Any home owner who has the added benefit of a garage, a driveway or some hard-standing knows that owning and charging an electric vehicle is straightforward. The trouble is, not all of us can, or choose to, live the suburban or country dream. Many people live in the hustle and bustle of our towns and cities, in high-rise apartments or other high-density housing. The problem of charging an EV becomes obvious.
The irony of this situation is of course that an electric car is the ideal solution to urban mobility. No congestion charges to worry about and no pressure to cut emissions, because there are none. On-street parking is entirely possible but just how convenient is it for all?
The Home Disadvantage
Many town dwellers choose or are obliged to rent their home. This makes apparent a specific disadvantage. It simply is not possible for a tenant to arbitrarily decide to fit a smart home charging station somewhere adjacent to the rented property. The magnitude of this increases with, say, a block of flats.
The only solution is to ask the landlord, at a rented house, to seek ways to put an EV point handy for on street parking. It is not something a lot of landlords will consider, frankly. At a block of flats, which usually has some private parking, an enlightened landlord may choose to fit a couple of hard-wired points. There’s only one thing to do: Ask. You might have a friend who could help too.
It is of course entirely possible to run a ev charging cable from a domestic property out into the street, within reason. Under no cirumstances should an owner use a typical household extension socket; it’s dangerous. Purpose built extending cables can be purchased. The options here though are clearly limited and, as the council will be quick to mention no doubt, a cable across a public thoroughfare is a trip hazard. Don’t fall foul.
If the above options are not feasible then the fact is an urban dweller is going to have to rely on public charging stations. Increasingly, these are available at malls and shopping centres and public car parks. There is probably one nearby. This is a perfectly acceptable option although it will be necessary to sign up to a charging network. As we describe elsewhere, it is straightforward to protect a ev charging cable from theft and, in any event, public spaces of that type are usually covered by CCTV.
It might be possible to persuade an enlightened employer to provide suitable charging facilities at work. Thus, instead of going for the more usual overnight charging regime, instead the owner could charge during working hours. A good employer would see the sense in this and there may be some other forms of local incentives available by way of encouragement.
It seems strange that the people who in many ways are the ideal candidates for owning an EV are presented with the biggest problem; but don’t despair; things are getting better all the time.
Right now, at various locations around the country there are already plans to lay multiple charging plates along the kerbs of our streets, charging over-the-air to a plate on the underside of the car. There are various other types of kerb-side ideas under consideration as well as local fast-charging centres.
Also, think about the number of lampposts there are in the UK; there’s a growing interest in installing a tethered charging point on every one of them. The standard lamppost is connected to a 25 amp supply. If they are LED lights, then that leaves 24 amps for charging cars. That lamppost outside the house could prove to be more than just a rest-room for dogs.
So, urban EV ownership is perfectly feasible if not entirely practical just now. If the purchase of an electric car is on the cards, do a bit of research; you might come up with the spark of an idea!