What is On-Street EV Charging?

On-street charging refers to electric vehicle charging infrastructure located on the street.

Application of On-Street EV Charging

Socio-economic and urban characteristics are the main drivers that shape the need for EV charging infrastructure. For example, the make-up of homes is a big influencer on whether a particular area needs an extensive public charging infrastructure or is instead better served by private home chargers. For instance, densely populated urban areas, where people live in residential complexes (multi-family dwellings), have considerably different charging needs than rural areas, where most people live in single-family houses and can easily install a home EV charger for private use.

On-street or curbside charging is important for creating an efficient EV charging infrastructure mix and can greatly benefit EV owners without home chargers. At the same time, building a reliable network of on-street charging for public use faces challenges. These barriers explain why curbside charging needs to catch up in development behind other models like destination and home charging.

Due to its complexity, on-street charging requires the involvement of all stakeholders—EV drivers, charge point manufacturers and operators, installers, city authorities, and urban planners.

Importance of On-Street EV Charging

Many EV drivers are unable to have home chargers due to not having access to off-street parking or driveway or because they live in multi-unit dwellings that have not yet installed charging stations for residents. This leaves EV drivers with public and semi-public charging as the only viable solutions to maintain a charge, which isn’t ideal.

For all its challenges, curbside EV charging is a promising market for charger manufacturers, charge point operators (CPOs), and electric mobility service providers (eMSPs). Indeed, they can be in the driving seat when it comes to solving on-street shortcomings like the need for a reliable way for EV drivers to find and use public on-street charging. It’s also essential to provide EV owners with valuable information, such as pricing and supported charging plugs, so they don’t drive around the city only to find out on the spot that the charger is too expensive, unavailable, or incompatible with their EV. Adding value to drivers with such contextual information is the area of eMSPs, but all players in the EV market can play important roles and reap benefits from curbside charging.

Indeed, the complexity of on-street charging offers an opportunity for CPOs and installers to differentiate themselves from the competition by providing expertise in building, operating, and maintaining curbside charging infrastructure. At the same time, a point to consider is that curbside charging is more susceptible to damage and vandalism, with all the corresponding maintenance concerns.

Practical Examples of On-Street EV Charging

On-street charging stations can be installed by the authorities for public use or by private individuals and businesses (after obtaining the appropriate permits).

  • Municipalities may install charging stations strategically throughout the city. Such charging networks are often located in high-traffic areas, like public institutions.
  • Private businesses can request permission to install on-street chargers, ensuring they comply with local regulations, do not disrupt pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and are safely connected to the grid.
  • Private citizens who do not have off-street parking or a driveway can also apply for an on-street charging permit and have a charger installed in front of their home.

Additional Information About On-Street EV Charging

  • On-street charging is a field that sees many innovative solutions with many new and interesting designs appearing on the market. Some charge points integrate into public light poles, and there are also wireless chargers, underground charging stations where only the cable remains above the ground, and cable management systems that embed the cables below pavement level or raise them high above pedestrian traffic.
  • There’s another side to that as well. EV owners resort to dangerous DIY solutions in an attempt to improvise curbside charging. This includes running extension cords from their home sockets to the EV which is a fire hazard as well as dangerous to pedestrians. 
  • Because on-street chargers use public space, they must comply with safety and accessibility regulations.

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