Charging electric vehicles in apartments and townhouses

Like a cell phone, you plug in your electric vehicle when you want to charge it. Most electric vehicle owners prefer to charge at home overnight because it is easy and convenient.

It is possible to charge an electric vehicle in an apartment and townhouse. In fact, there are several options for charging. If you are interested in installing a charger in your building, we have helpful guides for homeowners and tenants, and strata councils and property managers to get you started.

There are two main ways to charge in apartments and townhouses


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Level 1 (120 V/ 15-20 Amps)

An electric vehicle can be plugged into a standard outlet using a portable adapter called a “cordset charger” that usually comes with the purchase of the electric vehicle. Cordsets should be plugged into a normal three-pronged outlet that has a “dedicated” electrical connection or circuit that is used only for charging and is not shared with other devices. Level 1 charging is relatively slow, for most vehicles it can take 5 to 20 hours to charge a fully depleted electric vehicle battery (electric vehicles with larger batteries like the Tesla Model S require more time to charge). A Level 1 charger can satisfy a variety of driving needs and is best suited for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or for those who have shorter commutes or driving distances. Level 1 charging is typically cheaper and easier to install.

  Click here to learn more about charger costs.

Level 1 (120 V/ 15-20 Amps)Charger

All EVs are equipped with a cordset charger, which looks similar to the above.

Level 2 (208-240 V/ 20-100 Amps)

An electric vehicle can also be plugged into more powerful chargers that can be purchased separately from your vehicle. These chargers offer faster charging speeds and can charge a depleted electric vehicle battery in 3 to 8 hours. A Level 2 charger can draw as much electricity as your dryer when it is charging an electric vehicle. A Level 2 charger is typically more suitable for pure battery electric vehicles if the driver anticipates longer driving distances or commutes, or when a vehicle is parked for shorter periods of time (such as in the visitor area of the parkade). Level 2 charging is typically more expensive to install than Level 1 charging.

  Click here to learn more about installation costs.   

There are many different types of Level 2 chargers on the market that vary by size, charging speed, sophistication and portability.

The main types of Level 2 chargers include:

    • Hardwired chargers that connect directly into the building’s electrical system and need to be installed by a certified electrical contractor.
    • Portable chargers that do not require installation and can plug directly into outlets similar to the ones used for dryers and stoves.
    • Non-networked chargers that provide basic charging services and are typically used for the exclusive use of one electric vehicle owner in a private secure stall.
    • Networked charger that includes features to support payment and collections systems, to control access, and to monitor use and energy consumption. These chargers typically require Wi-Fi or cellular connections and are most often used for shared access charging.
    • Dual-port chargers that allow two electric vehicles to charge at the same time on one charger.
    • Power-Sharing / Load-Sharing Chargers which communicate with each other on a "Smart" system, and distribute power when multiple stations are being used at one time. With power sharing, between 2 - 4 chargers can share a single 40 Amp, 208 Volt, single phase circuit. Although this may mean slower charging when all stalls are occupied, it can also mean significant cost savings and more efficient use of electrical equipment.

    An example of a single-port Level 2 charger in a public setting    

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     Topic 3: Capital and Installation Costs

    This website refers to electric vehicle chargers simply as “chargers”. However, some people will use the more technical term: electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).