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RV campground charging experience

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by stenkb, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. stenkb

    stenkb Roadster 938 Model S 5957

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    #1 stenkb, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
    I finally tried out RV campground charging on a weekend getaway.

    My wife and I travelled from Lethbridge, Alberta to Whitefish, Montana - which is approx a 360 km trip that includes going over and thru a mountain range.

    Because there were alot of unknowns on this trip: how the battery would be affected going up and down in the mountains (6000 ft elevation highest peak), where and when I would charge, etc - I was a little overcautious and drove at posted highway speeds and stopped after 200 km at a small RV park and charged for 90 minutes on 50 amp service ($35.00), had lunch at a nearby restaurant and continued on our way.

    We arrived at our destination with plenty of charge remaining however our accomodations could not provide a 50 amp service to charge (The Lodge at Whitefish Lake), however they did end up finding me a 110 plug in underground parking which was better than nothing.

    We enjoyed our weekend away and on our final day we had only 250 km charge in range mode and 110 power was not going to be of any help - so we found a local RV park and charged up for 3 hours at 50 amps to get a full max range of 400 km in range mode. ($35.00) A roadster sure gets alot of attention pulling into an RV spot....... I answered many questions from people in the RV park which was fun and helped to fill the time waiting to charge.

    I was fairly confident after making the trip though the mountains the first time - that I could make it all the way back home without a recharge and away we went. After a few hours we decided to stop for lunch and of course I waited for an RV campground that also had a restaurant nearby. We pulled in and they only offered 30 amp service. Since I was only going to charge since we were there to eat and didn't really need to charge I said 30 amp would be fine. However there was a problem - for whatever reason I could only pull 15 amps at 110 from their service. Confused I check my adapter connection and all was correct and tried another 30 amp plug with the same result. My wife not quite as patient with me getting the car to charge correct I left it at 15 amps at 110 and went to eat - may have gained 3 km charge while eating lol..... o well. ($10.00)

    Continued on our way and made it back to our home with 45 km left in range mode. My first longer trip was a learning experince and I would do things a bit different next time - but we are already planning a return visit and I have seen that charging at RV parks is easy and they are everywhere - at least in the touristy area I was visiting.

    Few pics attached.

    ? Only 1 RV park gave me a break on their rates, the other 2 charged me a full day's price......I had the first electric car they had seen.

    ? Any idea why i could only get 110 15 amp from a 220 30 amp box? (I tried 2 different boxes)

    ? After going up and down the mountains my estimated range was higher than my ideal range.....seemed strange.......is this from all the regen charging going down the mountains?

    Kevin
     

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  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I think that may be typical at RV parks... "50 amp service=240V", "30 amp service=120V". And I don't think the Roadster will ever try to pull more than 16A from 120V.
    Ideally there would be a mode to get 24A 120V from such a TT-30 plug, but I don't think they offer it.

    I assume you were using a UMC? What sort of plug/socket were you using for the so-called "30 amp service"?
    I assume the 50amp was NEMA 14-50.
     
  3. stenkb

    stenkb Roadster 938 Model S 5957

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    #3 stenkb, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
    I carry around a few different male ends for the UMC - to fit different connections. Then I just remove the 50 amp male end from the UMC, replace it with whichever connection I may need and away we go. I have a container I keep in my truck with the different connections and a screwdriver set.

    I guess the 30 amp confused me - I had previously charged at a warehouse shop that had 30 amp 220 power so I just assumed 30 amp was always 220.

    Good thing I didn't really need a charge this time...lesson learned. 50 amp 220 only.
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Yes, campgrounds and RV parks use weird terminology that is confusing.
     
  5. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    Sucks that you had to charge up at a campground that "extorts" a full days price for their service...I think a new data base of campgrounds that do this might be required...even if it was a ruse, it might get these campground owners to wise up...(BTW, the new 2.5 front end looks great!)
     
  6. Slackjaw

    Slackjaw Member

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    I have to say those pictures are really cool. Especially the second one (Roadster on the right, table on the left, cool vanity plate). Beautiful scenery! But any one of those could be an advertisement for green motoring, if not cheap motoring ($35 for $4 worth of electrons?!! ouch!).
     
