How to Charge an EV if you Live in a Flat

For electric car owners living in flats or apartments, charging an EV can present unique challenges. Limited access to personal parking spaces and dedicated chargers can make the prospect of owning an EV seem daunting. But don’t worry, you can still charge your electric vehicle if you live in a flat, although it’s more challenging than charging your vehicle in a driveway, it’s possible.

This article explores various strategies, innovative technologies, and practical tips to help you overcome obstacles and enjoy the benefits of electric driving, even without a private driveway or garage.

new build block of flats in the sunshine

What are the common charging issues for flat owners?

Living in a flat or apartment can present a number of challenges when it comes to charging an electric vehicle:

  • Limited parking options
    One of the primary challenges for EV owners in flats is the availability of parking spaces. Flats tend to have communal or shared parking areas where residents may not have control over their assigned parking spots. This lack of personal parking can make it challenging to install a private charging station.

  • No dedicated chargers
    Unlike houses with driveways or garages, flats often lack dedicated EV chargers. Public charging stations may not be easily accessible or conveniently located near your residence, and you may not be able to stretch an EV granny charger to the location of your vehicle, even with an EV extension lead, so you will need alternative solutions to charge your EV.

  • Permission and landlord restrictions
    Renters face additional challenges, as they may need permission from their landlords or property management companies to install charging equipment. Landlord restrictions or concerns about modifications to the property can hinder the installation of chargers.

  • Electrical capacity and upgrades
    Older apartment buildings may have limited electrical capacity, which can pose challenges when trying to charge an EV. Upgrading the electrical infrastructure of the building to support EV charging will require coordination with the building management or landlord.

How can you charge your EV if you live in a flat?

While charging an electric vehicle in a flat or apartment building may present challenges, there are several solutions available to help:

  1. Public charging networks
    Research and locate public charging stations near your flat or along your regular journies. Many cities have an expanding network of public chargers that can be accessed through RFID cards or mobile apps. You can locate your closest charging station using online map services such as zap map.

  2. Community charging
    Raise the possibility of establishing a community charging point in your flat. Collaborate with other EV owners in your building to collectively install a shared charging station. This approach can help reduce installation costs and provide charging access to multiple residents.

  3. Workplace charging
    If your workplace offers charging stations, take advantage of this opportunity. Check with your employer on the availability of workplace charging options and the workplace charging policies they have in place.

  4. Portable chargers
    Consider using portable EV chargers as a flexible charging solution. These compact devices can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet and provide a slower but convenient charging option.

  5. Use retail parks or supermarkets
    Take advantage of destination charging options available at supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and other public places. These locations often provide charging facilities that can be used while you are going about your regular business! Making it convenient to top up your EV’s battery.

  6. Collaborate with the landlord or property manager to request an installation
    Speak to your landlord or property management company to highlight the benefits of EV chargers. Propose the installation of dedicated chargers in the parking area to cater to EV owners in the building. Showcase the OZEV grants on offer for landlords and emphasize the growing demand for EVs and the value of providing charging amenities to attract future tenants
EV charging at a public charge station
Public fast chargers are more expensive but offer a quicker rate of charge

Can you install an EV charging point in a flat?

If you have full ownership of your flat and it has an assigned parking space, it usually qualifies you legally to install an EV charging point. However, you should seek permission from the appropriate local authorities and research more on any other requirements you need to fulfil. If you need contact details for your local authority you can find your local council via the government’s online portal.

There is a possibility that installing your EV charging point will intrude on your neighbour’s or any other public property. In that case, you must also ensure that you get permission from those affected. 

If installing an EV charger might be too cumbersome or too bureaucratic, it would be better to speak with your property manager to find out if they can install EV charging points for all communal buildings. In most cases, it all boils down to securing funding. Fortunately, your property manager can apply for a grant that funds the installation of these chargers. Grants from The Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) cover 75% of the cost of purchasing and setting up a charging point (up to £350).

How to install an EV charger in a flat

Installing an EV charger in a flat or apartment building may require some planning and coordination, especially when dealing with shared parking spaces and communal areas. Here are the key steps to consider when installing an EV charger in a flat:

  1. Research the flats regulations restrictions
    Your building most likely has established rules and bylaws, especially regarding big changes. Before starting the project, you must ensure that you have extensively reviewed your building’s requirements

    Understand the specific rules governing modifications to the building’s electrical system, parking areas, and common spaces.

