Charging station etiquette

Charging station etiquette

I was dropping off someone at Dulles Airport near DC this morning and decided to check out the "free" chargers on level 3 of the daily parking. There are 8 spots sharing 4 level2 chargers. 7 spots were occupied (one by a MS with the same brown color as mine). I parked in the only available spot next to a Volt that was plugged in. The charger showed that it was finished charging so I unplugged it from the Volt and started charging mine. I came back an hour later and moved the "hose" back to the Volt. This begs several questions/comments:

- Is it considered normal (or just OK) to unplug a car that's finished charging in order to charge one's car?
- The very fact that I hesitated doing so shows that more signage is needed in areas where chargers are shared.
- Dulles Airport, as do other airports I'm sure, will need to add more chargers pretty soon for them to be more that a mere curiosity. As recently as 12 months ago it was rare to see more than one spot out of the 8 occupied. This is obviously a good sign, but it's not scalable...

Earl and Nagin ... | February 28, 2013

In the '90's in CA, we used to always share the few chargers that were around. Today it is a bit more iffy, since there are a lot more EV drivers and the Volt actually sets off an alarm if it is unplugged unless the driver has gone to the effort to disable this feature.
One way we came up with to help with the problem was to leave a card on your dash, explicitly telling someone they could unplug you.
You can download a placard to handle this at:
At my office, we occasionally have too may EVs for the few chargers so we generally have to do some sharing.
I, personally, won't unplug someone else if they are still charging but have no hesitation to unplug them if they are through. The trick, of course, is to know how to tell of they are through charging since each EV is different.
As you did, I always plug them back in when I'm finished.

jemartin | February 28, 2013

Thanks for the tips. I printed the card and plan on using it if needed. The Volt did sound the alarm for maybe 20 seconds. Wasn't too bad... The Chargepoint chargers they're using at Dulles show clearly when the car is finished charging, and I believe that it's pretty accurate regardless of the car being charged. Of course you can't tell how complete the charge is if it's still charging...

skymaster | February 28, 2013


How did you know that the Volt was done charging? What was the status of the green charging light? Was it solid, or was it flashing?

jemartin | February 28, 2013

I don't remember seeing any green charging light, but the charger itself has an LED display that shows the charging status. When it's still charging, it shows the kWh used so far and total charging time. Once the car is done charging it shows something like "Charging complete. Please tap card to end".

skymaster | February 28, 2013

OK Fine. The Green charging indicator (On the Volt) is in plain view at the center of the dash. It is exact opposite from the Model S. When the light is solid, it is still charging. When the light is flashing, it is full.

cloroxbb | February 28, 2013

You cannot unplug the Tesla without the keyfob being around I thought? So if you see a Tesla plugged in, and noone around... too bad, its not going to come out.

I could be wrong tho I guess. Maybe it is different with the public chargers.

jat | February 28, 2013

@cloroxbb - the J1772 adapter is itself latched to the Model S as would the Mobile Connector, but you can disconnect the J1772 charging cable from that adapter, just like you can from any other car. It seems like a design flaw to me that you can't latch it to the car (maybe unlatch when charging is done if it is a public charger instead of a mobile charger), but that is the way it is.

Earl and Nagin ... | February 28, 2013

Many J1772 connectors have the ability to lock them to their receptacle with a small luggage lock. This, of course makes it impossible to disconnect the J1772 from the car without breaking the lock. If someone is really concerned about being unplugged, they can do this.
Also, if you see a Volt or Plug-in-Prius at a Blink charging station, it often isn't charging. Most of the time, they're just grabbing the good parking spot, plugging the J1772 connector into their car but not activating the charge. This, of course, is because it will cost them up to $2/hr, which, at 3 kW charging speed is equivalent to over $6/gal for gas so they will usually prefer to just burn gasoline.

Brian H | February 28, 2013

Another reason to hate hybrids. >:/

DonS | March 18, 2013

I tried today to use public charging for the first time. I tried two J1772 chargers and finally the Tesla store in San Jose, and all were full. I also found two locations with 110V plugs for EV charging, and one lone stall of almost two dozen was open. Fortunately, I was experimenting and I had enough charge to get back home.

