Streetlights: The Solution For City EV Charging
The lights in the distance could be EV chargers

The lights in the distance could be EV chargers

I always feel guilty talking to apartment or condo dwellers about the joys of electric vehicles.  Without a dedicated parking spot with access to an outlet, they’re basically out of luck.  Maybe if you have workplace charging, you can make it work.  But otherwise, it would be unwieldy to have to rely on a spread-out public charging network to keep your vehicle battery full.

But there may be a way to blanket urban areas with EV charging spots.  The answer?  Streetlights.  Cities already have extensive wiring in place for these lights, and they’re not used during the day.  So that excess capacity could be harnessed to install street chargers without requiring expensive and invasive electrical work.  A few companies seem to be all over this possibility, just based on a quick Google search.

Of course, there would be challenges to work out.  For example, how do you ensure that the chargers are only active during the day or when there is excess capacity on the streetlight grid?  Installing LEDs and other efficient lighting technology could help at night to free up capacity (assuming the lamps aren’t already more efficient), but daytime may not be the optimal time to charge for daytime workers who may be gone then.  And who pays for the install?  Is there a viable business model where the chargers earn enough to cover the installation and maintenance costs?

These are just a few questions that spring to mind.  But it’s an intriguing possibility that would help solve the otherwise seemingly intractable problem of providing ubiquitous charging in compact urban environments — and therefore opening the EV market to a whole new segment of potential buyers.


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