This is the nearest electric box to my garage at Highline Crossing in Littleton, Colo. It is about 15 meters from my garage building, and is located on a different building than the one in which my garage is.

editor's blog iconSo, at the end of July, I moved from a duplex in Denver, where I had had a 240-volt outlet easily installed outside for $250 and which I used to charge my 2014 Nissan LEAF for the one-and-a-half years I lived there, to a townhome I bought in Highline Crossing Cohousing in Littleton, Colo.

I bought a townhome in Highline because I wanted to live in a cohousing community — which is deliberately community based. And I’ve already met far more people here than I did in 10 years of living in a suburban home in Aurora, Colo., where I had a nifty solar-charging situation set up.  I feel welcomed here, like I’m really part of a neighborhood. And that is great!

However, I knew I might have problems being able to solar-charge my Nissan LEAF here at Highline — mostly because all 30 garages here are connected to a single utility meter, and, because I, as an individual, do not own the roof above my garage.

I have to plug in to a 120 volt outlet located in the ceiling of my garage right now.

However, I did not realize that it would also be difficult to install a 240 outlet in my garage here.

Turns out, it is difficult to get a 240-volt outlet installed in my garage here at Highline Crossing for exactly the same reason adding solar to my garage rooftop would be difficult: A single 100 amp electric box for all 30 garages + a single utility meter, neither of which are located on  my block of garages. As it turns out, having no 240 volt tie-ins, etc. already installed in the garages at Highline Crossing, makes it super duper expensive to get a 240-volt plug installed in my garage.

This at least according to the electrician who I had come this afternoon and take a look around to draw up an estimate. He estimated it would cost me $4,000 to have a 240-volt outlet installed in my garage.

Yes, that’s right: $4,000 to get a 240-volt outlet installed in my garage! — which currently only has 120- volt capacity. This translates into glacially slow “trickle charging”. With “trickle charging”, it can take 16, 20, 24 hours to fill an EV battery pack, depending on how big the battery pack it is.

I currently have a 24 kWh battery pack which takes about 16 hours at 120 volts to charge completely from “zero”. That’s way too slow for me to be able to keep up with the 50-100 miles of driving I must do several times a week.

Why would adding a simple 240-volt outlet cost $4,000?

Because a large amount of concrete would have to be dug up and moved in order for the electrician to “trench” for the electric cables to go under ground and tie into the currently shared 100 amp electric box. Again, this is shared for ALL 30 garages here at Highline Crossing. He would also have to run the 240- volt wiring into my garage, which is about 15 meters from the collectively shared electric box and shared utility meter.

All of the wiring from the collective utility meter and electric box runs underground. Both are on an outside wall on a different garage block than my garage is in. The electrician said he would also have to have the plans approved by Xcel Energy, my utility, as well as by the City of Littleton — and this permitting costs money.

A cheaper solution would be for me to trade parking places with a neighbor, who has an outdoor parking spot right next to the utility meter and electric box: She’d get my garage, and I would have to park my LEAF outside, and have to, once again, deal with snow, cold, etc. that I had to deal with at my previous place, which did not have a garage. Gary, the electrician, estimated a cost of about $600 to add an outdoor 240-volt outlet next to the utility meter and box.

Six-hundred dollars is a lot cheaper than $4,000! However, I am pretty bummed out that I will apparently not be able to park my car in my own garage, and would, under this scenario, have to deal with ice and snow on my car in the winter again.

Does anyone have any suggestions beyond what Gary, this electrician from AllStar Electrical Services, suggested: Which is to add a 240-volt outlet directly below the electric box and single utility meter, for $600, a move that would force me to give up my own garage and park my 2014 LEAF (which hopefully will be a 2018 Bolt instead within two months) outside so that I could plug in to the new outlet?

Do I have any rights that might compel the HOA to pay for some of the costs of running 240-volt wiring to my garage, for instance, perhaps a law that requires accommodations be made for EV owners who live in HOAs vis-a-vis installation of EV Charging Stations?

Anyone out there know a lot about electricity, or is perhaps an electrician?

Obviously, I don’t have $4,000 to give to get a simple 240-volt outlet in my garage.

I am wondering about a self-contained, off-grid rooftop solar + Tesla Powerwall + EV charger that’s connected to the Powerwall set-up. But I’m assuming that the EV charger would still have to be tied into the general electric infrastructure of the garages here at Highline Crossing, and I that I would therefore face the same $4,000 issue of having to tie in to the main electrical box, a box that is not on my garage building, but on a building about 15 meters away.



In fact, I did email Tesla 10 days ago, and I also called and left a message about five days ago to find more out about this set-up. However, no one has bothered to call, or email me back. Frustrating!

I also Tweeted @ElonMusk on Twitter, suggesting he give me a discount on a Tesla Solar + Powerwall + EV charger set-up in exchange for lots of free publicity on SolarChargedDriving.Com. But I’m not really expecting any kind of reply — should I 😉 ?

Any, and all suggestions, on how I could best go about getting a 240-volt outlet in my garage here at Highline Crossing in Littleton, Colo. at a more cost-effective cost than $4,000 would be very much appreciated 🙂

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Christof Demont-Heinrich, 3 1/2 year EV owner + founder of SolarChargedDriving.Com.

