Public charging stations: what’s light got to do with it?
Lighting and EV charging: you rarely hear them mentioned in the same breath. But when it comes to public charging stations, light is far more important than you might realize.
A survey by McKinsey revealed that users were often dissatisfied with their public charging experiences. Why? One of their main concerns was a lack of safety. Without adequate visibility, many customers – especially women – may avoid charging stations after dark, which greatly limits their usability.
We’re here to shed some light on why visibility matters, and how FLO Ultra was engineered to solve these real-life challenges.
Taking electric vehicle charging safety seriously
EV charging stations are popping up everywhere: parking lots, rest stops, rural highways, you name it. Especially in remote areas, fast chargers are often used by people who are just passing through and who are unfamiliar with their surroundings. Many are also flying solo.
The problem is, these areas can be poorly lit at night, and many facilities lack lighting infrastructure. These factors combined may make users feel vulnerable. So we decided to take matters into our own hands.
FLO Ultra chargers have canopy lights built in, with one per port – that’s two canopies per charger, with each one working independently. Their ambient lights remain on at all times, and get brighter as users approach. These canopies give users two-way visibility: they can both see and be seen.
While developing FLO Ultra, we came across an untapped well of insights that further reinforced these changes: women’s perspectives on electric vehicle charging. Many said they would feel safer if charging stations were properly lit, and another survey revealed women were twice as likely to cite concerns about safety while charging in public as a reason not to get an EV.
Making it easier to find a charge
Like in all other areas of life, convenience is key. If public charging stations are well-lit, they’ll also be much easier for drivers to find, especially if they don’t have cell reception or GPS. FLO Ultra chargers have a canopy that’s high enough for drivers to spot from afar, even if something is hiding the body of the charging station.
We also took great care to strike a balance between visibility and environmental impact. Our lighting systems are dimmable to adapt to light pollution laws, so they don’t become a nuisance for people living nearby.
Building a more intuitive user experience
Whether it’s someone’s first time or hundredth time using a public charging station, it’s nice to be sure that things are in working order. Lights are a clear indicator that a charger is in service, and FLO Ultra includes a convenient light for the connector holster as well.
The holster and canopy are designed to interact with the user: they change color when successfully connected to the car, and pulsating lights help users navigate intuitively through the different charging steps.
If a station is set to be free for a period of time, then incorporates an idle fee, FLO Ultra’s lights notify drivers when they’re about to enter the pay period. They also indicate the state of charge to users if they’re nearby and don’t want to keep checking their phone for updates.
Protecting equipment from vandalism
Sadly, charging stations aren’t immune from vandalism – but there are different measures that can be used to limit risks. Like a safety light for your home, FLO Ultra’s motion sensor lights are a deterrent for graffiti, screen smashing, and cable cutting. Another method is using physical barriers, like the FLO SmartTwo curbside charging station, which keeps the connector locked up until it’s released for use.
Understand charge levels at a glance
FLO Ultra’s canopy lighting acts like the battery icon on a cell phone: the more bars it displays, the fuller the battery. This makes it easy for users to see whether a session is almost complete, and if they’re only going a short distance, they can unplug and hit the road before their battery is totally full.
We also used industry-standard color codes to indicate charger status (green = available, blue = in use). This makes it easy for drivers to understand what’s available at first glance, even if they are new to FLO.
The EV charging industry is now at a point where we can start refining the user experience. Paying attention to game-changing details like lighting features is the next step towards boosting usership and adoption. Want to learn more about FLO Ultra, our upcoming fast charger? You can read all about it right here.