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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone.
I have a 2011 Volt and currently to get to work I drive 25 miles and park at a "park and ride" parking lot where I then take a bus to work. I noticed the parking lot has covered outlets at the bottom of most of the light poles so I decided to try and charge up with it as I'm parked there 10 hours each day and if I could even get 10 more miles of range total out of it I wouldn't have to use any gas for my commute anymore. The problem is I plugged in chose 8amps (because even at that rate it would fully charge after 10 hours) and it seemed to be working fine for about 5-10 minutes and then the red lights came on and the car stopped charging and I had to catch the bus. Does anyone have any tips on these 'light pole' outlets? I have read people say to try picking ones closer to the building but this parking lot doesn't have any building right next to it, just a bus stop, so should I just try random ones and see if any of them work and don't fail after a few minutes? The outlets seem to be in good condition and have a covers on them so they seem protected I'm just not sure why after a few minutes it stopped charging.
 

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I got into the habit of carrying an electrical outlet tester in my trunk.

To be clear, all it's going to tell you is if the hot/ground/neutral are wired up correctly, it won't tell you anything about corrosion or other problems, but you'd be astounded how many outlets I've tested that were a no-go right off the bat due to open ground.
 

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I guess beyond the conversation about who pays for that electricity. I would guess the sockets are old and corroded. Also I have found many times that light poles have no power at all until the light is turned on, usually on a timer. Is there any chance the lights on the pole were on when you parked, but went off shortly after?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I guess beyond the conversation about who pays for that electricity. I would guess the sockets are old and corroded. Also I have found many times that light poles have no power at all until the light is turned on, usually on a timer. Is there any chance the lights on the pole were on when you parked, but went off shortly after?
My tip is to make sure you have permission to use the outlets.
No chance the lights were on in the morning.

The same bus company has a similar parking lot with free level 2 chargers except those are about 7 miles further out each way (and a much longer bus ride) so I assumed they wouldn't mind me using the normal outlets and if anyone said anything I would stop of course. I emailed them last week anyway just in case but no reply yet.
 

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The same bus company has a similar parking lot with free level 2 chargers except those are about 7 miles further out each way (and a much longer bus ride) so I assumed they wouldn't mind me using the normal outlets and if anyone said anything I would stop of course.
That betrays a sense of entitlement that most people would find very off-putting.

It's one thing to assume that the local Burger King doesn't mind you using the outlet next to your table to charge your phone while you eat. It's another to assume that a bus company wouldn't mind you consuming ten thousand Watt-hours worth of electricity, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, raising their electricity bill $300-$600 every year...without asking first.

ALWAYS. ASK. FIRST.

Aside from the theft of resources...who is liable when someone trips on your cord and bangs up their knee? Who pays when your EVSE gets stolen, or its cord cut? Is the bus company going to repaint your door when someone gets ticked at you "refueling" without paying, and keys your car?

Just askin'.

--Chris
 

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I never charge outside my garages, so, I don't have any moral or rage issues addressed to me and my car.
 

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I come up with 3,000 watts per year ($300) if a Volt is charged from empty pack to full pack. I have found plenty of free charging stations near my location, so doubt that the transit company is going to be concerned over use of an outlet in a parking area. However, it is a good idea to ask permission before a continued practice of charging in a parking lot. In my area, local governmental entities are installing charging stations for free use at many locations, hoping to encourage a smaller carbon footprint. As far as liability is concerned, I imagine that one who occupies a public parking area assumes risk, including that of tripping over a cord in plain view. When I am in a public area, I use a bicycle lock to affix my charging cable to the rim of my front tire. Vandalism is a crime to which everyone suffers a risk. Road rage is probably covered under the vehicle's insurance policy, likely keying is small enough damage to be within the deductible. I had to touch-up a key scratch on my 2013 Volt at my own expense when I bought it. Violence against electric vehicles is likely motivated by misconceptions and values much more complex than being "ticked at you for 'refueling' without paying." I have spent many hours educating ignorant people who have distorted, erroneous views of electric vehicles.
 

