How to Charge an Electric Car in an Apartment?

One of the main challenges facing the adoption of electric vehicles is the availability of the charging infrastructure required for apartment dwellers.

Around 37% of the American population lives in apartments. Therefore, access to charging stations is an essential factor to consider if you have an electric car or you plan to buy one.

Fortunately, you can still charge your EV even if you live in an apartment.

Install an EV Charging Point

The world is rallying towards the green movement and sustainability.

Electric vehicles are a part of sustainability efforts and the way it’s going, I expect Electric vehicles to become a big part of our lives in the next few years.

While some apartments already have charging areas, others still lack these amenities.

If you own the apartment yourself and plan to use and keep using an electric vehicle. it won’t be absurd to get an electric vehicle charging point installed in your apartment.

In case you live on rent and use an electric vehicle, ask your property manager or landlord if they would be willing to install charging points.

Landlords usually steer away from making huge investments such as this, but since EVs are growing in popularity, many landlords are open to the idea.

It also has some merit for the landlord as it delights the tenant and also helps increase the appeal of the apartment for future tenants.

But still, keep in mind that it’s a big ask and many landlords won’t be open to it.

Apartment and condo owners are hesitant to invest in Electric Vehicle System Equipment (ESEV) because of:

  • For multi-unit-dwelling (MUD) owners, renovations, maintenance expenditures, and property upgrades are given priority in annual budgets. Given the cost of EV infrastructure projects, other low-budget expenditures are prioritized.
  • Lack of perceived demand by tenants
  • Unknown capital costs, which are potentially significant
  • Ownership models that make decision-making complex
  • Incomplete project planning

Regardless, you can push your property owner to install charging points. They can work with expert companies such as Chargepoint to install them on site.

Find a Charging Station Near You

Installing an EV charging point is not for everyone.

The best solution would be to look for a charging station near your apartment.

There are charging stations located in various places that are available for public use. If your apartment or workplace has no charging points, then you can use these outlets.

You’ll have to download an app such as OpenChargeMap or PlugShare to find the outlets near your area.

This option shows you several charging points near your apartment, and you can choose the best one.

Unlike fuelling a car, getting it charged would take some time.

You can choose to use this time for any errand you might have or find a cafe and get some work done while your car energizes itself.

Many public charging points have Level 2 and Level 3 chargers capable of adding 50 to 150 miles in just 30 minutes, so you won’t have to wait for a long time.

Additionally, for Tesla owners, there are many supercharging points, so your car will be fully charged in a matter of minutes.

While most of the public charging outlets are free, some charge a small fee. However, you can use the locator app to find outlets near you that are free.

Look for an Apartment with EV Charging

If you own or intend to buy an electric vehicle, consider moving into an apartment with charging infrastructure already installed.

This will save you the time and energy you’d have spent on public charging points. Also, you won’t have to deal with the owner or management asking them to install the charging areas.

Keep in mind that as of now, you may not find many apartments with an existing EV charging point, but its’ certainly something you should try.

When you search for apartments online, you can use the EV charging point filter to make sure you only get those recommendations where the apartment already has an EV charging point.

Personally, I think this is going to be a regular feature in most apartments in the near future, but if you’re looking to move now, check for this first (and you might get lucky and find one).

Charge While You’re at Work

Some businesses and property owners have installed charging stations for their employees in places like parking lots.

If there’s a Level 2 charger, you can charge your car while you work 9-to-5 and get to go home with a fully charged car.

However, if it’s a Level 1, you can add about 30 miles. Again, not a bad idea as it adds to your existing charging levels.

Use a Heavy-Duty Extension Cord from Your Unit to the Car

Another alternative is creating a makeshift charging point. You’ll need to buy a heavy-duty extension cord and run it from your apartment to your car.

EVs come with their chargers. With the cord, you can connect the charger and get charging.

However, Level 1 chargers require a standard 120V outlet and add only around four miles every hour.

That means you might have to charge for about 20 to 27 hours to attain full charge. While it can be a solution, it’s only best if charging for a short time, probably to boost your current charge.

I know this is not convenient, and in some cases, it might not even be possible. And since it takes longer to charge, you can do this in emergencies and in most cases, rely on public EV charging stations.

Also, using a standard power socket to charge your EV can cause several problems, including:

  • You might not have the time to charge your car for up to 27 hours.
  • Standard wall sockets are not designed to high output levels of power for long periods. They are designed to transmit less power for home use. As a result, it can cause issues such as blown fuses and hot power lines and sockets.

If you intend to charge from your sockets, you can try to get enough charge to run your errands (like drive to work) then look for a designated charging point.

Different Types of EV Charging

Not all EV chargers work the same way. For example, the one installed in a public place is likely to charge a lot faster than you trying to charge using a cord from your apartment socket.

Level 1 EV Charging (Slow)

This is where a Level 1 charger is plugged into a standard power outlet.

The charger is a portable adapter known as a cord set charger and comes with the electric vehicle. It uses a 120V/15-20 Amps outlet.

This type of charging is relatively slow and can take 20+ hours for a car with a depleted battery to charge fully.

Some electric vehicles like Tesla Model S have larger batteries thus take more time to charge.

Level 1 charging is easy to install and relatively cheap.

