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Charging on the Road

When your trip length is longer than your EV's range, you need to recharge while driving. In practice, this means recharging at a "DC Fast Charging Station". Since a regular public charging station will only give you about 20 miles of range per hour of charging, this usually won't be useful. A 50 kW DC Fast Charger will typically give you 140 miles of range per hour of charging, so a well timed lunch break will set up you up for the next leg of your trip.

There are three types of DC Fast Chargers in the US and Canada, but your EV will only support one of them (Tesla models S and X support two).

CHAdeMO is supported by Japanese EVs and Model S & X Teslas ( via an adapter).

CCS is supported by European and domestic EVs (except Tesla).

Finally, the Tesla Supercharger is only supported by Tesla model S, X and 3 cars. Superchargers deliver more power, so they typically deliver around 200 miles or more of charge in an hour.

Do note that it is still early days for non-Tesla fast charging. Typically, a location will only have one or two CCS or CHAdeMO fast chargers available meaning you could arrive at that location and find it is busy or non-operative. Always have a backup charging point or two in mind when taking a road trip. Tesla Superchargers have many chargers available in each location meaning that you can rely on being able to charge when you arrive (with the exception being Southern California where Tesla has not yet been able to keep up with the demand - plan carefully or check out the forums).

Regardless of which Fast Charging standard your car can support, you must make sure your car is equipped with Fast Charging as it is often an extra cost option.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Since there isn't a DC Fast Charger on every corner (yet), EV road trips require planning ahead.

A very useful tool is the Route Energy Planner feature of the EV Trip Planner website. While it mostly has information for Teslas, it is also starting to provide information for other EVs (like the Leaf). Use this tool to see how much energy you will use to travel between way points.

Electrip and EvTripN are two new apps that help you plan your EV trip.

Use PlugShare with a High Power Station filter to find DC Fast Chargers.

And Tesla owners can use the Find Us part of the Tesla website to find Superchargers along their route.

Charging Etiquette

PLEASE be considerate of others when you use Fast Chargers. They are still in limited supply. Please only fill up enough to get to your destination or next charging stop (plus a safety buffer). DO NOT charge to 100% full unless you really really have to. All EVs charge much more slowly for the last 10%-20% of the battery capacity, so you are only slowing yourself down if you do this. And PLEASE don't park your car at a fast charging slot after charging is complete.

For trip planning purposes, I like to give myself about a 1/3 buffer for unexpected headwinds, bad weather, spirited driving, etc. So if my next leg is going to be 150 miles of freeway driving, I like to charge my car to 200 miles at a minimum. If you're in the desert heading west and likely to hit severe headwinds, increase the buffer accordingly.

Charging Network Membership

DC Fast Charging stations typically require membership in some sort of payment plan. Use PlugShare to find out which payment plans you need for the Fast Chargers along your route.

Tesla owners either have free unlimited for life Supercharging, or automatic membership into their pay-as-you-go plan once you use a certain number of charges per year.

Here are some links to common charging networks: ChargePoint, EvGo, Blink, Greenlots.

Car Tripping Guides

There are several quick one page guides that have been written on how to minimize your charge time while on the road. Here are some EV specific ones:

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