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How to charge my EV if I don’t have a driveway or a garage?

What's the best way to charge your car at home?
How to charge my EV if I don’t have a driveway or a garage?
Summary
  • Charging at home and opting for an EV tariff can be very convenient (and cheap) but it isn't always an option.
  • Many British drivers choose to run a cable from their homes, across the pavement, to charge their cars.
  • Owning an EV without a garage or a driveway is possible, it just requires a bit of extra planning.

If you are sitting at home, looking onto your driveway, then you could be making the maximum road fuel savings by owning an electric vehicle and installing a home charger. 

Unfortunately, with land commanding a premium price tag and record high house prices, owning a driveway is a practicality that is out of reach for many around the UK. 

This article looks into the capabilities of public charging for the EV owner without a driveway. 

How can I charge my electric car at home without a garage or driveway?

Many people are put off owning an EV due to a lot of misinformation on the internet. Not having access to a driveway or a garage is a common concern – and there’s no doubt it can make things harder – but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

For a start, there are something like 36,000 public charging points in the UK, so you don’t have to top up at home. Until recently there were even some that were free to use – these have mostly died out in England and Wales, but if you live in Scotland you may still be able to find one.

There’s also the option to run a cable from your home across the pavement to your car. More on that later.

My advice to people would be to try it out. Don't just give up because someone on the internet had a bad experience one time, or a national newspaper published a negative article. 

There are thousands of new electric vehicle owners each year and if you are genuinely interested in an EV then talk to them. You probably already know someone who owns one. 

When I ask about their experiences, I find that EV owners love to talk about their electric-only lifestyles and how they would never go back to a petrol or diesel engine.

If you want to try out an electric vehicle without a long term commitment, then a subscription could be the perfect fit for you. Try a short term subscription and see for yourself if a fully-electric car can fit into your lifestyle.

Terraced houses in a UK city.

How many people don’t have a driveway who own a car?

The total number of cars registered in the UK in 2021 was nearly 33m. The average number of cars per household was 1.24 which means many car owners aren't likely to have access to a driveway or a garage. Especially if they live in a terraced house. 

According to the latest Census data and vehicle ownership statistics, we can conclude that about 12% of all car owners don't have access to a driveway or garage. 

If the question remains “Can I get an electric car without a garage?” Then you should keep reading. 

Can I legally run a cable across the pavement to charge my EV?

We’re not going to lie, this is a somewhat thorny topic. Running a cable to your vehicle is not, in itself, illegal. However, under the Highways Act of 1980, councils do have the right to object if they believe it constitutes an obstruction.

EV owners living on busy streets are encouraged to use raised plastic pavement cable protectors. Similar to the ones you see at construction sites. These cost around about £20 depending on the size and company of choice. 

As this is a matter for your local council, each has different rules and safety standards that you should familiarise yourself with before doing so.

Electric vehicle charging cable cover.

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

This is a possibility if you don't take the appropriate precautions whilst on street charging. Some car insurance companies now cover situations like this, specifically for EV policies.

A direct quote from LV: 'If someone was to trip or fall over a charging cable and our customer was found legally responsible or negligent our policy would cover it under "liability to other people". 

Cable covers are relatively cheap and can help highlight the hazard to pedestrians. We recommend getting a cover like this, for its industrial strength trip hazard protection.

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

If you choose to use an electric car charging cable across the pavement, you may be tempted to use an extension lead to help reach the vehicle. That can be a bad idea.

Never use a normal household extension cord to charge an electric car. Some manufacturers consider extension leads to be a fire hazard.

Charging an EV can take a long time and, in most instances, the extension cord you use is not designed to handle that kind of load.

The safest option is to use a dedicated EV charging station, or run your domestic charging cable directly to your home.

Do I need a driveway to get a wallbox?

You don’t need a driveway to get a charging wallbox. As long as you have access to an exterior wall, a charging wallbox can be installed. While off-street parking, like a driveway or garage, is ideal, you can probably get a long lead to reach the car if  you’ve parked in front of your house.  But again, always check with your preferred wallbox provider.

Where can I charge if I don’t have a driveway or garage?

