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RVelectricity: Are campgrounds ready for EV charging?

Dear Readers,
You can’t watch television for very long (even the Super Bowl) before you see a commercial (starring Doctor Evil) about the coming wave of electric vehicles (EVs).

And they’re not only promoting electric sedans and SUVs with a 300-mile range and acceleration that will beat most any ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle. They’re also showing electric pickup trucks towing travel trailers as well as powering your house if you lose power during a blackout. But while EVs are certainly fun to drive and can cost significantly less to “fill up,” at the end of the day (or drive) they need to be charged.

Are campgrounds ready for EVs?

That’s the big question. I’ve been studying the entire power grid of the country to understand what needs to happen in order to charge the millions of EVs that will soon hit the road. And there are many challenges to overcome with fast Level-3 chargers that can recharge your EV in an hour, as well as Level-2 home chargers that take all night.

But there’s an additional charging scenario that will soon be out front. There are many EV SUVs capable of towing small RV trailers. But what will you do when you finally get to your campground? Just how will you charge your EV truck or toad while camping?


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Can I bring my own Level-2 charger?

Yes, you can. But many campgrounds won’t be happy with you using it to charge your EV truck or toad. That’s because they’ll use about 80% of the power available for a pedestal just to charge your EV for up to 10 hours.

Here are the numbers….

Most small EVs will have something like 77kWh of batteries, while EV trucks (such as the F-150 Lightning) have a 100kWh battery.

Assuming you plug a Level-2 charger into a pedestal that pulls 40 amps at 240 volts, that’s 9,600 watts of power. To find out how long it will take to charge a 100kWh battery you just divide the kWh (kiloWatt hrs) of energy by the kW (kiloWatt) of charging power available. So 100kWh divided by 9.6kW equals 10.4 hours of charging time to go from 0% to 100% battery charge.

Charging cost?

To find out how much this costs the campground (or your house), you simply multiply the kWH of charging times the cost per kWh. So at my rate of $0.15 per kWh, for 100kWh of charge it will cost “somebody” $15 to charge that battery completely. Now, campgrounds are going to want to recover that $15 somehow, and that’s a serious point of discussion.

And that’s not counting what you’ll need to power your RV. I’ve seen a number of EV campers plug their Tesla into the 50-amp pedestal outlet, then plug their RV trailer into the 30-amp pedestal outlet. And that’s WAY more power than the campground electrical grid was designed to provide.

Do existing campgrounds have enough electric power?

In a word, no. The vast majority of campgrounds are already severely overloaded just trying to power up modern RVs with their 2 or 3 air conditioners, microwave ovens, electric heat, entertainment systems, air fryers, cappuccino makers and electric waffle griddles.

Campgrounds that were built in the ’70s and ’80s were never designed with this much power in mind. That is why you often see the voltage dropping at the pedestal as more campers fill up campsites.


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What’s the solution?

Well, instead of allowing EV owners to plug into their campground pedestal, a better solution would be for campgrounds to add dedicated Level-2 EV charging stations at a certain percentage of their campsites.

It appears that KOA is partnering with Jamestown Advanced Products to provide Level-2 charging stations at some of their campgrounds. Read the press release HERE.

These will require their own power distribution grid (not just connected to existing pedestals). So that would solve the issue of even more electrical overload.

I don’t have any information just yet on where these are being installed in KOA Campgrounds. Nor do I know how much they’ll charge you (the EV owner) to charge your EV truck or EV toad. However, this is even more important when we add in an EV-powered trailer with it’s own built-in batteries and motors in the wheels, like the e-Stream concept trailer recently announced by Airstream.

As soon as I know something and can get my hands on another EV to experiment with, I’ll make a road trip and try one out for myself. Fingers crossed that I’ll soon be getting a Kia EV6 to try out. No, it won’t tow a trailer, and no, you can’t tow it 4-wheels down. But it will allow me to do some charging cost studies. I’m always up for a Good (not Evil) experiment.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

##RVT1041

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Sly
6 months ago

I think the real world example is a bit different, you never charge zero to 100%, so more like 7 hours charging, which is overnights when the AC and microwave and TVs are not running (and for TOU electric rates at a lower cost). A person with a nice pop-up might make the same claim about the power use of the massive 5th wheels. And maybe that pop-up is being pulled by an EV.

WrkrBee
6 months ago

Mike, you forgot the charging load for golf carts, battery powered kids toys, eBikes, hover boards, cell phones, computers, tablets, flashlights, tacky lights, perimeter LED ropes, light show projectors, outdoor TVs, etc. that campgrounds are now overrun with.

Drew
6 months ago

I share your love of Austin Powers…

Crowman
6 months ago

I was fishing at Clearlake Ca and a lady pulled up in a Tesla pulling a 12 foot aluminum boat from the San Fransisco area (130 mile trip one way). We were curious so we asked her how many charge stops she had to make and the answer was 3 just to get there. There maybe a day that EV’s might be practical but when I’m going on a 700 mile trip pulling a 33 foot trailer in the Sierras and Rockys I’ll stick to diesel.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago
Reply to  Crowman

That’s true for now, but the Edison and e-Steam trailers could change all that. How about keeping that 300+ mile EV range while towing a trailer… This won’t happen overnight, but ICE vehicles will likely be replaced by EV cars and trucks over the next decade. And hopefully the US power grid will be updated quickly enough to charge them all.

Uncle Swags
6 months ago
Reply to  Crowman

I’m with you Crowman. My fossil fuel burners give me more freedom than a giant umbilical cord. I burn gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas pretty regularly and thank God for the standard of living we’ve achieved today from yesterday’s dinosaurs.

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