In my Guide To Rapid Charging An Electric Tow Car, I discuss the available options to get power back into the battery quickly when on a long journey. With this article, we are going to discuss charging your electric tow car/truck once you reach your final destination with your RV/trailer. However, I’ll also discuss charging options while driving around without a trailer/RV on the back of an electric tow car. I’m also going to specifically discuss charging an electric tow car at an RV park, and its potential limitations/costs.
Introduction To Destination Charging
I have a unique perspective on the challenges of destination charging with electric tow cars/trucks at an RV park as I own the small RV park here in the UK (Horton Common). Electric tow cars are a subject I’m obviously very interested in and I do want to see the rate of electric car adoption increase as quickly as possible. However, at the same time, from an RV site owners perspective, I see that electric tow cars/trucks also present a big challenge once more visitors start turning up in them.
The Differences Between Level 1, 2 & 3 Chargers
When discussing destination charging with an electric tow car we are really talking about level 1 and level 2 chargers. I’ve previously discussed the fastest level 3 chargers, commonly referred to as ‘rapid chargers’ in my Guide to Rapid Charging. With this guide, we are mainly discussing slower level 1 and level 2 chargers, commonly referred to as destination chargers.
An EV owner will typically have access to a level 1 or level 2 charger at home. However, in this guide for electric tow cars/trucks, we are looking at the scenario of how to charge and how much charge you will get at your destination, say an RV park. As a good introduction to the topic of EV charging in general and the different charging levels, I recommend you watch the video below from Matt Ferrell.
As Matt shows in the video above, for level 1 & 2 charging in the US that will mean using what’s called a J1772 plug, or if you purchase a Tesla, their own proprietary plug. A level 1 charger is rated up to 120V (standard domestic socket) and the car/truck will pull up to 2kW of power typically. A level 2 charger has a higher voltage at 240V and hence has a higher power output (domestic oven/dryer), typically up to 11kW of power. A level 3 charger would be something like a Tesla Supercharger station, providing 150kW, 250kW of power, maybe even more.
Level 1 & 2 Charging At An RV Park
So let’s discuss the scenario of trying to get a level 1 or level 2 charge into an electric tow car/truck at an RV park. First off, let’s talk about the power outlets provided. In many instances, you will typically see an electrical outlet box like the one below with three options to connect up an RV to power. Each outlet provides a different amount of power (Amps/A), and some provide a different voltage too (120V or 240V). The highest-powered outlet provided will be a 240V/50A socket.
Now, this is just one example of a typical RV park electrical outlet box. Depending on how much grid power the RV park has available they may only provide the lower-powered 120V outlets, so just be aware of that. I’ll be discussing further down in the article how to find RV parks with the higher-powered outlets. So the next thing to touch on is electrical adapter plugs and cords. Now, in the future, I’ll be writing articles on specific EV adapters. However, for now, please check out the video below on how RV owners, in general, need to have several adapters/cords on hand to use the various outlets.
Warning On Using Multiple Power Outlets
So you may look at the image above of a typical RV power outlet cabinet and think great! I can plug my RV into the 30A outlet and my EV into the 50A outlet or vice versa, sorted! Well, not so fast, that may get you into trouble with the RV park site owner, also, it may not actually work.
You need to remember most RV parks will not have been designed with EV charging in mind. Sure, some of the newest parks may provide dedicated EV charging, but they will be the exception for several years to come. There are two potential problems pulling power from both the 30A and 50A outlets at the same time. The amount of power available, and the electricity costs to the site owner.
In rare occasions, the cabinet may have a cable going to it rated to provide 80A (50A + 30A), but really that’s unlikely. Hence, if you pull power from both power sockets at the same time, you are likely to start blowing fuses. Some boxes actually have a metal slider to block one of the higher-powered outlets when the other is in use. So you shouldn’t actually presume you can pull power from both a 30A and 50A socket at the same time.
