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Electric vehicles in multi-unit residential buildings: power sources and charging solutions

When electric vehicle charging stations are installed in a multi-unit dwelling, they can be powered from two different sources: a private power source and a shared power source. The choice of power source is not arbitrary, and the differences between them will be explained in the article below.

Private source
Shared source

Private power source

A private power source allows an electric vehicle to be charged from a dwelling’s infrastructure (either from the electrical panel or from the dwelling’s main feeder, i.e. the wire connecting the electricity meter and the electrical panel).

Each charging station is connected to the dwelling’s infrastructure, so that the electricity used for charging is automatically billed to the dwelling’s electricity account at the residential rate.

A private power source allows an electric vehicle to be charged from a dwelling’s infrastructure (either from the electrical panel or from the dwelling’s main feeder, i.e. the wire connecting the electricity meter and the electrical panel).

This power source is used when the parking space is assigned to the dwelling and the electrical panel or meter is accessible from the parking space.

Shared power source

A shared power source enables several electric vehicles to be charged from the same connecting point. This electrical infrastructure is generally dedicated to electric vehicles and is owned by the site owner. 

Since all electric vehicles are powered from the same source, the electricity meter attached to this source registers all electric vehicle consumption at the commercial rate, or at a special rate for charging stations. The electricity bill must be paid to the electricity distributor by the site owner, who must then re-bill the electricity to users (either by doing so themselves, or using a third-party billing service). Billing is possible at a fixed rate, or per kWh for Measurement Canada-certified devices.

A shared power source enables several electric vehicles to be charged from the same connecting point.

This power source is used if the parking spaces are not assigned to a residence, if there is a single electricity meter for the entire multi-unit building, or if the unit’s panel and electricity meter are not accessible from the parking spaces.

Private SourceShared Source
Advantages
  • No billing management
  • Residential rate
Allows flexible parking space assignment
DisadvantagesNo flexibility in the assignment of parking spaces (the space must be assigned to the same unit / linked to the unit). The parking space must have the same identification as the unit.
  • Site owner must bill users for electricity consumption
  • Commercial rate
Recommended contextsWhen parking spaces are assigned to a dwelling unit and the unit’s electrical infrastructure is accessible.
  • When parking spaces are assigned to a dwelling and the unit’s electrical infrastructure is inaccessible.
  • When the building has a single electricity meter.
  • When parking spaces are not assigned to a dwelling.

Charging solutions

For private power sources: Charge controller – DCC by RVE

Installed in the electrical room, the charge controller is an energy management system installed on the wire that connects the electricity meter and the electrical panel of each unit. The charge controller takes a real-time reading of the electricity consumed by the appliances in the unit. If too much energy is used to power both these devices and the charging station, the power supply to the charging station will be temporarily cut off. When the demand for electricity in the unit decreases, the charging station is automatically re-supplied. At night, since energy consumption is generally low, the vehicle can be charged for several hours.

For shared power sources

There are two main energy management systems for electric vehicles: smart panels and networked charging stations. Both systems ensure that charging station consumption does not exceed available electrical capacity. The main difference between the two is where the energy management components are located.

The smart panel is a control and metering system that is installed with an electrical panel that does not have the capacity to supply the number of charging stations required. It can also be installed in contexts where there is sufficient capacity to supply the charging stations, as it facilitates billing, reduces the power demand, and therefore reduces electricity costs.

In the smart panel, the energy management component is located at the power source, i.e. at the electrical panel. Since it’s managed at source, any charging station can be installed, or even just a wall outlet, leaving the choice of charging station to the user’s discretion.

Networked chargers

In networked charging stations, the energy management component is located in the charging stations themselves. With a networked charging station system, it’s essential to install power-sharing charging stations of the same make and model.

Summary of charging solutions by power source

Power Source
PrivateShared
Parking space
assigned to the residence
and
Electricity meter
accessible from the parking space
Parking space
not assigned to the residence
or
Electricity meter
inaccessible from parking space
Charging Solutions
Charge Controller
Smart Panel
Networked charging stations

Billing
AutomaticMethod of choice

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