A guide to Tesla destination charger etiquette

There are no real rules for the use of Tesla destination chargers but there is an etiquette that individual EV owners would be wise to follow so the freedom of use is not restricted for everyone.

Firstly a history of destination chargers in Australia:

A Tesla destination charger also known as a High power wall charger (HPWC) is virtually the same as the device most Tesla owners have installed at home. As well as Tesla providing a unit to each new Tesla owner they also provide one and sometimes two complimentary chargers to approved business’s around the country, you may find them in a 5 star hotel, you may also find one at a small Cafe in a country town. 

Up until around late 2017  the installation cost was also paid for by Tesla, since that time any business looking to install destination chargers are almost always required to pay the installation cost, in some areas with no electrician nearby this can be up to $1500, a big outlay for a charger that may only attract 20 cars in its first two years, for many locations they’re never going to recoup the cost, they often know this but are keen to be part of a sustainable future.

So how did all the hundreds of destination chargers end up at locations spread all over the country? Various reasons but significantly many early destination chargers were installed due to the hard work and persistence of Tesla vehicle owners who encouraged businesses to take the risk and accept a destination charger from Tesla, bear in mind that many of these business owners had never heard or seen of Tesla until a few moments earlier when one pulled up in the carpark. In Australia circa 2015  a Tesla was about as believable as a flying DeLorean, just image the discussion that followed, imagine the patience and belief that Tesla owner had as he convinced the business owner to install a Tesla destination charger.

So what is the etiquette for using Tesla destination chargers?

For large city hotels and shopping centre’s that received chargers and installation cost for free they’re not really going to be too concerned with the added cost to their already massive electricity bills, I’m sure they’re keen for EV owners to return the favour and be a paying customer, I’m also sure they’re not going to chastise every owner that sits in their car looking like a stalker, but for many smaller businesses that installed chargers, many at an unreasonable installation costs some ethical behaviour is required from EV owners. 

Many businesses are showing goodwill in advance hoping an EV owner will come in and purchase a meal, book a room or make some other financial contribution to the premises. If they require a fee for using the charger it very well could be previous EV owners had shown no good will in return, sometimes this is a misunderstanding based on who pays for the electricity, for others it’s a disregard for others, only a small percentage of drivers behave this way but it quickly ruins it for the vast majority.

A few tips to remember:

*Before arrival check on Plugshare for any potential cost to charge, you can check on the Tesla touchscreen but this information is not always up to date.
*If you’re still unsure of the cost go in and ask the staff, they may well say it’s free because you bothered to ask.
*If it’s your first visit ask permission before plugging in, courtesy may get you a free charge and a positive conversation.
*If you don’t like the price being requested for charging don’t use the charger, but also keep it polite, don’t complain and don’t rant on social media, your behaviour effects all those that follow.
*If the destination charger is fairly new and staff don’t know how much to charge be generous, if your car has consumed $7.45 of electricity round it up $10 or more, it’s very likely the business owners have just spent well over a $1000 on an installation that will never recover the money, you as a driver are still making a big saving compared to a petrol vehicle.
*If the staff decline payment for charging but you still feel the need to pay, put some cash in the staff tip jar or the RFDS (charity) collection tin.

Happy motoring!


Using Tesla destination chargers (HPWC)

A Tesla destination charger is also known as a High power wall connector (HPWC), it has two variations, the rarely seen 40amp single phase that was issued to owners and venues up until late 2015 and the most common and more versatile  32amp three phase (22kw) that can also be connected to a single phase circuit. Technically the HPWC it’s not actually a charger but better described as a smart device that provides safe AC electricity to the vehicle’ s onboard charger, the charging power is limited by both the electricity feed to the HPWC and also the capacity of the onboard charger, a vehicle with an 11kw onboard charger connected to a 22kw HPWC will only charge at a maximum of 11kw, the same vehicle connected to a 6kw limited HPWC will only charge at a maximum of 6kw.

Although a Tesla HPWC is restricted to a maximum of 22kw (32amp three phase) they still have two advantages over DC charging, firstly AC charge points are multiple times cheaper to install per kw of power available compared to DC chargers. Secondly AC charging speeds may be slower but are very consistent and predictable right up to a battery state of charge (SOC) above 97%, DC chargers on the other hand have a large variance in charging speed depending on battery SOC, this can be confusing for new EV owners.

Publicly available HPWCs are provided by Tesla but on the vast majority of occasions owned by the property it’s connected to, prior to late 2017 the installation fee was covered by Tesla, since that time almost all installations have been paid for by the buildings owners, in regional areas this can cost upwards of $1500 per unit, this is a significant cost for EV’s that may or may be few and far between over the next couple of years.

Although most publicly available Tesla HPWCs are referred to as free to use they are better seen as being complimentary for customers. In other words a shopping centre that’s installed a charge point is expecting the EV owner to be a paying customer even if you only buy a drink, no one is monitoring purchases but any drivers taking electricity without supporting the location is an unwelcome member of the EV community that will spoil it for other owners in that area. If the local council has installed a charge point they’re not expecting you to sit in your car, they’re expecting you to get out and boost the local economy (keep in mind, there are ratepayers less than happy with their local council installing charge points), anyone seen sitting in a EV getting free electricity is sure to get a negative mention at the next council meeting.

Tesla HPWCs in regional motels and service stops are very much “not free”, the owner, management or staff will likely see you drive in from the main highway. Some charge a per kWh cost others charge on a time basis, those that don’t charge for the electricity have a high expectation you’ll stay overnight or buy lunch, at this stage electricity is still expensive in regional areas, if they don’t see a business case to continue providing a charge point it will soon get disconnected. In every occasion when using a regional Tesla HPWC always thank the owner/manager, it goes a long way.

