Electric car charging etiquette

When we all learnt to drive there was lots to take in. Remembering the basics to pass the test was just the beginning. Driving in the real-world, without an instructor at our side, means not just using your new driving skills but your social ones too and sometimes we don’t always get it right.

One key thing all drivers must master is how to refuel the car. When it comes to petrol or diesel cars it’s pretty simple.

Arrive at the pump, fill up, pay and then leave.

There are some simple unwritten rules we tend to follow. We don’t dilly dally, we just fill up and get on with your day. Causing minimal inconvenience to others – you don’t want to be there and neither do they. Oh and ideally don’t block people in or try to complete your weekly shop in the store as this does tend to raise blood pressures.

When driving an electric car such polite etiquette seems to have been lost and is likely down to the new technology and how we interact with it.

Here are some common questions and how I would handle them.

Is it OK to leave my car in the space after it’s charged?

This is the same as fuelling a petrol or diesel car. Simply fill up and leave making the “pump” available for someone else.

Whilst recharging I would suggest you monitor your level of charge using your “smart phone app” and keep in mind the speed of charging dramatically slows down as the battery gets fuller.

Simply ‘fuel’ up and go

When using a Rapid Charger, where in a Nissan LEAF 80% battery capacity can be reached in 30-40 minutes, the remaining 20% can take further hour. 80% is your cue to depart and make the public charger available again.

I wouldn’t normally leave my car unattended either (unless for some quick snacks or a comfort break) to ensure I don’t inconvenience others. Stay with the car or at least close by and be ready to leave when your time is up.

Should a plug-in hybrid use a Rapid Charger?

My initial reaction to this question is usually no, yet it is more about how you use the charger really.

If your car is the capable of rapid charging, for example a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, then charge away as you make full use of the 50kw of energy a rapid charger can dispense.  Once you charged to 80% then simply move you car.

All other plug-in hybrid models cannot rapid charge and are only able to charge upto 7kw.  Currently there isn’t a method of restricting ‘slow’ charging electric cars from using a rapid charger, yet it continues to inconvenience others.

‘Slow’ chargers need you to bring your own cable

Many sites with a rapid charger offer slower charging options such as charge posts or wall-boxes which are perfect for when you are shopping or out for a meal. Just remember to bring your charging cable as the posts and wall-boxes do not have one attached.

Is it OK to plug into a socket without asking?

Publicly available charge points are usually marked as free to use or their method of payment is clearly marked.  To start the charge a card, token or smart-phone app is needed.

It isn’t OK to plug into an external power socket without the owners permission.  This is theft and could lead you to prosecution.

Is it OK to park a petrol or diesel car in an electric car only spot?

This one is very easy to answer, no just no.  You wouldn’t block a petrol pump would you?

This is a practice often referred to as ‘icing’, where a electric car parking space is used by a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) and is therefore stopping an EV from charging.

driveEV | Electric car news and reviews | What does "I've been ICEd" mean ?

Often charge points are positioned close to a store entrance as it is easier to install them there.  However, awareness of electric cars has grown dramatically in recent years and the addition of clear signage has resulted in some councils applying a parking fine for using an EV bay.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.