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Road Trip Recharge: HOME

LOCATION: Maple Grove, MN

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE: 183.9 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  54.1 kWh used.

WH/MILE: 294 Wh/mile

UPDATE: WE ARE HOME!! Just one short drive to St. Cloud left.

HOW WE’RE FEELING: Excited, exhausted, grateful to our families, thankful for safe travels and the support from our cooperative, colleagues, friends that we have had along the way. Thanks for following us on this journey!

Messy hair don’t care – WE ARE HOME!

Yes, we drove a Tesla, but what about charging other cars?

Yes, it’s true we drove a Tesla. And yes Tesla has distinct advantages like an extended range and free charging at Tesla Super Chargers. But that doesn’t mean charging on the road for other electric vehicles isn’t possible.

Before we tell you a little about charging on the road though, it’s important to remember that if you own an electric vehicle it is likely the vast majority of charging will take place at your home. It’s a mindset that you have to wrap your mind around. Most often you’ll pull into your garage at the end of the day, plug in and go on with your usual activities at home.

So let’s take a closer look at home charging first.

HOME CHARGING

When you purchase an electric vehicle, over 80% of your charging is done at home. For those that might not know, electricity is cheaper between what’s knows an “off-peak” hours: 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. For most people, these are the same overnight hours that your vehicle is charging in your garage. Many electric utility providers have programs for electric vehicle owners that offer lower electricity rates for electric vehicle charging during these times. Stearns Electric Association’s ChargeWise Program is our cooperative’s program.

All electric vehicles come with a standard, 120 volt charging cable, similar to that of a television or toaster cord that fits into a wall outlet. Although this works to charge, you should call and electrician and make sure the outlet you are going to use is up-to-date and can handle the electrical load of your EV. One hour of charge in this Level 1 charging situation gets you only 2 to 5 miles of range.

That is why many electric vehicle owners opt to install a home charging unit, which is 240 volts, equivalent to your oven or your clothes dryer. This outlet speeds up the charging process, adding anywhere from 10 to 60 more miles per hour of charging, depending on the vehicle. If you are interested in this option, a qualified electrician should be called to install the new unit, which costs between $500 to $2,000, depending on the charging model you choose or on your need of any electrical upgrades. Stearns Electric even offers a $500 rebate for charging equipment if you enroll on their ChargeWise program. If you are interested in a home charging station, contact your electric service provider and they may be able to direct you to an electrician who offers this service. Visit the Department of Energy’s website for more information on home charging.

But if you do need a quick charge up running between activities in town or you take a longer road trip like us you’ll utilize public charging.

PUBLIC CHARGING

So we drove a Tesla, and Tesla has a proprietary charging network and charging equipment which simply means that no other electric vehicles can charge using their stations. In addition for most Tesla models, charging is free at their network charging stations. This is unique to Tesla.

For other electric vehicles its a little bit more complicated but there are plenty of options.

There are three primary approaches: (1) pay-as-you-go, (2) monthly subscriptions and (3) free. Obviously, if given the opportunity, it makes sense to grab a free charge, even if for a relatively short period of time. These types of stations are typically courtesy of work place benefits or businesses that might gain patronage while you charge. Pay models vary greatly. Pay-as-you-go options will be most similar to standard gas stations in the sense that you pay a specific rate for the length of the charge or the amount of energy consumed. You swipe a credit card at the charging station. Finally, and most popular are charging station networks such as ChargePoint, Blink, Zef and many many more. These are third party entities that charge a monthly subscription fee to use charging stations in their network (compare the idea to your health insurance and using an in-network doctor). Typically you receive a membership card that you swipe or enter at charging stations – its a free charge at the time or purchase but remember you’re paying that subscription fee.

If you purchase an EV, you’ll have to decide for yourself if its best to collect a wallet-full of membership cards; or if proper planning will allow you to a voice public charging unless you’re running very low on charge.

Do all electric cars have the same charging connection?

All EVs except Tesla use the same J1772 connector for Level 2 charging. Tesla makes adapters that allow their vehicles to charge with this type of connector as well. When it comes to fast charging there are three different DC fast charging connector standards in the United States, all used by different manufacturers. EV drivers can prepare for any charging situation by purchasing multiple adapters so that they can charge in just about any circumstance.

Road Trip Recharge #17: Worthington, MN

LOCATION: Worthington, MN

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE: 129.3 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  53.1 kWh used.

TYPE OF CHARGER: Tesla Supercharger

LOCATION DETAILS: Located in the parking lot of the Ground Round with a Holiday Inn Express and Suites nearby. There is also a Walmart, Arby’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonald’s, Dairy Queen and a HyVee Grocery Store within walking distance.

