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Decaying Level 2 public charging infrastructure

vanjwilson

Member
May 12, 2021
83
111
Charlotte, NC
My wife has had an electric car for over 2 1/2 years, and I've had my Tesla MY for over 3 months, and I usually take the opportunity to plug in at public Level 2 chargers when I'm out and about, unless my SOC is pretty high.

Just over the last few months, I've noticed a couple of trends.
  1. Many free Level 2 chargers that have been around for a while are breaking and not getting fixed. I suppose there's not a lot of impetus to fix something that's not creating a profit or even covering its cost. However, if the charger was put up for "marketing" or to create good will to begin with, it seems like the owner would fix it, or at least remove it, so it doesn't look like a "broken window".
  2. Several charging companies that are new to my area (Sema Connect, EV Connect) have installed Level 2 chargers that require payment. However, I have had no luck in getting any of those to work, even though I've been charged. I've called their customer service lines each time, and the reps have tried to be helpful but every time it seems to be that the owner of the location has not set their systems up correctly. (The amounts billed are small, minimum charges of less than $1.00.)
In the first case, I don't just want free electricity. If a business offers an amenity, and I accept their offer, it should work, or at least get fixed in a reasonable amount of time. (2 different locations I frequently pass have been broken for over a month.)

In the second case, I have not really needed a charge at those for-pay chargers yet, but if I or someone ever did, it is the sort of pain that is bad publicity for electric cars in general. I have paid for Level 2 charging before, both with ChargePoint and EVGo, so I don't think it's operator error.

I realize this sounds like I'm just venting, or worse, ranting. I'm posting this because I am interested to know if this is just a run of bad luck for me, or if others have noticed these phenomena of neglected or poorly managed Level 2 chargers. I'm worried that this will create bad press for EVs as more and more normal folks are considering buying one.
 

TexasDuke

Member
Mar 15, 2018
132
121
North TX
In Texas, I’ve also noticed all of the Lv2 chargers installed 7+ years ago have had their screens go blank because of sun exposure over the years. The ones I’m talking about generally are older Blink chargers that are not free, but aren’t used a lot. I’m sure we’ll start seeing local regulators start requiring certain actions on these installs, but probably not for another 3 - 4yrs at their current pace. (My random tax paying thoughts.) 🤓😜
 
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srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,276
1,587
Woonsocket, RI
Here in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts, I've had few such problems. A few years ago, in fact, most ChargePoint L2 stations were upgraded from older to newer models. I've seen ChargePoint units go down, and they're usually repaired -- maybe not as quickly as I'd like, but within two or three months. That said, there certainly are troublesome units, like this one at a Walgreens in Foxborough MA, which has been non-functional for years. The problem units are the exception rather than the rule, though. Recently, I've seen Volta units appearing at Stop & Shop supermarkets and Blink units going in at Burger King and McDonald's restaurants, so L2 charging is expanding. So is DC fast charging; ChargePoint, in particular, has added several new DC fast charging stations in the area in the past year or two.

One other point is that all infrastructure eventually ages and needs to be repaired, replaced, or abandoned. Some of the earliest EV charging stations are old enough that they're at the point where their owners must decide what to do with them. Inevitably, some of these will be abandoned or removed rather than repaired or replaced, because they were ill-placed to begin with or because things have changed (stores go out of business, etc.). Covid probably hasn't helped with this, since it's put a strain on local retail outlets. Similar things happen to gas stations, supermarkets, etc. It's not surprising to see this with EV charging facilities.
 
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RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,116
1,312
Durham, NC
I think you're right on...many free chargers were put in as a result of an initial push back when the LEAF and Volt came out and there were all kinds of grants available to put in charging stations. Unfortunately they were not usually sited very wisely, and the hosts for the most part have had no interest in maintaining them. Even places like Whole Foods that specifically put them in (likely driven at the corporate level) to up their "green" cred seem to have no interest at the local level in making sure they work and aren't continually ICEd.

Fortunately that initial wave of L2 chargers, particularly given their siting, is becoming less and less needed as modern EVs have ranges that don't require L2 charging like those early LEAFs did. Obviously L2 chargers at apartments, workplaces and hotels will continue to be critical, but all the ones sitting in front of town halls are probably fine to just wither away.

