I have a dream. Or make that a double! Silke and I both have two dreams:
1. To show to the world that long-range travel in a 100% electric car, even while towing a camping trailer, is doable and fun, and
2. To find out whether we will be able to charge our electric car from our camping trailer using the solar panels on the roof, in case we find ourselves stranded.
But First, a Little History…
We, that is my wife Silke and me, live in beautiful British Columbia, one of the most beautiful places on earth, just waiting to be explored by camping in the wilderness. The whole North American West coast from California, through Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska are one big paradise for outdoor adventures. About 15 years back, we purchased a used motor home that was just big enough to carry us, our daughter, a large dog and a fat cat on our adventures, but also small enough to get through small forest roads and dry creek beds (well, sometimes, we got stuck and had to jack it up and place wood or rocks under the tires…). It also carried hatches and small hand saws to cut through the occasional tree blocking the road.
But…. As the news of global warming got loud enough to sink into our thick skulls, we got more and more conscientious about the high fuel consumption of the large V10 engine in our motor home and its CO2 emissions. Once we got our Tesla Model S, the motor home just had to go. Were we left without the ability to go camping, because we committed to sustainable, 100% electric transportation?
The Dream Starts
So, here we are at the Launch Event of the Model X in Fremont, and Silke and I are standing second row to the stage. When Elon Musk brings a Model X onto the stage towing a camping trailer, we thought “Hey, what about if we do that! Here’s our solution!”
That is where we started dreaming: Traveling across Canada in an electric car with a camping trailer!
Just a small a problem: We have travelled extensively with an EV through much of North America, but always along the excellent Tesla Supercharger routes. (See separate Blog post re Superchargers!)
Our 100% Electric Car Challenge
We had to ask ourselves: Can we travel across Canada with an electric car towing a trailer – since there will be long stretches without ANY Tesla Superchargers!? How much more will the extra weight and drag of the trailer cost us in range? Will the highly reliable consumption prediction work as well as we are used to, even when towing a camping trailer? What do we do if we get caught short while out in the wilderness? We have no answers to all those questions yet, but we can make a few educated guesses.
We will be starting out along a Supercharger route from Victoria, British Columbia (BC) to Red Deer in Alberta (AB), which we have done before with our Model S. Thus, we can ease into the trip for 1,200km (745 mi) and get a feel for what kind of range performance we can expect and how weather and speed influence our range. In the picture below you can see, as red dots, the Tesla Superchargers in BC and AB as we start out. But the Red Deer, AB, Supercharger will be the last one for the 3,500 kilometers (2,170 mi) across the prairies.
So, how do we plan to cross the prairies without any Superchargers? Well, we won’t be entirely without chargers: there are Sun Country Highway chargers along our route. The blue dots show the 90A Sun Country Highway chargers that will allow us to charge at 72A, which will give us about 70 km/hr (45miles/hr) range. In comparison, Tesla Superchargers let us charge at 600km/hr. But those 90A chargers will not be enough when towing a camping trailer or doing site-seeing side trips, unfortunately. We also do not want to sit for hours at a slow charger. That just would not be fun.
We plan to stop every night at a campsite with 50A hookups for RVs to charge our car. We have the same type of outlet (NEMA 14-50) in our garage for home charging, and it gives us a full charge over night. Below, you see Manitoba campgrounds with 50A hook ups. There are quite a few to choose from. Apparently 😉 We will plug in the car for charging while the trailer will run off the energy it stored in the battery from the solar panels during the day. So every morning, we will start with a full car battery that allows us to travel at least 200km (125 mi). Once that charge is used up, we will likely charge at a Sun Country Highway 90A charger, have lunch and do some sight seeing. Not to forget, our dog Kye will need a good walk! Those breaks will give us enough range to get us to the next campground where we will stop for the night and charge again. Or so we hope. 😉
We will also come across a few CHAdeMo DC fast chargers, like the orange dot in Winnepeg on the map below. These chargers will give us a fast charging speed of about 150 km/h.
On top of that, there are many more chargers, but most of them are very slow. Still, we will not get stranded. We hope. 😉
Our Charging Plan
So, after careful analysis, we have these plans for charging our car on this electric adventure:
- Plan A – 120kW Superchargers, charging speed up to 600km/hr
- Plan B – CHAdeMO fast chargers, charging at 150km/hr
- Plan C – Sun Country Highway 90A chargers, charging at 70km/hr
- Plan D – Camp ground hookups, for overnight charging
- Plan E – Other level 2 chargers, charging speed between 20 and 50km/hr
- Plan F – Friendly strangers with a power outlet 🙂
- Plan D – Our own solar charging system if we find us really in a pinch
Looks like we have a plan, doesn’t it?! 🙂
You think that was interesting, but not quite enough information? You want to know more about our solar panel set up or our camping trailer batteries? You need more INPUT? – Don’t despair, it’s coming, with our next post.
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