No driveway for you to install that all-important charging station? With a little bit of creativity, planning, and a good understanding of the resources around you, you can still charge your EV.
In this article, we provide practical solutions and help you explore the options available for charging your EV without a driveway.
Can I charge an EV with no driveway?
Yes, you can charge an EV without a driveway. If you live in a terrace house or flat some options include public charging stations, workplace charging facilities, and using a regular 3-pin electrical outlet at home and trailing the cable to the car (if you can park right outside your terrace). Some cities even offer curbside charging. It may require a bit more planning, but owning an EV without a drive is possible and very common in the UK.
Electric car charging in a terrace house
If you live in a terrace house, charging your EV might require a bit more thought. Terrace houses often don’t come with a private driveway or garage, making it impossible to install a personal home charging station. Even if you could install an EV charger at your terrace house, parking may be first-come, first-served, which can make it challenging to consistently park directly in front of your terrace, particularly on busy streets.
So what are the options for charging an EV in a terrace house?
- Street charging
In some cities and towns, local governments or private companies have started installing on-street residential charging stations.
- Public charging
Supermarkets, shopping centres, car parks, and workplaces now provide charging points for EVs. You might be able to charge your vehicle while you go about your daily routine. It’s a practical solution that allows you to charge your EV without having a home charging point.
- Shared charging schemes
Some n communities have started shared charging schemes, where a charging station is installed in a communal area for use by all residents. This not only helps save on installation costs but also encourages a sense of community around EV ownership. It’s important to ensure there are clear rules around the use of shared chargers, including times of use and payment arrangements.
- Home charging with a 3-pin plug
This might seem challenging without a driveway or garage, but not entirely impossible. You can use a 3-pin plug, otherwise known as a granny charger, provided you have managed to park near your house and can safely access your car with the lead. These chargers are very common for EV owners living in terrace houses, let’s explore charging with a 3-pin cable in more detail:
Is it OK to run an electric car cable across the pavement?
The short answer is that if you have to do it then yes, it’s OK to run an EV charger across the pavement.
However this should be a short-term fix, trailing a charging cable across the pavement from your terraced house is generally not recommended as a long-term solution due to safety hazards, potential damage to the cable, and legal considerations.
The highway act 1980 states that you can be fined for “placing wire across a highway in such a manner as to be likely to cause dangers… unless he proves he had taken all necessary means to give adequate warning”.
So if you need to charge your car with a cable that runs over the pavement, you should ensure you have taken all steps necessary to protect pedestrians and give warning about the hazard. Steps to take when running a cable across the street include:
- Cable covers
Use a cable cover or protector to shield the cable and prevent it from becoming a tripping hazard. These covers can be visible and help pedestrians avoid stepping on or tripping over the cable.
- Weather protection
Make sure that your cable and plug are waterproof, so you can still charge your EV if it’s raining.
- Make the cable visible to pedestrians
Make sure your cable is easily visible to people walking by, especially in low-light conditions. Use bright colours, flags, or lights if necessary.
- Keep it secure
Ensure your cable is securely placed and won’t move or create a greater tripping hazard.
- Tidy up quickly in order to minimize risk
Remove the cable as soon as your car is charged.
- Comply with local regulations:
Before you decide to do this, ensure that it’s legal in your area. Many local councils or cities have regulations against trailing cables across the pavement due to safety concerns. Violating these regulations could result in fines.
It is important to understand that if you injure a pedestrian you will be liable, the Highway Act does give local governments the authority to remove cables that they believe are in inappropriate locations. Ask your local authority about charging infrastructure in your neighbourhood.
Can I install an electric car charger on the street?
Installing electric car chargers on the street is typically regulated by local government and utility companies, and it’s generally not something an individual can do independently. Some cities have programs for installing curbside charging stations in residential areas, but these programs require formal applications and follow specific guidelines.
Contact your local council to request an installation in your neighbourhood. Because of the scheme’s popularity, OZEV has taken a considerably tougher approach in how they prioritise project funds in recent years. Rather than a first-come, first-served approach, OZEV has the authority to prioritize locations that have not previously placed applications or that experience major air quality concerns.