Hopefully new EV owners will be quick to discover the ability of Plugshare to filter out poorly rated charging stations so they never even come across those problematic ones.
 

srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,276
1,587
Woonsocket, RI
Fortunately that initial wave of L2 chargers, particularly given their siting, is becoming less and less needed as modern EVs have ranges that don't require L2 charging like those early LEAFs did. Obviously L2 chargers at apartments, workplaces and hotels will continue to be critical, but all the ones sitting in front of town halls are probably fine to just wither away.
Agreed. IMHO, the best places for public (or semi-public) L2 EVSEs are at workplaces, apartments/condos, and perhaps places where people routinely spend at least an hour, like parks and movie theaters. Public charging at malls, supermarkets, libraries, restaurants, etc., is better implemented as DC fast charging. Even fairly slow DC fast charging can do a lot of good at such places for people who lack L2 charging at home. One or two half-hour sessions on a 50kW station can cover a good part of an average driver's weekly charging needs, but to do the same with L2 EVSEs would take several hours. I, for one, would have a hard time cobbling together enough L2 charging time away from home to handle my weekly driving even if L2 EVSEs were ubiquitous.
 

vanjwilson

Member
May 12, 2021
83
111
Charlotte, NC
... Public charging at malls, supermarkets, libraries, restaurants, etc., is better implemented as DC fast charging. Even fairly slow DC fast charging can do a lot of good at such places for people who lack L2 charging at home. One or two half-hour sessions on a 50kW station can cover a good part of an average driver's weekly charging needs, but to do the same with L2 EVSEs would take several hours. I, for one, would have a hard time cobbling together enough L2 charging time away from home to handle my weekly driving even if L2 EVSEs were ubiquitous.
I've had a similar thought. Getting 3 kW while shopping for half an hour just maybe makes a shopping trip energy-neutral, but even slow DC fast charging, like a lot of older DC fast chargers, or Tesla urban Superchargers, would be a boon for EVs owners who can't charge where they live or work.
 
Oct 28, 2019
517
592
Texas
never got the appeal of public L2 charging with a Tesla... do you *really* need those extra 40 miles when going into the store or running errands when your car has an EPA range of 300+ miles ? leave those slow chargers empty for EVs with much less range.
 
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brkaus

Well-Known Member
Jul 8, 2014
8,162
6,719
Austin, TX
I agree with the OP - things are falling apart. Imho - largely because it’s just an expense for the hosting company.

I also agree with @texas_star_TM3 I don’t use them except if I’m away from home and I can find a hotel with a working station.

I do hope the promised/rumored feature for built in billing on the latest WC helps. Inexpensive station with easy billing would be great for companies to break even.
 

kayak1

Member
Jan 21, 2020
190
137
USA, The great state of Maine
never got the appeal of public L2 charging with a Tesla... do you *really* need those extra 40 miles when going into the store or running errands when your car has an EPA range of 300+ miles ? leave those slow chargers empty for EVs with much less range.
It's great to have an L2 charger in a location where one might stop on a road trip. I don't have to worry about dog mode being disabled while we are in for a quick bite.

My wife and I love to stop in at King Arthur Baking Company, but have to leave the dog in the car
They have nice path in the woods to walk the dog and keep her happy.
 
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SpaceShipDrvr

Member
Aug 1, 2021
96
118
Eureka, CA
I agree with the concern. I’m a new Tesla owner, and I’ve tried a few public J1772 outlets. I have tried 5, and NONE have worked. I’m starting to wonder if my adapter is broken… I’ll keep trying some new places just to see if I can get any public chargers to work.

Anyway, public level 2 chargers are VERY useful, especially at hotels and shopping areas, or work. If you don’t see the benefit you may be spoiled with a high number of superchargers in your neighborhood - but not all of us live near a lot of superchargers. Or have convenient charging at our homes.
 

cwerdna

Active Member
Jul 11, 2012
3,731
2,815
SF Bay Area, CA
I agree with the concern. I’m a new Tesla owner, and I’ve tried a few public J1772 outlets. I have tried 5, and NONE have worked. I’m starting to wonder if my adapter is broken… I’ll keep trying some new places just to see if I can get any public chargers to work.
Have you checked Plugshare first? I'd ask the same question of anyone here who's had trouble. IMHO, it is a virtually a requirement if you plan to go out of your way/depend on any non-Tesla public infrastructure.

