This weekend just gone we spent a super weekend with friends in and around Beaconsfield, Berkshire. Initially, I intended to take the Nissan Leaf having done the trip from Saltash several times recently very successfully using the Ecotricity Electric Highway. The route would take me up the M5 and M4 to wards London.
However, a couple of days before two of the rapid chargers I needed broke down and so I had to take the Vauxhall Ampera instead.
I had already arranged with the hotel (Premier Inn, Loudwater) to charge the car. They didn’t yet have dedicated EV charging but were happy for me to plug into a 13A socket on the wall of the kitchen. When I saw the manager I suggested he investigate a permanent EV charging station and he agreed to look into it.
The 13A socket was a proper outside installation with a waterproof housing and it was located near the normal parking but not in a marked parking space but it was fine. It was slightly in the way of their deliveries area but I agreed to be up early Monday morning and to move the car before their first deliveries.
When I arrived I thanked the manager and plugged in.
Unfortunately, when I got up the next day the car had been unplugged within a few minutes of me plugging in and there was almost no power in the battery. As I had the Ampera this was nothing more than an annoyance and disappointment as I could continue on petrol but if I had taken the Leaf then this would have been a major problem as we had an appointment and as our nearest rapid charger was well out of range we might have had to rent a car for that day!
The Ampera has a system that can sound the alarm if the charge is interrupted but as it was a hotel I had disabled it so as not to wake everyone up just because the car is unplugged. In fact, I normally have this disabled as I really don’t want the alarm going off at all as I might not be around to cancel it.
Now, there are a lot of understandable reasons for someone to unplug me from a 13A socket if they need to use it but I plugged in at 11 at night so that is unlikely. Also, I was watched plugging in by a member of staff who spoke to me to see what I was doing and it was clear he was not being friendly. I said I had permission but I can’t help wondering if he had seen Top Gear and felt it his duty to carry out the call of Mr Clarkson to unplug EVs because it is funny. Obviously I have no proof but that is where my money is.
I mentioned my suspicions to the manager next day and he said he would make sure all the staff knew that I had permission and the car was not to be touched. It didn’t happen again.
I think that this little incident has emphasised the point that unless you are plugged into a dedicated EV charging station where people expect you to be there then you are always at risk of someone unplugging you and in light of that I have now decided not to ask for charging if they don’t have a purpose-built, dedicated charging station. Looks like I shall be hunting out more ZeroNet locations from now on!