Using Microgrids to Enhance Charging Capacity at Existing Properties

New technology for existing buildings brings big opportunities to reduce expenses, generate income, and create new capacity for electric vehicle charging. With energy retrofits and solar panels, we can save money and generate income for all properties with parking. By creating microgrids, we can take advantage of new-found electric capacity to charge more vehicles.

Excess electric capacity can be diverted in real-time for vehicle charging. With capacity optimization, many properties will never have to add outside capacity to maximize vehicle charging potential.

The Challenge

Does your apartment, condominium, office, commercial or government building have the electric capacity it needs to charge vehicles?

The answer isn’t simple and can depend on many factors. The traditional cost to bring new wiring and upgrade the electrical system can be expensive and depends on the size of your building, location of the electric strike, main feed conduit size, electric room size, the number of chargers desired and their energy needs. Many of these costly upgrades are no longer necessary.

The opportunity

The good news is that technology is catching up and we can make use of microgrids to maximize electric capacity, in every property class, to an extent never thought possible.

For a multifamily building in Seattle, an electrician completed a 30-day survey of actual electricity used by the entire building in one of the coldest Decembers on record. He determined that there was enough capacity to add an additional apartment unit, laundry machines in eight (8) existing units, and charging for five (5) vehicles. I later learned that most buildings’ electrical usage peaks at about half to two-thirds the capacity that it was designed for. This building had a 400-amp service but never peaked at more than 200 amps.

The news gets better. We can supplement this available capacity even more by making the following changes where appropriate:

  • Installing highly insulating double or triple pane windows.
  • Adding thickness or density to insulation in walls ceilings or crawlspaces.
  • Installing air barrier membranes when residing to limit air movement.
  • Installing energy efficient appliances.
  • Changing to low flow aerators where electric hot water is dispensed.
  • Adding solar panels and battery packs.
  • Converting fluorescent and incandescent lighting to LED.

The best news is that engineers have developed a unique method for tapping both the existing, unused and newly created capacity for vehicle charging. It is called “power allocation.”

The solution

Power allocation simply means directing unused electric capacity to car charging when electricity isn’t being used in your building. It redirects power in real-time to and from car chargers. The biggest benefit comes at night when most building capacity goes unused.

Now every building with parking can benefit from power allocation, and existing buildings can better compete with new.

The most advanced microgrid technology allows you to manage the charging rate of up to 100 vehicles at the same time. Drivers access an app and enter driving miles desired and time of departure. A load management controller handles the rest.

This comprehensive system bills vehicle owners for power consumed and sends out an end of charging session notification. A dashboard tracks CO2 emission reduction, miles charged, kWh delivered, number of vehicles online, etc. The system uses algorithms to predict future charging requirements.

This technology is also available to new buildings to help them meet building code driven requirements for vehicle charging. This helps new buildings eliminate the expense of bringing in more electric capacity for car charging. The cost can vary dramatically based upon the size of the building and the amount of parking.

Revenue and equity

The opportunity to add revenue and increase equity for any property is alluring. Every property with a parking component can benefit. Parking spaces with dedicated vehicle chargers rent for more and will produce more net income. 

are you ready for the future?

Electric and plug-in cars are the wave of the future. Your residents and/or employees will want them for a variety of reasons including climate change, fuel-cost savings, reduced maintenance, and for exceptional performance. Regardless the reason your tenants choose an electric car you will want to take advantage of the profit  potential by becoming the fuelling station of the future.

Leading Charge can be reached by contacting the Northwest Partners office line, Monday-Friday 7A-5P: (206) 784-0920

You can email us any time at:

At no additional cost to your project, our team will:

  • Meet with you at your property to discuss options
  • Recommend the best system for your current and future needs
  • Provide you the opportunity for competitive bidding for your project
  • Monitor your installation and make recommendations as applicable

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