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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I'm a town councillor and we're looking for a charging solution that will help local residents who don't have anywhere to charge at home make the switch to an electric car. Somewhere in the region of 30-40% of residents don't have off-street parking, so we're looking at installing a row of 7kWh chargers in a council carpark for overnight use on cheap rate electricity.

My question is - how important is being able to book a session to know you will be able to charge at the time you want?

It seems like this isn't really available at the moment, but would be essential for anybody without a drive to charge on. But maybe you make it work in a different way?

I'd really like to hear your ideas - thanks.
Ben
 

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People 'booking' annoy me. Basically it disables a charger for up to an hour pending arrival of the customer. How annoying would that be for someone desperate for a charge arriving to find all spaces occupied or booked? (One of the occupied spaces might be clear by the time the 'booker' arrives.)

Maybe just connect to zapmap, so that anyone can see if there is a bay free?
 

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Good in theory, but how will it work in practice? EVs with large capacity batteries may need 6 - 8 hours on a 7kW charging post. Are you expecting EV owners to book and then move their cars to allow other EV owners to use the post? How big will your 'row' of EV charging posts be? How will you stop taxi owners and Council officials from blocking these chargers? In your situation, it would make more sense to look rapid chargers but I appreciate that there is a significant cost involved.
 

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Hi Ben,

You didn't mention where is the council.
I'm not sure the ability of booking is your best solution.
This brings to memory NHS missed appointments, you can be sure that users will book to everyday to make sure in case they need it's there waiting for them while someone not so swift in booking will be missing out and won't be able to charge on an empty station.
There are other alternatives that your council could use and that would work better.
Things like spreading the charges closer to where they are needed, small residential hubs with 7kw stations.
The bigger problem you will have regardless is the ICE'ing of stations by less considerate drivers.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks all. Can I check, do none of you have home charging?

I'm specifically after the experience of people who can't charge at home. What reassurances that charging will be available do they need to go electric?

There are lots of other solutions as suggested, but in our small market town (popn 8000, almost all within 10 minutes walk of the town centre carparks, an OLEV measurement for on-street residential funding) we want to get local residents to go electric.

We can deal with most of the issues raised through fees/ ticketing, etc. Daytime charging will be available to all, night time for residents (perhaps part of a membership scheme).

If you can't charge at home, please share your ideas.
 

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I have an EV and can't easily charge at home. I also don't live near a council car park.

But if I did live near a council car park (within a maximum 5 minutes walk) then I would be interested in renting a parking space with charging facilities. I would want:

  • The space to be mine from 5.30pm to 7.30am including weekends
  • Rented to me exclusively for a period of at least a week but more likely a month, three months or six months
  • Reasonable rates for the electricity at the space. I am not expecting this to be free... perhaps £1 per night for the space and then electricity at no more than 15p per kWh (as you are buying it wholesale at cheap rates). Have the money raised go towards maintenance and providing additional charging facilities around the town.
  • The parking spaces to be enforced so that when I arrive at 5.30pm there is a space available and it doesn't have someone else in it
  • 7kW type 2 posts will do for me.
  • Spaces capable of taking a range of vehicle sizes, from your Zoe to your e-tron and everything in-between
I am not going to comment on what happens to these spaces outside the overnight times since you are asking specifically about local residents. My presumption is that you would also provide facilities to tourists, visitors, local residents, etc outside those hours and also some facilities to "occasional visitors" who don't need to rent a spot for weeks or months at a time.

Edit: One further thought... look at where in your town you have residents without a drive attached to their house. Are they within walking distance (5 minutes max) of parking? If not then perhaps look at overnight on-street solutions in addition to car park solutions.
 

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Hi Ben, firstly, thank you so much for reaching out to the EV owning community and putting in time and energy to tackle this difficult issue. To my mind, "security of supply" is essential if people are to be pursuaded to go electric. Therefore, the assurance that when returning home, they can plug their car in and get a garanteed overnight charge is mandatory (working people cannot risk waking up to find they can't get to work). So you're definately asking the right question.

I have a driveway with a 7kw charger, which for me was mandatory for us to go electric as a family - I must be able to rely on the car(s) being full in the morning. If I didn't have a driveway, I would want a council parking space of my own, so I knew I could park up and charge whenever I needed to (in particular, overnight). A shared pool of spaces would be a big stress, as I would never be completely sure of getting a space - I'd be looking at my watch at work, worrying about getting home in time to "get a spot" in the charging pool.

