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Charging An Electric Car With No Driveway

No driveway? No worries! Here’s how you can charge your electric car without a home charger wallbox.

One of the major questions about buying an electric car is: how am I going to charge it if I don’t have a driveway at home?
Home charging is one of the cheapest ways to keep an EV charged. When left on trickle charge overnight, your electric car can fully charge for a fraction of the cost of a full tank of petrol. But one third of houses in the UK lack a driveway to leave their car charging on, and those in flats will struggle parking outside their property long enough to charge the car. So, what are your options? Well, your options for charging an electric car without a driveway could include: • Charging using the public networkCharging at workUsing the on-street residential charging schemeCharging on the street

Charging using the public network

The public charging network is growing across the UK, with over 30,000 charging points now available.
With more and more charging points popping up, it’s increasingly convenient for keeping your vehicle topped up (it’s recommended you keep the battery between 50 and 80 per cent charged to prolong its life). The public network is a way great to keep your car’s charge topped up, and best used alongside some of the other charging methods covered in this blog to manage your overall cost and time.

How much will charging with the public network cost?

Prices vary, so it’s worth shopping around and finding which networks and charging points are the most cost effective for you.
Relying on the public charging network to charge your car could add up – especially if you’re using rapid charging points a lot. To manage the cost, you could look at subscription models. With these, you’ll pay a monthly or annual fee for access and this can work out cheaper per charge than paying as and when you use the charging point – especially if you’re using the same ones regularly. If the network provides unlimited charging for a set subscription free, this may prove very cost effective in the long run.

How long will it take to charge my car?

When using public charging points, there’s also the time factor. The average slow charger offers between 3kW and 6kW, taking 8-12 hours for a full charge (it’ll take less time for a top-up charge).
Fast chargers usually take less time, offering between 7kW and 22kW. Rapid charging won’t take as long, but it’ll cost more and too much rapid charging isn’t great for your electric car’s health. Using slow or fast charging points can take a while, but given that many chargers are in convenient locations, you can work this into your routine – leaving your car on charge while you go shopping or to the gym, for example. Many supermarkets and shopping centres have committed to installing more electric charging points, meaning this will be an option for more and more people going forward.

Can I leave my car at a public charging point overnight?

No. Although it's safe to do so, it means the charging point is out of action for other users who will need to use it during those hours.
If you’re using a residential on-street charging point, speak to your local council or neighbours about charging point etiquette and charging rotas.

Are there free charging points in the UK?

There are also thousands of free electric car charge points in the UK. These can be found in public car parks, supermarkets, hotels, shopping centres and some service stations.
To use a free electric charging points, you may have to prove a purchase in store to use them, or only use them for a set period of time, for example.
Charging Honda electric car
Charging Honda electric car

Charging at work

Ask your employer if there are plans to install charging points at your workplace.
Businesses can receive financial support from the government, in the form of the Workplace Charging Scheme. Through this scheme, businesses wanting to install charging stations for colleagues can reduce the cost by up to £300 per socket, up to a maximum of 20 sockets. In addition to this, there are also several regional grants and schemes around the country that businesses can apply for. Many employers are fitting charging points on their premises for their colleagues to use. It’s a benefit to those working there, as they get free or cheap recharges, and could even be an incentive for new employees or getting people back into the office. Workplace chargers tend to be similar in power and charging time to those found in homes – so around 3kW and taking around eight hours to fully charge. Depending on the charger offered, you may need to provide your own cable. You may also have to draw up a fair usage scheme for colleagues. This could include guidelines on how often, and for how long, any one employee can leave their electric car plugged in and charging.

On-street residential charging scheme

If you’re considering an electric car but don’t have a driveway, contact your local authority to find out if there are plans to install on-street residential charging points.
You can learn more about the on-street residential charging scheme here, but in a nutshell it’s a Government grant for installing public access charging points, made available to local authorities. There are a couple of different options available: • Charging points could be installed into lamp posts • Free-standing or pillar units could be added to the kerb • Telescopic charging points that retract into the pavement How long it takes to charge at these points will vary depending on the power available in the area. Most will be around 3kW (like a home charger), and require an overnight charge, whereas others may offer 5kW to 7kW. If these are available in your local area, check whether you’ll need to bring your own cable (in most cases, you will).
Electric car charging port
Electric car charging port

Charging on the street

You may simply want to park your electric car outside your house and charge it yourself. There are a few points to consider on this one.

Do I need a driveway to get a wallbox?

Check with your preferred wallbox provider. In most cases, you’ll require off-street parking like a driveway or garage as you can’t stretch the charging lead.

Can I safely charge a plug-in car with extension cables?

In most instances, a standard three-pin socket is not enough to charge an electric car. Trying to use it for this purpose can pose serious risks – such as starting a fire.

Can I run a cable across the street?

If you have parking space on the street outside your house, you could theoretically run a cable across the pavement.
There are no legal restrictions in place but, under the Highway Act, councils do have the power to remove any cables they think are in unsuitable locations. The Local Government Association (LGA) advises that electric car charging cables should only run over pavements or footways when the vehicle is charging and that they should be removed as soon as possible. Some councils have advised against it altogether, so check locally (on your local authority’s website, for example) as to whether you can or cannot do this. If you can and did run a cable, then any issues (such as pedestrians tripping and hurting themselves or wheelchair users / prams not being able to get by) would be your direct legal responsibility – so the risk may not be worth the reward.

What if I run a charging cable across the street and someone trips over it?

Is someone trips and is injured by your cable, you could be liable and face a claim from a personal injury lawyer.
It’s not our place to give legal advice, so make sure you’re up to date on the fine print of your home and motor insurance policies and read up on your rights and responsibilities.
Charging at a supermarket
Charging at a supermarket

Electric car charging for drivers with disabilities

Under the Motability Scheme, UK drivers with a disability can opt for a 36-month paid subscription to the BP Pulse network, if they cannot have a home charger fitted. This is currently for full-electric cars, more information is available here.

Are electric cars right for you?

The electric car infrastructure has changed a lot in the past few years and, as we approach 2030 and electric cars become the new normal on British roads, we expect to see them change for the better again.
If you’re working out whether an electric car is right for you, take a look at some of our guides, or find out more about the cars themselves. Learn more: • How green are electric cars?Clean Air Zones explainedMore on charging electric cars

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