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Recharging Electric Cars In RV Campgrounds — A Look At Costs

With electric cars becoming more and more common, and more and more electric car drivers using these vehicles to travel through the great outdoors, the interface between said drivers and RV campgrounds is becoming much more common.

Now you may be saying, “well, so what?” But — as some of our readers may have noticed — many RV campgrounds feature 50-Amp electrical outlets that are nearly perfect for recharging electric cars. Of course, that’s not what these outlets were originally put there for — so how best to manage this situation? Offer their use to electric car drivers for free? Charge for their use by-the-hour? Charge a flat-rate? Something else?

electric car charging camp sites

It’s hard to say without considering the personal/business preferences of those running the sites, and without doing the numbers, what the best option is. But, thankfully for us, someone has already run through the numbers a bit.

Here they are, via CamperVanFinder.com.au:

The average electric price in the US is 11 cents per kWh. 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.)

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

So, now that the numbers are clear, all that’s really left is for the various owners/operators of RV campgrounds around the country to work out what they are going to do. While the issue certainly isn’t a big one yet, it’s hard to see how it may not become one in the coming years as electric cars become more common (and gas becomes more expensive for that matter).

What do you think? Which approach are you in favor of?

Image Credit: Camp via Flickr CC

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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