Booking slots could well work, but to combat the "missed appointments" and "blocking" issue, I'm thinking of a pre-pay scheme whereby you pay for your slot (or pay a deposit) when booking, so if you miss your slot you still pay. If there's a time as well as per-unit component to the cost, this should discourage "blocking" as leaving the car in the slot will inclur cost. However all this would need to be policed, so the management cost would be similar to managed car parks, with regular attendants with NPR scanners etc.

All the above seems complex and expensive - The idea of residents having their own space, either in a close-by community car park, or on-street adjacent to their house, seems like the best approach. Chargers in lamp-posts, or in posts on the pavement outside the residence may be the best approach.
 

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Oh yes. You also need to have sanctions against people 'pretending to charge' to get the cheap parking. This is a problem in Germany: Google Translate
A CCTV camera looking at the number plates and the green/blue light at the charger would solve the problem.
Unwanted ICE/EV blocking could be solved with the steel frame widely available
 

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I run an EV without home charging (live in a terraced house).

I live around 10mins from charger in a council car park and used to use that once a week, as my commute to work was by train and only needed to charge the car once a week/biweekly.

I'm changing job which requires a 80mile commute, so charging at least every other day. They have chargers at the office, so I hope I can keep the EV.

Whether I would keep the EV if the council offered a charging hub like you suggest is an interesting question. As above, the security of having a working charger is important. In fairness, in the 12months I used the 1 single 7kW post in my town, I very rarely had trouble getting access. The issue will be when EV uptake increases and ensuring infrastructure keeps up with demand.

The booking system sounds interesting. It would be hard for me to say if that would work without trying. I would be keen to be involved in a pilot of such a scheme whilst I still had access to the work chargers so I could test the concept whilst having a plan B.
 

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My suggestion would be no booking, as that just complicates things. Instead just fill the car park with as many chargepoints as possible, so that there is always some free. ICEing (chargepoints being blocked by a fossil-fueled vehicle) would be a problem, so unless every space gets a chargepoint maybe a restricted section for EV's?
 

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Booking is not a good idea for any EV charging bay as it would be abused. Having as many charging places as possible would be a better idea rather and one rapid charger somewhere for people on long journeys.

What about an area of a car park which is locked closed for example at 6pm and only residents who are paying for the overnight space have a key? Any ICE or non-residents would therefore be locked in overnight and would have to pay a penalty to get out.

During the day this area would be open to all EV users with a parking limit of say 4 hours. I live in a rural area with similar towns population size wise and 4 hour parking limits are quite normal. You pay 1-2 hours, 2-3 hours or up to 4 hours. The parking fees would apply to all non-EV parking places too. Or you could charge a higher parking rate per hour for daytime EV parking/charging to cover power costs. That would effectively disuade ICE cars from being parked in EV spots.

Well sign posted charging and parking fees and conditions, and heavy overstay or ICE parking penalties if in EV places. I know it sounds a bit draconian but the message needs to get out about correct use of parking places to some ICE drivers who just don't care.

Here the ChargePlace Scotland rapid chargers are often sign posted Max parking limit 45 minutes while charging. Standard parking fees apply for all cars. Overstay the 45 minutes = parking penalty notice for all. The rest of the car park can be used by paying up to 4 hours.

What should also happen is if you park your ICE in an EV parking place = immediate parking penalty notice (even if you have paid the car park fee). Council wardens could easily be briefed about EV models and such regulations. In fact here they probably already know about it as most of the council vehicles are EVs including community transport and delivery vans.

As far as I understand, legisation is currently going through the Scottish Government to authorise the immediate tow away of any ICE vehicle parked in an EV charging spot.
 

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My suggestion would be no booking, as that just complicates things. Instead just fill the car park with as many chargepoints as possible, so that there is always some free. ICEing (chargepoints being blocked by a fossil-fueled vehicle) would be a problem, so unless every space gets a chargepoint maybe a restricted section for EV's?
I don't think you will need 1 station per parking space, each unit can take 2 ev's.
1 station per 2 places would be enough, unless there are parking spaces on both sides but still only 1 station per 2 cars.
But agree, ICE'ing will be the biggest issue until everyone drives EV. :)
 

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Booking is not a good idea for any EV charging bay as it would be abused. Having as many charging places as possible would be a better idea rather and one rapid charger somewhere for people on long journeys.

