EV etiquette – why you should charge to 80% on public chargers

Electric Vehicles

Some electric vehicle (EV) motorists treat public charging stations like a free long-stay car park, but drivers risk being issued “
idle fees” for overstaying. 

These fines typically amount to between 50p to £1 for every minute that a fully charged EV is parked at the station. Overstaying doesn’t only hurt your wallet, it can also damage your car. Routinely charging your EV for too long could also damage its battery life over time. 

So once your car is fully charged, leaving the charging point is best practice to make it available to others as soon as possible. Although not all EV habits will warrant a fine or points on your licence, some are viewed as bad behaviour by other EV motorists. 

Explains Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing:

“The number of EVs continues to rise, with over 1 million fully electric vehicles and 620,000 hybrids on UK roads at the end of February 2024. To charge these vehicles, there are over 57,000 charging points across 32,000 locations around the country. The UK has seen a 47% increase in EV charging points since February 2023. 

“We’re seeing steady growth in both the number of EVs and charging stations, but EVs still outnumber the places where they can fuel up. So motorists will need to work together to create the most efficient charging experience for everyone.

“Planning ahead is essential. Because they take longer to re-fuel compared to petrol or diesel cars, EV drivers might want to use apps like Zapmap that show a station’s real-time availability.

“Seeing if there are open spots through these apps first could reduce waiting times to charge your vehicle. You’ll also be less likely to contribute to the traffic in an already congested station. But even with the best of planning, sometimes there’s no avoiding a queue.

“Unlike a typical petrol station, there’s no regulated queuing system for EV charging in place yet. In the meantime, drivers should try to be patient and polite, following a first-come-first-served basis.

“When a charging station is busy, drivers may want to consider charging their EV to just 80% instead of all the way. Charging is typically fastest for the first 80% and slows down considerably for the last 20% to preserve the vehicle’s long-term battery health. 

“Stopping at 80% means a quicker charge time which is much more considerate to other motorists as it frees up the station much faster. It is also similarly productive to a full charge because the lithium-ion batteries that power most electric cars actually run most efficiently between 20% to 80% capacity.

“Not only is it quick and efficient, charging to 80% would also make for a cheaper payment. So unless that final 20% would make the difference between getting home or not, it’s best to save fuelling up to 100% for at-home chargers.

“If you’re new to EV enjoyment, understanding the different types of charger is important. Type 1 sockets charge at 3.7kW and Type 2 charge at 7kW, and these are the best connections for an at-home charger. 

“For rapid battery refills, there are Combined Charging System (CCS) or CHAdeMO sockets that both charge between 50kW to 350kW. Most EVs that are sold in European countries will have a Type 2 and CCS socket.  

“If you don’t have a suitable EV that supports rapid or ultra-rapid charging – such as a plug-in hybrid – try to avoid using those rapid charging bays, as it takes the device away from another vehicle that could use it more efficiently.

“Although there are more people who drive an EV now than ever before, there’s still quite a strong sense of community between those who own one. It’s worth maintaining this feeling of togetherness as they continue to become more widespread, but communication and common courtesy are vital to do so.

“For example, letting the next driver behind you in the queue know when you’re a few minutes from being done can provide clarity and offer some relief knowing that they can charge their vehicle soon.”

Chris Price
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