Charging your electric car at home overnight means you are ready to go at the start of each day. But what about the 40% of homes that don’t have off-street parking? A variety of solutions are emerging to plug the gap for drivers without off-street parking.
The government has prioritised investment in the public charging infrastructure to persuade more people to switch to electric cars, and this is welcome for longer journeys. But most EV charging will continue to happen at home. EV drivers don't go to a fixed location to ‘fill it up’, but charge slowly when the car is sitting unused outside their home. Home charging using time-of-use tariffs is better for the battery and promotes better use of renewable energy from the grid.
If you can’t have a home car charging point installed, an EV is less convenient to charge and the running costs savings are smaller. No wonder that people without off-street parking are around four times less likely to go electric according to a study by chargepoint sharing app Co-charger. Another survey by Connected Kerb suggested that over two thirds of those people simply won’t make the leap until they can have the dependability, convenience and affordability that home charging brings.
So what are the options if you don’t have off-street parking?
Cables across the pavement
If you can park close to your home, it's tempting to try to run a cable across the pavement. There are products and set-ups that will show you how to run cables safely. As many pavements are already cluttered with bins, recycling boxes, bikes and badly parked cars - cables are yet another potential hazard for pedestrians, wheelchair users and people with buggies. So it is understandable that some councils are urging against it.
Cables under the pavement
If you can't go over it, maybe you can go under it. Green Mole offers a service that can actually create a tiny tunnel from your terraced house to your parking space big enough to house a charger cable, without digging anything up.
Kerbside home charger
In some cases, EV drivers have been able to work with local councils to get a kerbside charger installed on the street outside the home using the electricity supply from the house. As there needs to be a corresponding parking bay marked "EV permit holder" along with appropriate signage on the owners garden wall, as more and more people switch to electric vehicles this is unlikely to be offered as an option for most homeowners.
No cables at all
If you live in London, Charge Fairy will locate your car and charge it wherever it’s parked, from a specially converted power van, while you sleep. Charge Fairy monitor your car's battery and come and charge it only when needed. The cost is £5.99/week and this includes the first 10kWh - that’s roughly 40 miles each week - enough for the London school run or pottering around town. Each additional mile costs around the same as a public charger.
If street clutter is the problem, there are clever invisible charge solutions. Urban Electric install pop-up chargers for streets and car parks. These chargers help to solve an increasing concern about the rise of street-furniture and pavement clutter. Their pedestrian-friendly hubs provide discreet and easy to use charging for residents and visitors alike, with minimum streetscape impact. Trials are underway in Dundee and Plymouth.
Community charging infrastructure
At a community level, there are community charging schemes to put chargers in via organisations like ChargeMyStreet, which helps give communities the tools and support to identify and finance their own charge points, at locations they see the greatest identified need and benefit.
Neighbourhood charger sharing
Co Charger is the charging equivalent of Airbnb. Co Charger allows a ‘host’ to rent their charger to neighbours on a regular basis so that they can switch to electric cars. The only difference from home charging is a slightly longer walk from the car to your door. The cost is more than charging at your own home - the average driver would pay under £500 a year to charge their car - but then you don’t have the expense of buying a charger.
Homeowners with chargepoints have paid anything from £600 to well over £1,000 to install them (whether directly or via the price of their car) and this is a welcome an opportunity to recoup some of that cost.
A host helping four neighbours to charge will make anything from £400 to well over £1,000 a year, depending on their electricity supply. Businesses can also use the app to monetise chargers in their car parks during closed hours.