through my neighborhood but I'm not sure where they live or how they charge. Wouldn't want them getting privy to the wall connector in the neighborhood and scoring free juice off me when I'm not around haha. From what I understand the 32A I'll get from the Mobile Connector is not all that much slower than the full 48A I'd get from the wall connector. Something like 30 miles of range per hour vs. 40-45. Either one will charge me overnight which will be my main usage time. Overall I decided to just save the $500 as the job was already pricey.

The current plan does only have one NEMA 14-50 going in, but I believe they are indeed leaving it open-ended for expansion with further plugs if any other EV owners join the community (the electric company obviously wants the future business). At that point I believe the new owners would just pay for the additional service and expansion to their parking space per the same Condo EV laws.
 
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JasonF

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#19
If it's not too cost prohibitive, ask about 150 or 200 amp service. That would serve 3 or 4 (respectively) NEMA 14-50 outlets charging at the same time!

All of this reminds me of people who get electric tankless water heaters. They soon discover their puny household mains aren't going to be enough, and they need to install a 2nd meter and circuit breaker to supply 300 amps. I bet the street lights outside the houses that had those installed dim every time someone takes a shower.

P.S. Those of you with gas/propane powered units aren't off the hook. Those use almost as much fuel as a medium sized backup generator.
 
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#20
Go for it - we're looking at over $7,500 per person in my condo tower here in Seattle for what'll end up being a 50 amp breaker 40 amp wall connector, best of 5 quotes. It took us 6 years to finalize a policy and plan (we do not have the same right-to-charge laws that CA, OR, FL have) - all for a simple 75KVA 480V/377Y step-down transformer and panel with space and city permits + inspections for 10 people in a 281 parking space building. Insane additional costs then to run the power to your own parking spaces with post-tensioned concrete core drills and x-rays, etc.