March 12, 2021

Charging Your EV While at a Campsite

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

Wouldn’t is be great if you could charge your EV (tow car) at your campsite, when travelling with your RV? You Can! …. And most often EV charging is no additional cost!! 
Portable EV ChargerWe have a Level 2/Level 1 240 or 120V portable EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment) ‘Charger’ which can be powered from 120VAC standard outlet or a 240VAC NEMA 6-20R outlet. There is an adapter cable included with the charger that allows the unit wired for 240V to be plugged into a 120VAC wall outlet. Using the adapter doubles the charging time, however having the flexibility to choose whatever power source is available, provides universal charging when RVing. 
50A to 30A AdapterInitially, I added a 25-foot (7.6m) extension cord with 240V ends that fit our charger.  When we wanted to charge the car, we added an adapter to the extension cord (see photo) and plugged it into the 50 Amp outlet at the RV site. The charger was connected to the car and the EV battery quickly charged. Should the campsite have both a 50 Amp and a 30 Amp outlet, then the RV was connected to that 30 Amp outlet using a 50A to 30A RV adapter. Our RV is quite able to operate efficiently even if there is no additional 30A power at campsites. Charging the car overnight is the optimum alternative since RV power usage is greatly reduced during that timeframe. Note that there is no additional campsite fee to ‘fuel up’ the EV while occupying the RV site.  
Additional Power OutletOn our previous RV, we installed the charger in the exterior compartment directly under the Drivers Seat using a newly installed 120VAC outlet which was wired into the RV electrical system. Doing this ensured that there always was power available to charge the EV. Since the charger was a dual power model, most of the time the 240VAC extension cord was connected to the 50A RV Power Pedestal receptacle. This exterior cargo bin location made it easy to secure the charger while charging the car when parked in front of the RV. 
Added 30Amp 240VAC OutletWith our new RV, the cord reel is in the rearmost compartment on the Drivers side, which made it easy to add a separate dedicated power source. While configuring the wiring to add a Surge and Power Management system, I added a 240V 30A outlet for the EV connected directly to the RV’s 50A cord input. Once the power cord is connected to 50A campground power, this new outlet is provided power for EV charging, in addition to having power to the 50A RV receptacle inside the compartment for the RV and the Surge and Power Management System installed in this compartment. With the charger located in this compartment the charger is secure and it is simple to charge the EV. The one potential downside to this arrangement, is that the park’s 50 Amp circuit breaker is the protection for the EV charger as well as the RV. It is extremely unlikely that either electricity use would rise to the point where the combined load on the circuit would trip the campground 50A circuit breaker.  Charging when there is no need for air conditioning eliminates the potential of overload, since all other electrical uses on the RV are low draws when compared to the air conditioning load.

Just as a caution: When the RV is connected to a 30A campsite power pedestal, there will only be 120VAC on the new outlet. This is equivalent to using the 240VAC to 120VAC Adapter which was included with the charger when plugging the 240VAC charger into this outlet. The charger will only receive 120VAC, thus it will charge as if it was plugged into a 120VAC socket in the RV. It will perform at a slower charge rate on the lower 120VAC power.

Should you decide to add a similar outlet, ensure that you follow the electrical codes in your jurisdiction and if you are not certain about how to install the outlet, seek the assistance of a licensed electrician.
EV Charging at Campsite


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