How to Charge Your Electric Car With No Driveway
Posted by Roseanne: Jun 01, 2021 • 7 min read
Pod Point Head of Insights, James McKemey, takes a look at the EV charging ecosystem and how those without off-street parking can top up their battery.
Currently, charging your electric car with no driveway remains a bit of a challenge. However, it’s certainly not impossible, and I myself live without a home charger!
Thankfully, the majority (roughly 60:40) of UK dwellings have off-street parking for a potential home charging facility. Even more, those who don’t drive cars are over-represented in the dwellings with no car parking. PWC estimated that a chunky 72% of UK drivers have access to off-street parking at home. So this is absolutely not, in any way, a blocker to the mass adoption of EVs in the UK (say ~30% of sales).
Ace! Still, we want to get to all drivers, so let’s get into how to charge an electric car with no driveway.
Destination Charging: A Practical Solution for EV Owners Without Driveways
First, some personal news - I lost my Pod Point home charger in late 2019. So, I am now the fabled driver who doesn’t have a home, or workplace charger. Is my life a living hell? Do I spend my days watching my car charge at a rapid charger? Nope, here’s where destination charging comes in.
The bulk of our charging is done at a gym with a destination charger, and it doesn’t get much easier than that. During lockdown this option went. Once a week, I can also park in the local station long stay car park and walk home, collecting the car later on, often the following day - no waiting, just a nice walk. Otherwise, we regularly top up, particularly at Tesco, target car parks with chargers when visiting a town and favour a few pubs that offer chargers too.
NB: I use DC predominantly for long distance driving, but it has bailed me out over lockdown on one or two occasions when I’ve needed to go out again that day. Otherwise, I try to avoid it, because it is costly and involves waiting. That said, when you need it, nothing else will do.
What the experience has taught me is that destination charging is really very useful indeed. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to use a fancy gym, but occasional local destination charging in under-utilised, longer stay car parks overnight is my preferred solution to the whole no driveway issue. Scaling AC provision is always easier (cheaper) than scaling DC, the challenging bit is providing secure parking – but there’s a whole heap of that going unused overnight everywhere. Yet, while this is my preference, it’s spoken of less frequently than rapid hub “refueling”.
The Pod Point Commercial team continues to work with car park operators, and provision continues to grow, but I believe there is significant scope for these operators to carry much more of the charging burden than they currently expect - and profit from doing so. Our Tesco-Volkswagen EV charging rollout has provided 7kW EV charging at over 600 stores and counting.
That said, it too doesn’t work for all; there are plenty who aren’t walking distance from a suitable car park, and there are areas with insufficient car parking, which means we still need the alternatives.
Workplace Charging: Leveraging Daily Commutes for EV Charging
We think we should still take our cue from Rihanna and consider charging at Work ~Work Work Work Work~. Even with the result of the pandemic (didn’t see that one coming in 2018), the workplace remains a very common destination for drivers and one where they remain parked for many hours at a time. Both make it an ideal environment for charging electric cars, especially if you have no drive.
Pod Point has significantly expanded the number of installed workplace chargepoints and developed solutions to fit your and your colleagues' needs. From individual chargepoints, to substantial arrays of load managed charging solutions and even some DC provision where quick fleet turnaround is a factor – we’ve been working hard.
On-Street Charging: Overcoming Challenges for Scalable Solutions
On-street charging may sound like the ideal solution for charging an electric car if you have no driveway. While there are more lamppost chargers, a number of trials have taken place and more are ongoing, there’s not been a ton of progress in scalable on-street charging solutions just yet. And, of course, even here there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Some would be well served with a cable gully and conventional home charger, others would need a roadside connection. It remains a challenging environment to deploy infrastructure into from a planning and administrative point of view. So at Pod Point, we are currently trying to tackle lower hanging fruit.
Rapid Charging Hubs: Fast and Convenient Charging for EVs
Pod Point has expanded its own DC offering into retail spaces, like Lidl - a mighty convenient location for a paid-for faster charge - somewhere you are going anyway to shop (avoiding the dreaded watching your car charge). This rapid charging provision helps add flexibility to all users, and we need more. But concerns remain over them being a more costly option (even at Pod Point’s very competitive pricing) if they are the only way you get your charging done.
Elsewhere, notably Scotland and Essex, substantial high-powered charging hubs have appeared. These impressive facilities look absolutely ideal for en route charging, though their locations suggest that’s not their sole purpose. So it will be interesting to see how popular they are in time.
Autonomous Features: Future Potential for EV Charging Solutions
While autonomous features could be the ultimate solution, there hasn’t been much progress in the last few years. Massive potential, enthusiasts ever more enthusiastic, sceptics ever more sceptical. But either way, no sign of it coming to rescue us from our driveway-less challenges in the near future.
How do you charge your car without parking outside your home?
For EV drivers who have no driveway and don’t want to run a cable across the street to charge a car that's parked outside the home, there are a few options to keep an electric car battery charged. A popular method is to charge at places we regularly visit such as supermarkets, gyms and offices. This type of charging is called destination charging. Depending on the length of the stay, this charging opportunity can be used to fully replenish the battery or top up, so you’re not running low.
Another option that offers flexibility is rapid charging. This method of charging is faster than normal destination charging but comes at a higher cost. If flexibility and time are of essence, this solution will mean you can charge without parking outside your home or on a driveway.
Finally, a less common method, although great if it is available, is on-street charging via lamp post and stand-alone chargers.
Can I run my electric charging cable across the pavement?
Whether you’re allowed to run an electric charging cable across the pavement depends on guidance from your local council. While the Local Government Association (LGA) advises that a charging cable should only run over a pavement when the vehicle is actively charging, the Highways Act 1980 suggests that placing a cable across a footway is illegal and can cause a safety hazard.
Can you get an electric car charger if you live in a flat?
Yes, you can install an electric car charger if you live in a flat. Depending on whether you rent or own, you’ll need permission from your landlord or property manager to install an EV chargepoint for apartment charging.
You may be able to get up to £350 toward the cost of purchasing and installing an electric car charger in dedicated off-street parking for your flat, as part of the OZEV EV Chargepoint Grant. Find out more about the grant and eligibility criteria in our guide.