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No chance the lights were on in the morning.

The same bus company has a similar parking lot with free level 2 chargers except those are about 7 miles further out each way (and a much longer bus ride) so I assumed they wouldn't mind me using the normal outlets and if anyone said anything I would stop of course. I emailed them last week anyway just in case but no reply yet.
Can't assume that. I say that at risk of starting the debate.... Who knows what condition those outlets are in anyway?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The same bus company has a similar parking lot with free level 2 chargers except those are about 7 miles further out each way (and a much longer bus ride) so I assumed they wouldn't mind me using the normal outlets and if anyone said anything I would stop of course.
That betrays a sense of entitlement that most people would find very off-putting.

It's one thing to assume that the local Burger King doesn't mind you using the outlet next to your table to charge your phone while you eat. It's another to assume that a bus company wouldn't mind you consuming ten thousand Watt-hours worth of electricity, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, raising their electricity bill $300-$600 every year...without asking first.

ALWAYS. ASK. FIRST.

Aside from the theft of resources...who is liable when someone trips on your cord and bangs up their knee? Who pays when your EVSE gets stolen, or its cord cut? Is the bus company going to repaint your door when someone gets ticked at you "refueling" without paying, and keys your car?

Just askin'.

--Chris
What is wrong with you? I said the same bus company provides FREE level 2 charging at another lot. Thanks for the incredibly irrelevant post otherwise, do you just have a problem with people charging outside their homes?
 

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Bring an voltmeter. Most parking lot lights in commercial areas are 277vac nominal. This is a single leg from a 480 3-ph building.
 

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Ask the owner about the plugs and their current ability, and while you're at it you can get permission to use them.
Win-win for everyone and takes 2 mins of your time to go and speak to someone that works there or call a phone number of whoever manages the lot (it is probably on a sign somewhere if it is an unmanaged lot - there are situations when people need to call them and they'll have it posted somewhere)
 

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Just a note and forum membership reminder. This is a topic (like a few others) that can get heated. So please remember, no name calling or personal attacks, keep things civil. Otherwise, well, we can cancel your membership :)
 

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What is wrong with you? I said the same bus company provides FREE level 2 charging at another lot. Thanks for the incredibly irrelevant post otherwise, do you just have a problem with people charging outside their homes?
I have zero problem with people charging outside their home, of course. I just have a problem with someone who assumes that any random 120V outlet not locked down is their own personal power source for their car. It's exactly that ignorance that irritates other car owners into ICEing our legitimate charging spots, that delays acceptance of state and local funding for public charging, that makes all of us BEV and PHEV owners look like entitled arseholes.

If *my* local Dairy Queen gives away free small cones in celebration of the Local Sporting Team's latest victory, do you feel it's okay to walk into the kitchen of the Dairy Queen closest to *you* and pull yourself a small cone for free? Same logic.

--Chris
 

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I don't understand this fixation of charging our Volt's away from home on unauthorized outlets.
 

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I have zero problem with people charging outside their home, of course. I just have a problem with someone who assumes that any random 120V outlet not locked down is their own personal power source for their car. It's exactly that ignorance that irritates other car owners into ICEing our legitimate charging spots, that delays acceptance of state and local funding for public charging, that makes all of us BEV and PHEV owners look like entitled arseholes.

If *my* local Dairy Queen gives away free small cones in celebration of the Local Sporting Team's latest victory, do you feel it's okay to walk into the kitchen of the Dairy Queen closest to *you* and pull yourself a small cone for free? Same logic.

--Chris
I agree he should ask and get permission. 100%, end of story.

With that said, you guys are being harsh on him and your examples aren't as bullet proof as you think. You're tacking on additional angles to this argument that are not relevant.

You say it's reasonable to sit down at a fast food restaurant and charge your phone.

You would probably also agree that it's reasonable to go to a Starbucks with a laptop and plug it in to get some work done for an hour, while you eat a muffin and drink coffee.

