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Good etiquette, good karma, at EV fast charge stations

Image of a BMW i3 charging at a BC Hydro charger

If you drive an electric vehicle, take the time to be a good EV citizen

If you've spent much time at public fast charging stations for electric vehicles, you'll be aware of mistakes made by drivers at those stations – and the resulting fallout posted in the comments sections of PlugShare. If not, here's a small taste.

"Love the fact this charger costs money now. No more lineups due to people hogging the station. DCFC is not meant to replace your home charger!"

"There's a red Tesla that has been here two days in a row and no one can charge because he's just parked here. It's not a free parking spot."

The good news is that the EV community is a generally passionate and understanding group. Contrast the above comments with this recent thank-you on PlugShare.

"Thanks to the previous Leaf couple who helped me use this CHadeMO for my first time! Now also signed up with an app and will pay their kindness forward!"

A 2019 survey conducted for BC Hydro found that while the majority of EV owners haven't been involved in an argument at a charging station, or witnessed one, almost a quarter have been in an argument. Lack of awareness of proper EV charging etiquette is likely the issue with some drivers, including those who have unplugged – or tried to unplug – another vehicle without that driver's permission.

It's worth reminding drivers that the majority of charging happens at home and that, for a limited time, British Columbians can take advantage of rebates up to $700 on eligible Level 2 home chargers, offered by the Province of B.C. and BC Hydro.

Here are some points about etiquette that will help everyone get along.

1. Take only what you need, and limit your charge to 30-40 minutes

Try not to treat the fast charger network as your go-to way to charge, as the time you spend parked at a station can prevent others – including those in serious need of a charge to get to Point B – from using a station.

2. Stay close by in case you need to move your vehicle to let someone else charge

If you're going to grab a bite, make it a quick one. Consider leaving a message on PlugShare that you're sitting in a nearby café or restaurant.

3. Don't park in an EV charging stall if you're not charging or waiting to charge

ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle owners do it, but so do EV owners. Take care to never use an EV charging stall as a parking spot.

4. Put the charging cord away, and keep the station tidy

When you're done, put the charging cord away so that people don't trip or drive over it. And please keep the station tidy.

5. Don't unplug others, unless there's a note that gives you the green light

Some drivers will leave a note on their vehicle, or on PlugShare, saying that it's OK to unplug them. Resist the temptation to unplug anyone else, unless you're absolutely certain they're fully charged and you're desperate for a charge. And while you may think that unplugging a plug-in hybrid is cool because they have gas backup, they have a right to use the station, too.

6. Educate, don't agitate

While it's tempting to leave a nasty note when you've been ICEd (denied a charging spot by the driver of an internal combustion vehicle), try to be nice about it. Leave a diplomatic note that let's them know why they shouldn't be parked there.

7. Use PlugShare to keep others informed

Make it a habit to check in and check out on PlugShare. If there's a problem at a station, or if you have advice on how best to park for access to a shorter cord, leave a comment on PlugShare. Maybe even give a heads-up that you'll be done and gone at a certain time.

8. If you really need a charge, it's OK to ask for help

If you're desperate for a charge, try to get in touch with the driver who's charging. In some cases, you can park close enough, then leave a note to ask the departing driver to plug you in. It's a community, and it works.


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