Tools for EV Road Tripping
Thank you for reading my series about exploring America with an electric vehicle. If you’re interested in purchasing a Tesla, contact me for a referral code, which entitles you to $1,000 off the purchase price and free supercharging for as long as you own the vehicle. See all posts in this series at the GAMR 2017 tag.
Road tripping an EV gets easier by the day because of the expanding charging infrastructure and the growing distance EVs can travel before needing to recharge. However, there are nowhere near as many charging stations as gas stations, so some planning is required. Tesla builds a lot of capability right into the car to ease that burden and, if you want, you can punch in a destination and it’ll compute where you should stop to charge and for how long.
I like to have greater insight and control over my travels. Plus, there are still places with limited charging and getting to those locations can take a bit of creativity. I primarily use four tools: Plugshare.com, evtripplanner.com, supercharge.info, and Tesla’s destination charger map. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Plugshare.com is the essential EV companion application. It is available on the web and as a smartphone app. Plugshare is crowd sourced and offers a variety of ways to find and filter for different types of charging stations. Individuals can add new locations or provide updates on existing stations. One of the things I like most is that users can offer insights about the nuances and peculiarities of any charging station, such as details on finding the charger in a parking garage. In some cases, the application can even tell you whether the station is in use.
In my first post, I described the different levels of charging as L1, L2, and L3. Plugshare distinguishes L3 chargers (fast charging) from L1 and L2 by the color of the pin. Green pins are L1 and L2, and orange pins are L3.
Plugshare offers many additional features like trip planning and payment, but its core function is to aid in finding and accessing charging stations. Indispensable!
evtripplanner.com has amassed a tremendous amount of knowledge about the energy consumption of a variety of electric vehicles at different speeds and conditions. They use this information along with terrain and weather data to calculate precise routes through available chargers. If you want to push the limits of range in your electric vehicle, this is the website for you. Personally, I do not enjoy trying to eek the last mile of range out of a trip, so I tend not to use this site, but it has come in handy on various occasions. For me, I rarely like to go below 15% state of charge before arriving at a charging location. This characteristic of mine carries over from fossil fuel vehicles where I typically found a gas station when I reached 1/4 tank.
The third resource is supercharge.info. This website tracks Tesla Supercharger installations around the globe. The network is growing extremely quickly, and new chargers come online weekly. Even if you undertook a trip just a couple of months ago, there might now be new options. Supercharge.info will help you stay abreast of those options. I also like sueprcharge.info for offering a way of participating in the Tesla community. The site shows locations where superchargers are planned or under construction, and Tesla owners regularly visit these sites to provide eyes-on status updates. When the sites go live, local owners sometimes have ribbon cutting ceremonies. All good fun. For road tripping, supercharge.info offers a handy overview of the supercharging network and an easy tool to see a range ring from any given supercharger.
The graphics below show the superchargers under construction in the mid-Atlantic region and a 200-mile range ring from the Indianapolis supercharger. Lenny can easily go 240 miles on a charge, and 265 miles if I charge all the way to 100% state of charge. You can see below just how many superchargers are within that 200-mile range ring.
Supercharge.info also exposes the data behind the map so you can see trends and data like when a specific station opened and installations by date.
Tesla’s Destination Charger program puts L2 Tesla charging stations at hotels, B&B’s, and other locations where you stay overnight so you can arrive and plug-in and be fully charged the next morning. Whenever road tripping, I will stay at a location with destination charging to show support for those companies. We chose our hotel in Milwaukee based on this criteria. Tesla usually has the proprietors also install general L2 charging stations for non-Tesla owners. It is amazing how many locations now have destination chargers.
Plugshare, EV Trip Planner, supercharge.info, and Tesla destination charging provide the data needed to undertake any road trip with confidence.
You can find all of the posts in my “Exploring America with an Electric Vehicle” series at the GAMR 2017 tag.