Let's just combine those two scenarios.

Let's say you take your laptop to McDonalds each morning, surf the web, and drink a coffee? Is that OK? Most would say yes.

What if you intentionally arrive with an empty battery each morning, charge it to full while surfing and then leave? Still OK, since your coffee was a couple bucks and the electricity was 10 cents?

OK - final step - what if you're a senior citizen and your McDonalds sells coffee to seniors for 25 cents, as many do? You charge your laptop and cell phone and your wife's cell phone, while reading the newspaper that McDonalds paid for? You probably use the bathroom once and consume 5 cents of water and soap. 10 cents of sugar and creamer.

McDonald's just lost money on you.

My illustration is to point out that whether or not the bus company is spending a little money or a lot of money in giving electricity to riders is COMPLETELY irrelevant. A lot of people are jumping up about how many hundreds or thousands of dollars he'd be sucking down. Irrelevant.

All that matters is whether the bus company is OK with it, either through direct statement (signs/email/phone conversation) or strongly implied (such as Starbucks having outlets at each table - you don't ask your barista if you can plug in your phone).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have zero problem with people charging outside their home, of course. I just have a problem with someone who assumes that any random 120V outlet not locked down is their own personal power source for their car. It's exactly that ignorance that irritates other car owners into ICEing our legitimate charging spots, that delays acceptance of state and local funding for public charging, that makes all of us BEV and PHEV owners look like entitled arseholes.

If *my* local Dairy Queen gives away free small cones in celebration of the Local Sporting Team's latest victory, do you feel it's okay to walk into the kitchen of the Dairy Queen closest to *you* and pull yourself a small cone for free? Same logic.

--Chris
I agree he should ask and get permission. 100%, end of story.

With that said, you guys are being harsh on him and your examples aren't as bullet proof as you think. You're tacking on additional angles to this argument that are not relevant.

You say it's reasonable to sit down at a fast food restaurant and charge your phone.

You would probably also agree that it's reasonable to go to a Starbucks with a laptop and plug it in to get some work done for an hour, while you eat a muffin and drink coffee.

Let's just combine those two scenarios.

Let's say you take your laptop to McDonalds each morning, surf the web, and drink a coffee? Is that OK? Most would say yes.

What if you intentionally arrive with an empty battery each morning, charge it to full while surfing and then leave? Still OK, since your coffee was a couple bucks and the electricity was 10 cents?

OK - final step - what if you're a senior citizen and your McDonalds sells coffee to seniors for 25 cents, as many do? You charge your laptop and cell phone and your wife's cell phone, while reading the newspaper that McDonalds paid for? You probably use the bathroom once and consume 5 cents of water and soap. 10 cents of sugar and creamer.

McDonald's just lost money on you.

My illustration is to point out that whether or not the bus company is spending a little money or a lot of money in giving electricity to riders is COMPLETELY irrelevant. A lot of people are jumping up about how many hundreds or thousands of dollars he'd be sucking down. Irrelevant.

All that matters is whether the bus company is OK with it, either through direct statement (signs/email/phone conversation) or strongly implied (such as Starbucks having outlets at each table - you don't ask your barista if you can plug in your phone).
Thanks. I called today and got transferred to the VP of the transit company and left a message because the first person I spoke with wasn't sure. I'm sorry if I assumed the company wouldn't mind this is probably due to all the level 2 charging stations in my area being free (never heard of anyone charging money) but maybe that varies greatly at different places. As I said in my original post I only need to charge a little more than half the battery my plan isnt to make it so my battery is completely drained when I arrive and charge up fully each day. In the end, even if they say I can plug in the outlets probably won't work with the volt. I have heard this is an issue specific to the Volt as it requires a certain minimum amount of electricity while other cars such as ford/bmw bev's do not. Oh well. A shame because even 1 mile of range added per hour would be enough to not use any gas.
 

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Excellent, and thank you. This is the best way to proceed.

--Chris
 
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