November 22, 2022

Traveling With Your Electric Vehicle


6 Min. Read

The idea of a road trip or long-distance travel with an EV can initially seem daunting, especially given that an estimated 80 to 85% of EV charging is presently done at home, however, EV travel is becoming easier due to increasing battery ranges and the ever-changing population of charging stations. It’s clear to see a massive increase in the adoption of nationwide charging stations, as an examination of North American maps shows noticeably denser populations of EV charging stations than earlier versions of these same geographical areas. There are over 53,000 charging station locations in the U.S. and Canada at this time, and plans for nationwide EV charging expansion will see this number continue to grow at rapid rates in the future. Charging stations are also available at countless popular vacation destinations, such as Las Vegas, Disneyland, and even many national parks.

Planning to venture on the nation’s highways

Whether you are traveling to visit family or friends for the holidays, hitting the road for a fun fall excursion, or simply taking the scenic route, here are some key tips to keep in mind as you head out on your next electric adventure:

Know your vehicle

Figure out how far you can travel on a full charge. Be aware of how your driving speed, the terrain, and other performance factors can affect your vehicle’s driving range. Most EVs can travel between 100 and 300 miles per charge, with newer ones going even farther. If you are planning on renting an EV, ascertain the typical charge ranges for the particular EV model you will be driving ahead of time. Use this car-range information to plan your route so you know when you will need to stop and charge along the way.

Fast DC charging is a good option to charge your vehicle on the go

Whenever available, a fast-charging station is ideal for use on longer drives, such as charging while on a road trip. A Level 3 or DC fast charger can typically increase your battery charge to 80% in approximately 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your vehicle and the charging station. Stations are limited but going out of your way to access one can be worth it. Be aware that not every EV can use a DC charger. Know your car and, if renting, determine the right type of charger for that EV.

Level 2 public charging stations are considerably easier to find

According to Hertz, approximately 100,000 individual charging outlets (as some locations offer more than one outlet) are now available in popular public spaces, as well as those installed in more remote locations that are considered common road trip destinations. However, it is important to note that Level 2 charging can takes five to eight hours to completely charge the vehicle. This can be very time-consuming when you are eager to return to the interstate. So, these charges work best for longer stops along an excursion, such as overnight stays at a hotel, while sightseeing, or while otherwise spending an extended period of time visiting an attraction or engaging in an activity. Frequent travelers recommend mapping out charging stations in advance to allow adequate time to replenish your battery power with enough charge to carry you to the next stop.

Also, remember that you may have a delay in accessing an available charger. For example, there are two Level 2 chargers by Old Faithful in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, but every EV driver traveling that distance may need to use them before moving on.

Choose a sleeping accommodation that provides guests with access to charging equipment

If possible, when traveling with an EV, choose locations that offer the option to charge while you stay. Hotel operators are recognizing that installing EV chargers helps attract people hitting the highways. A growing number of hotels, motels, and campgrounds have installed charging stations and are planning to install more. Here are some examples:

  • Marriott has an extensive online list of hotels in its various brands (including Sheraton, Westin, and others) within each state (all 50!) with Level 2 or Level 3 EV chargers available for guests. They recommend using their online app to find the latest information on chargers available in these locations, as new chargers are regularly being deployed these days.
  • Choice Hotels International announced a deal to install chargers at franchised properties earlier this year.
  • Two sites halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles are popular rest stops and now provide EV battery “fueling” as well. The Madonna Inn near Highway 101 on the Central California Coast and Harris Ranch near Interstate 5 in the Central Valley have both deployed rows of charging stations.
  • RV parks are also great places to charge up when traveling with your EV. Level 2 chargers are the same as those used to power RVs. You can rent an EV charging spot or RV site at places such as the Kampgrounds of America or RV USA for $50 or less, camp overnight at the location, and wake up to a full charge the next morning.

Consider investing in a portable EV charger in case of emergency

According to Tom Moloughney of InsideEVs and popular YouTube channel State of Charge, there are smaller, portable EV chargers available (about 4 kWh) that can add approximately 12 to 20 miles of range and larger versions that can add 25 to 40 miles of driving range in an hour. If you are running low on battery power in the middle of nowhere, these compact devices can help get you to the next city. Additionally, you should always carry your Level 1 charger, with an extension cord, as well. It may be a slower charge, but its capabilities paired with the longer length of an extension cord allow you to plug your EV anywhere.

Plan your journey carefully

Before you venture on the highway, download an EV charging station app like ChargePoint, FLO, or Electrify America (or use Google Maps) to find charging stations on your way. Some charging apps even have trip-planning features to assist with locating stations in advance and provide you with an idea of the distance between them. Some of these apps can also notify you if charging stations have open ports available. These advanced features create an ease of access so you can plan to charge stops around activities, meal breaks, hikes, or overnight stops, allowing you to make the most of your time without waiting around for a charge. Even with a Level 3 charger, you can wait an hour or more to get on the road with a full charge, so planning ahead ensures you can have something to do while waiting.

Home sweet home

Traveling with an EV on a road trip often depends on the chosen route. You will have more chargers available in some jurisdictions than others. If you are still relying on a Level 1 charger at your residence, the experience of traveling with an EV will help you appreciate the value of installing a faster charger at home. Owning a Level 2 charger makes the ease of charging at home possible so you can make the most of your time, even when not on vacation.

Finding qualified, experienced contractors to install your Level 2 EV charger can be a challenge, but Qmerit makes it easy. Qmerit is a recognized leader in the EV installation industry, with an unsurpassed network of vetted and highly trained installers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Contact Qmerit for your next electrification project!

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network