We present a functional Schrödinger formalism study of the abelian Higgs model in a covariant gauge. This is done by functional minimization in the physical Hilbert space, defined with the help of the BRS-charge. The structure of the symmetric vacuum, the one-photon energy, charged particle energy, and condensates are investigated analytically in a semisystematic way. A plethora of technical problems related to gauge invariance, negative and zero-norm states, integration measures for unphysical degrees of freedom, boost invariance, correct vacuum energy volume factors, etc. are presented and solved. Our approach generalises previous methods and can be extended to nonabelian models. © 1990.