Some electric vehicle (EV) owners across the country are growing frustrated with finding access to EV charging stations, especially those who live in multi-unit complexes.

 

According to a recent article from USA Today, 1 in 3 U.S. households live in apartments or condominiums. Not all of those have the physical or electrical infrastructure to allow for multiple EV charging stations, forcing EV owners to look for other areas to plug in. It’s a major inconvenience and could prove to be a major obstacle in the national push to encourage more people to switch from gasoline-powered cars to electric.


“I fully believe in electric vehicles and electrification, but the government and private companies that build new buildings need to be way more aggressive. Otherwise, people who live in multifamily buildings are going to be forced to drive gas-powered cars,” Kelly Richard Olsen co-founder of an EV advocacy group in Santa Monica, told USA Today.


Here’s the problem. It’s not really the physical space that most of these multi-unit complexes are lacking, it’s the capacity of the current electrical service. Think of it like this. There is X amount of power available each day to the complex at the standard rate of electricity, called the peak demand. If the complex suddenly goes over X amount because of the addition of EV chargers, the utility will charge a much higher price for that electricity because it was unexpected. That could cause a huge increase in utility bills.


There’s also the amount of space left on the existing circuit breaker panels for new inputs and the capacity of the transformer that powers the complex. If electrical upgrades are needed, the cost could range from hundreds of thousands up to millions of dollars. Additionally, there could be over a year wait if a new transformer is needed.


Atom Power’s PURPL Advanced EV Charging system is the solution to those problems.​​ By combining energy management with multi-panel digital circuit breakers, we can provide much larger installations at a much lower cost.


How does it work? The amount of energy available in a day is much higher than most people realize. By regulating the vehicle charge rate, time of day, length of time, and overall energy usage each EV can use over the course of a given day, PURPL will ensure the building never exceeds the peak demand, so the utility won’t charge the increased rates. In addition to the savings on electricity rates, that means up to 25x more EV chargers could be installed before a transformer upgrade is needed. Once PURPL charging is installed, it’s also easy for an electrician to add additional chargers as the demand grows.


As more and more people make the switch to electric vehicles, it’s clear that access to charging will be a major factor in where people will want to live. Atom Power’s PURPL Advanced EV Charging system is the perfect solution to make new or existing multi-unit complexes more attractive to tenants.


Updated: Mar 22

Fleet and multifamily property owners can have 20, 50, 90 or more vehicles charging at one time, which brings a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing costs associated with charging electric vehicles. Adding that kind of demand for electricity can add hundreds to thousands of dollars to an electricity bill every month. So, when fleet or multifamily property owners decide to go electric, there are specific factors to consider.


This overview demonstrates how energy management, used in combination with an EV charging system, can mean the difference between charging a car for $18 or $4761 a month.


Atom Power’s Advanced EV Charging solution dynamically adjusts and manages EV charging by regulating vehicle charge rate, time of day, length of time, and overall energy an EV can use over the course of a given day. The system monitors real-time building load and in combination with the historical baseline peak demand in the given month, targets EV charging rates and times so that the current month peak demand will not be exceeded.


How EV Charging Affects Utility Bills

Residential utility bills are typically broken down in terms of energy consumption, or the amount of energy you use in kilowatt hours (kWh) during a given billing period. It’s straightforward as there is a 1:1 relationship between the price you pay each month and the amount of energy you consume. Utility bills for multi-family owners, commercial property owners, and fleet operators add another variable, energy demand. To an electric utility, demand represents the amount of power that needs to be generated at any given time during the day to cover the maximum amount of energy needed by its customers. The highest demand point over the course of a month is the “peak demand.” As demand increases, the utility must seek out additional energy sources, which can be very expensive. In many markets, peak demand accounts for the single largest cost on utility bills.


Installing EV charging infrastructure adds a significant additional load to one’s electric service, subsequently increasing demand. Now imagine the impact of adding multiple EV charging spaces to a multi-family residence and the effect it will have on peak demand and the utility bill.


How it Works

Say a New York City property owner adds 20 EV charging stations to their apartment building’s parking lot. Residents typically charge their vehicles after they come home from work, starting between 4 – 6pm. Assuming each EV charges for an average of 2 hours per day at 10kW, an additional 200kW is pulled from the utility grid. Without energy management, the building’s demand will spike above the historical peak by up to 200kW, which will dramatically increase electricity costs. At a demand rate of $45.79 per kilowatt, the demand charge will increase by $9,158.69 per month. If the property owner uses a dynamic energy management solution with the EV charging system, the only increase on their utility bill would be the electricity consumed for charging. At a rate of $0.0824/kWh, the increase would be $988.88 per month for 20 vehicles ($49.44 per vehicle).

Our blog posts will examine how Atom Power’s core technology enables the “electrification of everything” and how we’re working with commercial and multi-family property owners, developers, fleet owners, home builders, utilities, and industrial customers, among others, to make that transition efficient and affordable. From transportation to industrial automation, commercial and multi-family properties to single family homes—the future is electric. Today, we’ll begin with electric vehicles.


The rising adoption of electric vehicles (EV) and EV charging infrastructure is paving the way to a clean energy future. Increased adoption of EVs means larger energy demands, especially for multi-family residences and commercial facilities. And larger energy demands can lead to higher electricity bills. So, how do we balance goals to electrify everything and manage electricity bills?


Why EVs are Replacing Gas-Powered Vehicles

EVs enjoy several advantages over gas-powered vehicles, including improved fuel economy and lower fuel costs. They also use less fuel because they employ electric-drive technologies that boost vehicle efficiency (e.g., regenerative braking). However, one of the biggest reasons for EV adoption is their reduced carbon emissions as compared to gas-powered vehicles. The U.S., like many countries around the world, has announced a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Two key steps in achieving this ambitious goal include decarbonizing the power sector and switching to electricity and other low- to zero-carbon fuels. Switching to EVs will contribute to both steps, enabling the U.S. to stay on track to meeting its 2050 target.


How EV Charging Affects Utility Bills

It all begins with electricity demand. Demand is the real-time electric load of the building (or demand from the electric utility). Demand varies throughout the day as appliances and other electric loads are turned on and off. The highest demand point over the course of a month is “peak demand.” In many markets, peak demand has a substantial impact on a property owner’s utility bill. If a building’s peak demand increases when new loads are added, the utility bill can increase substantially. Installing EV charging infrastructure can add a significant additional load to a building’s electric service. If this additional load exceeds the current service, you will need to obtain an electrical service upgrade from the utility. For example, say a building has a service level of 500kW with historical load of 300kW. If you add 400kW of new load in the form of EV charging infrastructure, the total load (700kW) now exceeds the 500kW service and you will need to upgrade to meet or exceed your new service capacity. This can be very costly.



Property owners can stay below baseline peak demand AND avoid service upgrade charges when adding EV charging to their buildings by using energy management in conjunction with a flexible and dynamic EV charging system – like Atom Power’s PURPL EV charging infrastructure.

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