See also Zero Aftermarket Chargers
Start with David Herron's article What charging networks exist? ChargePoint? Plugshare?
- Finding Stations
- Benswing Rich has a lot of experience with finding charging at RV parks- see his videos on Youtube about his rides across the USA.
- With regards to finding reliable J1772 "J-Plug" stations, he says:
- ChargePoint is definitely my favorite. In large part because I can track charging via their app. That way I know when my charge is done or has been interrupted.
- I rely on PlugShare reviews to inform me which stations are unreliable and that has worked well for me.
- I also like ClipperCreek, Inc. chargers and SemaCharge because they sometimes are higher powered (7.2kW).
- Problem stations (for Elcons) were old style GE Wattstations (the new ones work fine) and Eaton. But I think both work with the Supercharger v2.
- Blink stations have a 50% success rate over 4 years of long distance journeys, so I avoid them like the plague. Also, they are underpowered even when they work.
- Chargepoint, Volta, and Semaconnect are networks that show you whether a station is in use or available before you get there.
Togo has started a Google MyMaps collaborative with links to plugshare. The goal is to include the best 2-3 locations in each area. Unless they are the only stations in town, omit the car dealers, the onesie stations, the poorly maintained ones, the limited hour locations. Contact via EMF for collaborator status to add the stations in the areas you know.
PlugShare (US/Canada) is an information-sharing service/website/app for EV owners, EV Networks, and those making their home EV chargers available to the public or on a request basis.
Their service is very good for cross-service discoverability and a certain amount of basic route/travel planning.
The filter feature is good at pulling out the good vs the bad, for example, showing just the J-plugs (if you have rapid charging) or just the Wall outlets (if you are have slow charging and are looking for a destination to be a while).
A particularly useful feature of PlugShare is its ability to Check-In and to see whether other EVs have had success or failure charging recently.
EV-Charging is a site and an app focusing on Europe. It shows very few stations in some countries, like Italy and Greece.
RV Parks and Campgrounds
Various apps exist (for the US), such as RV Parky.
- Fee Rate Problems
- RV park owners are accustomed to renting their spaces to large vehicles for days at a time with high but variable power demands.
- Typically, they'll charge between $15 and $25 USD for an overnight stay.
- Most owners approach the EV charging question as a variation on this fee schedule.
- If you walk into an RV park office and ask to charge, they'll quote a figure like $10 or higher.
- For an electric motorcycle, this is an absurd figure, a markup of usually 1000% over the cost of electricity.
- Negotiating Problem
- The RV park community is generally not aware of some basic facts we live with:
- Electric motorcycles exist.
- How small the battery is compared to any electric car.
- You'll be able to charge in less than an hour.
- Explaining all of this wastes precious charging time and might irritate them.
- Suggested Approach
- Don't call ahead unless absolutely necessary; this allows them to frame the discussion in terms of their by-the-book rates.
- When walking up to the owner or employee, the only phrase out of your mouth should refer only be:
- I'd like to plug in for less than an hour and use maybe 8-10kWh of electricity.
- Pause to let that sink in and let them look at your vehicle while they grasp how small the request is, and how they aren't risking losing a larger customer.
- This sidesteps a lot of negotiation and let's them feel like they're being generous by asking for a smaller fee or waiving it entirely.
ChargePoint is a large EV charging network with good reliability, and particularly an excellent software service for knowing whether a station is working and taken before you arrive, queuing to use a station, and for monitoring a charge remotely while your EV is using a station.
ChargePoint stations are often found in rows at major shopping centers, which is convenient for those who have dual-J-plug rapid-charging capability.
Prices for ChargePoint stations are set by location, and vary widely, and may be priced per hour, per KWh, or both.
SemaConnect seems to be common in smaller towns, such as Watsonville, Seaside, Carmel Valley. Prices for electricity are often as much as 3X the retail price (e.g. Gilroy) but are sometimes free (downtown Watsonville).
NRG EVgo highlights their DC fast charging which is inaccessible to Zero owners for now. Their AC charging is relatively reliable, but as a second tier service, it does not get the attention that the DC charging gets, so your experience may vary. Often the AC charging stations are at opposite ends of the row.
Blink is an early EV charging network startup company that had reliability and rollout troubles. Their chargers often work serviceably but with low power capacity in the 3kW range with a mis-calibrated J1772 signal.
