Planning a Summer Road Trip in an Electric Vehicle

There are a lot of reasons to own an electric vehicle. However, taking long road trips is not one of them. In fact, that has been an Achilles heel for EVs. Having to figure out the logistics of making it to a locale on a charge has been something that prompts EV owners to find another mode of transportation when they want to take a trip. 

Fortunately, electric vehicle manufacturers and green energy advocates understand range and charging up away from home is a serious shortcoming of EVs. Because of that, we’ve come a long way in recent years in terms of creating an infrastructure and technology that allows for long distance EV travel for eco-conscious energy users

These days taking a summer road trip in an electric vehicle is possible as long as you plan it out in advance. We asked EV owners for their best advice and used the information to create a guide for planning a summer EV road trip that’s as easy as it is eco-friendly. 

Don’t Use Max Range as a Basis for How Far You Can Go 

One of the biggest mistakes that road trippers make is creating a driving itinerary based on the max range for their EV. The maximum miles that can be traveled on a full battery is optimistic at best and based on perfect conditions. In other words, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to go the max distance on a charge. 

The safer bet is to base the range on your real world driving. You can also plot a route estimating that you’ll get 75% of the max range to err on the side of caution. 

Look for Level 3 DC Fast Charging Stations

Right now there’s a massive undertaking across the country to install EV charging stations. Private businesses as well as the federal and state governments are spending billions to create an infrastructure for charging up EVs quickly. 

Tesla owners have it a little easier since the automaker has invested heavily in strategically placing charging stations at key points of travel in their exclusive network. So, if you own a Tesla your best bet is to use their EV road trip planner tool. You can select the vehicle type, starting location and destination to get a customized route with chargers along the way.

For everyone else, there are apps that can help you locate charging stations and plot out a route where you won’t be left stranded without a charge. Some apps worth looking into include ChargeHub and PlugShare. 

Places where you are likely to find at least a few EV charging stations are: 

  • Charging network stations like Electrify America and ChargePoint
  • Grocery stores
  • Walmart
  • Convenience stores

The one downside with the fast chargers is they can degrade the battery if it’s charged to full capacity. The guidance is to only charge the battery to 80-90% when using a level 3 DC charger. The good news is you can charge an EV battery up to 90% in less than an hour using the fast charging stations.

Plan for Longer Stops

As noted above, even the fast charging stations are going to take 30-60 minutes if your battery is pretty much drained. Plus, there could be a wait for a station to free up. That means you won’t be making quick pit stops like you would at a gas station. 

You’ll need to plan for stops that take around an hour. It could be a great time to get lunch or maybe explore a park in the local area. It all depends on where you charge up and how you prepare. Once you know where you’ll be stopping en route to charge up, create a plan for what you’ll do while you’re there. If there’s not much around you may want to pack a laptop for watching a movie, a board game or a deck of cards to keep everyone entertained. And if you’re traveling with animals make sure to plan for keeping pets comfortable during the wait.

Look for Hotels With Level 2 DC Chargers

EV owners are familiar with overnight charging. You can get a complimentary charge while resting if you can find a hotel with EV charging stations. Just keep in mind it could still take around 10 hours to fully charge up using a level 2 DC charging station. 

Be Mindful of the Heat 

Any vehicle, including an EV, can overheat. The outside temperature is a factor, especially for the batteries inside electric vehicles. In fact, an EV is more likely to overheat because there’s less heat dispersion without the combustion engine. Excessive heat also reduces the power output of an EV and reduces the range.

Check the weather when you’re a week or less out from taking your road trip to see what the temperature is expected to be like along the route. EV batteries work best in mild temperatures between 65-78 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Bring a Type 2 Charging Cable and Backup Charger

You may find a charging station only to discover that there are no cables. You can circumvent the issue by packing a level 2 charging cable and charging adapter. You may get lucky and also be able to use it at places like hotels that don’t have a dedicated charging station. 

Another issue is you may find that the type of charger you need isn’t available at the charging station. There are CCS (Combined Charging System) connectors and CHAdeMO connectors that are less commonly used for vehicles like the Leaf. It’s something to consider if you need a CHAdeMO connector.

The last thing you want is to have your EV charger break on a road trip leaving you stranded with no way of going another mile. If you have two 

Pack Light to Maximize Range

Looking for one more reason to pack light? The more loaded down an EV is the shorter the range will be on a charge. For that reason, you’ll want to avoid overpacking and still to the essentials. 

Get ready for your road trip by charging up at home before you take off. Major Energy offers reliable energy plans for a fixed rate across the northeast. Use your zip code to find energy plans in your area.

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