Street lights and electric cars - perfect partners?

STREET LIGHTS are ubiquitous in our cities; electric vehicles need lots of charging points. They’re obviously perfect partners - so let’s convert luminaires into filling up points. After all, now that street lights use low-energy LED, the cabling has lots of spare current-carrying capacity.

But it’s not as simple as that. Trials of lamp-post outlets in London over recent years - including Richmond, Hounslow and Westminster – have thrown up lots of technical, practical and interoperability issues.

Dave Franks, asset and infrastructure manager at Westminster City Council, will share his learnings from the London borough's early trials with the incorporation of electric vehicle charging points in street lighting columns. Pic: Dave Thrower/Redshift Photography

Can we resolve these so that the lighting network can indeed become multifunctional? This is the question that Dave Franks, asset and infrastructure manager at Westminster City Council, will answer at LuxLive 2017. After all, Westminster was one of the first authorities in the UK to trial this approach to residential electric vehicle charging. He will share his experience of these early trials and look at the journey from funding options, resident feedback, technical issues, planning to implementation and feedback for electric vehicle owners.

The presentation takes place at 1.30pm on Thursday 15 November 2017 in the Smart Spaces Conference, which is co-located with the LuxLive exhibition at ExCeL London. Entry is free to engineers and advisors, owners and operators of lighting estates in retail, education, healthcare, outdoor and public realm, industry, transport, highways, commercial, offices and public sector. However it’s essential that you reserve your place and in doing so you will automatically be registered to visit LuxLive.

The Smart Spaces Conference includes sessions on lighting on the rail network, lighting controls on university campuses, smart cities and lighting, lighting’s role in security and surveillance and how embedded sensors can monitor for harsh weather such as snow and floods


  • The electric vehicle and street lights presentation is just one of the sessions at the new Smart  Spaces Conference taking place at the LuxLive 2017 exhibition and conference. It runs on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.

Comments 3

I'm puzzled - maybe it's my maths.... In general, street lights seem to be somewhere between 35W and 400W, depending upon the size of the street. For argument's sake, let's say the average is 200W. A quick search around the internet seems to indicate that a small electric car is going to use maybe 10kWh to do 25 miles or so. So to recharge it in 8 hours we'll need 1.25kW of supply. Assuming just one charging point per streetlight, can someone either explain how the street lighting cabling is going to carry 5 times the existing load (or 35 times at Euan's 7 cars per streetlight) - or tell me what I'm missing?

Another problem is that the distance between lighting columns can be anything up to35-40 metres apart, which equates to around 7-8 parking spaces between the columns. In this instance only 1/4 of the spaces will have a charge point. I am currently developing a system to provide power to every space( as will be necessary in the future) with power.

Here are two questions in advance for the presenters. How do you prevent the charging cable from being a trip hazard? I am sure the yellow cable shown wouldn't get past a risk assessment. Maybe a spring loaded roller like the air supply pumps at a petrol station is the answer. Secondly, how do you prevent drivers using the spaces as free parking in an expensive city? A simple solution would be to pay for the space (just like a parking meter) in addition to the electrical charge. The city congestion/clean air charge wouldn't apply but you pay for the space in the normal way.

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