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Can The EV Industry Meet The Needs Of RVers?

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Let’s face it. Electric vehicles are here to stay. It seems that every time you turn on the news or read an article, another electric vehicle is being released. I’m a big fan of technology, when it’s practical. For instance, GPS over foldable maps or cell phones over rotary phones. As more and more of these electric vehicles hit the market, one question stands out to me, “Is the electric vehicle industry ready for the RV industry?”

electric vehicle charging station
electric vehicle charging station

While most EV’s can easily tow a camper or travel trailer, that’s not the main concern of most RVers. Range, towing capacity, and charging stations are. How far can these electric trucks and cars travel before needing to be re-charged? Can you charge your electric vehicle at an RV park or campground? These are just a few questions that RV owners are asking. Let’s jump in and find out, is the RV industry ready for electric vehicles? Better yet, is the electric vehicle industry ready for RV owners?

Can You Tow A Camper With An EV?

As the electric vehicle industry is evolving, more and more manufacturers are producing electric trucks that are more than capable of towing a camper or travel trailer. For instance, the Chevy Silverado EV has a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds with an estimated range of 400 miles. Of course, when towing a camper, the estimated range will be somewhat diminished. GM has not put the exact numbers out, but you can expect to lose as much as 30% of total range while towing.

Using the Chevy Silverado EV as an example, while towing a camper, you can expect to get around 280 miles out of a full charge. If you are following the 2/2/2 rule, this may not be an issue. However, if you are planning to drive further between stops, you will have to plan your trip accordingly.

The Ford F-150 Lightning EV also has a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds, however, the “fully-charged” range is slightly less at 300 miles, when properly equipped.

With towing ranges like the trucks listed above, an electric vehicle can certainly tow a camper, but not very far.

EV Public Charging Stations

Using a public charging station for an electric vehicle allows drivers to re-charge their vehicles while traveling. Most of these charging stations will be located close to shopping centers, restaurants, and other public spaces.

There are three different levels of EV charging stations. A level 1 charging station uses a standard 120-volt outlet, like the outlets in your home. These are the slowest of the three and typically take up to 10 hours to charge your batteries. Because of this, level 1 chargers are too slow to accommodate the needs of any traveler.

back in ev charging station
typical back-in EV charging station

The level 2 chargers are the most common and operate on 240 volts. RV plugs are also considered level 2 chargers. Charging times typically take 5 hours or less.

Level 3 charging stations are also referred to as DC Fast-Charging stations. These are the fastest way to charge the batteries in an EV. The main drawback to these is not every electric vehicle can charge at level 3 chargers.

For a more in-depth article about the different charging stations and what they are capable of, check out Charge Hub’s article 2020 Guide On How To Charge Your Electric Car With Charging Stations.

How Can I Find The Nearest Charging Station While Traveling?

If you are traveling in a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle, when your fuel level gets low, you pull over at a gas station, fill up, grab some snacks, and you’re back on the road. With an electric vehicle however, it may not be so simple.

If you haven’t planned your road trip accordingly, you might find yourself low on battery charge searching for the nearest charging station. You shouldn’t have a problem locating one of these charging stations if you are in or near a major city. If you are in a more rural part of the country, you might be hard pressed to find one.

For example, if you look this map of charging stations, you will see that the larger cities have several charging stations while smaller towns have very few, if any at all.

Loading alternative fueling station locator…

This goes back to planning your route. If you are going to be towing your camper with an electric vehicle, you are going to need to plan your route, and stops, based on available charging stations.

Lack Of Pull-Through EV Charging Stations

One of the biggest issues with using an electric vehicle for towing a camper is recharging the batteries. If you find a charging station on your route, chances are good that it is not set up for someone pulling an RV. What I mean is, to utilize one of these stations, you will need to disconnect your camper, wait in line to re-charge, pull into the charging station, then hook back up to the travel trailer before going on your way.

The simple fact is this: if the EV industry wants to appeal to more RV owners, pull-thru charging stations are a must. Unless you plan your trip down to the smallest detail, towing a camper with an electric vehicle is going to be extremely challenging for most people. Not only do these charging stations need to be pull-thru, but they also need to be Level 3 fast-charging stations as well.

pull thru electric vehicle charging
photo by wattcar.com

Even with the Level 3 fast-charging station, most EVs will take at least an hour to charge. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to spend an hour every couple hundred miles to “re-charge”.

Can You Charge An Electric Vehicle At An RV Park?

The short answer is yes. However, there are multiple things to consider first. First, electric vehicles tend to draw more current than most RV’s, which could cause problems at the RV park. The electrical pedestals and infrastructures simply weren’t designed for that much current. Always check with management prior to charging an EV at a campground.

I came across an interesting article written by Mortons On The Move where they share their own experiences with charging a Tesla at campgrounds. They even go into the added equipment you may need when doing so.

To better fit the needs of campers using electric trucks, KOA announced they will begin installing EV chargers at select locations.

KOA Logo
KOA Campgrounds

KOA is always looking for innovative ways to make our properties more environmentally friendly and reduce our carbon footprint. This amenity is a first-of-its-kind for a campground network, and we could not be more excited to offer EV chargers as an amenity to campground owners and guests alike.

Toby O’Rourke, President and CEO of Kampgrounds of America

Final Thoughts

Is the RV industry ready for electric vehicles? The better question to ask is “Is the electric vehicle industry ready for the RV industry?” I believe as things evolve and pull-thru charging stations become more readily available, electric vehicles may be a more viable option for RVers. Until then, I don’t foresee many RVers using them.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the electric vehicle industry is ready to meet the demands of your average RV owner? Leave us a comment in the section below and let us know what you think.

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