Repurposing NYC Payphones Into EV Chargers

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

Payphones in New York City are of course losing popularity, as cellphones have become terribly common. Some payphones have already been repurposed as advertising billboards. The Atlantic Cities has an even better idea — convert New York City’s payphones into electric vehicle charging stations.

Image Credit: Patrick Theiner, Creative Commons.


The payphones may not be conveniently situated in parking spaces. However, to set up electric vehicle chargers along roads, wires are run underground, so sidewalks have to be dug up, which is highly expensive, according to Jay Friedland of Plug In America.

This was already done for payphones long ago, as they had cables which were already run underground through channels. So, maybe these channels could be used to run power cables for EV chargers.

“The great thing about telephone booths is there’s power to them,” said Friedland. “This is going to become very popular in urban environments. I think you’re going to see it in urban environments and deployed along highway corridors — say, 50 miles from the city.”

Payphones in New York City operate on standard 120 volt power, which he wants to use to charge cars, albeit very slowly. If feasible, it may be worth it to replace the payphones’ power cords with new, high-power cables for Level 2 charging stations, and connect them to a 240 volt line instead.

According to The Atlantic Cities: “With that in mind, he says, many experts instead have turned their sights to ‘quick-charging’ stations. Though far more expensive to install, fast chargers can power an electric about 80 percent in just half an hour. The average commuter, who only drives about 40 miles a day, will be able to handle that distance after just 15 minutes at a quick-charger.”


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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

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