Charging an electric car with no driveway isn’t as difficult or as inconvenient as it’s portrayed to be.
The cheapest option is to find a free supermarket charger, which are usually rated from 7kW to 22kW (adding between 24 and 60-miles of range per hour). You can use these while you shop, or sit in your car and dawdle on your phone.
Another option is paid public chargers. 50kW fast chargers add up to 100 miles of range per hour and are the cheapest option. 100kW rapid chargers add up to 200 miles of range per hour, while 150kW+ ultra-rapids add even more. Ultra-rapids are expensive, however, so you should use them only when you need to.
In this article, we’ll explore plenty more ways to charge when you have no driveway. Hopefully, we can give you a few ideas.
Let’s jump in!
- Supermarket chargers
- Charging hubs
- Zipcharge Go
- Council car park chargers
- Motorway services chargers
- Car dealership chargers
- Borrow power off a neighbour
- Co Charger
- Lamppost chargers
- Pop-up charge points
- How to find your nearest chargers
- Can you charge your electric car on the street?
- Can you charge your electric car by running a cable over the pavement?
- Living with an electric car with no driveway
- Charging an EV with no driveway – is it as inconvenient as the media makes out?
- Free at the point of use
- Only for customers
- Some chargers have time limits
Supermarket charging stations are typically AC chargers with power outputs of 11kW (32 miles of range per hour) or 22kW (60 miles of range per hour).
The downside to supermarket chargers is they are strictly for customer use only, and sessions are often restricted to an hour.
Who fronts the cost for free supermarket chargers? The supermarket! They pay for the electricity at a reduced rate, billed based on maximum or ‘peak’ demand.
Another thing to watch out for is penalty charges because some private companies have been catching electric car drivers out with ambiguous rules.
- Ultra-rapid charge speeds
- Lots of spaces
- Popping up all over the place
- On-site cafe and lounge facilities
Charging hubs are popping up all over the place, offering ultra-rapid charge speeds up to 300kW (although most hubs have 150kW chargers).
Shell is opening hundreds of charging hubs across the UK, and Gridserve will open 20 charging hubs in 2022 alone. Most cities now have at least one charging hub within 5-miles of them, although smaller towns are less well compensated.
- Available sometime in 2022
- Small enough to keep in your boot
- 4kWh battery delivers up to 20-40 miles of range
The Zipcharge Go is a portable EV battery that’s almost the same size as handheld luggage. It even has wheels and a handle! It delivers 20-40 miles of range charging at 7.2kW, dumping its load into your EV’s battery in around an hour.
You charge the Zipcharge Go with a 3-pin plug and it’s small and light enough to put in your boot. The Go has an 8kWh capacity (enough to top up a Fiat 500 by 20%) and the company plans to make a smaller 4kWh unit too.
Note: This product isn’t available yet, but it will be Q4 2022.
Council car park chargers
- Typically 7kW or 11kW
- You need a parking ticket
- Charging bays are often taken
Council car park charging stations are usually AC, typically 7.4kW or 11kW, with 7.4kW chargers adding around 30 miles of range per hour.
As with supermarkets, council car parks are for customer use only, but if you can buy a parking ticket that covers the time you need for an 80% charge, you’re sorted.
Sometimes, council car parks have fast chargers up to 50kW, with 100kW rapid chargers becoming more common.
Motorway services chargers
- The fastest chargers available
- Up to 350kW of power
- Expensive (over 50% more than home tariffs)
Motorway services have DC ultra-rapid charging stations, which are significantly more powerful than AC chargers. They typically support charge speeds up to 150kW, although some support charge speeds in excess of 300kW.
Depending on your electric car, you could get a 10-80% charge in as little as 30 minutes, or if you have 800V technology, that time will be as little as 18 minutes.
Motorway chargers are convenient on longer trips, but they are expensive, so try and use them as infrequently as possible.
Car dealership chargers
- Free at the point of use
- You need to be a customer or employee
- Dealerships are known to hob them
Car dealerships that sell plug-in and electric vehicles tend to have 3.6kW, 7.4kW or 11kW chargers in the car park for customer use. If you’re a customer, charging there should be no problem, so long as they know you.
