The Dos and Don’ts of Public Charging

With electric vehicles (EVs) becoming a more popular option for drivers, we are also seeing more and more public charging stations, generally called an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) being installed. This is true both in cities and along major highways where the installation of DC-Quick or Fast Charging (DCFC) stations has grown significantly.

While many EV owners charge up at home or at work, charging in public is becoming more common and accessible, particularly for those who do not have access to charging stations at home. Charging in public is, of course, a little more complicated than plugging in at home whenever you like. Specifically, proper etiquette should be observed when using public charging stations.

Arriving at an EVSE only to find the spot has been taken by an EV that is fully charged, or worse, not even plugged-in, is not a great experience for anyone. Once you are done charging, it is proper to move your car to vacate the charging spot so another can use it. It is important to note your battery level and be aware of how long you will need to make use of a public station and to be prepared to move your vehicle when it has finished charging. Many EV drivers will leave a note on their dashboard giving others permission to unplug their EV as needed, especially if they know they will not be able to move it immediately. However, it is important that you disable your charging disruption alarm before doing so! When you leave the charging spot, it is always polite to see if a nearby vehicle has a note asking that it be plugged in when you are done.

Keep in mind that a full charge is not always necessary. Use the charging opportunity to provide enough fuel to reach your destination and thereby, your next charging opportunity. Hybrid owners should consider giving priority to non-hybrids as the option to drive to the next charging station is available. The range of your EV is constantly being estimated by the vehicle’s intelligent system and the estimated range is based on the past driving style, temperature and the state of the batteries. Just like a gasoline vehicle, the EV will alert or alarm when energy levels or anticipated range is low. EVs do have a “limp-home” capability – this will be a slow drive, but will get you moving a few more kilometers to home or a public charging station.

Finally, it is important to take care with the charging cables both when charging and when finished. Charging cables can often become tangled and creates hazards; it is important to minimize risks when charging by ensuring that the cord will not get damaged. When charging is complete, ensure the plug is back in its spot with the cable stored in a tidy manner.

Here are some friendly tips and tricks for charging in public.

DO leave a note advising others they can disconnect your EV to charge their own – remember to disable your alarm!
DO note your battery levels and when you should move your vehicle
DO ensure cords are stored neatly both when charging and when finished

DON’T unplug a vehicle that does not have a note – this is not only inconsiderate but it may set of an alarm
DON’T park in a charging spot if your EV does not require charging
DON’T take a charging spot at a busy public station if you have enough energy to reach another