In addition to the apps mentioned above, please see David Herron's excellent article on the subject.
- Cellular Access Notes
- Cellular connections on the road are not guaranteed, and cell batteries run down rapidly in poor-connectivity areas.
- It is wise to locate and mark potential charging sites while you have a good connection and to carry phone-charging equipment along, such as 12V SAE or automotive adapters.
- Offline Maps
- Google Maps
- Allows various rectangular areas to be downloaded.
- HERE WeGo
- Allows pre-downloads for offline use by whole states or countries.
- Has offline routing capability if the map has been preloaded.
- Planning Apps
- Apps that tell you if a station is in use before you get there:
Apps that find stations on various networks with some or no indication of availability:
- PlugShare for a very few networks
- PlugSurfing (Europe)
- David Herron's Charging Etiquette covers a great deal of the issues involved with EV charging as a social problem.
- Take Charge And Go Hangers
- "Take Charge and Go EV Charging Hangers are an excellent way to indicate to other Electric Vehicle drivers know how long you will be charging and to share proper etiquette. Simply plug your car in with the hanger on the charging port or dashboard of your car and let others know when you can share the spot."
- Take Charge And Go Etsy shop with bundled packs of tags
- EV Frisbee
- Put this on your "dash" to give contact info and basic charging estimates for others to notice.
- EV-Frisbee etiquette website
- EV Etiquette Kit
- evEtiquette Etsy shop
Review various EVSEs by manufacturer and model...
A typical J1772 station will trigger a fault at 30mA of imbalance between L1/L2. Sometimes this applies to a ChargePoint-built station with a level-1 charging outlet when connecting both the level 1 and level 2 outlets to the same EV, but this is an EVSE implementation problem with the wiring, not inherent to such designs.
Here are some scrounged notes on how to deal with other EVs by model.
Generally, you want a field guide for whether the vehicle is actively charging or done charging, so that you don't interrupt a charge, but can also get a charge without inconveniencing a stranger.
Some stations share capacity, so knowing the default charging rate of the other vehicle at a station helps determine whether pairing will work.
|Manufacturer||Model||L2 Charging Rate (kW)||Location||Appearance||In Progress||Not Charging||Notes|
|BMW||ActiveE||6.6 (governed to 5.5)||Bottom of center rear-view mirror||Blue light||Blinking||Off|
|i3||3.3-7.7||Inside the charge port flap||Colored lights||Blue flashing||Green on (charging complete) or white on (charging cable can be disconnected)||
|Volt||A long flashing light indicates delayed charging, which should never be used in a public charging spot when others may be waiting.|
|Fisker||Fisker Karma||3.4||Instrument cluster||On||Off||
|Ford||C-Max Energi||3.3||Around charge port||Blue ring||Lights up in four blue quartered segments||Off|
|TH!NK||Dashboard||Two green lights||Both on and linked||Only one on|
|Fiat||500e||6.6||Dashboard||Row of LEDs||Single LED flashing||Off||
|Honda||Fit EV||6.6||Next to the charge port||Green LED||On||Off||If it's flashing, the charging rate has been reduced because of a problem.|
|Mercedes||E-Class||10||None||Must check station|
|Mitsubishi||i-MiEV||3.3||Dashboard||Red electric plug symbol||On||Off|
|Nissan||Leaf||3.3-6.6||Dashboard||Three blue lights||Any flashing||All on or all off||
|Smart||Fortwo ED||3.3||None||The only indication is on the Tesla UMC|
|Tesla||Roadster||Inside of charge port||Lighting around||Flashes amber||Solid green|
|Model S||10 (20 with dual charger)||Around the charge port||Multicolored light||Pulses green||Solid green||If the vehicle is locked during charging, the charge port light does not illuminate but the vehicle continues to charge. ref|
|Toyota||Plug-in Prius||3.3||Next to the charge port||Amber electric plug icon||Off|
|RAV4 EV||10||At the bottom of the back side window above the charge port on the driver's side of the car||Two amber lights||Both solid or off|
|Victory||Empulse||3.6||Instrument cluster||LCD display||Time, kW, amps||Off or shows full|
|Zero||S,SR,DS,DSR||1.3 (3.8 or more with a tank J plug)||Bottom of instrument cluster||Green light||Blinking||Solid or off||