WHAT WE DID WHILE CHARGING: We headed into the Ground Round for an appetizer.

TIME START: 3:10 p.m.

TIME END: 4:15 p.m.

LENGTH OF CHARGE: 65 minutes minutes

WH/MILE: 410 Wh/mile

HOW WE’RE FEELING: Relieved! After a brief moment of panic when our initial charger was not working, we moved to another one with our hearts pumping and our fingers crossed, hoping that we could get charged in order to get home. Thankfully, the next charger was working just fine and we will be on our way again in a few minutes. This is our last charging stop, so we are extra excited but also dreading the long drive ahead of us.

EV Basics

We’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to electric vehicles on this trip but maybe you’re still wondering about some of the basics like what’s the difference between a hybrid and an all electric or how EVs differ from gasoline cars. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

Answers to the easy questions:

What types of electric vehicles are available?

There are primarily three types:

  1. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor and battery; both gas and electricity power the wheels. The electric motor and battery are designed to improve fuel economy, so less gasoline is used to operate the vehicle. The battery is charged solely by operating the vehicle; no plug-in is required or possible.
  2. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) have larger batteries than hybrids and use both gas and electricity to power the wheels of the car. These vehicles vary in their electric range, but shift to gasoline-only operation when battery power is depleted. These vehicles must be plugged in to recharge the battery.
  3. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are powered solely by electricity and are recharged by plugging in the vehicle.

There are many brands and models of electric vehicles. Check out PlugInConnect’selectric vehicle comparison chart to review a options available in the Midwest or visit the Alternative Fuel Data Center’s websiteto see a list of each model of car from each manufacturer to find the type of vehicle that suits your needs.

How is the maintenance for an electric car difference from a gasoline car?

Electric vehicles require less routine maintenance than your traditional gasoline car. Since there are significantly fewer moving parts in an electric vehicle compared to a traditional vehicle, less ongoing preventative maintenance is needed. They require no oil changes, tune-ups, or new spark plugs. Brake life is extended on electric vehicles since the motor is used to slow the car, recapturing the kinetic energy and storing it back in the battery. Electric motors will also outlast the body of the vehicle. Many automakers also offer warranties on the batteries.

What is an electric vehicle like to drive?

Most electric cars deliver instant power from a stop, and they are both smooth and quiet when underway. The driving experience is quite different from a traditional gasoline-fueled car, as electric vehicles feel like they glide effortlessly. Of course, driving experience varies and depends on the drivers personal tastes so we encourage you to conduct your own test drive before buying.

How far can an electric vehicle travel?

On average, plug-in hybrids can travel 10 to 50 miles on electricity before they switch to gasoline. Their gas tanks extend total range to between 300 and 600 miles. Some designs allow the driver to choose when to use electricity or gasoline.

All-electric vehicles can travel farther on electricity than plug-in hybrids, but their total range is limited by the battery size. As battery technology advances and costs come down, vehicle range is increasing. Most battery electric vehicles available today promise 100 to 240 miles on a charge, and some can travel even farther.

Road Trip Recharge #16: Mitchell, SD

LOCATION: Mitchell, SD

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE:  142.1 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  53.7 kWh used.

TYPE OF CHARGER: Tesla Supercharger

LOCATION DETAILS: This charging stop is located in the Goodwill parking lot. There is a Dairy Queen right next door, as well as a pharmacy/vitamin shop and the County Fair grocery store, which includes a Caribou coffee shop.

WHAT WE DID WHILE CHARGING: We went to the grocery store for a healthy snack for the ride home! This allowed us to get out of the car and walk around for a bit, too. We contemplated going to Goodwill to model the old bridesmaid and prom dresses, but we decided not to since our charging was almost complete and getting home to our families is the top priority for the day.

TIME START: 12:35 p.m.

TIME END: 1:20 p.m.

LENGTH OF CHARGE: 45 minutes

WH/MILE: 378 Wh/mile

HOW WE’RE FEELING: We area feeling good as the next stop is Minnesota! When we logged in during the stop to check our Facebook page, we found a video of us on the interstate that someone had taken and shared with us. How cool is that?! You’ll have to go and check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

Road Trip Recharge #15: Murdo, SD

LOCATION: Murdo, SD

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE:  137.8 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  50.9 kWh used.

TYPE OF CHARGER: Tesla Supercharger

LOCATION DETAILS: The charging station is located in the parking lot of the Range Country Hotel in Murdo. There is also a Best Western across the street. The town is small, but there is a museum and a grocery store.

Between Rapid City and Murdo, we did stop in Wall, SD to check out Wall Drug. We have seen hundreds of billboards advertising for Wall Drug, so we decided to stop. We did not have much battery life to stay long, but it was cool to see.