I've been charging my Bolt and previously Leaf on public J1772 EVSEs for at at least 7 years, if not 8+. I personally used one of Tesla Wall Connector with J1772 plug instead of Tesla proprietary plug several times over the last few days. And yes, a fair amount of public infrastructure is busted.
 
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TexasDuke

Member
Mar 15, 2018
132
121
North TX
never got the appeal of public L2 charging with a Tesla... do you *really* need those extra 40 miles when going into the store or running errands when your car has an EPA range of 300+ miles ? leave those slow chargers empty for EVs with much less range.
L2 charging speaks to part of the population that doesn’t have at home charging. (In my opinion.) I recently was priced out and had to go back to apartment living and live off my company’s L2 charger / local urban SCs. Not everyone has the option of at home charging. So, the L2s help get “the other” part of the citizenry to adopt EV life.
 

SpaceShipDrvr

Member
Aug 1, 2021
96
118
Eureka, CA
Have you checked Plugshare first? I'd ask the same question of anyone here who's had trouble. IMHO, it is a virtually a requirement if you plan to go out of your way/depend on any non-Tesla public infrastructure.

I've been charging my Bolt and previously Leaf on public J1772 EVSEs for at at least 7 years, if not 8+. I personally used one of Tesla Wall Connector with J1772 plug instead of Tesla proprietary plug several times over the last few days. And yes, a fair amount of public infrastructure is busted.
Yes, I have used PlugShare. The sites I tried had mixed reviews, so I may just have been unlucky.

But thanks for the reminder, I will try some other sites in town soon, and make sure that PlugShare reviews indicate a working connecter before going there.
 
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DblOSmith

Member
Jun 29, 2021
154
92
Missouri
I've had a similar thought. Getting 3 kW while shopping for half an hour just maybe makes a shopping trip energy-neutral, but even slow DC fast charging, like a lot of older DC fast chargers, or Tesla urban Superchargers, would be a boon for EVs owners who can't charge where they live or work.
I completely agree. I currently use instacart. Even if say... Hy-Vee grocery store put some 14-50's in their lot, that would convince me to go back to their store, maybe eat at the restaurant inside... something I don't do with instacart.

I don't know why companies want to put Brand name chargers on their lots. Put up a pole in the middle of 4 spots with four 14-50's on it, and paint the spaces green. Hang a green tow away sign and call it good. That'd be much cheaper and less likely to decay over time.
 

brkaus

Well-Known Member
Jul 8, 2014
8,162
6,719
Austin, TX
I completely agree. I currently use instacart. Even if say... Hy-Vee grocery store put some 14-50's in their lot, that would convince me to go back to their store, maybe eat at the restaurant inside... something I don't do with instacart.

I don't know why companies want to put Brand name chargers on their lots. Put up a pole in the middle of 4 spots with four 14-50's on it, and paint the spaces green. Hang a green tow away sign and call it good. That'd be much cheaper and less likely to decay over time.
Well, it will decay, but cheaper to replace outlets.

The j1772 evse that accept money are just so darn expensive, they overshadow the electric cost.
 

wws

Active Member
Aug 11, 2014
1,085
1,280
Northern California
About 10 years ago, our town installed four Chargepoint stations by the city hall offices, and leased a couple of Volts for city employees to use. The Volts disappeared a few years ago, and then the charging stations were eventually removed. A friend of mine, and also former mayor (and i3 owner) what happened. Apparently use of the charging stations was so low they weren't covering what Chargepoint was charging the city. So when a round of budget cutting hit, they were an easy thing target. OTOH the stations at the nearby library are very highly used. In fact they recent added a DCFC station.

I know of a couple grocery stores that have had charging stations in their lots and have removed them. Guessing they were more hassle than they were worth too.

