Saturday, June 22, 2024
Industry

Voltpost shows device to convert lamp posts to EV chargers

If you own a single-family home, driving an electric vehicle can be a transcendent experience. Every morning, when you wake up to a world full of possibilities, your car will be fully charged and ready to take you wherever you need to go.

EV life isn’t nearly so rosy if you don’t have access to a garage or driveway.

Many EV owners in big cities are forced to rely on public fast chargers. Some people have taken to stringing cables from their homes to the curb, which can pose safety hazards. Some cities, like Cambridge, Mass., have formalized the practice, allowing people to receive permits to install wheelchair-friendly cable protectors that span the sidewalk. It’s an experiment that emulates some of the convenience that single-family homeowners enjoy, but it’s a temporary solution, at best.

The lowly lamppost might be a better option: they’re everywhere, and they have all the wiring needed to make curbside charging seamless. One startup from New York City, Voltpost, has been working on a product that retrofits existing street lampposts to enable EV charging. On Thursday, it introduced its lamppost charger after a year of design and development.

The device is essentially a shroud that covers the lower part of the pole, containing all the electronics and cables required to provide AC Level 2 charging to two to four EVs. It’s not fast charging, but it’s more than enough for most people to top off overnight.

 

Voltpost installation process visualized.

Voltpost’s charger docks at hand-level on the lamppost shroud, and the retractable cable has an anchor eight-feet up to keep it off the ground. The design is modular, the company said, to make repairs and upgrades easier. Charge station managers get access to custom software that will allow them to control pricing and remotely monitor the devices.

As is the case with just about every EV charger network, there’s an app to oversee charging sessions, including payments. Drivers can also use it to reserve chargers, an interesting twist on “dibs” or “savesies” that will certainly be a convenience for drivers but could cause some friction among neighbors.

Voltpost said its chargers are quick to install, taking an hour to complete the process in a test with the New York City Department of Transportation. It also said that it has projects in various stages of development and deployment in New York, Chicago, and Detroit. The startup most recently raised a $3.6 million seed round in July.

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