In the last Blog Post, I described Dolly towing our EV to the destination in Tennessee, where we left our RV and the tow dolly. That article gave some of the things that we learned in the trip south about the tow dolly, dolly towing and the overall experience. This article and the next will focus on the return trip back to our home in Canada while driving an EV and charging it as we proceeded along the way back. I’ll also include some information about the types of EV charging and how they impact the charging process and times. Our return trip to home was about 1150 km (715 miles) however that distance is the planned optimum routing not taking the location of charging stations into account.
Longer EV Trips Require Planning to Charge
Unlike the fuel stations we depend upon when making this trip same trip in a I.C.E. (internal Combustion Engine) vehicle, in which we don’t give any thought about where we will find a fuel station, driving an EV on the same trip requires trip planning that focuses on locating compatible Fast Charging stations near your planned route. That (fast) charging infrastructure is in its infancy and is prone to glitches along the way. As time goes on, the vast distance between chargers is being filled in with more charging locations being deployed monthly. The primary charging locations chosen by the suppliers use complex algorithms with implementation of a location being dependent upon numerous variables. Finding a location where these stations will make economic sense, being accessible, with sufficient physical space and suitable power sources, in municipalities that have the required permitting processes, make the build out of suitable facilities, a big challenge.
Apps & Charger Types
EV consumers have their choice of numerous Apps that can make it easier to find charger locations. Those Apps may be supplied by EV Charging companies such as Tesla, Electrify America, Electrify Canada, My EV Route, etc. or by third party organizations such as Plug Share, Charge Hub, EV Go, ChargePoint, etc. All have websites in addition to phone Apps compatible with iPhones and Android phones. While on a trip, the charging stations that are critical, are those ones that have Level 3 capabilities (often known as Fast DC Charge) compatible with your EV. Tesla’s have their proprietary Supercharging network. Most others use one of two fast charging connections and the station must have the capability of matching the connector on your specific brand of EV. The alternative, if stopped overnight at or near an EV charging location that has a good, but slower Level 2 (240 Volt AC) charger is to use it, so the vehicle can be charged while you are eating or sleeping and off the road for the night. With this Level 2 charger most EVs will receive a full charge when left overnight. Level 3 is a faster, higher (400-900 voltage) DC charge that will bring the EV’s battery up to 80% of full charge in under an hour. Charging in the range of 20 to 80% of charge optimizes the charge in a short time, since that is the range it which a battery charges the fastest. A typical (EV) battery is very slow to charge from 0 to 20% of full charge and then slow from 80% to 100% of charge. The time required to fast charge while on a trip charging within this 20 to 80% charge range is typically under an hour. This makes it not much longer than the time it takes to have a lunch or take a rest from the drive. This actual charge time is vehicle battery and charger dependent. As time goes on, the battery technology will improve, charging speed and voltage will increase and chargers will improve commensurately so that charge times will drop. Changes are constantly being made to the systems and the Apps are updated to reflect the improvements quickly. To complete this description of charging options, one needs to know that Level 1 chargers run off a regular 120 VAC wall outlet and many EV’s provide a Level 1 charger with their vehicles.