Frequently Asked Questions
How do people with no driveway charge their electric cars?
For those with driveways, charging at home overnight is an ideal solution; their cars are charged overnight and ready to go at the start of each day. But what about the millions of people in households who are unable to charge their vehicles at home? We take a look at some of the solutions developing for those people without off-street parking.
Using public charging networks
The simplest way to keep your vehicle topped up is to use the public charging networks, just like you would a petrol or diesel vehicle at a petrol station. If you get to know where your local charge points are with services like Zap-Map, you may be able to slip it into your weekly routine: doing the shopping, going to the cinema or gym, for example.
Without shopping around, you can expect to pay a bit more than those who can charge their vehicles at home (but still not as much as petrol or diesel). If you're smart though, it is possible to charge for as little or even less than home charging costs, thanks to membership systems such as Polar Plus. You can see the real-world expense of charging your vehicle on the public networks on our most recent EV network cost comparison.
Charging at work
For those who drive to work, charging there makes perfect sense: it's where their cars will be sat idle for the daytime. For many businesses, installing a charge point at work is an excellent way for them to do something pro-active about reducing the carbon impact of their business. What's more, they can make use of the Government's Workplace charging scheme to reduce the cost of installation. If you drive to work and would like a charge point installed there, talk to your employer to see if they'd consider it.
Friends, Family and charger-sharing
If you are not able to charge at your own home it may be possible to charge at a friend's house, or a family member. There are also a growing number of services which enable people with home chargers to share their charger with the public, such as Co-Charger, Just Park, Plug-Share and Joosup. Those sharing their chargers can normally choose whether they wish to share them for free or for a small fee. In some close-knit communities, charger sharing could be a great way to access chargers near you more conveniently.
Ask your council for charging infrastructure in your area
The Government provides funding to local authorities for installing on-street charge points in residential areas with The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS). You will have to contact your local Council to find out whether or not they are using or planning to use the ORCS funds, and whether or not you may be able to ask for new charge points in your area.
Emerging charging solutions
Charging equipment built into lamp posts is a new way of charging that utilises the existing highway infrastructure, helping to reduce overall installation costs. The first service to emerge in the UK was Ubitricity, whose customers purchase a smart cable from them to use their charging posts on lamp posts around London.
The technology goes hand-in-hand with nationwide efforts to convert lamp posts to lower energy LED lighting systems, which reduces the overall power consumption of a lamppost, causing it to effectively have spare capacity.
Here in Brighton, over 200 Lamp Post chargers were installed in Spring 2020 following a government grant from the Office of Low Emissions Vehicles. These chargers are available to both residents and visitors, with some locations offering reserved parking and others being shared. They are operated by EB Charging and are accessed using a smartphone app, which handles account and payment management for users.
Wireless kerbside charging
British company Connected Kerb are developing new kerbside chargers which aim to help those without off-street parking but providing smart yet subtle new charging infrastructure options.
They are also one of several companies worldwide developing a wireless charging solution, which could one day be the most effortless way to charge an EV.
These chargers help to solve an increasing concern about the rise of street-furniture and pavement clutter. The chargers live underneath the pavement, completely hidden from view, rising out of the ground when needed for use.
If you're interested in these new chargers, you can register your interest on Urban Electric's website at urbanelectric.london.
Trojan "Lance" concealed chargers
UK firm Trojan Energy have designed a similar bespoke charging solution that leaves no physical or visual clutter to the pavement surface. The solution involves a "lance" connector, which the user owns, that is connected to a concealed in-pavement socket. Once connected, the user can benefit from up to 22kW of charging power. Find out more at the Trojan Energy website.
Kerbside home charger
Twitter user @EVMaps worked with his local council in Margate to have a Rolec kerbside charger installed outside his home.
Unlike similar but public chargers, the charge post uses the electricity supply from the house it is in front of. There is a corresponding parking bay marked "EV permit holder" to ensure that parking is available for the owner, along with appropriate signage on the owners garden wall. The charging point was installed by Council-approved contractors and paid for by the owner.
