09.05.2011 - by Tom Saxton
Where Do You Gas Those Things Up?

Last week, Cathy and I took the Roadster for a car show and week of island hopping through Washington’s San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It was a lovely trip and unique in our EV road trip experiences in that we did the entire 450-mile trip using only 120V charging.

We are frequently asked where we charge our electric cars. The question is often accompanied by a pained expression that tries to offer sympathy for the sacrifice we make by driving electric. The answer is: mostly at home. People are frequently surprised to learn we have found it to be more convenient than going to a gas station.

Occasionally, we take a trip that requires charging on the road. That generally requires planning and finding electric vehicle charging stations. For this trip, there were some charging stations available, but they turned out to be both overpriced and unnecessary. We had chosen B&Bs that would allow us to charge from normal household outlets. On one island this was a big help as there were two otherwise equivalent choices: one that wanted to charge us $20 to use $1.60 worth of electricity and another that said we could do it for free. We gave our business to the one that didn’t think we were incapable of doing math. Since we were taking a leisurely tour, and mostly on small islands, our daily driving was low enough that overnight charging at 120V was plenty.

The convenience of being able to fuel up from any outlet became especially apparent when we drove past this gas station in Sooke, BC.

Last week, Cathy and I took the Roadster for a car show and week of island hopping through Washington’s San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It was a lovely trip and unique in our EV road trip experiences in that we did the entire 450-mile trip using only 120V charging.

We are frequently asked where we charge our electric cars. The question is often accompanied by a pained expression that tries to offer sympathy for the sacrifice we make by driving electric. The answer is: mostly at home. People are frequently surprised to learn we have found it to be more convenient than going to a gas station.

Occasionally, we take a trip that requires charging on the road. That generally requires planning and finding electric vehicle charging stations. For this trip, there were some charging stations available, but they turned out to be both overpriced and unnecessary. We had chosen B&Bs that would allow us to charge from normal household outlets. On one island this was a big help as there were two otherwise equivalent choices: one that wanted to charge us $20 to use $1.60 worth of electricity and another that said we could do it for free. We gave our business to the one that didn’t think we were incapable of doing math. Since we were taking a leisurely tour, and mostly on small islands, overnight charging at 120V was plenty for our daily driving needs.

The convenience of being able to fuel up from any outlet became especially apparent when we drove past this gas station in Sooke, BC.

The last gas station heading west through Sooke, BC on Vancouver Island.

We were on our way to Port Renfrew, some 45 miles further west along the southern coast of Vancouver Island. Had we been in a gas car, this would have been our last chance to gas up before our return, some 90 miles for the roundtrip plus any side excursions. Because we were in an electric car, and outlets are far more common than gas stations, we didn’t care.

At Port Renfrew, we were going to be staying in a yurt at the Soule Creek Lodge. We’d contacted them in advance and knew they had an outlet we could use to charge the car. Charging at 120V only yields about 3 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging, which is painfully slow if you are waiting while you charge, but totally adequate if you’re sleeping through it.

Charging next to our yurt at the Soule Creek Lodge near Port Renfrew, BC.

Our one night there, we picked up 53 miles of range, which was plenty to get us through the next day’s driving.

My only regret for the trip was not getting a photo at Wildwood Manor on San Juan Island where we had deer grazing next to our charging car. Somehow you just never see deer grazing at a gas station.

3 comments on “Where Do You Gas Those Things Up?”
  1. Dan Kent says:

    Glad you enjoyed Vancouver Island, next time your up, come visit Saltspring Island, the largest of the Canadian gulfislands. There are several public charging stations available and I know of many B&B s that offer both 110 and 240 volt chargers. I just installed a level 2 40 amp charger for the public at my Rental Business. Good to read your story.

  2. jstack6 says:

    Nice to have a Tesla with a 200+ mile range per charge. Our LEAF goes further than we need to everyday. On a 100% chanrge it can go 140 miles but we just need to go 40 so we charge at home with a 80% charge at 2 am Off Peak to help the utilties. We also send our extra Solar power back to the utiltiy during the peak Times Of day and get credits for that.

    Of course we bicycle for 40% of our trips so we can eat out and fuel up at our favorite locations in healthy organic food. It’s good for us and the world.

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