I basically only use public L2 at overnight stops. If a hotel or motel wants my business, ones that offer EV charging get higher consideration than ones who don't. I always let the desk clerks and managers know how much I appreciate the amenity.
 

TexasDuke

Member
Mar 15, 2018
132
121
North TX
About 10 years ago, our town installed four Chargepoint stations by the city hall offices, and leased a couple of Volts for city employees to use. The Volts disappeared a few years ago, and then the charging stations were eventually removed. A friend of mine, and also former mayor (and i3 owner) what happened. Apparently use of the charging stations was so low they weren't covering what Chargepoint was charging the city. So when a round of budget cutting hit, they were an easy thing target. OTOH the stations at the nearby library are very highly used. In fact they recent added a DCFC station.

I know of a couple grocery stores that have had charging stations in their lots and have removed them. Guessing they were more hassle than they were worth too.

I basically only use public L2 at overnight stops. If a hotel or motel wants my business, ones that offer EV charging get higher consideration than ones who don't. I always let the desk clerks and managers know how much I appreciate the amenity.
Could you please opine on the town stats? (Population, region etc) Also, were the L2s free?

I know several of the L2s in my neck of the woods (Dallas,TX) don’t get utilized as the cost is ~$4 for ~40mi of range. (There are free options in the area also that play a roll in my situation.)
 

srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,276
1,587
Woonsocket, RI
About 10 years ago, our town installed four Chargepoint stations by the city hall offices, and leased a couple of Volts for city employees to use. The Volts disappeared a few years ago, and then the charging stations were eventually removed. A friend of mine, and also former mayor (and i3 owner) what happened. Apparently use of the charging stations was so low they weren't covering what Chargepoint was charging the city. So when a round of budget cutting hit, they were an easy thing target. OTOH the stations at the nearby library are very highly used. In fact they recent added a DCFC station.
Your story reminds me of this ChargePoint station near where I live, and the (one) PlugShare comment on it. The electricity is pretty cheap by New England standards, but the parking fee makes it hard to justify the cost of using that station, especially when it's marked with a sign that reads "parking for municipal business only," which makes one wonder if the car will be towed if one parks there and walks the couple of blocks to the local CVS. Some other municipal EVSEs in this general area, like this one, seem to be better-utilized, partly because it's used by town-owned EVs and partly because it's free to the general public.

I think that potential EV charging providers don't understand the needs of EV drivers and so are following a "throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks" approach to EVSE installation. GM's new planned Level 2 network sounds like they've got a better idea of how to do it, but we'll see how it goes. Of course, even throwing the figurative spaghetti at the wall will eventually get to something reasonable, but it'll take longer that way. ChargePoint's model encourages spaghetti-throwing, since (as I understand it), they'll install an EVSE anywhere that the property owner wants; they're relying on property owners to determine whether an EVSE is needed somewhere, and of course many property owners have no clue. As I understand it, most DC fast charger installations are driven by the network operators, who tend to have some idea of where they'll be needed, so there seems to be less spaghetti-throwing involved with them.

That said, many (but not all) Level 2 EVSEs in my area, including many ChargePoint units, are reasonably well-placed. There are several at Rhode Island state-run parks, for instance -- places where people routinely spend an hour or two, which is long enough to pick up significant charge.
 

wws

Active Member
Aug 11, 2014
1,085
1,280
Northern California
Could you please opine on the town stats? (Population, region etc) Also, were the L2s free?

I know several of the L2s in my neck of the woods (Dallas,TX) don’t get utilized as the cost is ~$4 for ~40mi of range. (There are free options in the area also that play a roll in my situation.)

Bedroom community in Silicon Valley with population of about 30k. Very high penetration of EVs. Teslas everywhere...

Charging not free.
 
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mociaf9

Active Member
Oct 18, 2018
2,945
6,105
CA
Put up a pole in the middle of 4 spots with four 14-50's on it, and paint the spaces green. Hang a green tow away sign and call it good. That'd be much cheaper and less likely to decay over time.
Unfortunately, compared to the hardwired option, that solution also comes with a massive increase in liability to the hosting business that makes it totally unworkable as a general/widespread approach. There's a reason why hardwired EVSE are the standard for public use, and it's not because they are cheaper.
 
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