The Canvas turns off all wall outlets

The Canvas is a café and gallery located on the edge of Golden Gate Park in the Inner Sunset district of San Francisco. It is a nice, bright space with its own parking lot, good food, and interesting people. They also have free wireless Internet access and you will notice many laptops alongside food and drink.

On a sunny weekend The Canvas can be crowded, and in the past The Canvas turned off their wireless Internet access to encourage turnover during their peak times. This weekend The Canvas decided to turn off all wall outlets, in what I assume is an attempt to increase turnover.

My PowerBook can last about 2.5 hours while connected to wireless Internet, beyond the stated ideal turnover stated by the café owners. Some other patrons I spoke with have old laptops with zero to no battery life and rely on the electrical outlets to get out and study for their medical exams (UCSF is close by).

if the electrical outlets were turned on I estimate there would have been about 8 laptops drawing power at one time. I am unsure of the associated electricity cost, but lack of electricity prevented me from buying another drink and debugging a project I was working on.

Is electricity plus free wireless Internet too much to ask from an establishment? The Canvas was even featured in The New York Times for encouraging community through free wireless access. I might have to rethink my café when I need to get some work done.

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Commentary on "The Canvas turns off all wall outlets":

  1. a on wrote:

    Would you prefer perhaps a minimum charge? Clearly they can’t subsudize utilities for everyone for a few hours for the price of a cup of coffee or two.

  2. Niall Kennedy on wrote:

    How would you enforce the minimum charge?

    In my case when I stay a while on a Saturday or Sunday I buy lunch and two drinks, for about a $15 total. I even bus my own table.

    My 15-inch PowerBook draws 56 watts when charging and 18 watts when fully charged. The highest commercial published rate from Pacific Gas & Electric is 11.8 cents per killowatt-hour in the winter and 18 cents per killowatt hour in the summer — an average of 15.7 cents.

    Cost per hour of charge: .88 cents
    Cost per hour of use: .28 cents

    The Canvas is open for business 132 hours a week. Assuming 10 laptops continually charging their batteries for all 132 hours and consuming 56 watts each, the total cost to The Canvas is $11.60 a week. That is a pretty liberal estimate.

    It’s not about the cost of providing the power; it is about increasing turnover.