The collective 100 amp electric box for the 30 garage units at Highline Crossing in Littleton, Colo. A 30 amp, 240-volt set-up would have to be added in order for me to get a 240 volt outlet in my garage — if I can figure out a cost-effective way to get this done.

 

18 Responses

  1. Bruce A Johnson

    Based on your description, I think you are pretty much out of luck. And even if you did get the 240volt line into your garage…if there is one meter for *all* the garages, wouldn’t everyone else whose garage is hooked to that meter end up sharing in paying for your electricity? I can’t imagine that would go over very well.

    Reply
    • SolarChargedDriving (@solarcharge_it)

      The HOA is already paying for me and one other guy who also has a LEAF for our electricity. So, I’ve got free fuel for now. No one’s worked up about. It’s a pretty laid back hoa — it being a cohousing community and all. Free electricity is nice, but 120 volt is glacially slow. Apparently, if I replace my 24 kwh Leaf with a 60 kwh Bolt, it will take 50+ hours to charge the Bolt from zero to full at 120. That’s just pure torture, and completely impractical.

      Reply
  2. Roy

    1. Who pays for the shared 100 amp garage service?
    2. Is it a requirement that bringing the 240 volt service has to go underground? Overhead wires would be more cost effective.
    3. Would the community pay for a EV charging port externally available to all (but near to your garage – say within the reach of a 20 foot cord to your car)?

    Reply
    • SolarChargedDriving (@solarcharge_it)

      Good points, thank you 🙂

      1. The Hoa pays collectively, via monthly dues for the 100 amp panel and elecricity consumed in the 30 garages.
      2. This electrician said it’s code to run the wiring underground. But I’m definitely going to get 2-3 other estimates from additional electricians.
      3. I can ask about the 240 port — it’s not a bad idea. Although i really think with EVs on the verge of breaking inti the mainstream in a big way, the Hoa really ought to look at rewiring ALL of the garage blocks for 240. There will definitely be more EVs here, quite a few i predict.

      Reply
  3. Lester Burnham (@paymeinbeahhh)

    Chris this assumes the commune board has already/or will approve your solar charging set up. Until it has — has it? — all this is pretty much moot. Best case: they approve your “exception.” Then neighbors x, y, and z want similar enhancements — pandoras box has been opened! Maybe this communal thing is not the best fit for individualists and independent outside-the-box thinkers as yourself? I know how id feel — like the song, ‘back in the ussr/u dont know how lucky u are…!’ Best wishes.

    Reply
    • SolarChargedDriving (@solarcharge_it)

      It’s a trade off. I felt very isolated and atomized when my family and I lived in a single family home i. suburban Aurora, Colo. Yes, I was able to put solar on out house and fuel our LEAF, but that felt kind of hollow when divorce hit me in 2014. I like the cohousing community and the fact that we have a community center with regular community events, dinners, etc. I was hoping that i would be able to overcome some possible hurdles and solar charge my LEAF here — and get the benefits of true community. Might work out that way still, or it might not. My main priority now is simply to get level 2 charging in my garage. I did not expect it to be as complicated as it seems it might be simply to get a dryer outlet installed in my garage.

      Reply
  4. Mark

    I know it’s not as convenient as charging at home, but the 2018 LEAF, with 150 miles of range, could be fast charged a couple of times a week at Larry Miller Nissan in Highland Ranch. Or you could see if John Elway Chevy in Littleton has plans to put in a CCS fast charger to support the Bolt EV. Then, occasional trickle charging at 120V could fill in the gaps.

    Reply
  5. John O'Dell

    Try a JLong 40′ J1772 40 amp Level 2 extension cord! You could install a Level 2 EVSE next to the existing electrical box and then when you want to charge add the JLong extension to the fixed cord. That could give you a 60′ reach. You’d have to figure out how to run the extension so it wouldn’t get in other ppl’s way but if you could do an overhead run your problem could be solved for lot less than $4k.
    I don’t have any connection with JLong, but researched them for one of my readers awhile. The cord is UAL apporoved and made soecifically to extend the reach of a fixed EVSE.
    John O’Dell, thegreencarguy.com.

    Reply
  6. Mark

    Depends on your commute, however Clippercreek makes a 20 amp level 1 evse. Acs-25. Nearly double the speed of a trickle charger. See if your electrician can inspect or pull the required gauge of cable.

    Reply
  7. Roy

    Another approach might be to have your electrician do all modifications inside your condo. Just add another 220 plug in parallel from your existing dryer outlet through the walls to the garage. You would not necessarily be able to run the dryer and charge your car at the same time (depending on how your condo is wired).

    Reply
      • Roy

        The 100 meters is not a problem and you (subject to HOA rules) might be able to go overhead. What level of service do you have in your townhome? If an electrician could quote running a 220 v service from your main panel inside the townhome to the garage, you would be independent of the HOA, and perhaps cheaper overall.

  8. Jon Souder

    I would suggest going to the HOA Board and making a pitch that EVs are the future, especially for intentional communities, and that they should work towards the infrastructure needed to support them. 100A panels are going to be insufficient in the future: they should have at least a 100A (or 200A) in each of the garages. Offer to be their pilot garage.

    Reply
    • Christof Demont-Heinrich

      Thank you Jon. I agree. If this co-housing community wants to get up to date, we need to talk about (re)wiring all of the garages here to accept 220 and about adding electric panels with 100A. We’ll see how this goes, as I will be talking to people here about this…

      Reply

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