A few tips:

  • Don’t trust the Tesla touchscreen maps to display the correct power rating of the HPWC, cross reference the location with reliable comments on Plugshare. Often newly installed units have not been adjusted up from the factory setting of 6kw, if you’re the first visitor to that location it’s always a possibility.  A few Tesla owners have been know to open the HPWC and increase the setting, personally I wouldn’t do that, firstly it’s not my property and secondly there could be a very good reason it’s at that setting. Best to mention it to the owner who will call out the electrician.
  • If the HPWC is not displaying a Green light it’s very likely switched off at the meter box, often in regional areas management will do this so EV owners make the effort to go in a say hello. Even if the HPWC is switched on its always good policy to ask permission before plugging in the car, it only takes a minute and provides goodwill for future EV owners.
  • If the HPWC is switched on but fails to charge it may need a reset, unplug from car, press and hold red “Reset” button on left side of HPWC until the light on the front of the unit goes out, let go of red button and wait until light goes back to normal (about a minute), then attempt to charge, this may take two attempts.
  • The biggest tip I can give you is ALWAYS BE CHARGING, if you are in a country area don’t bypass a HPWC that you know is working for one that hasn’t been used in a while.

First Casual Meetup of 2020 – Wed Jan 1, 2020

By happy coincidence, our next scheduled casual meetup is Wednesday evening, January 1st.

We had a chat about options for this at our last casual meetup at Swan Settlers Market and John and Shirley proposed that we go watch the fireworks on the Canning River near Salter Point.

We propose to meet on the northern foreshore around 7pm near 33 Salter Point Parade, Salter Point, where there is a small beach. John and Shirley have offered for people to park at their house – 16 Redmond Street, Salter Point, which is a casual 850m walk from the location – you may be able to park closer, but it can get quite busy.

The fireworks start around 8pm, so we’ll meet and have a picnic/chat on the foreshore in advance and people are welcome to stay after the conclusion of the fireworks.

Death by Tailpipe Emissions, What figure is acceptable?

2018 has been another year of increased electric vehicle sales in many other parts of the world, the concept has taken a firm grip and there’s no stopping the EV revolution, in Australia the story is slightly different.

There are many sections of industry and the public that can see the benefits of electric transportation; unfortunately we have a small group of politicians that believe otherwise. These people take every opportunity to attack EVs on TV, radio, the printed press and social media, they sprout complete nonsense but when challenged avoid debate. Why do they continue with anti EV propaganda?

For many it’s telling the loyal masses what they want to hear, in these voting groups EVs are seen as a Left wing Greens conspiracy to lower carbon emissions, “God help us all if we’re forced to drive electric vehicles” is the cry, all the charging station diners will only serve Latte’s and Quiche, Bob Menzies photos will be taken down and replaced with Bob Browns, the Hank Williams songs will be removed from the Juke box and replaced with the Electric light Orchestra. Its okay conspiracy theorists, Craig Kelly has an emergency video ready to play on continuous loop, it consists of Mad Max revving the V8 Interceptor, “she sucks nitro, 600 horsepower through the wheels”.


Now let’s put conspiracy theories, carbon emissions, climate change and the half joking aside and discuss something complete different, the nation’s road toll, last year approximately 1225 deaths. This figure has year by year steadily reduced in relation to overall kilometres driven due to vast amounts of money, time and hard work going towards reducing the crashes, injuries and deaths, but a figure that is still far too high. What is an acceptable number of road deaths above zero? Has a public figure or politician ever put a number to it? I doubt it.

This discussion on the road toll brings me to another cause of death and injury that stems from the transport sector, air pollution. This has been spoken about by various concerned groups for some time but until now has been lost in the background noise, I hope that this past Friday the 17th of August 2018 was the day the band stopped playing too loud and the crowd could hear the lead singer.

As you may or may not know Independent Senator Tim Storer has been leading a Senate committee on electric vehicles, the committee is taking submissions on a wide range of reasons for and against the uptake of EVs in Australia. Friday was the second of three public hearings and the Doctors for the Environment were able to have their say; it is now on record and in the same room as the people who were elected and paid to listen. In Australia an average 3000 deaths per year are caused by air pollution, half of those attributed to motor vehicle exhaust emissions, thereabouts 1500 deaths by tailpipe, remember that road toll figure? 1225, a road toll figure that has rightfully received many decades of attention and one that most people would agree is still far too high.

Tailpipe pollution has no favourites, the guy who rides his bike to work to stay healthy is breathing in the exhaust fumes of his colleagues driving to work and the person who likes to walk to the shop rather than catch the bus better hold their breath as the bus cruises past, there never was and there never will be clean diesel, and all the parents who drive their kids to school in the latest 5 star safety rated SUV because your family is precious, guess what, all the other mums had the same idea and their SUVs are idling in the drop off zone next to the kindy playground filling those precious lungs with exhaust toxins.

Some people may compare motor vehicle exhausts fumes to Cigarette smoking but there’s no comparison, the 85% of Australians who choose not to smoke are now free to avoid those fumes. The warning signs are everywhere, smoking is bad for your health and only adults can purchase Cigarettes at massively taxed prices in plain paper packaging with graphic photos printed on the pack, because it’s a burden on society that adds enormous cost and pressure on the nation’s health system. It’s a shame those kindy kids can’t be protected from exhaust fumes like they are from cigarette smoke.

Politicians can argue over many aspects of electric vehicles, they can muddy the waters with all sorts of unfounded claims and opinions, but they can’t argue about the fact that air pollution from motor vehicles is a massive burden on Australian society. Hopefully the Senators present at Friday’s electric vehicle senate committee hearing absorbed those facts from the Doctors for the environment and officially pass it on to their colleagues in Canberra. The unnecessary and time wasting behaviour from the small group of anti-EV politicians has to stop.