Sunday, September 11, 2016

To Unplug Or Not To Unplug? That Should Never Be A Question!

Recently someone unplugged a Volt because they thought the car had completed its charge based on the lights on the car.  He might have been wrong since Chevy changed the meaning of the lights in later versions which as you know creates confusion... or does it? Why should it?  Never confused me but then again, I never bothered to learn the patterns of the Volt or any other EV for that matter.  I always just looked at the charging station.

So I took it upon myself to search out a station that does not have any indication of an active charging session.  I failed to find this.

First off; the Eaton at the West side branch of  Olympia Federal Savings and Loan. I start with this one because there is a general consensus that one voice has no power and that couldn't be farther from the truth. The tallest skyscraper must rely on EVERY stone in its foundation to stand.  A habit I started when I got my ZENN is filling out comment cards, online feedback surveys, etc. and here I started requesting charging stations.  Be it MacDonald's, the Grocery Store or my bank (I never really bank there but do use the cash machine 4-5 times a year... I also have a safe deposit box for several years now and other than putting in some gold coins that I got from my Dad 3 years ago, I haven't had the notion to open it either...) Sooooo, my surveys probably did not contribute to this station being installed... or did it?

Here an active charging session would be easy to notice.  Interesting that a "Remotely Controlled" option means it can be turned on somewhere else which makes perfect sense but why would that be important to show here unless it was also on a timer charge that has yet to be initiated?  An unusual option for a public station to say the least.

This Clipper Creek is very similar to an AV and Blink L2 in that a glance at the lights will tell if the power is flowing.

Now some don't directly tell you they are hard at work. Those you have to have a bit of patience to see the status. The older Chargepoints are a good example. Most have a two line display that scrolls various bits of information such as station ID, cost, etc but also shows charging speed. I timed it and the screen you need to watch for comes up about every 20 seconds or so but on a dual head if both sides are active, the full cycle of displays will probably take longer but eventually you will see  the charging speed of the station.

The newer Chargepoints have a full display that shows several pieces of information and also have buttons where you can select certain screens on demand

Maybe Aeroenvironment got it right when they using animated lights on top of the station to show that a charging session is active. Maybe all charging stations should have a simple status light at the top of the station so parking enforcement officers can determine the status from across the lot?

There is also SemaConnects which are the easiest because they have LEDs at the top and its simple; Blue means not charging, Green means charge session active plus most of them also have an LCD display that shows charging speed along with a "money counter" so again, it would take a few seconds but the charging station has all the info you need to make an informed decision of

"If It Ain't Charging, UNPLUG IT!"


  1. Dave,

    Occasionally, I have left my Leaf at one the charging stations at Love Field (smaller Dallas airport) with the Leaf plugged in but with the charge delay active. So the car charges overnight to 80% - I aways leave a "Safe to unplug on Blah, Blah" message on the windshield. If someone ignored the message and unplugged my car during the first day based on the fact it wasn't actively charging, I would have to charge for several hours when I returned.


    1. The big thing here is communication! As long as people know the score it would not surprise me to find out that you were unplugged while someone else got a charge then simply plugged back in after they were done. This happens because a note is almost as good as you being there. The note also implies permission for them to do it as well because they know they have time to get what they need before you need to charge!

  2. I'm wondering if there could be a way/App, like a new social site, to communicate with other EV owners about the availability and description of charge stations and station use. I think the misunderstandings related to charge times, costs, and opportunities could be eliminated if owners tracked each other's charging progress in a similar way that people monitor Uber availability.

    Brian Hopkins @ Micro Tips USA

    1. Well Plugshare is moving in that direction. They now have an option where you can enter what time you plan to finish your charge.