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Voltpost wants to bring curbside charging to a lamppost near you

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 want to go.

Life in an electric vehicle isn’t so rosy if you don’t have access to a garage or driveway.

Many electric vehicle owners in large cities are forced to rely on public fast charging stations. Some people have started running cables between their homes and the sidewalk, which can pose safety risks. Some cities, like Cambridge, Massachusetts, have formalized this practice, allowing people to receive permits to install cable guards suitable for wheelchairs that span the sidewalk. It’s an experience that mimics some of the convenience that single-family homeowners enjoy, but it’s a temporary solution at best.

The humble street light might be a better option: they’re everywhere, and they have all the wiring needed to make curbside charging seamless. A New York startup, Voltpost, is working on a product that retrofits existing street lights to allow electric vehicle charging. On Thursday, it presented its streetlight charger after a year of design and development.

The device is essentially a shroud that covers the bottom of the pole, containing all the electronics and cables needed to charge two to four electric vehicles at Level 2 speeds. It’s not fast charging, but it’s more than enough for most people to recharge their battery overnight.

Voltpost installation process visualized.

An illustration of the main components of the Voltpost streetlight charger. Image credits: Tension station

The Voltpost charger attaches at hand height to the lamp post shroud, and the retractable cable has an eight-foot-high anchor to keep it off the ground. The design is modular, the company said, to make repairs and upgrades easier. Charging station managers have access to custom software that will allow them to control pricing and monitor devices remotely.

As is the case with almost all EV charger networks, there is an app to supervise charging sessions, including payments. Drivers can also use it to reserve chargers, an interesting twist on “dibs” or “savesies” that will certainly be convenient for drivers but could cause friction between 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 it has projects in various stages of development and deployment in New York, Chicago and Detroit. The startup recently raised a $3.6 million seed round in July.

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