What about an area of a car park which is locked closed for example at 6pm and only residents who are paying for the overnight space have a key? Any ICE or non-residents would therefore be locked in overnight and would have to pay a penalty to get out.

During the day this area would be open to all EV users with a parking limit of say 4 hours. I live in a rural area with similar towns population size wise and 4 hour parking limits are quite normal. You pay 1-2 hours, 2-3 hours or up to 4 hours. The parking fees would apply to all non-EV parking places too. Or you could charge a higher parking rate per hour for daytime EV parking/charging to cover power costs. That would effectively disuade ICE cars from being parked in EV spots.

Well sign posted charging and parking fees and conditions, and heavy overstay or ICE parking penalties if in EV places. I know it sounds a bit draconian but the message needs to get out about correct use of parking places to some ICE drivers who just don't care.

Here the ChargePlace Scotland rapid chargers are often sign posted Max parking limit 45 minutes while charging. Standard parking fees apply for all cars. Overstay the 45 minutes = parking penalty notice for all. The rest of the car park can be used by paying up to 4 hours.

What should also happen is if you park your ICE in an EV parking place = immediate parking penalty notice (even if you have paid the car park fee). Council wardens could easily be briefed about EV models and such regulations. In fact here they probably already know about it as most of the council vehicles are EVs including community transport and delivery vans.

As far as I understand, legisation is currently going through the Scottish Government to authorise the immediate tow away of any ICE vehicle parked in an EV charging spot.
Briefing parking wardens woud be very easy.
Unplugged = penalty
Light green instead of blue = 15min allowance for the driver to return to the car and remove it. This won't be practical overnight as councils don't have overnight wardens. Then cameras would get to action.
 

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You need to look closely at the ongoing management of the spaces.

Signage needs to be very prominent (and extend outside of the bounds of the car on every side, on the floor so there can be no excuses), with real threats (i.e. towaway zone) to people who aren't charging. The current attitude is very much as it was when disabled spaces were introduced - anyone used them, and then said "well, the other spaces were full, and there wasn't a disabled user parked there, so I did". People think that they are parking spaces, that just happen to have a charger available and are happy to park there, frequently when they are popping in for a packet of ****.

You also need to look at ongoing maintenance - you can't have these spaces out of action for long periods.

Look also at how you charge for usage - people who put their car on charge for hours at a time, just to top up a few hundred watt-hours need to be dissuaded by the cost of doing so. If all the posts are 7kW, I'd favour charging by time.

You also need to look at location - my son lives in east London, with lots of terraced housing. The nearest charging post is at least 20 minutes brisk walk away, which is neither use nor ornament. Look at putting these posts at the end of residential streets, with no parking restrictions or charges at all, outside of the time-related cost of using the post.
 

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Briefing parking wardens woud be very easy.
...
Light green instead of blue = 15min allowance for the driver to return to the car and remove it.
...
Other than, cars and chargers frequently generate a 'fault' and give up. It would be possible to start your charge and the post to go into fault as you walk away. Tricky one that.
 

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Things unfortunately won't work the way you are hoping. People are generally lazy. Unless the car park is within a minute's walk, people aren't going to give up the convenience of parking outside their home to charge elsewhere, especially if they are paying, even a small amount to do so.

Have you looked into options from companies like Electric Blue, and Ubitricity as a couple of examples? They can work with you to add chargepoints to street lighting posts. This then allows people to charge on their own streets, which would be less of a hassle for residents and more likely to give the incentive to make the switch. As long as you make sure that your town is well equipped with a good number of these as well as some rapid chargers around the area too, it becomes less of a concern to have to reserve charging bays (something that I am totally against)

I'm all for you installing some charging posts in a public car park. They are handy for visitors or as a last resort if you can't get plugged in on your street and really need the charge, but it won't be a regular thing for most people. You could also look into starting an electric car club from a couple of these bays, which may be a good option for some and completely remove the need for car ownership for some people altogether. Especially if the town is otherwise well covered for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport meaning that a car isn't always necessary.

A few people here are starting to post about monitoring the lights on the chargers. While I understand why people are suggesting and worrying about this, it is again something that isn't really enforcable. Public charging posts aren't always reliable. They sometimes just randomly reset and stop a charge session. If it glitches out like this and throws them back to the start screen, that owner could end up getting a fine for something that isn't their fault. The general enforcement rule elsewhere is if they are plugged in, its fine. It can be abused by some people, but that seems to be the best option for now.
 
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