Electric vehicle charging etiquette: the dos and don’ts of EV charging

A little bit of patience and courtesy go a long way when it comes to public EV charging.

“Etiquette” isn’t really something that drivers of petrol- and diesel-powered cars have to think about when they’re filling up. At busy times, drivers may move to the filling station car park before they go inside to pay for their fuel, but, beyond not abandoning your car at the pump while you go inside to eat a sandwich, there isn’t really a whole lot to it.

With electric vehicle charging points, however, it’s a bit different. Typically, those filling up their car at a petrol station aren’t going to be standing at the pump for more than a couple of minutes. An EV, however, is more likely to be hooked up to a charging point for much longer, and, with charging infrastructure still relatively sparse in Ireland, this can lead to queues and frustration at busy times.

A little bit of politeness and consideration for your fellow drivers can go a long way towards reducing any tension or annoyance that can potentially emerge at a busy charging site, and following these few simple rules can make life a lot easier for everyone.

Don’t ‘ICE’ other motorists

Electric vehicle charging spaces are usually designated as such by signage or surface markings. When the driver of a combustion-powered car parks in one of these spaces, it’s known as ‘ICEing’, and it can deny EV drivers the ability to recharge their cars. Don’t park in a charging spot if you don’t need to use the charger.

Don’t get mad at plug-in hybrid drivers

Some EV owners take exception to drivers of plug-in hybrid cars using public chargers. Plug-in hybrid drivers, however, have as much right to use public chargers as anyone else.

Take care of the charge point

Leave all public charging points as you found them, and tidy away any cables lest they either become damaged or serve as a trip hazard. Broken chargers are the bane of all EV drivers’ lives, and, if possible, they should be reported to their operators.

Queues operate on a first comes, first serve basis

Don’t try to skip any queues at a charging location — it won’t go down at all well with other drivers, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in. If a driver is queueing for a rapid charger and opts to slow charge while waiting, etiquette dictates that they retain their place in the queue for the faster charger until it’s free.

Don’t hog the charger

Electric cars usually charge relatively quickly to 80 per cent capacity before slowing down the charge to protect the battery from damage. If you’re charging in public, try to spend as little time as possible occupying chargers in order to avoid frustrating other drivers. That generally means unplugging your car when it reaches 80 per cent capacity. If you do need a fully topped-up battery, move to a slow charger once you hit 80 per cent. Respect any time limits that may be in place at your location (some chargers will cut off after 45 minutes or so) and unplug once you’re done charging. By all means go grab a coffee while you wait or run a few errands, but don’t, for example, use a charging point as a convenient place to leave your car for hours on end. If you’re charging and there’s a queue behind you, it’s worth giving the driver behind you some idea of how long more you’ll be.

Don’t unplug someone else’s charger

No matter how frustrated you get by someone hogging a bay, resist the urge to unplug their car. In most cases it’s not possible to unplug someone’s car from a charge point anyway, but in cases where it is, don’t. It’s rude, and you run the risk of damaging their charger.