Local governments can apply for a grant from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) to install on-street charging stations. The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme currently covers up to 75% of the cost of acquiring and installing charge points and reserved parking places, however, after April 2023, this will reduce to 60%.
How do you charge your electric car if you live in a flat?
Living in a flat or apartment can make it difficult for EV owners to charge their cars. We have a complete guide to charging an EV if you live in a flat, including the best approach for convincing a landlord to install an EV charger!
Here’s a rundown of the two main options for charging an EV in a flat:
- Dedicated parking spot
If your apartment or flat comes with a designated parking spot, installing a charging station there could be an excellent solution:
- Is it feasible?
First, you need to check whether it’s technically possible to install a charging station in your parking spot. The feasibility depends on a variety of factors, such as the proximity of your parking spot to an electrical source, the capacity of the building’s electrical system to handle the additional load, and the physical space available for installing a charging unit.
- Get permission
Once you determine that installing a charger is technically feasible, you’ll need to get the necessary permissions. This will typically involve discussions with your landlord or building management and possibly your local authorities. Make sure you provide them with all the required information about the installation process, safety measures, and the benefits of having an EV charging point in the building.
- Is it feasible?
- Shared residential chargers
In response to the increasing number of EV owners, many apartment buildings are installing shared EV charging stations. These can be used by all residents and, in some cases, guests as well:
- Convince the landlord this is a good idea!
If your building doesn’t already have a shared EV charging station, consider advocating for one. You can approach your landlord or building management to discuss the benefits of installing a charging station. Highlight the growing trend of EVs, the convenience it would offer to tenants, and how it could enhance the value and appeal of the property.
- Set some rules
Shared charging stations require clear rules around usage to avoid conflicts. This includes guidelines on how long a car can be plugged in, peak and off-peak usage, and payment methods. This will ensure all residents who own EVs get equal access and can plan their charging needs effectively.
- Convince the landlord this is a good idea!
Communal chargers require clear rules and guidelines for useage
Can you charge an electric car from a lamppost?
If you are unable to install an EV charger in a garage or driveway, there are still plenty of ingenious solutions out there such as Lamppost Charging. Charging network innovations such as lamppost charging enable local governments to increase the EV charging framework on the street without installing extra street fixtures.
Ubitricity was the first service to appear in the UK. However, several others, including Rolec StreetCharge, City EV, and Char.gy, have recently launched. Charging equipment is embedded inside lampposts as a creative way to make existing roadway infrastructure multifunctional.
Charging an EV with overhead charging
Overhead charging is a revolutionary solution first designed in Holland. It can transport a charging wire from a private home to a car across the pavement for up to 2.2m.
The gadget mechanically lifts the charging cable, allowing pedestrians, pushchairs, and wheelchairs to continue using the pathway without being obstructed by trailing cables. It was designed expressly to address the issue of individuals charging from home and causing risks with trailing cords. According to the inventors, unlike leaving wires on the ground, this keeps them tidy and reduces wear. A similar concept is being designed in the UK.
Charging an EV with cable gulleys and channels
A UK terrace house may have a drainage gulley going from the home to the road. In 2019, The Oxford City Council tested five charging methods for people lacking off-street parking, including cable gulleys. The study discovered that, while there is no “one size fits all” option for on-street charging, a cable gully solution, and home charger were among the cheapest, most popular, and least likely to provoke objections from neighbours.
How about charging at the workplace?
If your workplace does not already have a charge station, you can inform your employer about the Workplace Charging Scheme. With this Government incentive, your employer can claim an OZEV grant to cover the initial costs of installing an EV charging station at the workplace.
Family, friends, and EV charger-sharing
Charging your electric car at the homes of family and friends or participating in charger-sharing schemes can be viable options if you are unable to install a dedicated charger in a driveway:
- Family and friends
If you have family or friends who are comfortable with you using their charging stations, this can be a great solution. You could even offer to pay for the electricity you use. Be aware that regular use of someone else’s home charger might require an agreement with their utility company, especially if they’re benefiting from special tariffs or grants.
