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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, all but Teslas only support one type while Teslas support all three.

CHAdeMO is supported by Japanese EVs and all Teslas.

CCS is supported by European and domestic EVs and Teslas.

Finally, the Tesla Supercharger is only supported by Tesla cars. Tesla is rumored to be building new Supercharger stations in 2023 that can be used by other EVs, but it hasn't happend in North America yet.

Regardless of which Fast Charging standard your car can support, you must make sure your car is equipped with Fast Charging as it is sometimes 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 Better Route Planner has data for all types of EVs as well as Tesla Superchargers, CHAdeMO and CCS stations. It will create the fastest route between two points including charging stops.

I really like how you can input the speed at which you typically drive (percentage of speed limit) and it'll vary its route and charging stops accordingly. For instance, on one route I recently planned, it shows one charging stop and 7 hours total time when travelling at 100% of speed limit (65 mph), while showing three charging stops but only 6 hours of total travel time (including charging time) when driving at 129% of speed limit (84 mph).

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 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. Non-Tesla owners can now charge at a limited number of Tesla Superchargers. Download the Tesla app to see availability.

Here are some links to common charging networks: ChargePoint, EvGo, Blink, Shell Recharge, Electrify America.

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.

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:

Tesla Chargers for Non Tesla Vehicles

There is another type of charger you can charge at with the right adapter.

Tesla has spent years installing and building a proprietary destination charging network at restaurants, hotels and businesses (not to be confused with their Supercharger network, which is different, and cannot currently be used by non Tesla vehicles). As of 2023, they have more than 35,000 locations that can provide (usually) free charging at a 32 amp or more charge rate. In addition, many Tesla owners will have installed a Tesla specific charger in their houses.

Non Tesla vehicles can also use these destination chargers if you have one of the following adapters (all three of these do the same thing, pick one):

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