Unplugged from Charging Station

Unplugged from Charging Station

I recently parked at charging station at SFO and returned to find the car unplugged and the SAE J1772 adapter was gone (now I have to purchase a new one for $95) and the charge port closed. There was not another car using the charger at time of return. I am guessing I may have broken protocol as I had the car there for three days (longer than it required charging) but I also understood that the adapter could only be removed by owner. Anyone else have this type of experience. What is protocol when you need to use airport charger but have multi-day trip?


rchiang | 22. juli 2013

I would think that the SAE J1772 adapter would lock when you lock your doors. Unless your doors was open for 3 days?

Theresa | 22. juli 2013

I know that if I had seen someone parked at a charger for several days I would have been very upset especially if I needed a charge. So yes, I would say you broke protocol. But the adaptor should have been locked into your car.

hfcolvin | 22. juli 2013

I think we have a ways to go on airport charger etiquette. If you park there during a trip, you need to charge. Who goes to an airport garage to charge for a couple of hours? A lot of 110 outlets would be a solution for long term parkers.

I agree in that the adapter should only go missing if the car is unlocked.

tobi_ger | 22. juli 2013

Look on ebay if a new SAE J1772 is being sold.
jk, maybe someone from the airport parking crew stored it (if there's such thing; too optmistic again?)

AmpedRealtor | 22. juli 2013

@ cp_meyer - what made you think that you could hog an EV charging station for three days? These are charging stations, not parking spaces! I am dumbfounded by the number of inconsiderate Tesla Model S owners who routinely hog up a hotel charge spot all night, park at a supercharger and then head off to a movie and a dinner with no regard to others who have to wait, and now someone who thought it was appropriate to occupy a charging spot for three days. When something bad happens, these same people are shocked. Unbelievable!

What is it about owning a Model S that makes you believe that any slot with an EV plug is a parking place made just for you? So many stories about these issues are posted over at TMC. Did it occur to you to ask the parking attendant or an airport official whether you would be allowed to park there for three days? That would have been the prudent thing to do rather than to just make an assumption, inconvenience another EV owner who obviously couldn't charge because of you, and then act surprised when someone takes matters into their own hands.

TeslaMert | 22. juli 2013

Thanks for all the comments. @AmpedRealtor - I hear you and am trying to figure out what the proper protocol is at airports (very different from going to movie/dinner). With the need to charge, park and take flight how do we best manage this. Not really a solution to charge when one returns from flight. I did ask the attendant and they stated that there is no policy re how long one can park in an EV spot. Thanks

tobi_ger | 22. juli 2013

Might not be always possible, but better let family/friends drop you off and pick up again, maybe less hassle.

TikiMan | 22. juli 2013


To your defense, no one should be using an airport charging station, unless they have business at the airport (which you clearly did). However, I agree with hfcolvin, all airports should have areas for long-term EV parking with 110 volt connectors.

Regardless, if anyone was at fault, it was the airport for ignorance of their own EV parking rules.

earlyretirement | 22. juli 2013

Sorry to hear about your someone taking your adapter. I agree however that it's not appropriate to take up a spot for 3 days. Still, there should be some formal protocol established that would be good.

Not to hijack your thread but along the same topic, have any of you found you came back from a public charger only to be disconnected? For whatever reason... maybe some jerk that doesn't like EV technology... but is this happening at all out there?

carlk | 22. juli 2013

You're giving Tesla owner a bad name. ;-) It may reinforce the believe of some owners of lesser (or they say real) EVs that Tesla owners are just a bunch of spoiled rich boys.

Of course it sounded that you did not intentionally break the protocol but those charging stations serve one purpose only which is to charge your, and everyone else's, EV.

jeffaa | 22. juli 2013

It looks like you missed this part: "I did ask the attendant and they stated that there is no policy re how long one can park in an EV spot."

What is one supposed to do when they GO TO THE AIRPORT? Is this not why the chargers are there?

What do you propose? Instead of blaming and pointing fingers and scolding, come up with a solution and present it accordingly.

kback | 22. juli 2013

After reading AmpedRealtor's comments, I am curious what the appropriate behavior should be regarding airport and other charging. I completely agree with AmpedRealtor that parking at a supercharger and going to a movie is completely inappropriate. Superchargers are fast, and we should only keep our Model S in those spots until we've gotten the electricity we need, then clear out and make room for others.

