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12/07/2021

Traversing the Country in Your EV - Planning your trip with electric charging stations in mind

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6 MIN. READ

Long-distance vacations are a common electric vehicle (EV) travel concern. Rightfully so – the fast charging infrastructure has not been robust enough to support EV owners everywhere they want to journey. However, times are changing. Smooth EV travel regionally and even long-distance treks are possible now! Drivers just need to prepare ahead to find electric charging stations and ensure a successful vacation or outing.

When highways and automobiles were relatively new, adventurous drivers had range anxiety too. They couldn’t rely on finding gas stations along the way. So, they carried extra gasoline – just in case. Over a century later, today’s EV drivers can avoid similar worries about finding convenient charging infrastructure support with a little plannings and smartphone apps.

EV travel

Electric vehicles are a realistic option for taking long road trips. Now, they have improved battery ranges on newer models, and electric charging stations are becoming more commonplace at hotels, shopping centers and popular tourist sites. If you don’t own an EV yet, you may want a rental for the experience on your next excursion, particularly with the price of gas these days.

The critical thing to be aware of is the vehicle’s range so you can plan your route around available public chargers (preferably fast ones). For a longer road trip, a range-extended vehicle is important. There are older EVs that manage under 100 miles per charge. That’s like traveling in an old gas-guzzler automobile that requires filling up every hour or two. Constantly stopping ruins the fun, and “filling up” an EV takes much longer than a gasoline-fueled vehicle. Fortunately, today EVs can travel over 200 miles on a charge, and options are plentiful at a variety of price points, from a Chevy Bolt to  longer-range Tesla’s and other long range EV’s that are now comming into the market.

In any car, your driving style and the weather can affect your miles-per-charge results. Most electric cars have a “sweet spot” that marries speed and the driver’s technique to ensure more efficient battery use. Besides driving too fast or having a heavy foot on the pedal, blasting the heater or air conditioner, navigating hilly terrain, and other factors can affect your range. Also, EVs lose their power quicker in colder weather, thus requiring more frequent stops at electric charging stations.

To be safe, always give yourself a 10% buffer to avoid running out when looking for chargers. In other words, if you have a car with a 125-mile range, anticipate charging every 110 miles to be on the safe side.

Tips for charging

Before setting out, find out what type of charger and plug your electric vehicle requires so you can find the appropriate charging stations for your needs. Keep in mind that different charger types require different time commitments to become fully charged:

  • If an EV is near empty, utilizing a Level 1 charger overnight will not get you far the next day. In some cases, Level 1 overnight charging will only add another 50 miles of driving range.
  • Level 2 chargers, the most common in public settings, will usually give you another 28 miles of range per charging hour.
  • DC fast chargers, or Level 3, will cost slightly more but can confidently produce a full charge within an hour.

Remember that you don’t necessarily need a full charge if your destination isn’t far. Multitasking by charging a little during a snack break can help reduce anxiety about making it to your ultimate destination that day.

Planning your route

Most people focus on their destination or sites to see en route when planning a road trip. Until electric charging stations along highways are as plentiful as gas stations, you need to consider public charging availability when planning your route or destinations too. Travelers in some states have more options than others. For example, California has 42% of the registered EVs in the U.S., so naturally, the state has the most charging stations too. They are common in the state’s big cities, shopping centers and even more rural traveler destinations, like hotels in Yosemite National Park.

Check on charger access at your intended destination. More stations are being deployed every day as demand grows and destinations want to attract EV owners. For example, Disneyland and Disney World have ChargePoint charging stations in parking lots. Chargers abound in places like Las Vegas for the same reasons. However, there are also Tesla chargers and others in more rural areas like near Mount Rushmore.

Additionally, charging while you sleep isn’t just something you do at home. Now, many hotels offer EV charging stations. For example, Marriott hotel brands have over 3,100 Level 2 EV charging stations, usually complimentary for guests, at their sites across the U.S. and Canada. Also, RV parks are ideal for EVs, which use the same chargers as RVs for power.

You can plot shorter stops, like meal breaks or shopping, too. Many restaurants, malls, and even Target and Walmart stores now have charging stations to let you fill up your stomach, cart and car simultaneously.

Leverage apps and maps to find electric charging stations

Need help planning when and where to charge your EV along the route? There are several smartphone applications that help you find available chargers and outline your course. In many cases, you can calculate battery range and routes with charging stations along the way.

For example, PlugShare lets you search by station type — high-power, public, etc.— and then filter by the network provider. They even include information on residential chargers shared by PlugShare members. You can plot your origin, destination and range; then the app can help find a route with charging stops.

Additionally, ChargePoint has one of the largest charging networks in the U.S. and offers Level 2 and Level 3 chargers. With the app, you can find open stations, check on costs and see charging times. Note that ChargePoint locations usually show on PlugShare’s app, but it’s a good idea to use more than one app.

Members of Electrify America (or Electrify Canada) look for their chargers on trips. So, their app helps connect them with chargers on their route too.

There are also charging apps available from some EV manufacturers. For example, GM’s Energy Assist shows charging data from ChargePoint, EVgo and other vendors.

A great start and great support

EV electric charging stations are becoming more plentiful by the month. EV road trips and even cross-country travel are possible now with the right planning, attitude and app.

As you embrace electrification and the advent of EVs, make sure you have the tools you need for your everyday and vacation uses. Qmerit can support you by installing a reliable charger station in your home – giving you a great launch point to get used to your EV before any road trips.

We make electrification easy so you can start each day with a fully charged EV. To find out more about our competitively priced, highly rated installation services, contact Qmerit today.

Lowry Stoops President, Qmerit Network