California city incorporates charging stations into streetlights

Adding EV charging stations to streetlights is an interesting idea – it can save money, because the electrical lines are already in place, and it can enable smart features that deliver increased efficiency.

The City of Lancaster, California has launched a demonstration project that will integrate chargers into five streetlights in the trendy downtown district. The charging units are made by ebee Smart Technologies, a specialist in controller technology designed to make installing public charging cheaper and more flexible. The company has installed some 10,000 of its controllers in chargers in Europe.

A grant from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District will cover 80% of the project cost, including installation, maintenance, and five years of data collection. The remaining 20% will be covered by ebee and its partners, EasyCharge and eluminocity, which created the charger housings.

“We bring knowledge from decades in the international automotive industry and have applied it to make installing state-of-the-art EV charging technology simpler and more cost-effective for cities and workplaces,” said ebee Smart Technology CEO Dr. Henning Heppner.


Source: ebee Smart Technologies

  • Ed

    Q1: Any idea how much power the lighting infrastructure can deliver to vehicles?
    Q2: Could this site track the build our progress and keep us updated?

    • Lance Pickup

      Similar projects in Europe are based on the premise that if you replace sodium bulbs in streetlights with LEDs you get a power savings on the order at 350W per streetlight (and of course in the day when the light is not on,you can get the full 400W or so of power).

      So yeah, that’s not a lot. But I think part of the premise is that as long as the wiring down to the street level is sufficient, an entire block of streetlights might be able to provide 1.5-2kW.

      The projects I have seen mentioned in Europe charged about about 1.5kW for example. The intended purpose is for people that don’t have off street parking and this would be their primary means of “home” charging, and therefore 1.5kW overnight is probably sufficient for replenishing their daily use. The boxes they use are also location aware and are able to intelligently sequence power such that the draw on a given block does not exceed limits.

      This type of system would probably be of very little use in a commercial setting, but the qualifiers “trendy downtown district” in this article lead me to believe that the planners are thinking more about the “trendiness” and not the “practicality” of the system.

      • Ed

        Thanks Pickup. That is helpful. With the existing infrastructure, this approach does not sound too helpful for daytime “downtown shopping” needs. Overnight charging…maybe. But, the concept should certainly encourage better planning in NEW infrastructure projects. And if some of the old locations used conduit, maybe there will be some VW monies to upgrade?!

      • Diane Moss

        Actually, the Lancaster chargers are Level 2, so perfect for the downtown shopping area.

        • jeffhre

          Would be more perfect with some signage.

          • Diane Moss

            Each charger has signage. You just can’t see it in the photo because it’s higher up on the pole.

          • jeffhre

            No spots are marked.

    • jeffhre

      From what I can recall, they have installed two poles – to service a five block district. The spaces are not marked, though it appears the cables are long enough to reach multiple spaces.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    This approach is different to that employed in Germany and now the UK were the light pole access door is replaced with one with a socket on it and presumably some basic protection such as earth leakage detection and circuit breaker or fuse. All the smarts in that case are in the charging cable the local can get from their council which takes care of identifying the owner and billing for power dispensed. Those were intended for local residents without the ability to charge overnight at home who would probably park on the street anyway. The cost was nearly all in the charging cable, the power pole modifications were minimal, in fact if a resident requested a charge cable three power poles near where they lived would be modified reducing the chance of that motorist being ICED.
    Lancaster seems to have taken a different approach where the smarts are on the light pole but I suppose that suites casual visitors rather than those looking for an overnight charge near where they live every night.