If you’re desperate for power and no one is using the chargers, you could ask for help – the dealer will probably be charitable.
The downside to dealership EV chargers is they are usually hogged by the dealer, despite the spaces being designed for customers.
Borrow power off a neighbour
- Suitable for friendly neighbourhoods
- You’ll need to pay your way (in money or beer!)
- Only suitable for infrequent sessions (don’t be silly with it)
Getting friendly with a fellow EV owner could unlock the door to using their home charger (with their permission, of course). You’ll have to pay your way in cash or beer, but the rate will be way cheaper than public charging.
Your neighbour will be able to control charging on their smartphone and schedule charge times so you can charge up without them being home. Just remember to be polite and don’t get greedy! They are doing you a favour, after all.
- Home charger sharing made easy
- See a map of home chargers open to the local community
- Request charging sessions and pay via the app
If sharing with a neighbour appeals to you, Co Charger makes it easy.
Co Charger is a community charging scheme that gives people with a home charger the opportunity to share it with a few neighbours. You can join the community as a user and find people in your area willing to share their chargers.
With Co Charger, hosts set their own minimum price per charging session and the price per hour, and you can book sessions through the app.
- Usually only found in cities and towns
- Chargers can get hogged
- Charge speeds can be as low as 3.6kW and as high as 22kW
Last but not least, we have the scarcest of all options in most areas – lamppost chargers. Last year, 1,300 street lights were converted to EV chargers in London and more companies around Britain are planning changes of their own.
For example, Connected Kerb plans to install 190,000 kerbside chargers by 2030 with speeds between 7kW and 22kW.
However, many lamppost chargers are slow with the average speed sitting at 5.5kW. If you can find a 22kW charger in a car park instead, you’ll get the same range the lamppost charger would add in an hour in only 15 minutes.
Pop-up charge points
- Controlled via smartphone
- Charge speeds up to 22kW
- Difficult to spot and as rare as hen’s teeth
Pop-up charge points rise from the ground and are operated via a smartphone app, rising only when needed. These chargers are even rarer than lamppost chargers and they can be difficult to spot, especially in areas with lots of traffic.
The idea behind pop-up charge points is to reduce the impact on cyclists and pedestrians, although they are much more expensive to install, which is why most councils are choosing lamppost chargers instead.
How to find your nearest chargers
Your EV might also have built-in navigation with charging stations as POIs (points of interest) – this is the simplest way to find a charger on the go. If your vehicle doesn’t have in-built navigation, use Google Maps or Zap-Map.
Can you charge your electric car on the street?
You can charge your electric car on the street using an on-street public charger. These can be found in city centres and some residential streets. Another option is the portable ZipCharge Go, which has a 4kW battery and adds 20-40 miles of range.
Can you charge your electric car by running a cable over the pavement?
Not legally, although the exact legality is cloudy.
Under the Highways Act 1980, c.66, part IX, Section 162, Lawful and Unlawful Interference with Highways and Streets, it is illegal to run a cable along a public highway.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about this, with some people saying it’s fine, so we asked a lawyer specialising in public and personal injury law.
Samantha Haynes, of Howe and Smart, said, “cables are a tripping hazard and councils take a dim view of obstructing highways.”
“Cable protectors are still a health and safety hazard and are not permitted. You would still be obstructing a public highway as defined in the Highways Act.”
“A person who for any purpose places any rope, wire or other apparatus across a highway in such a manner as to be likely to cause danger to persons using the highway is liable for injury and damages. My professional advice is not to do it.”
Living with an electric car with no driveway
Can you live with an electric car with no driveway? Sure you can! Charging at home is convenient but in no way essential to EV ownership.
My best mate drives a Peugeot e-208 and lives in a terraced house. With no home charger, he uses public chargers and has access to a charge point at work, so the no-driveway-EV lifestyle works fine for him.
Charging an EV with no driveway – is it as inconvenient as the media makes out?
No, not necessarily.
There are many ways to charge an EV without a driveway, ranging from public charging stations to charger sharing schemes.
With many public charging networks becoming increasingly more convenient and accessible, you can safely invest in an EV without stress.
Don’t be afraid to purchase an electric car if you have no driveway. You don’t need to charge every day and random top-ups are fine.