Electric Vehicle Parking Signs: Which one to use?

Sunday, March 27, 2011
What's the best sign for a parking spot where you can charge your car?*
Updated: 3/9/12

Signs can inform and/or direct...so you can tell drivers what they are looking at (e.g., an EVSE/EV Charging Station) or tell them where they can park.

Since having access to a Charging Station can be critical to an EV driver, it's important that the parking spot doesn't have a petrol powered vehicle parked there preventing the use of the charger.  This is also important for the owner of the EV Charger, since they paid big $$ to have it installed and they want to show that it's getting used.

That said, since EVs are being deployed now across the US (and many other countries), I would suggest that Charging Station owners use the strongest sign they can to keep the charging station available.  

The Basic Sign Choices

  • EV Parking Only (Strongest Sign Choice)
    • Pros: Best sign choice to ensure EV drivers can get a charge.  For proprietors, using this sign makes a big statement and ensures that you will get the highest use of your EVSE investment.
    • Cons: Unless Plugin EVs are common, this sign has the highest chance of alienating (a.k.a. pissing off) drivers of all other types of cars.
    • When to use: Installations where EVs are available.  Especially where EVSE reservation systems are soon to be in place (e.g., airports) when EV drivers DEPEND on getting a charge. 

  • Reserved for Hybrids and EVs

    • Pros: Gives EV, Prius and other hybrid owners a premium parking space...a great incentive for driving a responsible car.  For proprietors, using this sign will make a big statement about who they are trying to attract to their business.
    • Cons: While this sign increases the chances of an open spot for EV driver, those needing an charge will still be unhappy to see a non-plugin using the parking spot.
    • When to use: Areas where hybrids are already parking and EVs are expected soon.

  • Electric Vehicle Charging Station (Weakest Sign Choice)
    • Pros: Anyone can park in this space.  The sign simply informs people about the new device they are probably staring at.  For proprietors, this sign will agitate their guests the least because anyone can park there.
    • Cons: EV drivers that need a charge won't be happy to see an ICE (internal combustion engine) car using the spot.  The sign might be confusing to ICE drivers because it doesn't tell people what to do...so "considerate" ICE drivers will find another spot and others will just park there. 
    • When to use: Installations where EVs are expected to very slowly ramp up. 

    The best thing about signs is that they are relatively cheap and easily changed...so you can always change it when needed.

    * This blog entry only covers unregulated sign choices...where you can you install whatever sign you want.  In the US, we have federal and state departments of transportation that regulate what signs you use on federal and state highways.


  • folsomev

    The green signs should never be used. The red sign is the one to use.

    There is no use installing charging stations if cars that cannot use them are allowed to block them. Spaces serving EV/PHEV charging stations need to be reserved for cars that can use them, and should be used for charging only (with reasonable allowance for remaining in the space, still connected, when charging is complete).

  • Mark Thomason

    I agree Folomev, but from what I've seen in Florida, it's going to take some time for the population at large to accept the concept of excluding the masses for a new class of vehicle.

    After a presentation to a large group, someone came up to me to argue that we can't use signs that exclude him from parking there...especially when it's a premium parking space. He then told me if EV drivers find their car damaged parking there, don't come looking for him.

    I haven't met a lot of people like this, but there's a reason why Florida isn't known for being a progressive state...just check out this example of biased journalism: http://www.wftv.com/news/27361529/detail.html

    More importantly, the owners of these Public EV Chargers are choosing the inclusive signs because they don't want to agitate their current customers, there are no/few cars on the road, and they can always change the sign later.