Furthermore, many site owners charge based on you using either the 30A or 50A socket. If the cabinet can support dual-outlet use, some site owners might start allowing users to do so and charge as such. In the future though, pitch pricing will likely have to change to adapt to electric tow cars/trucks using the RV power outlet cabinets to charge up.
Example Of Charging An EV From An RV Service Post
So let’s run through an example of charging an EV from a typical RV service post outlet. The example I’m going to use is being able to pull 3,000 Watts (3 kW) of power. That would not be possible from a standard 120V outlet. However, its well within the means of the 120V/30A and the 240V/50A outlets.
I’m also going to presume this is an overnight charge from midnight to 6 AM in the morning. In that scenario, the RV will typically be using little to no power, as you would likely be sleeping. Well, in this scenario of charging at 3kW for 6 hours, that means we have been able to put 18kWh of energy into the EV. Great! What does that actually mean though in terms of range!?
So below I’ve produced a table of some electric tow cars/trucks. Using EPA efficiency figures we can say how many miles not towing and towing 18kWh of energy would get that particular EV, in its most efficient spec. Now, as I discuss in my article on can electric cars tow, the 50% towing range reduction is a general guestimate. Under certain conditions due to aerodynamic drag, for instance, the towing range could be much less.
How Far Will 18kWh Of Energy Get You?
|Electric Tow Car/Truck||Not Towing||Towing|
|Tesla Model Y (2021)||67 Miles||34 Miles|
|Tesla Model X (2021)||56 Miles||28 Miles|
|VW ID.4 (2021)||51 Miles||26 Miles|
|Polestar 2 (2021)||47 Miles||24 Miles|
|Volvo XC40 Recharge (2021)||42 Miles||21 Miles|
|Audi E-Tron (2021)||42 Miles||21 Miles|
Once the EPA has more efficiency results for more electric tow cars with an official towing capacity I’ll add them to the table above. However, as the existing table shows with the scenario of charging at 3kW per hour for 6 hours, you need to be realistic about how many miles the vehicle will go, especially when towing.
Now with a 240V/50A outlet, if it was purely charging the EV, the power provided could be higher than 3kW. Potentially up to 12kW if the cars charger was compatible. However, I think the scenario above of charging at 3kW per hour is a more realistic scenario in most cases at an RV park. The table above also prompts an important conversation on significant differences between the efficiency of electric cars. I’ll be getting into that one in a future article.
EV Chargers and Adapters
When charging an EV from an RV service post you will also need to bring with you the correct cables and adapters. As the equipment required differs depending on which RV power outlet you’re trying to use and the specific vehicle, its quite a big topic. Therefore, I’ll be writing a separate article on this subject, and I’ll link it here once its done.
How To Find Level 1 & 2, Maybe Even Level 3 Destination Chargers
Above, I’ve used the example of using an RV service post as a destination charger as an obvious example for an electric tow car. Well, RV parks are not the only destination chargers you will be able to use. EV chargers are popping up everywhere at public car parks, food outlets etc. Examples of charging network providers include:
Great! But what is the easiest way to find these destination chargers? Also, how can you find RV parks which provide RV service posts which offer the highest-powered 240V/50A outlets and allow EV charging? Well, the best solution is to use the Plugshare website or App. You can search for destination chargers with a specific outlet. You can even search for parks which provide the NEMA 14-50 outlet which is rated at 240V/50A.
Conclusions On Destination Chargers For Electric To Cars/Trucks
I’ll be writing more on this topic with articles on the specific cables/adapters different electric tow cars/trucks will need to be able to use various destination chargers. However, I hope the above has given you a better perspective on destination charging, and its limitations. As towing with an EV uses lots of energy, destination chargers are unlikely to be able to provide you will all your EV charging needs. Rapid charging is going to be crucial to towing with an EV. However, when you are at your destination for driving around without an RV/Trailer on the back, these chargers will come in very handy.