Researching the options
We have been looking for a solution for future Electric Vehicle charging at Christie Walk. Key features we need are that the power will be supplied by the Strata Corporation, but individual owners will be billed for the energy they use to charge their EVs. We’d also like some of our excess PV energy to be diverted to EV charging, instead of being exported to the grid.
Options we’ve considered include:
- JetCharge / Chargefox solutions for apartments and condominiums.
- Schneider EVLink RFID Smart Wallbox (charging to individual users who swipe the Wallbox with their RFID card).
- Wallbox Quasar V2G Bi-directional Charger (to cover the future when more vehicles offer bi-directional charging – to and from the grid – so that the vehicle provides some of the time-shifting services of a home battery).
- Orange electric vehicle charging platform – currently only available in North America.
- SolarEdge DC-coupled bi-directional charger – only commercially available in 2nd half of 2024, but looks promising, especially being DC-coupled.
Yarra City Council
The Yarra City Council has been actively promoting sustainability solutions for multi-tenancy buildings, including options for solar sharing.
A recent Q&A session run by Yarra City Council alerted us to the Tesla Wall Connector solution which appears to be the most appropriate option for our situation.
Multi-vehicle charging via Tesla Wall Connectors
Here’s how it would work. Christie Walk Strata Corporation would become a Tesla Charging Partner.
- Tesla would require that we install a minimum of 6 Tesla Wall Connectors, so we would start off by installing Connectors in 6 out of our total of 11 car parking spaces.
- We could order and pay for the Wall Connectors from tesla.com ($750 incl GST each) or via our favoured Tesla installer.
- Alternatively, if we inquire through the Tesla Charging Partner form, the Tesla Charging Team would call us and would introduce us to one of Tesla’s Certified Installers to quote for the supply and installation of the hardware.
- For the Wall Connectors that are to be installed outdoors in our courtyard, we could also order the optional Wall Charger Pedestal ($430 incl GST each).
- Tesla would directly bill individuals for the energy they use, at the rate nominated by the Strata Corporation. The Strata Corporation must be registered for GST.
- Each quarter Tesla would then reimburse the Strata Corporation that billing amount. The admin fee of AUD$0.01/kWh would be charged back to the Corporation annually.
- Wall Connectors require network connectivity to activate the commercial software and complete the billing and payment. We would extend our existing NBN network to the Wall Connectors by Wi-Fi and access points if required.
- Electricity for the 6 chargers would be supplied from one of our site NMI supply meters. The Wall Connectors would act like appliances on the site’s electrical circuits, operating independently from our Tesla Powerwall and Tesla Gateway systems.
- The Tesla Wall Connectors have Australian Type 2 connector cables, the standard that has been in place for all vehicles delivered since 2018. Users of Tesla EVs plus most other EVs will be able to simply plug in the cable and start charging. Vehicles with the old Type 1 charge ports such as Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Leaf would need to charge elsewhere.
- Non-Tesla EV users would need to install the Tesla App on their mobile device to enable charging and billing.
Intelligent multi-vehicle charging
Tesla’s Gen 3 Wall Connectors have a very useful feature for residential apartments, condominiums and commercial buildings. Up to six Tesla Wall Connectors can be installed on the same electrical circuit. The Tesla Wall Connectors communicate with each other via Wi-Fi and intelligently share the available power on the circuit, automatically throttling charge rates to each vehicle to ensure that multiple cars plugged in simultaneously do not overload the electrical circuit’s power capacity.
This minimises the need for special electrical circuit upgrades when installing multi-vehicle charging points.
Will it work?
This is an innovative solution, so inevitably the question is: “Will it work for us?”.
We learned from the Yarra City Council Q&A that Nathan Hage has implemented this option in his Strata Group in The Zinc Building in Alexandria, Sydney. They installed 10 chargers for a block of 45 apartments and they report that all is working well. In their case they also installed Allume’s Solshare device for sharing out their rooftop solar.
The Strata Corporation at the Richmont building in Sydney’s Pyrmont has also successfully installed 10 Tesla Gen3 Wall Connectors.
We know from our experience with the Tesla Supercharger network that we can expect high reliability and easy convenience. We’ve also been impressed with the smarts built into our Tesla Powerwalls and the constant improvements Tesla makes to both their end-user Apps and the firmware for Tesla hardware.
Read more of our adventure in low-carbon living
You can continue reading of our adventure with Episode 13 – Sharing solar PV energy across multiple strata dwellings.
It’s part of our special series:
Aiming beyond NetZero at Christie Walk – Adventures with an environmentally conscious inner-urban community.