1) Public charging stations are not really there yet. With the number of EVs being sold, it is only going to get worse before it gets better.
2) Don't plan on charging at the last possible time because you probably can't.

edcalis | March 19, 2013

My two cents on the etiquette of public charging: I do not think it is appropriate/polite to unplug someone else's car, even if the charging is complete.
In addition to that, most cars, particularly the Volts, need to be connected at all times, as recommended by the car maker.
Therefore, the efficient solution for this problem is to lobby for installing of more public chargers, to keep up with the increasing number of EVs on the roads today.

Mark Z | March 19, 2013

Owning a Volt for a year, I could leave it unplugged for a month in my garage and it would not lose range. The concern of unplugging a vehicle would be the charge door. If the Volt charge door is closed, it locks. Could the Volt owner then get a ticket for not charging? In some areas, yes.

The need to remain plugged in for Model S is important. For lengthy jet travel, I plan to remain plugged in at home and take the airport shuttle. The Hawthorne SuperCharger is 6 miles from LAX. There is a HPWC at the Tesla Store about 6 miles from SNA. Locate some available charge stations near your airport for a charge if you need one after your return arrival.

prash.saka | April 22, 2013

I wish the chargers could automatically unplug themselves. Also, it will be great if the charger can be moved around so that every parking spot can become a charging station.

This morning, I noticed that a Prius plug-in hybrid finished charging (in what, less than an hour) but I can't use the charger till end of the day as the owner left it plugged-in. I left a note on the dashboard to text me when the owner comes back so that I can use the charger.

~ Prash.

hiroshiy | April 22, 2013

Just a kind of joke: mobile CHAdeMO charging station equipped with 14.5Kwh battery and gas generators. Not eco, but for emergencies.


It is actually being used in EV race tracks in Japan.

Sudre_ | April 22, 2013

I have wondered if it would be possible to create a parking area with several spots that have cord/connectors that lead back to one charger. You plug in and when your turn (other car is finished) comes up it switches to your car. It would be cheaper than the business installing several chargers and in a work place environment it would problaby work for most commuters.

I would think two hours of charge time with a level two charger would be enough on average so 4 connectors per unit at the workplace.

gimp_dad | April 22, 2013

+1 Sudre_

I really hope someone comes up with a breakthrough that makes this concept easy and relatively cheap. Wouldn't it be cool if most parking structures just automatically had charging capability in every space.

SuperChargers sort of do this since the spaces come in pairs and the first car to take one of the paired spaces gets the bulk of the charge capacity until they are done.

Shesmyne2 | April 22, 2013

I would be pissed if anyone attempted to unplug my car, and I would never think of touching someone else's.
That being said, we have used a simple note on the dash with our cell phone # to be called if the need is immediate. We have also seen the 'charging protocol" card on other Teslas in our travels.
I think this is the best way to be notified without touching anyone else's vehicle.
Plus, keeping an eye on the app while charging our vehicle lets us know when it's close to done & time to head back.

riceuguy | April 22, 2013

Dave Smith ("babylon5" over on the TMC boards), a fellow owner here in Texas, has created an inexpensive and elegant solution: (currently sold out, normally $40). I may pick one up for airport charging myself!

Brian H | April 23, 2013

The Capturepro exhibits advanced simplicity. +1

prash.saka | April 23, 2013

@Sudre_, I like your suggestion. It is similar (but not a lot) to the faucets at restaurants. They are suspended from a pipe (?) from the ceiling and can be dragged from one end of the kitchen wall to the other. An added bonus would be one where the plug automatically disconnects and rolls back when charging is done.

@hiroshiy, funny!

~ Prash.

Mike.shane1 | May 19, 2013

Had a scare @ Mandalay Bay Place Valet - went to sleep comfortably knowing I was going to be fully charged in the morning when I woke up. I lucked out because I woke up at 4:30AM to make sure the car was OK. It was still at 70 miles!!!!! I pressed the "start charging" button several times but I kept getting the "stopped charging" message. I called the valet (I'm staying at MGM Grand down the strip) and the valet guy walked over and saw the chord on the ground!!!! He was very helpful and plugged it back in for me. He also said that if I had any other messages, call anytime and he would help me out. He also commented on how AWESOME Tesla is! ;-)