Electric Vehicles In RV Campgrounds: What You Need To Know

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Zero S electric motorcycle charging next to Nissan Leaf during Ride the Future Tour [Ben Rich]

Zero S electric motorcycle charging next to Nissan Leaf during Ride the Future Tour [Ben Rich]

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Electric vehicles are coming soon to a campground near you!

With electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and even electric motorcycles selling in greater numbers every year, a growing number of buyers who want to enjoy the great outdoors are discovering that some recreational vehicle (RV) campgrounds offer access to 50-Amp electrical outlets.

The availability of high-powered electricity near nature destinations or in remote locations between towns can help electric-vehicle drivers travel farther without waiting for more formal charging infrastructure to be developed. 

READ: Tesla Passes 200 Supercharger Sites, Only 60 Percent In U.S.

This article is intended to help owners and operators of RV campground understand how an electric-car driver would want to use a 50-Amp outlet--and how to develop a good relationship between EV drivers and the RV campgrounds they may visit.

Charging Tesla Model S electric car at RV park [photo: Elliot Alexander on Microbattery.com]

Charging Tesla Model S electric car at RV park [photo: Elliot Alexander on Microbattery.com]

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The most likely vehicle many park owners will see is a Tesla Model S. It's a beautiful luxury car that has a range of 200 to 250 miles, and the ability to charge faster than any other electric car.  It also has amazing acceleration that will blow your mind, but you can read reviews about the car yourself!

When a Model S driver visits an RV park, you are mostly concerned with the car's battery. The largest capacity is 85 kilowatt-hours, and the average electric price in the US is 11 cents per kWh).

ALSO SEE: 2014 Electric Motorcycles: Buyer's Guide

While that may seem like a lot, it means that at that price, a Tesla Model S cannot possibly use more than $9.35 worth of electricity. 

(Look up your own electricity rate to adjust these numbers if necessary.)

Murphy's Outback RV Resort in Eddyville, Kentucky, offers charging for electric vehicles [Ben Rich]

Murphy's Outback RV Resort in Eddyville, Kentucky, offers charging for electric vehicles [Ben Rich]

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And it's unlikely that every Tesla will arrive with a battery so depleted that the car needs a full charge.  Most drivers will leave themselves a buffer to ensure they won't run out of charge before arriving at a charging location. 

Regardless, it will take approximately 8 hours for Tesla drivers to charge a completely empty battery pack. Here's the breakdown.

  • Tesla Model S charging on a 220V 50A outlet:
  • Battery = 85kWh, Cost = $9.35, Time = 8 hours, Rate = $1.17/hr

These numbers represent the absolute maximum and almost nobody who wants to charge at your site will need that much electricity.  However, it is a good reference point.

Here are the same numbers for another electric car--in fact, the most popular one in the world:

  • Nissan Leaf charging on a 220V 50A outlet, using the onboard 6.6kW charger:
  • Battery = 24kWh, Cost = $2.64, Time = 3.6 hours, Rate = $0.73/hr

A Nissan Leaf can't use the full power of a 50A outlet, so it charges more slowly and only has a range of 80-100 miles. 

Some electric motorcycle drivers take road trips (I did!) and use much less electricity.

  • Zero S electric motorcycle using a 5kW charger:
  • Battery = 9kWh, Cost = $0.99, Time = 1.5 hours, Rate = $0.66/hr

 
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