EV Charging Etiquette: Simple Rules for Using Public Chargers

Recently, electric vehicles (EVs) have gained significant traction as a sustainable mode of transportation. As more drivers switch to electric, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand the etiquette surrounding EV charging. 

Like any communal resource (public laundromats, anyone?), EV charging stations require a level of courtesy and consideration from users to ensure everyone has access to a smooth charging experience. 

Follow our EV charging etiquette guide to ensure a successful charging session!

1. Unplug After You Finish Charging

Be mindful of public EV charging station availability by unplugging your electric vehicle and moving to a non-charging spot after finishing. This allows other EV drivers to charge their cars without unnecessary delays.

  • If you know your EV will finish charging by a specific time, move your car by then or slightly earlier, especially if the EV charger is in high demand during peak times.
  • Use the EV charging station provider’s app to monitor your charging session progress. You can often set up notifications to alert you when the session is complete.
  • Avoid leaving your EV to charge overnight if you only need a few hours. If you must use a public EV charging station overnight, unplug it in the morning.
  • Follow posted time limits to ensure other EV owners have a chance to charge.

Note: Some property owners are starting to impose idle fees for electric car owners who leave their car charging past the time limit or are parked in the spot but are no longer charging.

2. Charge as You Need

Topping off your EV more frequently has several benefits over running your battery down and fully charging to 100%. Savvy EV owners charge as needed to get them to their destination, allowing them to reduce their charging session times while ensuring other drivers have a chance to charge. 

If you need to fully charge your car with a public charger, be mindful of others and/or do so during off-peak hours.

As a topping-off guide: 

  • Level 1 EV chargers provide about 2–5 miles of range per hour.
  • Level 2 EV charging stations provide about 20–25 miles of range per hour.
  • Level 3 EV chargers provide about 100 miles of range per hour.

3. Use the Right EV Charging Station

Most public EV charging stations are Level 2 or Level 3 chargers. While they both accomplish the same task, they ultimately serve different purposes. 

  • Level 1 EV charging stations are private, residential chargers with a standard 120V. If you have a Level 1 charger, use it to keep your EV at around 80% so you don’t have to rely on public charging stations as much.
  • Level 2 EV chargers supply between 208V to 240V for electric cars. Although they can charge an EV fully within 3–6 hours, it’s better to top off your car for an hour or two while running errands, enjoying a meal, or working rather than parking for the full charge.
  • Level 3 DCFC stations are the most powerful EV chargers, providing upward of 500V to speed up charging times. As a result, drivers rely on them when traveling long distances, such as on road trips. They’re typically found near highway exits, charging rest stops, and more. 

Choosing the appropriate charger for your needs and being mindful of charger demand will go a long way toward maintaining EV charging etiquette.

4. Only Park in an EV Charging Spot If Charging

EV charging spots are not EV parking spots. Parking in an EV charging spot when you aren’t charging your car is disruptive and deprives other EV drivers who need to charge their vehicles. EV owners who don’t need to charge their cars should park in standard parking areas. 

In the same vein, don’t park in an EV spot if you have a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) car. Parking a gas-powered car in a dedicated EV charging spot is known as ICE-ing and can result in costly fines and towing.

If you notice someone ICE-ing and there are no other charging spaces available, take the following steps: 

  • If safe to do so, talk to the driver and give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Talk to the business owner or property owner, providing information on the license plate, vehicle model and color, and any additional identifying information.
  • Let the charging provider or network provider know about the situation.

5. Do Not Unplug Someone Else’s EV

As tempting as it may be, you should avoid unplugging other people’s charging cables. It’s not your property, and you don’t know what situation the EV owner could be in. Some EV drivers will unplug plug-in hybrid cars from EV charging stations because hybrids can rely on gas as a backup. However, this defeats the purpose of driving EVs and is generally frowned upon.

Having said that, EV owners can purchase magnetic or hanging tags for their charging cables that indicate if other drivers can unplug their cars when in need. You can also leave a message with similar instructions if you know you’re going to be away from your car for an extended period.

On that note…

6. Communicate with Fellow EV Drivers

Communication goes a long way in preserving EV charging etiquette. If you notice a fellow EV driver waiting to charge their vehicle, consider offering to switch spots once your charging session is complete. 

Or, if you’re leaving your car unattended at the station for several hours, consider leaving a note that says it’s OK to unplug your vehicle after a specific time. Some drivers even include their number to text in case of issues.

4. Maintain Charging Cables Neatly

When using public charging stations, be considerate of others by neatly coiling charging cables after use. This simple act helps maintain a clean and organized charging environment for the next user. Avoid leaving cables strewn across the ground, which could create tripping hazards, inconvenience others, or lead to damaged cables if run over.

For more EV charging station safety guidelines, follow our tips in our EV charger dos and don’ts article.

7. Report EV Damaged Stations or Issues

Reporting damaged or malfunctioning EV charging stations to the EV charger provider or network provider can help improve real-time monitoring capabilities. This alerts the relevant people to the issue, allowing them to resolve the issue quickly and reduce downtime. Informing the business or property owner can also help them improve their EV charging station maintenance.

You can submit a support ticket on most EV charging apps with a photo of the issue.

Follow EV Charging Station

Good EV charging etiquette is essential to building a positive charging experience for all users. By following these simple guidelines and exercising consideration for fellow EV drivers, you can contribute to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and sustainable transportation solutions!
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