Regular Chargepoint type level 2 chargers are so much slower, and it would seem to me that you'd need to go to a movie or a meal or something to give it time to charge adequately, so I am curious about people's opinions on this.

Specifically regarding airports, I had assumed that the spots with EV charging were for travelers with electric vehicles who need to be plugged in while away. I had thought it would be ok to travel for a couple of days and leave my car in one of those spots. Otherwise, how would one use them? Do you get back from your trip, plug in, and then spend hours at the airport waiting to charge?

I'd like to hear opinions on this.


AmpedRealtor | 22. juli 2013

I think every charging "space" should have a policy clearly posted in writing and in plain view.

mdemetri | 22. juli 2013

I think it was perfectly appropriate for the OP to drive to the Airport and have his car charged while he is away. Airports chargers are a very distinct group and cannot be generalized with other charging etiquette. Who else is going to use an airport charger except someone who is flying and needs the car charged when they get back. Do not blame the OP simply because there are not enough charging stations for other fliers. Its not his fault.

jeffaa | 22. juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor: Right, and until then you cannot, and should not have, gone off on the OP like you did. He broke no rules; he went to an airport and used the charging station for his EV, which is the reason for which they are provided!

"what made you think that you could hog an EV charging station for three days? These are charging stations, not parking spaces!"

jeffaa | 22. juli 2013

Edit: words

shs | 22. juli 2013

I pulled in the the SC at Tejon yesterday and found a Dodge parked in one of the charging stalls, with one person sitting inside and another standing outside the car. I thought they might be making an anti-EV statement by parking there and photographed the car in the stall. That really upset them. What is the problem, we are only sitting here for a few minutes, the woman said? I said that they were in a parking space reserved for EVs and left with our car charging. They left soon thereafter, and within a few minutes, 3 more Tesla pulled up to charge, one using that spot.

I was probably too confrontational as no harm was done by them sitting in the shade of the solar panels for a few minutes, and my comments may have done harm than good to the reputation of EV owners with the general public. However, what might have happened if they had still been there when that space was needed as it was a few minutes later could have been an even more difficult confrontation. So I guess my point is that we may need to relax a bit about minor broaches of protocol, but I certainly agree that taking a spot for 3 days is not acceptable if it is a location that is commonly used by others for short-term charging.

carlk | 22. juli 2013

@jeffaa Read what I said. Yes you have every right to do what you want. No. You have even more right than anyone else to do what you want to do.

AmpedRealtor | 22. juli 2013

@ jeffaa - I'm sorry, but I've seen plenty of EV stations at airports. Never once did I believe that those were parking places, given the limited number of them and their location near the entrances. I would never park my car at an airport EV spot unless I first clarified their intended use. Clearly someone was upset at the OP for taking up this space for three days, and that alone implies that the space was misused.

You go to the airport and you see a few spots with chargers. Do you just assume they are parking places reserved just for special EV people and put your car there for however long you wish, or do you first ask someone if that is an acceptable use of the facility? I am the kind of person who would do the latter rather than the former - I want to be in the right if something bad ever happened.

ssarker | 22. juli 2013

Unless designated as short-term parking (i.e. hourly parking), I consider airport parking spaces, including those with charging stations, long-term parking spots. The whole purpose is to keep the car plugged in and charged when the traveler gets back. I don't think the OP "broke protocol".

stevenmaifert | 22. juli 2013

Leaving the car on a charger in airport long term parking...okay. Leaving the car on a charger in airport short term parking...not okay. And if Tesla would ever get off the dime and bring back the Sleep Mode, all this would be less of a problem.

jeffaa | 22. juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor Let's see if OP chimes back in about the location of the charging station. But then again, does it really matter where it is located? There are a few parking lots/garages here in Denver that have charging stations located closer to the entrance of said lot. So one might look at it as a bonus for having an electric car.
And one person being upset at the OP absolutely does NOT imply misuse. Maybe this person hates Tesla, or EVs, or cars period. Maybe he was just having a bad day, who knows? Not you or I. How are we to know this person was mad for the reason you stated?

Again, there were no protocols in this particular case. OP did nothing wrong, this time.