Due to its slow charging rate, it’s suited for driving needs that don’t consume a lot of power, such as short commutes or hybrid cars.

Level 2 EV Charging

Level 2 charging requires a power source of 208-240V/20-100Amps.  It uses a more powerful Level 2 charger that you can buy separately.

Unlike Level 1 chargers, they charge your car faster and charge a depleted battery to full charge in about 3 to 8 hours.

You can get around 12 to 20 miles of range per hour. However, they are also more expensive to install.

If you are stopping over for an errand or intend to take a long drive, this type of charger will help you fill your battery faster. They are more suited for fully electric cars and not hybrid.

There are different types of level 2 chargers, including:

  • Portable chargers: No need for installation.
  • Hardwired chargers: Require installation by a professional electrical contractor as they are connected to the electrical system directly.
  • Dual-port: Two EVs can charge simultaneously using the same charger.
  • Networked: Require internet connection and has features for payment collection, controlling access, and monitoring energy consumption.
  • Non-networked: Offers primary charging and is usually meant for one exclusive EV.
  • Load-sharing: Have a smart system that allows them to communicate and share power when multiple outlets are used.

DC Fast Charging (Very Fast)

When driving for long distances, DC fast charging can help you refill your car when you make a stop. Depending on the car’s battery, it can charge to 80% in about an hour.

While older vehicles could charge at 50kW, newer models can now charge at 270kW. DC chargers can output as high as 350kW.

Currently, the three main DC chargers are:

Things to Know when Charging Electric Vehicles

Understanding how to charge your electric car in an apartment is just one factor to consider.

Make sure you have all the information necessary to take good care of your electric vehicle.

  • Electric cars have different power acceptance rates. They can’t handle too much electricity at once.
  • Level 3 charging stations can damage your battery over time, so it’s best to use them only when needed.
  • Like phone and laptop batteries, draining your electric car and recharging it to 100% can shorten its lifespan. It’s better to top it off than drive it until it’s empty.

Consider Your Charging Options Before Buying an EV

The number of electric vehicles on the road continues to increase every day. You probably want to get one, too—who doesn’t want to go green?

With standard cars, you don’t have to think about where and when you’ll fuel up. 

But with EVs, that’s a consideration you must make when purchasing one, especially if you live in an apartment.

Does your apartment have charging points? 

If not, consider other places you can charge, such as your workplace or public outlets. This will help you plan your days, trips, and even your schedules.

As the world shifts towards green energy, electric vehicles will become more popular, and hopefully, most apartments will install charging infrastructure.

But, until then, ensure you consider the available charging options before buying an EV.


How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Charging time depends on whether you’re using Level 1, 2, or 3 chargers.

  • Level 1: standard wall sockets that provide 120V, requiring 11 hours to charge a car.
  • Level 2: residential sockets that handle larger appliances and transmit 240V. This shortens your charging time to eight hours.
  • Level 3: commercial charging stations that charge your car in as little as 30 minutes.

Is There a Portable Charger for Electric Cars?

Yes. Most electric cars now come with Level 1 electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). You can buy a Level 2 model for a quicker charge, but they’ll cost more.

Level 1 portable chargers can plug into any standard outlet. You’ll get two to four miles of driving range in an hour of charging. This might not sound like much, but it can get you out of a jam.

Portable Level 2 chargers can provide 8 to 10 driving miles per hour of charging. Because Level 2 requires 240V, you have to plug it into the right outlet.

Investing in a portable charger is a great choice for renters because they don’t need to mount the machine to the wall. They can keep them in the car to top off the battery charge as needed.

Can I charge my electric car in the rain?

Yes, you can. Electric cars are safe to charge in any weather, including rain. Their construction is designed to withstand water intrusion and even dust particles. 

Charging stations and plugs have protective layers and covering shields to prevent contact with water.

Can I take an electric car through a car wash?

Yes, it’s safe. As mentioned above, electric cars are made watertight. 

They go through a ‘soak test’ which replicates the heaviest raining and flooding conditions to ensure they are safe, even in water. If they can survive a flood, a car wash is not a problem.

Should I charge my electric car every night?

Not necessarily. While regular drivers and those who drive long distances might want to charge their cars overnight every night, not everyone has to. 

Charge your car depending on your driving needs. 

If you only need to commute to work or grocery shopping and back, you can be charging after a couple of days—as long as you have enough charge to run your errands.

How Much Does It Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

You can use a simple formula to see how much your utility bill will increase when you’re charging your electric car in your apartment.

Look at your latest bill to find your cost per kilowatt (kWh). In the United States, it can range from 10 cents to 22 cents per hour.

Check your car’s owner’s manual to find the battery capacity. Multiply the cost per kWh with your battery capacity. The result tells you how much it costs to fully charge your car.

Because the cost of electricity is lower and more stable than the cost of gas, it’s much cheaper to own an electric car.

Can You Charge an Electric Car From a Wall Socket?

Yes, but it will take longer than using a dedicated charging station. Wall sockets transmit either 120V or 240V, so your charging time is 11 hours or 8 hours, respectively.

If you don’t have a nearby commercial charging station, using a wall socket is a convenient way to keep your car charged.

Always make sure you have permission from your landlord to use the apartment’s electricity to charge your electric vehicle.

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