How to Own an Electric Car and Live in an Apartment

Charging electric vehicle at an apartment is easier than it seems

Don’t worry, we’ve got solutions

Are you considering buying an electric car, but not sure how to charge an electric car at an apartment? Living in an apartment can certainly present challenges when charging an electric vehicle, but don’t be discouraged. We’ve got practical charging solutions even if you live in an apartment with no charging stations.

It’s estimated that nearly 39 million people in the United States call apartments home. Demand for apartments continues to rise across the globe. However, many apartment complexes still do not offer charging stations for electric vehicles. If you’re an apartment-dweller and you’re really serious about owning an electric vehicle, it’s time to get creative.

Option 1: Charge at Work

If you still commute daily to an office in your EV, charging your vehicle at work is the easiest solution. It may also be the cheapest. More and more companies are providing EV charging access to their employees. If your company provides chargers, you can charge all day and leave work with a full charge.

If you commute to work, but your workplace does not provide EV charging, there is still hope. Many companies receive incentives for providing EV charging to their employees. Ask your HR department to see if incentives are available, it’s likely you won’t be the first person to ask. If your workplace doesn’t currently offer incentives or chargers, speak up. Your company is more likely to consider providing this perk in the future based on worker feedback.

Option 2: Use Public EV Chargers Near the Places You Visit

Charging stations are becoming pretty common even in only moderately-trafficked areas. Use charging maps to find available Level 2 and Level 3 (DC Fast) charging stations (read more: Understanding Electric Car Charging.) You can find chargers near your home, workplace, and places you visit frequently like malls, restaurants, and gyms. The simplest option is to use your EV’s onboard navigation to plot a course to a local charger.

You can also use apps like Chargemap (iOS or Android), Chargepoint (iOS or Android), and Plugshare (iOS or Android). These apps show EV charging stations nearby, with photos, reviews, and real-time availability.  Even Google Maps lets you search for “EV charging stations“.

All of our vehicle detail pages feature a charging map too! If you’re still in the process of finding your perfect EV (try our EVsmartSearchTM) check out the charging map found on every vehicle detail page. You’ll find convenient charging locations near you, while taking into account any special charging requirements that your EV may have.

Option 3: Plug Into a Wall Outlet

With a heavy-duty extension cord, it is possible to charge your vehicle from a standard 120-volt outlet. Just plug it into a standard outlet in your apartment and run it to your vehicle.  This is considered Level 1 charging and may be possible if you park within 100 feet of your apartment. You will generally get a few miles of charge per hour. That translates to about 20-50 miles of charge over 10 hours of charging.  If you commute less than 50 miles per day this is an option you should consider. Please check with your local landlord or property manager before using this method. There may be specific rules for EV charging and outlet usage.

Option 4: Ask Your Landlord or Property Manager to Install an EV Charging Station

If you haven’t talked to your property manager about EV charging stations, now is a great time to do it. Charging stations will eventually become a standard option at apartment complexes as more people switch to electric vehicles.  It’s possible that your landlord has been considering this and is just waiting for more tenants to request EV chargers.

Installing EV chargers for tenants benefits both the tenant and property.  It allows the apartment to advertise EV charging as an amenity. They may also be able to generate a new income stream from profit sharing with the charging installer.

Companies like Chargepoint and EverCharge work with your property to install EV charging stations on site. ChargePoint even offers a template letter you can send to your landlord.  Property owners may pay for installation, but often ask tenants to pay a small monthly maintenance fee. This fee is charged in addition to any usage costs related to charging your vehicle. 

Option 5: Look for Apartments Nearby with EV Charging Stations

If all else fails, it might be time to search for apartments in your area with EV charging stations.  If your lease is expiring soon and you are already considering moving, this could be your opportunity.  Find a home that offers EV charging, so that you can finally purchase your dream EV.

The Final Word

If you live in an apartment without convenient chargers, consider purchasing an electric vehicle with a longer-range battery. The extra cost up-front could make up for the time spent at charging stations. Also, make sure you understand the different types of charging available to you. All electric vehicles have different battery ranges, but most use one of three main charging methods. Check out our article on Understanding Electric Car Charging to make an informed decision on how best to charge.

Charging electric vehicle
Model X Tesla Charging | Image courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Owning an electric vehicle, even if you live in an apartment with no chargers, doesn’t have to stop you from purchasing your first electric car.  You may need to get creative and use multiple methods of charging listed here, but if you are really set on buying an electric car, you can make it work!

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