lots of great free charging as a tourist going from the Bay Area to the LA area

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Well-known member
Jun 3, 2011
SF Bay Area, CA
I drove my Bolt down to So Cal and used only free DC FCs on the way down. See https://www.chevybolt.org/threads/ea-chargers-going-up-the-5-la-to-sf.41816/#post-677352, I made a boo-boo and said I-99 when I meant highway 99. I DC FCed 4 times and battery thermal management AC compressor only sounded on my 1st DC FC, after I'd sucked down over 30 kWh. It was getting colder as the day progressed and most of my driving was in the dark. OAT was in the low 30's F when I DC FCed at Tejon Pass.

The Caltrans free DC FCs max out on my Bolt at about 42 or 43 kW, which is no surprise for BTC Fatboy chargers.

I did pay for a bit of EA DC FC juice ($4.34 for 14 kWh besides paying the $4 to join Pass+ this month) at a mall a few minutes away from my hotel. That was my 5th DC FC in a day.

The other day, while eating lunch (Lee's Sandwich from near my hotel), there was a business park w/EV Connect L2's for only $1/hr. I took my chances hoping that there wasn't a $1 min and that it had at least ~6 kW charging rate. Worked out fine. I paid 29 cents for 1.6 kWh which is very reasonable for public charging in CA. Was my first time using EV Connect and that biz park is within walking distance of my hotel...

Anyway, I went to Skirball Center (never heard of it until Star Trek Day a few months ago) for a Star Trek exhibit (http://www.skirball.org/exhibitions/star-trek-exploring-new-worlds). There was free L2 juice there and all the EVSEs were open. Highly recommend it if you're a Trek fan.

I later went to 3rd Street Promenade and w/the help of Plugshare, I went to a structure w/EV charging (https://www.plugshare.com/location/38624) and fortunately got some free juice, despite there being two EV holes (T_holes) who blocked 2 EV spots w/o plugging in. Score! I was also able to leave/"pay" for my parking at the 1 hour 29 min mark, so parking was free. If I'd gone 2 minutes over, it wouldn't have been free.

Today, I went to https://californiasciencecenter.org/ and parked in the Natural History Museum parking as it has more EVSEs than the other parking. Yes, parking is $15 at either place in that area but there were tons of L2 EVSEs open. Got to full (well, 80% is the max I can go to w/the 883 80% limiter temp patch applied). Score! The black L2 EVSEs (currently 1st pic at https://www.plugshare.com/location/18042) looked really new. The Powerflex app wasn't actually necessary to start charging but I could view some stats when near it.

I will likely be going back to the above place to park on Sunday to go to the Natural History Museum. Hope I can snag an L2 handle again.

On my return to Nor Cal, I will likely be utilizing the free Caltrans DC FCs again (https://dot.ca.gov/news-releases/news-release-2021-001) so that will minimize how much juice I have to pay for.

update: Edited to fix bad URL at the end.
Excellent report with useful detail. I've used those Caltrans' stations and they work without a lot of fuss. Caltrans has provided the state a useful service. I'll use them over EA if I have a choice--like at Coso Junction. The last time I was there EA was only giving me 35 kW but the Caltrans stations gave me the full 42 kW.


I added a bit more commentary at https://www.chevybolt.org/threads/ea-chargers-going-up-the-5-la-to-sf.41816/#post-677703. Definitely check Plugshare before using. Tejon Pass only seemed to have 1 working DC FC. Two had screens that were off and small handwritten notes saying broken. One wouldn't start charging and just fail almost immediately on the CCS side.

I tried to call the 888 # on the chargers to report probs but the # is out of service. I ended up reaching Caltrans via other means to report it and got a phone call and email back.

Fortunately, w/a CCS car taking 99, there's so much redundancy (with other providers beyond Caltrans), one has little risk of running out of juice w/proper planning when going between So Cal and the Bay Area.

http://www.skirball.org/exhibitions/star-trek-exploring-new-worlds ends in Feb 2022 and a bunch of source I've read say it's the last stop for the exhibit (e.g. https://www.dailynews.com/2021/10/01/star-trek-exhibits-5-year-mission-ends-at-the-skirball-cultural-center/, but not sure how credible they are).

Update: So, I went looking for ramen and the place I went to was out of ramen broth so I had something else. Nearby, there was an Aldi with 10 (!) free Volta L2 EVSEs. Wow! They were of https://evercharge.net/hardware but w/o a display. I've never seen this hardware nor heard of them before. Oddly, the QR code on the units led to a 404 page. Anyhow, they were made in Canada (so, I guess made in America is still accurate). They didn't have displays and surprisingly, their labels claimed they have a max output of 80 amps (with voltage of 208 to 240 volts).

There were 8 in a row of those units and 2 other Volta pedestals w/signage that I didn't look carefully at. I picked up some free juice just in case I can't get an EVSE at the museum on Sunday. There was a Merc B-Class ED charging there and a Tesla. I also saw a Leaf leave the parking lot.