Charging at work

If your employer has installed charge points at your workplace, then ask them and your co-workers what their experiences of using the chargers are. Ask if there is a cost to charge and if employees are permitted to make use of the charge point, or if they are intended for customers only. 

Many companies offer charging as a perk of the job and an incentive to help employees reduce their carbon footprint. Most people work around an 8 hour shift, which on a slow charger would top up a real world range of around 100 miles to your battery, over the duration of your working day. 

It's as easy as turning up to work and remembering to plug your car in. With no upfront costs to have chargers installed at your home, this makes charging at work one of the most affordable ways to own an EV. Find an electric car charging point near you!

How many people get free charging at work?

If on-street EV charging isn’t an option, your next best option is charging at work. 

Many businesses will offer free charging as a perk, but many smaller businesses won't be able to offer this perk due to the mounting costs of energy.

One way to offset this cost is to offer free charging for employees, but charge a fee for the general public to use your infrastructure. 

Companies like Fuuse, enable businesses to offer their charge points to their customers and employees at varying costs per charge.

To put this into perspective, around 500 UK companies use Fuuse, of which just over 40% get their employees to pay for charging. However, at an average price of 28p per kWh, most companies who ask employees to pay, provide charging at significantly lower than commercial charging rates, and comparable or better than charging at home.

EV using a public charger in the UK.

Public chargers

There are different types of chargers and your EV cable will look slightly different depending on which socket you are required to plug in to. It is the equivalent of trying to plug your British hair dryer into an American socket. Different chargers plug into different sockets.

Public charging speeds

To start with, 3kW is the slowest type and is similar to the charge you will pull from a typical plug socket at home; 7kW is a fairly standard charge speed which you would expect to see in supermarkets and car parks. This is the same charge speed you would find at a home charge point. Learn how long it takes to charge an electric car.

Fast chargers

As the technology improves, we are seeing unbelievably fast chargers coming to the UK.

The standard fast charger of 22kW has been completely overshadowed by the production of the latest super chargers. These new super chargers have speeds of up to 350kW and could make a complete charge of an EV in under 20 minutes. Although these are still rare, 150kW chargers are increasingly common, and 50kW chargers – once considered a luxury – are fast becoming the norm.

What's the difference?

To make it easy to understand there is one simple rule to follow when looking at charge speeds. The higher the number, the faster the potential charge. This means that a 7kWh will charge up to twice as fast as a 3.5kWh socket.

Will my electric car charge at the advertised speed?

This is a rather interesting and important piece of information when it comes to charging your car at a public charger.

Many cars will have a maximum safe charging speed built into them by the manufacturer. This means that your car may be capped to charging at a certain rate and it would be recommended to check this rate before purchasing your vehicle, if you expect to rely on the public charging network.

If you were to plug in at a super-fast 150kWh rapid charger, your car could be limited to a charge speed as low as 22kWh.

Car retailers are very careful with their wording when it comes to the capability of their electric vehicle charge rates. This is due to the variable nature of the weather and how the seasons and time of day will contribute to charging times.

Steven Sparrow, a fully electric Corsa-E owner from Cambridgeshire, shared his thoughts with us about his experience of rapid charging around the UK. The Corsa-E has a claimed maximum charge rate of 100 kWh, but the maximum Mr Sparrow has ever achieved is 75kWh (which is still incredibly fast, albeit 25% lower than the expected speed). Steven isn't a daily user of public chargers, but has commented that whenever he has needed a charge away from the home, he hasn't once had an issue in doing so. 

Another interesting fact to know about public chargers is that the speed you will receive can greatly decrease the closer you get to 100% battery capacity. Many car manufacturers reduce the maximum charge speed to protect the lifespan of the battery as it nears capacity. There is a varying range of between 80-95% capacity that an EV will fast-charge to, before dropping the speed in line with the onboard battery safety management technology.

Other options 

You can also charge your car at supermarkets, lampposts (via Ubitricity) and the usual kerbside charging stations. You won’t be short of options if you live in a city.  It's also worth checking our in-depth analysis of the common problems EVs have. Check out our EV glossary guide if you find any of the terms mentioned in this article are unclear.

Owning an EV without a driveway or garage is not as difficult as it may sound, it just requires a bit of extra planning!

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