CABLE GULLEYS & CHANNELS
A fast-growing area of on-street charging, and one which is seeing a number of companies launching new products to market, is cable gulleys. Back in 2019 Oxford City Council trialled 5 different charging solutions for residents without access to off-street parking, including cable gulleys. The trial found that whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for on-street charging, a home charger and simple cable gully solution was the cheapest, most highly utilised solution, as well as the one least likely to elicit complaints from neighbours. The success of these trials led Oxford City Council's trading company, ODS, to develop a product called Gul-e. Anyone interested can register interest on their website.
Building upon the cable-gulley idea, UK-based company Green Mole has developed another product to help those with off-street parking. Their Electric Vehicle Charge Channel, or "EVCC", is a new solution to the problem. The EVCC is submerged below the surface of the pavement, providing a safe route for an EV charging cable from the household to an EV, without cluttering up the pavement or creating any hazards. The product is been created in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Salford.
Other UK-based cable gulley solutions are available from Kerbo Charge, who offer a full service to install their Council-approved, high-strength polycarbonate duct across a pavement; PaveCross, with their own product with their own zero trip hazard cable gulley that sits flush with the pavement in a very secure metal casing; and Charge Gully, who offer a plastic-free aluminium based solution that offers low-embedded carbon and security through a unique lockable mechanism.
A new company in Holland called Flat Power has invented a new kind of charging cable that's flat. The cable is just 5mm thin, allowing it to be rolled out across a pavement or walkway without fear of creating a trip hazard. It's the first of its kind on the market.
If you can't go across or under the pavement, perhaps you can go over the pavement? That's the solution that a number of new companies are exploring with new "charging arms" that guide cables safely across pavements and walkways, avoiding the hazards associated with trailing cables.
One of the first to market was developed in Holland and is called ChargeArm. It can deliver a charging cable from a private property to a vehicle over the footpath, up to a distance of 2.2m. The device raises the charging cable up mechanically, allowing continued use of the footpath without creating any obstruction for pedestrians, buggies or wheelchairs from trailing cables. The makers say that unlike leaving cables on the ground, ChargeArm helps to keep them cleaner and reduce wear - claiming they will last up to ten times longer as a result.
Electricity... delivered to your car!
For many, wanting to charge a vehicle at home isn't just about cost - it's also about convenience. Charge Fairy is a service that aims to provide that convenience, with electricity quite literally delivered to your vehicle. A mobile electric van, complete with an onboard battery pack, will come to your location and recharge your car - at a very competitive price weekly price for an initial 10kWh of electricity. Once you're a customer, they will even use your usage data to predict when your next charge is needed, securely charging your vehicle overnight while you're asleep. No request needed!
Just like Chargefairy, there are now portable battery solutions that can charge your car wherever it is. ZipCharge is one of those - it's a small, portable battery on wheels, the size of a flight suitcase that can charge up to a claimed 40 miles of range. Perhaps not something which you would want to be doing all the time, but it is a solution nonetheless. There are also a number of companies in the US selling portable EV solutions like EV Rescue, EV CubiCharge, Blink Mobile and Lightning eMotors.
Cables across the pavement
With some people able to park close to their homes, it's tempting to want to run a cable across the pavement to their car. Many Council’s are advising against this altogether, but some are allowing it. Hampshire County Council is one council that have advised residents on how to do this safely, whilst Cornwall Council have gone one step further, partnering with KerboCharge and developing a framework for residents to install cable gulleys. This framework includes an authorised installation company, special licenses for residents, along a requirement that residents with cable gulleys are appropriately covered with public liability insurance.
Make sure you ask your local council what their policy is. Many pavements are cluttered with bins, recycling boxes, bikes and parked cars - cables are yet another potential hazard for pedestrians, wheelchair users and people with buggies. So it is understandable as to why some councils are urging against it.
Apart from the law to consider, any issues that arise from running a cable across a pavement will put the owner of that cable under direct legal responsibility. It is a risk which may simply not worth the effort.
In Brighton & Hove
If you live in Brighton & Hove and are considering how to charge your vehicle from home across a pavement, it is not recommended by the Council. If you have any questions in regards to this, you should write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article last updated on January 29th 2024.