An increasing number of car buyers are turning to electric cars for their next vehicle. But public charging stations have not kept up with demand, putting charging etiquette in the spotlight.
Even the most advanced electric vehicle takes significantly longer to charge than petrol or diesel vehicles to refuel.
With many different types of public chargers available and all kinds of EV drivers competing for the same public Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast chargers, this can create confusion about the do’s and don’ts.
Use our helpful tips and advice to hone your charging ways. This way you don’t make a short circuit if other drivers don’t follow the rules.
What you need to know when going to a charging station
Before going to the charging station, it is essential to know the ins and outs of your electric vehicle (EV). Does your EV have a DC fast charge function? Even something as simple as knowing where your charging port door is located can save time and effort.
For local rides in familiar neighborhoods, even a novice electric car owner will quickly know where to find local charging stations and the number of plug-in points available. But if you’re taking a road trip outside of your EV’s maximum driving range, you need to plan ahead.
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Using your EV’s navigation system is a quick and easy way to find charging points on long journeys. There are also apps from EV charging networks such as EVgo, ChargePoint, and Electrify America that direct you to compatible charging stations.
Tesla owners can use the same methods to find the nearest Supercharger station. Please note that the Supercharger network is limited to Tesla vehicles only. However, the automaker says it will soon give other EV makes and models some degree of Supercharger access.
Charging Etiquette Tips
- Park at the correct plug. When you find a public charging station, make sure you park at the right type of plug-in point. For example, if your vehicle is not compatible with DC fast charging, then a level 2 (240 volt) station is what you need.
- Avoid skipping the line. Check your surroundings and make sure you don’t accidentally jump ahead in a line of waiting EVs being pulled to the side.
- It’s not a resting place. Attention all EV drivers: a charging station does not serve as a daytime or nighttime place for your electric car. An EV owner will often use a charge point as an hour-long parking space rather than a place to charge and go. Free chargers are especially popular. Public charging stations usually charge extra if the system detects that a car has been charged but is still in the dock.
- Resist temptation. Drivers of petrol or diesel cars can also be the culprit. In a busy parking lot, the sight of an open electric car charging point may be too tempting for some to resist. It sounds obvious, but if the car you’re driving isn’t an EV, please don’t park at EV charging stations.
- Watch out for signs. If a parking sign says there is a 2 hour limit, follow the rules. Don’t let others hang.
Charging guidelines to follow
- Be attentive. The golden rule also applies to charging electric vehicles. You will encounter times when an electric car camps all day at a charging point or parks a fuel-guzzling car at a plug-in point. Remember that people are equally fallible at gas stations. So don’t expect perfection, because you drive an EV.
- Never disconnect a neighbor. An essential bit of EV etiquette: resist disconnecting from another vehicle. Would you walk up to someone who is filling up with gas and remove the jet because you are in a hurry? Tempting as it may be, never unplug a vehicle, even if the owner misuses a charging point. Our best advice is to grit your teeth and find an alternative.
- Spread some positive EV karma. When using apps like PlugShare or Electrify America, warn other EV owners about any pros and cons with the charging stations you visit. This can alert other drivers to stationary failures, charging rates, and even what amenities are available in a particular location. Prepay to other EV drivers works best for everyone on the road.
- Track your progress. Smartphone apps are a great means of tracking your real-time charging progress. This is offered through smartphone apps from EV charging networks such as ChargePoint, EVgo and Electrify America. You can also use the apps designed by car manufacturers for their specific EV models. With a few taps on your smartphone screen, you can see if your EV is ready to drive, or if it needs extra charging time.
- Please consider not topping up. Did you know that the closer your EV’s battery gets to a 100% charge, the slower it takes to get those last few dashes or percentage points of energy? It’s true. This applies to all charging levels, including Level 3 DC fast chargers. Unless you really need every ounce of range in your car, consider unplugging your electric car if it has an acceptable charge level for your immediate driving needs.
- Leave a note. Many of us have to part with our EVs while charging. That’s perfectly acceptable. But if the charging station is buzzing with electric cars, it might be a good idea to leave a note that you’ve made a quick pit stop and won’t be camping for too long.
- Only emergencies. If for some reason your EV’s battery is running low and you have nowhere to go, leave a friendly note explaining the situation if you absolutely must unplug another vehicle and can’t explain it in person. Nobody likes to unplug. But emergencies happen.
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What should I do if a gas truck is parked in an EV charging parking space?
If a station attendant is available, it is easiest to alert them to the situation. They may be able to have the offender dragged or fined. Otherwise, your choices will likely be limited to leaving a note on the windshield of the guilty vehicle, preferably one politely indicating that the specified spot is for EV charging.
How do I know how long an electric car has to charge in public if it’s not mine?
Charging stations vary. But there’s likely to be a digital readout on the charger that shows the EV’s current charge level and the time it takes to charge. Many electric cars also have a visible lighting system with glowing blue or green bars that flash or glow continuously while charging. These can be visible through the windshield or at the plug-in port itself.
How do I know where the line is for public EV chargers?
Chances are it’s obvious if someone is waiting for you at an electric car charger. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to ask a fellow electric car driver where the line starts or if it is there.