ElectraGirl: What Charging Options Would You Pick?

Saturday 20th June 2015

Most Electric Vehicle owners charge their Electric Vehicle at home, but what happens when you need to charge your vehicle while you are out and about?

Are there enough chargers to go around? Are they correctly marked out to stop non Electric Vehicles from parking in the space?

Currently, the answer would be no. There are a number of charging stations out there but it is on the low side. We definitely need more and I’m sure they are coming but it is slow going.

Free Public Charging - simple, cheap but no road marking

Free parking but no road markings to let drivers know it’s there

It doesn’t matter what the reason is for your charging need: it could be that you need a small charge to get you home, to your next destination or to the next charging station. What we need to make sure of is when you arrive at a charging station that you are able to use it. We are so happy that so many people are now driving electric — but we do need to make sure that everyone understands charging needs and that they do not take up a space that an Electric Vehicle needs for charging.

Here are some of the things I think we need to see at charging locations to make sure that Electric Vehicle owners get to charge when they need to.

The charging stations and their location, including signage, should be marked out that they are for Electric Vehicles Only and preferably for Electric Vehicle Charging Only. This stops an Electric Vehicle parking there that doesn’t need to charge but it’s a parking space so hey, why not park there? The sign needs to be big enough to read easily and stand out from a normal parking sign – we need to think colour here and, most people seem to have gone with green. Painting on the parking space ground seems to be a good way to alert people. I think that monitoring of the spaces is important too, so that if someone chooses to park there and they are not an EV or, not charging, that they get a ticket.

I don’t mind a walk

One of the things that I do believe that will help with the location of charging spaces is, that when companies are looking at putting in Electric Vehicle charging that they need to choose spaces that are not close to the building entrance or in a prime location. If it costs a bit more to run the cables further then I’m okay with you charging me a little bit more (as long as it’s a reasonable little bit more), for the electricity to offset that cost. I would much rather have 20 Electric Vehicle charging spots that were at the back of the car park, than only 1 or 2 close by the entrance. I am more than happy to walk the extra distance and it would also mean that other car drivers weren’t thinking I was getting preferential treatment – owning an Electric Vehicle is enough!

Workplace charging for Tesla Model S and regular J1772

Nice to have open free charging but again, no road markings to let others know this is for EVs only

Some Electric Vehicles allow you to unplug them when they are finished charging, which is quite useful. This would then allow people to unplug your car when charging is finished and plug their car in. All it would take is a polite note left on your car to say that the car can be unplugged when finished charging. Although, if Electric Vehicle parking is at a premium then it would only be fair to return to your car when it had finished charging and move it to another non-charging space.

One of the problems that we do see from time to time is people with petrol cars parking in Electric Vehicle spaces. Now, I am going to presume that this is because they are uneducated about Electric Vehicles and their need to charge. It is likely that they do not know about Electric Vehicles and saw a parking space and any parking space will do. They probably didn’t even notice any signs – if there even were any – which is why we need to educate these people about Electric Vehicles and charging.

Workplace charging - EV spots marked out but for parking only - this car finished charging

Nice road markings but that plug in C-MAX isn’t charging anymore

Nothing is perfect, different solutions cost different amounts of money per unit. Each of these solutions costs very roughly $16,000 in equipment and charges roughly 16 cars per day:

  1. Thirty 120V charging connectors with the familiar J1772 connector – open and unrestricted. Or:
  2. Eight Level 2, 240V managed charging spots that are available for 4 hours maximum priced at $2/hour. Or:
  3. Two  DC Fast Charging units, that are only available for 30 minutes maximum and cost $5 to use.

Or – there might be all three options. Now that would be ideal as there would be an option for everyone but, which of these compromises would you be most happy with if you could only pick one?

  1. Free Level 2 charging with parking but, the spot might be occupied long after the car has finished charging so, you might be stuck waiting
  2. Free charging with parking with plentiful Level 1, 120V units so there’s a better chance you’ll find an empty spot but they’re not fast
  3. Paid Level 2 charging that goes up in price as the time progresses to deter charging hogs so, you’ll have to move your car once you’ve got enough charge to avoid paying too much
  4. Paid DC Fast charging that’s only open for 30 minutes and charges a lot if you overstay

(Note: Each includes big spikes that come out of the ground if you park but don’t start charging within 10 minutes!! (Says my trusty sidekick!) *** actually, this isn’t totally silly – you could have those ramps that only let you enter the spot then retract down when or after you charge.)


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  • Ian Ray

    The most workable solution, imho, is a combination of a fine and making the spots not so desirable. Locally, we have only a handful of charging spots. The only spots that are rarely ever taken by a gas car are next to a dumpster and across from a police station.

  • Jonathan Tracey

    Clear marking of the bays is one thing, but it does not solve the person who does not care, and just thinks about their own need to park where they want. Many sites indicate fines will be imposed but I have never heard of a single fine being issued.

    Some have said the idea of a rising bollard, that the car can lower when it approaches but this is expensive and would need all cars to have something like homelink built in to signal to the post to lower.

    The only way I can think of to stop people parking in bays is to put them in the far corners of the parking lot, where lazy people wont want to walk from

  • M Asher

    I work at a hospital. I can tell you right off the bat they’ve already done an experiment with lvl 2 chargers and it failed miserably. The reason for that being they only put in a handful of them ( i think 3 or 4) and due to patient care issues many of the nursing and clinical staff couldn’t come back down in a couple of hours and move their cars. A far wiser solution (healthcare related) would be to have the 30+ free 120v chargers available so these nurses working 12hr rotations won’t be worried about having their car keyed for not moving it after the charge is complete. That would be the best case scenario, yet because healthcare is making less and less money (due to regulation and Obamacare) I don’t see hospitals and clinics installing theses things anytime soon. Minus some massive rebates/subsidies from the feds. Alot of States don’t have money for installation programs like this and many of the all inclusive installation costs (charge station, concrete pad, underground wiring, upsized wire for voltage drop, data lines/data conduit for card swiping) are a minimum 5-6k for one of these station projects. It won’t be happening without Hospitals generating their own power from dirt cheap solar/wind or with massive kw discounts from the power companies to the hospitals. Besides, once you get the cars up to 150-200 miles of range the charging at work dilemma won’t matter all that much anymore. Everyone will have enough capacity to make the trip to work and back several times.

    For me it’s a bit more of a pressing issue as I am on-call half of the month and i drive a 2013 leaf. I feel the range anxiety and my calculated max trip capability from home to work is 1.5 trips. I am eagerly looking forward to the Tesla mod 3 or 2018 Leaf, either way it will solve my range anxiety issues to work and inner city and by that time they may install a lvl 3 charger at the supermarket nearby my hospital. 🙂

  • D. Harrower

    30 minutes is a bit early to shut off the DC charging stations, IMO. It might be fine for a Leaf but other vehicles may need to charge up for longer. I think 1.5 to 2 hours would be more reasonable, as even a Tesla Model S won’t be charging for longer than that. A nice fee for overstaying your welcome is a smart idea, though.

  • D. Harrower

    Municipalities need to start employing the same tactics with charging spots as they do with handicapped spaces. How did they train people not to park in handicapped spaces? They fine the crap out of them if they’re caught parking there without a permit. Do people go around grumbling about how those elite handicapped people always get the prime parking spaces? No, most people understand why they need to be close to the doors. In a sense, the same principle applies to charging spots. They aren’t located close to the doors so privileged EV drivers don’t need to walk as far. They’re located where they are because it was cheaper to install them there and if the host had to pay more to move them further back, they might decide against putting a charger in at all. It’s a reality people are just going to have to choke down and carry on.