City Living With An EV: Charging Solutions


Power to the pavement

Living in the city makes it hard for electric car owners without off-street parking. It’s tough to find a place to charge, dissuading many inner city dwellers from buying electric cars.

Forums and social media show passionate and divided opinions about what’s acceptable for urban EV owners who need to charge on the street and the answer may well come from overseas.

The Cable On The Pavement Problem

Can you roll out the cable from your home across the footpath and plug it into an electric vehicle on the street for a couple of hours or more?

Sure! Plenty of of people are doing it. But see how long you last before you get a complaint from an angry neighbour or a visit from your local council ranger.

Few authorities would see this as acceptable. State governments Australia-wide have legislation allowing local councils to make by-laws relating to safety and other issues on verges, crossovers, and thoroughfares on public land. Even if no such law or policy exists, a complaint would trigger the relevant department to take a look.

Erring on the side of caution, only a brave council officer will expose the city to potential litigation, and some would say rightly so. It’s hard not to argue that, in most cases, this would be inconvenient for people with accessibility issues and a possible trip hazard, or worse, a dangerous electrical hazard.

EV charging across a footpath

You wouldn’t want to make a habit out of this sort of thing. Image: Charge Gully

Cable Covers

Many EV owners have tried to do the right thing by running the charger cable under a cable cover or mat and making everything highly visible and as safe as possible. Although commendable, it may not tick all the boxes that make this a viable solution. Any deviation to the height of the thoroughfare surface would still be a trip hazard for the visually impaired and challenging to navigate for prams and the like.

EV charging with cable cover

A cable cover over the charging cable is still a trip hazard for some people.

Hanging Cables Overhead

Sorry folks, that’s a big no-no. Some inventive EV owners have provoked social media backlash by hanging cables out of windows, across trees, and on street signs, desperately trying to get an overnight charge. Unless done professionally, it will likely violate council safety policy and Australian electrical standards.

EV charging cable over a tree

This pic has been doing the rounds over the past year, and drawing the ire of the anti-EV brigade.

Don’t Try This At Home Kids

In this video, a YouTuber proudly shows the world how he took matters into his own hands by digging up his verge footpath and burying an enclosure similar in size to one of the concrete slabs, which now houses one end of his charger cable next to the street. Every way you look at it is an accident waiting to happen. He cheekily names his channel “PowerElectronicsBlog” but has no clue about the dangers of electricity.

EV charging YouTuber style

EV charging YouTuber style: Don’t try this at home kids, it won’t end well.

Is This One Legit?

And in another video, Matthew demonstrates how he used an old preexisting drain pipe to run a cable from the EV charger on the property, underneath the footpath, and onto the street to charge an EV. Matt is not without his detractors, who have pointed out in the comments that it may not be an all-weather solution! What do you think? Is it legit?

EV charging through a drainpipe

Just remove the bung, and it’s a good use of an old drain pipe, or is it?

On-Street EV Charging Solutions

So if you can’t do this and you can’t do that, then what the bloody hell can you do if you want to charge from home but don’t have off-street parking?

Solution #1: EV Cable Channel Or Gully

Although yet to be available in Australia, there are at least four UK companies1 manufacturing and offering the installation of a channel or gully set into the pavement where a user can run a cable from their property across a thoroughfare to the kerbside. The channel’s top sits flush with the pavement, allowing people to walk past safely without even noticing.

I wouldn’t take the angle grinder to your pavement just yet, though, because the whole thing has to get the green light from the relevant local council. These companies can help you liaise with the authorities (if you live in the UK.)

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before this idea catches on in Australia. Although maybe not everyone agrees, my thoughts are that this will be one of a suite of solutions for urban street charging here. It’s not bulletproof, though, as there may be drainage or maintenance issues, and it must be electrically safe in case of a damaged charger cable.

EV charging with Charge Gully

There are a growing number of EV charge gullies and channels available in the UK. Why aren’t they doing it here? Image: Charge Gully

Solution #2: Private ‘Pop-Up’ Kerbside Charging

Here’s something you can do if you’re cashed up and live in the right suburb. Aussie start-up Kerb Charge has developed a first-of-its-kind ‘pop-up’ charger that they can install on the pavement outside your house. The City of Port Phillip has trialled these 7 kW units, and other municipalities are following suit.

Among the drawbacks is the stinging $6,000 price tag, with no guaranteed access to the parking spot in front of your house. It may be why they’re not flying off the shelves, with reportedly fewer than a handful of applicants signing up for the City of Port Phillip trial. Indeed, a well-thought-out business model might be needed to make these mainstream.

Kerb Charge pop-up EV charging

Kerb Charge – a great product, but is it cost prohibitive? Image: Kerb Charge

Solution #3: Public Kerbside Chargers

Two schemes are currently running, aimed at increasing the number of AC chargers available on the streets in urban areas of New South Wales. Buy a lottery ticket if you get one in front of your place. For the rest of us, as EV numbers increase and owners start making noises, authorities will be forced to be more proactive.

Power pole EV charging project

EV streetside charging project in NSW.

Other EV Charging Solutions?

From where I’m standing, there are few other options for on-street charging. Most EV owners prefer to do it at home, so the usual ‘charge while you do the shopping’ and ‘charge at work’ routines are often brushed aside because, well, they’re already doing it.

Beyond the convenience, there’s something empowering about telling those oil companies to take a hike and power up your car with renewable energy from your house. It’s a fundamental part of what makes owning an EV so rewarding. Using your home-grown solar to fuel up is part and parcel of the experience.

Until this is sorted, some potential buyers are holding off purchasing an EV, and that’s not good news for the widespread adoption of sustainable transport. If you have any other bright ideas for street charging or some stories to share, drop them in the comments below. Your input could spark the next solution.


  1. Charge Gully, Pave Cross, Gul-e, and Kerbocharge.


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