Do you have any recommendations on how airport charging stations should be used?

pvetesla | 22. juli 2013

Clearly airport changing stations are meant for travelers. They are parking/charging spots. Using common sense it would almost be rude for me to charge my car as I picked up my family for 30 minutes, potentially taking a spot for someone leaving on a week trip.

I parked at SeaWorld all day in a charging spot because I arrived with less then 10 miles. I can't imagine someone arguing that I should only be in that spot for 1 hour. I would argue that if someone drove 5 miles to get to SeaWorld and didn't need a charge that they should leave the spot open. But how do you "police" don't You just hope for some common sense.

I think if we all use some common sense it works out well. Of course, as with everything in life, there are going to be those people that DON'T.....and ruin a good thing.

(i.e. park in a charging station all day without charging or not needing a charge, going to a movie while at a supercharging station, etc.)

BTW....I just tried to pull my adaptor out without my key. It doesn't come out. I'm guessing it wasn't charging and the guy who took it out was upset about that. Not condoning his actions only trying to make sense of what happened

jeffaa | 22. juli 2013

@ssarker & @stevenmaifert
I completely agree with your thoughts on short term parking spots vs long term parking spots with charging stations at airports.

mrspaghetti | 22. juli 2013

I don't put this in the same category of "going to a movie while on a Supercharger" at all. It seems to me that airport charging spots should be for long term by definition, but I guess it also depends on how many there are.

To me the bigger question is: how did someone take your adapter if your car was locked? I assume there is no damage to your charge port?

jbunn | 22. juli 2013

The Protocol is you don't leave your car on a station for three days after charging ends. You're lucky someone didn't just snap the thing off in your port.

jeffaa | 22. juli 2013

@jbunn This Protocol, where does it say that, or where did you read it? Can you share?
And would you risk shock by snapping the thing off if you were in that situation? You might not be so lucky as the OP...

RZippel | 22. juli 2013

Well, the world is full of socially defect people and there will be some among the MS owners. I think there is no way around it.

Then there are those who just suffer because of something where, even if everyone would honor it, there is just no accepted code of conduct or service offering that makes any sense. Like TeslaMert as I see it.

If you short term park you might need access to a 22kW charger. If you are gone for a few days that seems to not make sense. You should be fine with 3 kW. In any case it would be nice to get your charging equipment back.

I recently asked how they think that works with their 2000€ 22kW charger for dumb CEE32 sockets. Looking at the car charge makes no sense for 2-3 hours from empty. You might want to do that while shopping. But the charger will not be locked to the car or the charging can be stopped by pulling the CEE32 plug and the lock releases anyway. And I am damn sure you will not do that often before your charger finds another "owner".

So, a new frontier, a "chargeiquette" and usefull (long and short term, high and low kW charging offers) might be missing. Until then, only common sense will be with (some of) us.

For Type2 charging that seems to be at least partially clear. Because the cable around 200+€ is at least locked to the car. Maybe it should be standard that 30 min. max. after the charge the locks release and you face the risk of the cable being stolen. In some areas in Germany (e.g. 50 meters from my home) that is solved by a strict no parking zone that is only voided for CHARGING cars. If your car doesn't charge anymore for some time (visible at the charger) or is an ICE age car, you get towed. If you know that you will plan to return to your car.

To common sense!

rch1708 | 22. juli 2013

Nice theory. The practice would seem to be different. Say you arrive at the airport with a low charge state for your three day trip. What are you going to do? Book an extra return ticket to fly back so you can unplug & move your car when charging has finished? Or leave it sitting there and risk the thing being dead when you get back or if not dead, then having a long wait before you can drive off? Or ask someone to drive over (in their ICE probably) to move your car? Or what?

The sensible ideas seem to be low power charging for long term parking and/or having enough charge points in the first place. If we live in a world where people go around thinking that breaking off a charging connector is a fair protest about 'unneccessarily long use of a charge point', then the world is a sadder and more pathetic place than I thought.

kback | 22. juli 2013

@jbunn - In my mind the question is, at an airport, how do you move your car when it's fully charged? You'd have to be hanging around the airport for many hours (those chargers tend to be very slow,) to move the car. Most likely you have flown to your destination and can't possibly move your car. I think the airport chargers fall into a different category from the others. I agree with AmpedRealtor that policies should be posted at all chargers, but right now they are not. I can't see how to use airport chargers any other way. What do you suggest?