  2. Coordinate with other residents
    If opting for a shared community charger, speak to other residents in your building. Collaborate to identify the best charging solution, allocate costs, and develop a plan for installation, usage, and maintenance.

    To ensure that you are legally covered, draft agreements with other parties involved.

  3. Get permission
    Seek permission from your landlord or property management to install an EV charger. Present them with the benefits of EV ownership, the increasing demand for charging infrastructure, and any potential incentives available to support EV charging installations.

    You can write a request to your local council or property manager regardless of whether you are a renter or owner. You can also rally your neighbours and make a joint request. With approval in hand, you can start preparing for purchasing and installing EV chargers.

  4. Conduct a site assessment
    Take a look at the parking area and figure out the best locations for charger installation. Consider factors such as how close they will be to the power sources, accessibility, and any potential impact on other residents or parking arrangements.

  5. Engage with electricians and contractors
    Consult with qualified EV charger installation contractors. They will assess the electrical capacity of the building, determine if any upgrades are required, and provide recommendations for chargers that suit your needs and budget.

  6. Installation and testing
    Schedule the installation with the electrician. The installation company will complete the work and ensure that it is signed off correctly, they will issue an EV charger EIC certificate once the job is complete which you should present to your building manager for their records.

  7. Inform residents and promote usage
    After installation, communicate with residents about the availability and guidelines for the EV charger. Promote responsible charging practices, fair usage, and any associated costs or access protocols.

  8. Regular maintenance
    Work out a maintenance plan to maintain the charger. Periodically monitor the charger’s performance, address any issues promptly, and keep residents informed about any updates or maintenance activities.
EV car club charging space outside a block of flats
Create an EV charger usage policy with fellow residents

Can you install an EV charging point if you are renting a flat?

You can still install an EV charger if you are renting your flat, but you can only do so once you have your landlord’s permission. If your landlord agrees and is willing to help you have the charging station fitted, they can apply for the OZEV government grant to cover a portion of the costs. Here are some key points to help you convince your landlord it’s worthwhile:

  • Present the benefits
    Try and get across to your landlord about the benefits of EV ownership and the positive impact it can have on the environment. Emphasize the growing popularity of EVs and the increasing demand for charging infrastructure.

  • Address concerns
    Understand that your landlord may have concerns about the installation process, maintenance, or potential costs associated with an EV charging point. Come up with a plan to ensure proper maintenance. Demonstrate your willing to help to make the process hassle-free for both parties.

  • Discuss property value
    Share information about how properties with EV charging capabilities can be more attractive to prospective tenants.
    Potential tenants who own or plan to own EVs may choose properties that already have chargers installed.

  • Highlight government grants
    There are government grants available to landlords to support the installation of EV charging points. Research and provide information about the EV ChargePoint grant for landlords.
rolcex ev charger installed outside a block of flats
EV chargers are an appealing feature for new buyers

Is installing an EV charger in your flat expensive?

The cost of installing an EV charger in your flat can vary depending on many factors such as the installation requirements, the state of the electrical infrastructure of the building, and any necessary upgrades needed to complete the job.

It typically involves expenses such as the cost of the EV charger itself, installation fees charged by EV installers, potential electrical upgrades to accommodate the charger and ongoing maintenance and operational costs.

The price range for EV chargers varies, and the overall cost can be influenced by factors unique to your situation. It’s important to research UK government grants that should help offset the installation expenses. Obtaining multiple quotes and consulting with professionals will provide a clearer understanding of the potential costs involved in installing an EV charger in your flat.

The final word on charging an EV if you live in a flat

Charging an electric car when living in a flat or apartment may come with its challenges, but it is certainly not an insurmountable task. By checking out the available solutions and adopting innovative approaches, EV owners can still find ways to charge their cars, even without having to run an EV extension lead up the side of the flat or installing dedicated chargers in the communal car park.

Using public charging networks, leveraging workplace and destination charging, and considering portable chargers are just some of the strategies that can make EV charging in flats a reality.

Moreover, open communication with landlords or property management, proposing shared charging solutions, and highlighting the benefits of EV charging infrastructure can increase the chances of getting permission for a charger installation. Familiarise yourself with local regulations, get some professional guidance, and collaborate with fellow residents to work out a plan to install chargers.

While the cost of installing an EV charger in a flat can vary depending on several factors, consider the long-term benefits and potential financial incentives that may be available.

As technology advances and the demand for EVs continues to rise, the charging infrastructure will also expand, offering even more options for EV owners in flats.

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