Three Ways to Help Prevent Charge Rage
We've all been in that situation where there are only two phone chargers in the room, but everyone needs to juice up their phones. At first, it's okay; first come, first serve, and all that. As time drags on, though, and people leave their phones on the charger longer than they need to or cut in just to top-off when no one is looking, you feel that pressure starts to spike behind your eyes. You're all for waiting your turn and being polite... but your phone is dying, and if you don't get a chance at the charger soon you're going to start screaming.
Now imagine that same scenario, except scaled-up from your phone, to your car. And scale-up the frustration from not being able to check your texts, to not being able to drive home. This phenomenon is called charge rage, and it's already been noted in places like California.
Electric vehicles are great in a lot of ways, but one thing they don't do very well at present is charge-up quickly. A top-off for a mostly charged car can take half an hour, and a full charge can take up to eight hours at some stations (hence why workplace chargers are growing in popularity). However, there are typically more electric cars on the road than there are chargers, which can lead to the aforementioned situation where a dozen people need a charge, but there are only two chargers to go around.
How do we avoid charge rage, though? Well, here are three, simple solutions.
#1: Wider Adoption of Charging Placards
Charging placards are a good idea, and they're growing in popularity as a way to deal with charge rage. A placard is a simple hanging tag, and it looks like the Do Not Disturb tag you see at hotels. One side is green, indicating that the person is "opportunity charging" and is not in dire need of a fill-up (and, therefore, can be unplugged by someone with a greater need). The red side indicates their vehicle needs power badly, and shouldn't be unplugged. The red side also has a dry-erase panel where drivers write-in the estimated time the charge will be finished, indicating that if it's past that time, then unplugging it would be okay. These are simple tools, but the potential to prevent arguments is far-reaching.
#2: Real-Time Charging Notifications
What if you knew, before you left the house, that there was a crowd at your usual gas station? Even better, what if your new fuel-based clairvoyance told you there were empty pumps at the other station that you didn't use as often? Well, that's pretty much how Tesla's supercharger network functions. Rather than giving drivers psychic powers, though, their system provides real-time updates that drivers can check via their phones.
This early notification provides drivers with the information they need to make good charging decisions, and it prevents the shock of showing up to your usual charging spot and finding there's a line of people six-deep all waiting for a chance to charge. As of now, Tesla is the only network with such a great tool, but imitators shouldn't be far behind on this one.
#3: Use Proper Signage
If you're going to have a charging station, then you need to indicate that it's for electric car owners, and it should have delineated space(s). This identifies the spot and ensures that those who need it can find it with relative ease. Even more importantly, though, it makes it clear that people who aren't driving electric cars (or who don't need to use the charger) shouldn't park there. And if they do, well, there should be an enforcement program in place that drivers can report them to. This allows an action to be taken and prevents charge rage from leading to more personal disputes.
Photo by David Nuescheler