RZippel | 22. juli 2013

And to all those who think this is so clear, how do you do it if you are gone three days and need your car charged after you return? It is so easy to tell TeslaMert what not to do, how about a suggestion what to do? I personally think if there was no "no parking" for non-charging vehicles he was absolutely right and NOTHING like that gives ANYONE the right to touch an-others property. That is not just a-social, it is illegal, called stealing as far as I remember.

carlk | 22. juli 2013

@kbackman@optonl... Perhaps consider options other than having to leave the car at the charger for 4 or 5 days? Use your ICE car, take taxi/limousines, use public transportation, have someone to drop you off....instead of unnecessarily taking up the resource others also use.

We need to balance it between what am I going to do if I don't charge my car and what the next 4 or 5 guys going to do if they could not find a place to charge theirs. I made the comment assuming it is a scarce resource that many people use. Looks like it is the case from what has happened.

kback | 22. juli 2013

@carlk - I hear what you're saying, but then what are those EV chargers there for? My assumption was that they are there for people with EVs to charge so that when they return from their travels, the car is charged. Who will be using those chargers if not travelers? They generally charge very slowly, so is there anyone that will be plugging in for hours at a time and hanging around the airport? Or, are you saying they are only for people traveling for a day or 2? What's the limit, what's appropriate?

I'm not trying to be picky here. I'm trying to understand the appropriate use of airport EV charging spots. I thought it was for people with EVs who otherwise couldn't drive to the airport and leave their car in the lot while they're gone. Maybe I'm mistaken.

mdemetri | 22. juli 2013


The only 'other' people who should be using an EV charging station in an airport long-term parking lot are those who are flying and therefore also would be leaving their car for days. No one else should be using it or be upset that it is not available. The purpose is to allow people to drive their electric cars to the airport and charge while they are gone. We want to encourage this type of practicality, not limit the usefulness of EV's. Airports just need to build more charging stations. Lots of 110v/15amp plugs would do the trick.

cpetrush | 22. juli 2013

It would be nice if one could reserve the charging spot for the duration of their trip, for a fee. This would avoid arriving at the airport and having no charger available for possibly days. Then you would be entitled to remain plugged in for days because you have essentially paid for the spot. Other EV's would not drive to the airport expecting an available charger unless they had a reservation for one. I believe Chargepoint has this feature.

tobi_ger | 22. juli 2013

Since it wasn't mentioned yet: what about those spots being not only used by travellers, but people that actually work at the airport and need to charge in order to go home? Or do all airports have employee-only parking with extra EV slots?

justineet | 22. juli 2013

@Teslamart...3 dsys is outrageous...should be thankful they did not try to tow it...

mrspaghetti | 22. juli 2013

I'm not sure I really see something to get so worked up over. Only the adapter is locked into the chargeport. So someone should have been able to pull out the actual charging cable from the adapter at any time for their use, no? Leaving the adapter in the MS, no harm no foul.

justineet | 22. juli 2013

Teslamart...perhaps on ur return no other car was using the charger because the plug can can only reach the parking spot u occupied for 3 days????

kback | 22. juli 2013

@justineet - if 3 days is outrageous, what is the appropriate time period that it is ok to be plugged in at an airport charger? Who do you anticipate would be using these? Is it for employees as tobi_ger suggests? Is it only for people who are picking up someone else? If they need a charge to get home, they should plan on hanging out a while. These are not superchargers.

Or are the chargers only for those traveling overnight? What is appropriate and not outrageous? This post is engendering some very strong responses, but I'm not sure who these chargers are meant for if not people flying to other places, who are often gone for 3 days or more.

Clearly, we need the signs that AmpedRealtor proposed, the sooner the better.

jbunn | 22. juli 2013

A couple of folks asked my impression of the protocol. Where is it written? It's not. Much of life's rules are not written down. Also as we are the early EV adopters, we write the rules. But let me ask you this. Would you pull up to a gas station, put the hose in your car and then leave for three days? What would you expect when you came back? My guess is your car would be in storage for two days by then.

Charging stations are like gas station pumps, but even more rare. They should be treated that way.

