Despite the fact that I live in New England near Boston, MA I don’t live or work in a city and now I’ve had a few experiences parking in Boston that I wanted to share my learning.
For some people the struggles of city parking, the tight spots, locating charging locations, and etiquette around overnight charging are old hat but this was all new to me.
Dinner in the city
A couple months ago I had a dinner planned at a fancy restaurant in Boston (Mooo) and I needed to plan my attack. I’m determined to use my Model S for everything possible and not to take the easy way out by resorting to an old ICE car just because i’m afraid of a road trip, valet parking, or tight spaces. Like many fancy restaurants they offer valet parking, but like most owners i’m opposed to valet parking for my Model S. Even in my old ICE car I didn’t like valet parking, but now with the differences of the Model S and it still being very uncommon here on the East Coast I didn’t want to push my luck and looked for other options.
Not knowing the city well, I went to the local New England forum on TMC and asked for help. TMC is a great resource for owners and you get good and quick answers from the great community of Tesla owners. I let them know where I was going and that I needed “Tesla owner approved” local parking. Local owners directed me to a garage not too far from the restaurant at Boston’s Post Office Square with 7 open EV charging spots on the first level.
Parking was tight but not too bad and I parked next to another Model S owner which made me feel safe too. While I didn’t really need the range to get back home, I added another 60 miles of range (for free) during my long dinner.
Chargepoint charging in Massachusetts is currently free thanks to a Massachusetts law that does not allow for the re-sale of electricity.
There were several spots open at night so I didn’t feel like I was unnecessarily taking up an EV spot , but evidently during the day finding open spots can be a lot more challenging and you should be more careful in using a prime EV spot if you don’t really need it.
My second city parking experience was for an overnight conference at the Boston Seaport Hotel. For this one I did my own research via Plugshare and expected to find 5 J1772 spots. It turns out there were only 3 Chargepoint systems installed for the 5 EV parking spots. The picture doesn’t show it but this parking was very tight and fortunately I was pulling in when the area wasn’t busy so I could take my time and get my Model S placed perfectly.
After parking in an EV spot, I found that 3 Chargepoint systems were in use which left me wondering why they had 5 EV parking spots and only 3 chargers.
Looking closer, the Chargepoint systems claimed to have 2 chargers on each of them. One port on each was clearly a J1772 as all 3 had their J1772 plugs in use. As I inspected the Chargepoint box I was confused by this image:
It looked like it was numbered as “Charger #2” but I had no adapter that would work for it. I later realized that this is just the inverse of a J1772 plug and is where you put the J1772 when you’re done with it. With more poking around I found that if I swiped my Chargepoint card on the scanner for “Charger #1” a secret door popped open and provided a standard NEMA 5-15 outlet (standard US wall charger) that could be used:
Fortunately I had an extra UMC and since I was staying overnight I resolved myself to a very slow NEMA 5-15 charge that would still add enough range to get me home. With such a slow charge and the overnight stay I wasn’t concerned with taking up the EV spot as my Model S would be charging for a very long time.
I’m not sure why Chargepoint chose to call the better (higher power) charging solution “Charger #2”, or why the NEMA 5-15 is hidden — a little sticker or signage would go a long way on these systems.
City parking for EVs in Boston seems to have a few things in common:
- Charging is provided by Chargepoint
- Charging is free thanks to a current Massachusetts law that does not allow for the re-sale of electricity. There are some ways around it (charge per hour parked at some average rate) but Chargepoint hasn’t done that yet.
- Parking spots are in premium locations – right by the main office, first level, etc.
- Parking spots are always tight for the Model S — its a long and wide car. Be very careful!
- Usually the other EVs in adjacent spots are tiny, like a Smart EV, giving you more room or are a Model S, providing a neighbor probably just as concerned about their car.
- Most city parking in Boston is in underground garages where there is little to no cell service. Don’t rely on keyless entry for city parking!
A little upfront research and planning ahead has led to successful City Parking for my Model S. Do you have your own city parking strategy? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.