To make public charging as easy and equitable as possible, it’s good to follow some best practices.
Charge to a maximum of 80% if possible
Charging slows down considerably after 80%, so staying at a charger beyond this can take a spot from someone else who really needs a charge. Some charging networks will charge a premium for continued charging from 80-100%. On longer road trips you may need to charge to 100% to continue on your journey, but keep the above in mind.
Move your EV as soon as possible
Modern EVs and charging stations have apps that will notify you of the progress of your charge and most importantly, when it’s complete. When your session is complete, move your EV as soon as possible to allow someone else to charge. Some charging networks will charge you “idle fees” after a grace period if you don’t disconnect and move your EV.
Only use an EV charging spot if you are charging
Charging spaces are typically identified with signage, green paint and other markers. These spots are not just for EVs, but also only while charging. Occupying a charging spot without charging can actually net you a fine in Ontario, even if you are driving an EV.
In addition, ensure you are parked in the correct parking spot for that specific charger. At stations with multiple chargers, parking in the wrong spot (even if the cable reaches) can block another charger from being used.
Don’t unplug someone else
It might be tempting to unplug another EV that appears to be done charging, or has exceeded limits such as maximum time, but you could cause ill feelings with the owner, or even damage the EV without knowing the proper disconnection process for their car.
On the other hand, if you are opportunity charging and are OK with someone unplugging your EV if they desperately need a charge, leave a note on your EV and/or a comment on an app such as PlugShare.
Good communication between EV owners at public chargers will improve the experience for all!
Return the charger connector to its proper place and keep cables tidy
A lot of charging equipment has a designated holster for the connector, and a method to neatly wrap the cable. Doing your best to keep things tidy will help reduce the likelihood of damage to the cable and connector.
Use the charger speed that most matches your EV’s limits
In these early days, there is a large mix of EVs on the road, and some have drastically different maximum charging speeds for Level 3 charging.
For example, a Chevrolet Bolt has a maximum charging speed of just over 50kWh, while a Hyundai Ioniq 5 is closer to 240kWh. If the charging station has multiple speeds available, it would be best for the Bolt to charge at a 50kWh spot and leave the faster spots open for vehicles that are capable of faster charging.
Some stations only have faster stations, at which point it is safe to connect to a faster charger. If your vehicle cannot charge at a faster speed, it will only draw what’s needed. For example, the Bolt can connect to a 150kWh charger, but will only safely consume up to its maximum of 50.
As real-time monitoring of charging infrastructure improves, there are times when a station will be out of order, and the owner or operator may now know. Most stations display a customer service telephone number (often open 24/7) with a station ID. In many cases, the customer support agent can remotely reboot the station and restore functionality. For physical damage, it’s also important for them to know so they can dispatch repair teams as soon as possible.
Reporting problems you encounter can help not only you at that time if a simple reboot is the resolution, but also other EV drivers who may come to this station.