Regarding getting to the airport and back, make sure you have enough charge before you leave the house. Or charge when you get there, or before you leave. Might it take a couple hours? Yes. But you have an electric car. If you had an ice might you have to gas up?

My thoughts... For airport long term parking, no need to install expensive 220 volt chargers. Takes big wires to put those in. I would rather see large numbers of 120 volt 15 amp outlets. (Note this is for long term parking only.) Once you plug in you sip and lots of cars can hang off the same service.

Otherwise, I think the answer is valet that will rotate cars. Cheaper than a technical solution. Tell them when you arrive, and your car is charged and ready when you get back.

stsanford | 22. juli 2013

" Would you pull up to a gas station, put the hose in your car and then leave for three days? "

If my ICE car had a slow leak of gasoline that would render me "out of gas" in 3 days and I was going on a 3 day trip.

Tesla's own manual states that the car should be plugged in.
'Tesla strongly recommends leaving Model S plugged in when not in
use. This maximizes the lifetime of the Battery (see page 25).'

I don't think it's necessarily that unreasonable that TeslaMert left the car charge (assuming it's Long Term Parking)...

I think we'd all catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Seems everyone is very happy to jump on peoples' cases if an error is made. Might be better to instruct than berate...

Tâm | 22. juli 2013


You need to call Tesla to pull up your car log to confirm your car was locked and it was pulled out contrary to the protocol.

They should compensate you for the loss if the protocol was not observed (thief can never be able to steal your adapter once it is in lock status.)

jbunn | 22. juli 2013

I went to Asia for 2-1/2 weeks, and left my car in the garage unplugged. I survived.

If a garage for a metro airport like SFO or LAX has 6 charging spots, to plug in and leave for days IS completely unreasonable. Three day loss of charge is perhaps 20 miles. Charge rate on a charger is about 17 miles. So you recover your vampire load in an hour.

Your ICE car does NOT run you out of gas in three days.

FYI - I used to have a house in Washington, but moved to SF four months ago. Used to plug in all the time. Now, I move my car once per week and plug in. I take my car in 15 mins before closing time and plug in, then get the car when they open in the morning. Not blocking a charging space that other people will use. And I'm off peak.

So you CAN go a week at a time without being plugged in or having a charger.

Tâm | 22. juli 2013


You also need to report to SFO police so they can pull up the surveillance video and get the culprit.

kback | 22. juli 2013

@jbunn - so just to be clear, you're saying that airport chargers are meant for people picking up / dropping off to top off. They are not meant to be used for people flying somewhere who just want to have an adequate charge upon their return.

Keep in mind, some people may drive 50-60 miles or more to an airport, then have vampire loss, then need to drive home. Is the answer for them, find another way to the airport? I was under the impression that the chargers were meant for these travelers, but again, I may be wrong. I don't fly for business and live in the NY area where there are very few airport chargers.

Others seem to think the chargers are for those who are traveling. Clearly there is no consensus, so maybe the best bet is, as AmpedRealtor suggested, call the airport and find out what they suggest for their chargers.

mrspaghetti | 22. juli 2013


I guess it's worth reporting but I wouldn't hold my breath that it will get high priority, or that they could identify anyone in a low-res surveillance video.

justineet | 22. juli 2013 kidding me....Tesla in not responsible for other people's behaviour good or bad. The only thing Tesla maybe responsible in the case is if the charging port locking mechanism was not working properly...But that is not even a given...someone very angry could have pried the plug out by force just like a vandal picks a car that case Tesla can not be responsible in no's not their responsibility whether anyone follows protocol or the law.....

jeremythehunt | 22. juli 2013

After reading all of the comments about the etiquette involved in parking for 3 days at an airport I decided to check SFO's page on this. It's here for reference:

It clearly mentions spots in International terminals and long term parking. I'm pretty sure if a car is parked in any of those garages it's assumed they'll be there for multiple days. I'm pretty sure if they didn't expect people to be using these spots for multiple days long term and international would not be where they would have put these spots. Now if he was parked in the domestic garage that would be a different story.

carlk | 22. juli 2013

@kbackman@optonl... It's not just about rules or regulations but also common courtesy. No rules say you can't take a 6 seat table all by yourself in In N' Out for three hours in busy lunch hours but it would be VERY NICE for others if you don't do that.