What you need to know for your next Tesla road trip
Tesla’s vehicles are becoming more and more popular, and owning one can be a bit of a paradigm shift if it’s your first electric vehicle. Road trips in EVs are a little different than those in gas vehicles, given the constraints of charging. For that reason, it’s important to hit the road prepared with the tools and know-how to minimize your time at the charger — and maximize your time spent at your destination.
Above: A Tesla driving in misty conditions. Photo: Aditya Chinchure / Unsplash
Avoiding long charging breaks is key to making the best of any Tesla road trip, and a guide from Forbes shared last month offers a handful of useful tips for keeping the battery charged on long trips. Despite having to compromise on charging times, however, drivers will be rewarded for long trips in EVs through reduced maintenance costs, fueling costs, cabin noise, roadside breakdowns and, not the least of all, carbon emissions.
There are many ways to make sure your charging time is well-used, but prior to that, you’ll want to load up on necessary gear for the trip. It’s worth bringing a mobile EVSE charger with a 50A RV (14-50) socket connector and a 15A regular socket connector, just in case, as well as an RV TT-30 adapter designed specifically for EV charging. While these connectors used to come with Tesla’s vehicles, you’ll now have to buy them separately — though they’re fairly inexpensive.
Additionally, Tesla drivers should pack the rarely-used CCS adapter or the old CHAdeMO adapters. These pieces of hardware can be tough to acquire (the latter can be still be ordered from South Korea), but they can pay off on a road trip by increasing the charging options available to you.
Next, you’ll want to consider how to schedule in time to charge your EV while on your road trip. It’s worth noting that charging an EV takes significantly longer than filling up a gas car with fuel, even at Tesla's fast-charging Superchargers, so it can be super helpful to use that time to do other things, in addition to charging. It’s also worth considering that Tesla and other EVs charge fastest when under 50 percent full, and fast-charging from 10 to 50 percent can take as little as 15 minutes if you’re looking to keep your stops as short as possible.
Sleeping while you charge is the best option to save time and let your battery charge more slowly, which is better for the car’s longevity anyway. Some hotels will offer overnight charging at no extra charge, and you can look up lodging near or located at charging stations using apps such as Plugshare and A Better Route Planner. Another strategy for maximizing charge time is to plan your charging times around meals and to find charging stations with nearby restaurants.
While EVs may not be as convenient to take on road trips as gas cars at this point in time, the way you schedule your charging time can almost completely mitigate this convenience factor. The result is a win-win for you, your trip and the environment — and the compromises you make driving an EV will hardly seem worth your attention.