- Charger-sharing platforms:
There are platforms that operate similarly to Airbnb but for EV chargers. These platforms allow individuals to rent out their home chargers when they’re not in use. This can be an affordable and convenient option, especially in residential areas where public charging infrastructure is limited. Just create an account on the platform, locate a charger that suits your needs and schedule, and follow the platform’s guidelines for use and payment.
For instance, the Co Charger app connects electric car owners who don’t have their own chargers with neighbours who do. It’s designed to promote local communities sharing the 300,000 privately owned electric chargers around the country.
Supermarket EV charging
The option to charge your car at the supermarket is a great perk for UK supermarket customers. Many supermarket car parks now offer electric car charging stations, and supermarket EV charging can be free. They don’t always provide rapid charging, but it’s a convenient recharge method that doesn’t require travelling far.
You can charge your vehicle while doing your shopping and usually supermarkets give you a couple of hours charging time, enough to add a good amount of range to your cars battery. Some supermarkets may require you to be a member of a specific charging network, or to use a particular payment app. Check in advance what you’ll need to access the chargers.
Pop-up or retractable chargers are an innovative solution being explored in several cities around the world. These charging points are embedded in the pavement and rise up when needed, then retract back into the ground when not in use, minimizing the impact on streetscape and pedestrian walkways.
The advantages to pop-up chargers are:
They can be installed in residential areas, providing easy access for residents who don’t have private driveways or garages. This can be especially useful in historic or densely populated urban areas where installing traditional charging infrastructure can be challenging.
- Space saving
Since they retract when not in use, pop-up chargers don’t take up the permanent space on the pavement. This is good for crowded urban environments where space on the pavement is limited.
- Safety and aesthetics
They help avoid potential safety hazards and visual clutter associated with conventional charging points and trailing cables.
Urban Electric, a UK startup, has revealed plans for pop-up charges, that will be trialled by Oxford City Council. These chargers form part of the solutions addressing a growing issue about the proliferation of street clutter and litter.
Public charge stations
Dedicated public charging stations are available up and down the country as an alternative to home charging. Amenities such as coffee shops, post offices and meeting booths can be found at public charge stations to give customers something to do whilst they wait for cars to charge.
The final word on charging an EV with no driveway
If you live in a terrace house or a flat, the absence of a driveway shouldn’t put you off owning and charging an electric car.
There is a rapidly expanding selection of charging options available for EV owners, irrespective of having a driveway:
- Installing a charger in your dedicated parking spot: If you have access to a specific parking space.
- Advocating for building charging stations: Encourage your building management or landlord to install communal chargers.
- Using public charging infrastructure: This includes charging stations in public car parks, park-and-ride facilities, and more.
- On-street charging: Many cities are installing charging points on public streets, sometimes even integrated into lampposts.
- Supermarket charging: Supermarkets and retail chains provide charging stations for customers.
- Charger-sharing platforms: Similar to Airbnb, some platforms let you rent someone else’s home charger.
- Charging at the homes of family and friends: If they have a charger and are happy for you to use it.
- Temporary use of a 3-pin charger: A slower charger that can be plugged into a regular home outlet, used responsibly.
- Pop-up chargers: Innovative, retractable chargers that are installed in the pavement and rise up when needed.
- Workplace charging: If your employer provides charging facilities at your workplace.
The feasibility of each option will depend on several factors including your location, the availability of local infrastructure, regulations, and your lifestyle. Some options may require more planning or a slight change in routine than others.
Remember, safety should always be a top priority. Whether you’re charging from a home setup or using public charging stations, ensuring the process is carried out safely is paramount.
The landscape of EV charging solutions is constantly evolving with improvements in charging tech and increased EV adoption. Solutions such as pop-up chargers, overhead charging, and others might become more common in the future, so charging an EV without a driveway will undoubtedly become easier for EV owners.
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John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.