Motorists driving along freeways and highways can easily identify the next gas station exit. There is plenty of clear, direct signage from the exit ramp to the gas station itself. In many cases, there are signs over 30 feet high signaling drivers that there is a place to refuel.
However, with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations today, it is a rather different story. Instead, EV drivers must be diligent as they attempt to find the un-lit and un-signed charging station – often in the back of a parking lot. This can be a challenging and frustrating experience for the EV driver. If the charging station is too difficult to find, the driver may very well give up and try another site.
In this article, we will explore a few reasons why bold signage is important for EVs and EV adoption. With better signage, the charging station experience will be improved. If EV adoption is to keep increasing as we transition to electric, we will need positive charging station experiences. One of the primary deterrents to going electric is the fear associated with finding charging stations.
If an EV charging station does not have productive signage, the chargers are likely not to be used as much as other sites. For station owners looking to increase station utilization rates to generate revenue or attract customers, this is obviously a problem.
The utilization rate of an EV charging station is the amount of time the charger is used divided by the total amount of time in a day. For example, if a charging station is used an average of four hours a day, it has a utilization rate of 17%.
For people who have limited mobility, having clear accessibility signage is vitally important to their everyday life. In 1990, the federal government signed in law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EV charging stations are included in ADA as they are considered a site amenity.
As such, proper signage, clear floor space, path of travel, and several other accessible design concepts must be implemented to ensure fair access. One of the most important design features is clear and prominent signage to indicate which parking stall is reserved for people with disabilities.
When charging stations are blocked it is often called “ICE-ing” in the EV community. ICE stands for internal combustion engine, or gas-powered vehicle. Whenever charging stations are ICE-ed, or blocked, they become inaccessible to EV drivers looking to charge their car. This can negatively affect utilization rates and the EV driver’s experience with the particular station. If it happens often, EV drivers may avoid the station altogether as it garners a bad reputation.
A good way to deter this from happening is clear and proper signage. With signs that state “EV charging only”, “No parking unless charging”, or “Tow away unless actively charging”, non-charging EV or ICE drivers will be much less likely to block the charger. This is especially the case if the signs state drivers will be fined or towed if they violate the rules.
There are a few best practices when it comes to signage at EV charging stations. For starters, signage at exit ramps or along highways can greatly assist EV drivers in finding the charging station.
For stations at smaller sites such as workplaces or apartment complexes, signage at or near the front of the property is critical. Just like signs that state where guest parking is located, where the valet is, or where the building entrance is, signs should also be installed to best direct EV drivers where the charging stations are located.
Lastly, clear and direct language at the charger and parking stall. The sign at the head of the parking stall should restrict the use of the stall to only charging vehicles as previously mentioned. Furthermore, the sign should state any charging station restrictions such as use limited to certain groups or hours. Prominent striping should also be painted at each EV charging station stall. This will make it abundantly clear the space is for charging and not just parking.