WHAT WE DID WHILE CHARGING: We worked on catching up on our blog and took a little nap before hitting the road again.

TIME START: 9:45 a.m.

TIME END: 10:25 p.m.

LENGTH OF CHARGE: 40 minutes

WH/MILE: 370 Wh/mile

HOW WE’RE FEELING: We excited to be on the road and each mile we travel is closer to home. We are a little frustrated today because we are loosing battery charge faster than we did on the way to Salt Lake City. The colder, wet weather is definitely having an impact on the battery life. Although it’s not too horrible, it is hard to drive under the speed limit, especially when we just want to get home.

Road Trip Recharge #14: Rapid City, SD

LOCATION: Rapid City, SD

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE:  154 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  52 kWh used.

TYPE OF CHARGER: Tesla Supercharger

LOCATION DETAILS: The charging station is located right off of I-90 in the mall parking lot. There are several restaurants near the area, and hotels are close by.

WHAT WE DID WHILE CHARGING: We grabbed dinner at Olive Garden, which was about a five minutes walk from the Supercharger.

TIME START: 8:40 p.m.

TIME END: 9:25 p.m.

LENGTH OF CHARGE: 45 minutes

WH/MILE: 338 Wh/mile

HOW WE’RE FEELING: We are so tired and ready to be home! We are thankful that the longer of the two road trip days is over and that the rain really wasn’t that bad later in the day. The foggy roads made it difficult to see toward the end of our drive, but we pulled into to Rapid City while it was still light outside, which was a good change from our trip out to Salt Lake.

OTHER NOTES: Even the car is tired – we got to the Supercharging station on the most round-about way, but we made it.

Road Trip Recharge #13: Lusk, WY

LOCATION: Lusk, WY

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE:  225.1 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  66 kWh used.

TYPE OF CHARGER: Tesla Supercharger

LOCATION DETAILS: This charger is again located at at the Covered Wagon Motel (America’s Best Value Inn.) Located across the street is a Best Western Motel, and there are a few places to each in the city. See our Supercharger Story on Lusk in a previous post!

WHAT WE DID WHILE CHARGING: We hung out in the car while waiting for the vehicle to charge since it started raining on us again! That way we would know when we could make the final drive for the day. Amanda called her family and we got to catch up on the blog and our Facebook page since we didn’t have service for much of the drive here.

TIME START: 5:25 p.m.

TIME END: 6:05 p.m.

LENGTH OF CHARGE: 40 minutes

WH/MILE: 293 Wh/mile

HOW WE’RE FEELING: WE MADE IT!!! The battery was at 5% when we arrived with only 15 miles left on our charge. It was tough because we couldn’t go the speed limit almost the whole way there or we wouldn’t have made it. We had to go 65 mph in 80 mph speed areas and were getting passed by everyone. Although this might sound like an inconvenience, we actually saved about 1.5 hours on our total drive by going this route. We were only 10 minutes behind our Lusk ETA by going a little slower and are expected to arrive in Rapid City at 8:30 p.m. which is awesome.

Road Trip Recharge #12: Rawlins, WY

LOCATION: Rawlins, WY

MILES DRIVEN SINCE LAST CHARGE:  117.5 miles since last charge.

KWH USED:  43.9 kWh used.

TYPE OF CHARGER: Tesla Supercharger

LOCATION DETAILS: This charger is again located at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. There are a number of fast food places within walking distance.

WHAT WE DID WHILE CHARGING: We grabbed some lunch on the way into town and hung out in the Fairfield Inn Hotel Lobby. We ate and got caught up on responding to all of you since we just finished driving through some rough weather. We also we able to chat with a number of men working on the railroad and the hotel receptionist about electric vehicles. They were able incredibly interested to learn about the technology and we once again made some new friends.

TIME START: 12:18 p.m.

TIME END: 1:30 p.m.

LENGTH OF CHARGE: 1 hour and 12 minutes

WH/MILE: 373 Wh/mile

HOW WE’RE FEELING: We are relieved now that the weather broke but as we arrived in Rawlins the car is telling us to go straight to Lusk. If you’ll recall this was the 223 mile route we were supposed to take on our initial drive out to Utah that was redirected. We are a little nervous to truly put the range of this car to the test but as we’ve said all along “WE WILL TRUST THE CAR.”

Electric Vehicle Battery Basics

As we prepared for our trip out, we asked our member-owners and friends what they wanted to know most about electric vehicles. Charging questions definitely overwhelmed us, but questions about batteries were right behind.

We spent quite about of time learning about batteries, so we thought we would share what we learned with you.

Continue reading Electric Vehicle Battery Basics