Tips for your summer EV road trip, part 2
05.23.2019 - by John U’Ren
Tips for your summer EV road trip, part 2

With summer around the corner, EV drivers across America will soon be taking to the roads in droves to head out on warm weather road trips. Taking a road trip in an electric car can be a much superior experience to a gas car—if you know what steps to take. Whether it’s a day trip out to a scenic location or a full on cross-country trek, here are a few tips and tricks for your EV road trip.

Control your climate control

Let’s start by pointing out that nobody wants to drive hundreds of miles uncomfortably, but with electric cars there are ways to minimize your cabin energy usage while maintaining your level of comfort. If you’re driving in a cold climate, try to use seat heaters and steering wheel heaters, if you have them, rather than the cabin heater. Heating the whole cabin requires more energy to run the heat pump, which could cause some range loss. If you’re hitting the road in a hotter climate, first try using only the fan. If that won’t keep you cool enough, most EVs have an “eco” climate mode that will run the air conditioner at a lower power setting, saving a bit of energy while keeping the cabin cool. Now, if you’re driving through the Nevada desert and really need the full power of modern air conditioning, definitely do use it! Note that it is more efficient to use your air conditioner than it is to roll down the windows. Driving with the windows down creates more drag on the vehicle and reduces range. It’s best to stay as aerodynamic as possible.

Plan your route

Taking a road trip in an EV is a bit like flying an airplane—it requires a little planning to be successful. When planning your charging route, make sure you have backup plans in case chargers are full of cars or out of order. Check out your route on first and see where the available chargers are. Make sure that the fast chargers will work with your EV—if you have a Chevy Bolt, don’t count on using a CHAdeMO fast charger to keep you in the game; likewise, Nissan LEAF drivers won’t be able to use CCS fast chargers. Try to pick charging stations that aren’t too far off your route of march, and look to use fast chargers as much as possible; don’t worry, they won’t hurt your battery if you’re just using it on a road trip. Also, be sure to make sure the charging stations are in working order; PlugShare makes this easy to do with its “check in” function that allows drivers to report when charging stations are working or out of order. For the most part, EV charging stations are very reliable and robust pieces of equipment, and major charging companies regularly service downed chargers, quickly returning them to operational status. Locations with more charging stations provide better redundancy and can mitigate the chances of being stuck without a working charger.

Overnight charging

If your road trip is a multi-day adventure and you plan to stay overnight at hotels/motels, look for accommodations with EV charging, using resources like PlugShare or ChargeHotels, or call your hotel and see if they offer overnight charging to guests. If the hotel has Level 2 240-volt chargers or spaces with 120-volt plugs nearby, ask if you can reserve the spaces for the night. Even if they don’t have designed Level 2 charging stations, a simple 120-volt outlet is good enough to get a useful charge in 8-12 hours. If they don’t have either, kindly suggest that they offer it as a service to EV guests; if you knew that a certain hotel or motel offered charging, wouldn’t you be more likely to stay there? For long road trips, charging overnight can greatly speed up your rate of travel, especially so if you can use a Level 2 charger and have a long-range all-electric.

Have a backup

While today’s electric cars have quite a long range and charging stations are proliferating across the country, it’s always wise to plan for a hiccup. All electric cars come standard with a portable 120-volt Level 1 charger that allows the vehicle to recharge from a standard wall outlet. Be sure to bring this charger along on your trip as a backup plan. If you’re driving an all-electric, this could be a real lifesaver if you can’t find a working charger nearby. For an additional peace of mind, there are portable 240-volt Level 2 chargers available, but remember, you need a 240-volt outlet to utilize these chargers.

That’s all for now! Go forth and do great things, EV drivers, and remember, road trippin’ in an EV is the American way.

5 comments on “Tips for your summer EV road trip, part 2”
  1. Don says:

    Often forgotten EV charging resources are recreational vehicle parks (RV or camper parks). Some have RV 50 amp 240 volt outlets (NEMA 14-50 outlets) that will charge an EV at 40 amps which is more than from some EV chargers. Some have only RV 30 amp 120 volt outlets. You will need plug adapters and mobile chargers to use these, but there are many RV parks in out of the way locations that do not have RV chargers. Ask the managers what kinds of RV outlets they have. Then ask them if you can plug your electric car into one of them. How much you have to pay for the plug in can vary over a wide range usuallyfrom $5 to $20 or rarely even over $30 for plugging in. RV parks are sometimes not great places to spend time in an EV, but they can be a source of electricity in out of the way places.

  2. Marc says:

    We can always use more public charging stations, but one resource that I feel is really underutilized are residential private charging stations. Why don’t EV drivers offer them up to help the EV community? You can even charge for their use if you’re not up to giving away free power to strangers. Check out the Android/Apple free App called AmpUp !

  3. John Ebbinghaus says:

    EV, Electric Vehicle, owners will need help while they are at the parks in the form of a way to charge the batteries of their EV .while they are enjoying the Park.
    There are several options as to how the EV charging can be accomplished, just keep in mind that the charging of EV batteries will draw a new set of Park goers.

  4. Curt Freed says:

    In August 2018, we did a 3000 mile road trip in our Tesla Model X SUV to national parks along the Rockies from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to Jasper National Park in Alberta. While we occasionally used Tesla charging stations, more often we charged at 240 or 120 volts. During a 2-night stay in Montana, we got permission to thread the charging cord through a window, plugging into a 110 volt socket. It worked

  5. Steve says:

    A friend pointed me to this site. It’s really amazing for trip planning.

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