  7. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    That's a really unfortunate tale. Huge ammo for anti-EV folks trying to show EVs not only aren't practical for long drives due to charging times, but trying it will cost you far, far more than with an ICE engine :(.
     
  8. stenkb

    stenkb Roadster 938 Model S 5957

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    #8 stenkb, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
    Not really - to drive my truck the same route would have cost me around $200 for fuel.
    The actual usage of electricity for my trip was around $14 - I paid a premium to charge at 'convenient' locations.

    I was able to make the trip back on a single charge - I was just a bit over cautious on the way there :)
     
  9. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    Your truck must get horrendous mileage :). My RX8, which isn't exactly gas efficient, would have used about 20 gallons for the trip, or about $80 at $4/gallon, which was about what you had to pay in charging fees. I sure hope the fast charge infrastructure ramps up quickly as the Model S nears production.
     
  10. stenkb

    stenkb Roadster 938 Model S 5957

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    #10 stenkb, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
    Thanks Jaff!

    Ya I am glad I got the 2.5 upgrade - even more happy now that I know Roadsters are coming to an end!
     
  11. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I've had a great experience charging at the 1000 Islands KOA near Ganonoque, Ontario. The owners are interested in green technology and sports cars, and are very friendly and helpful.

    I dropped in on Friday and even though they were going to be full up, they told me where the still-empty slots were. I just charged until someone showed up with a camper and then moved to another slot. Had lots of Tesla time and more than a few curious stares. Picked slots badly and had to move twice, but that just kept things interesting. Got enough juice and was on my way!

    Every hotel I've stayed at has been able to provide 110V power, although often requiring some ingenuity as conveniently located plugs seem to be the exception. It is definitely useful if you're staying long enough, and overnight you do get usable range from it.
     
  12. zack

    zack Member

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    A couple of weeks ago I charged at an older, privately-owned campground (owners were very gracious and charged only $5) for a few hours. We had a 240V 50A plug available and got it started and went for a hike, and came back to find an error message and the breaker tripped. I felt the breaker and it was hot... Obviously an old unit that was housed very tightly with no ventilation, and sitting in the sun didn't help. The continuous 40A was too much for it... I had to set the car for the next-lowest current setting and we sat with it for a while to make sure it stayed on. When we returned the second time to take off, I noticed that the overall range seemed to have decreased rather than increased after charging! I was extremely puzzled and a little concerned because we had no slack at all, but then my girlfriend, who does books for a living so she's very detail-oriented, asked me "Don't you have to do something with the range setting?" At that point I realized it had gone out of range mode and back to standard, and when I put it back in range mode of course all the new charge miles appeared and everything was fine. Whew. Still in the learning curve.
     
  13. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Yeah, when trying a new plug, or especially a new location, it's a good idea to hang around for a while to make sure it's going okay. Also check back in half an hour.
     
  14. S-2000 Roadster

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    There isn't a standard connector for 30A 120V (that I know of), so that's probably why Tesla doesn't offer the option of more than the standard. There is a 20A 120V standard (NEMA 5-20) that looks only slightly different (one optionally horizontal blade) from the typical 15A 120V (NEMA 5-15), but most people don't bother with the unique plug shape. Tesla does allow pulling 16A through what looks like a NEMA 5-15, as you noted above.

    The VMS screen is very accurate about the voltage. I measure 245V at the input to my breaker box, and the VMS charging screen also shows 245V. Other charging locations may be as low as 210V or 205V, but I've never seen less than 200V from a 250V-rated receptacle, but my experience is rather limited so far.

    P.S. I don't think you can get more than 7.62 mm through a TT-30. :wink:
     
  15. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #15 TEG, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
    This is the TT-30 ("Travel Trailer 30 amp") plug I was mentioning:
    800px-NEMA_TT-30.png

    NEMA TT-30 Rating 30A 125V Plug Angle Travel Trailer

    Many campgrounds offer those as their "30 amp service". It would be good if the UMC had an adapter to that which could draw 24A @ 120V.
     
  16. S-2000 Roadster

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    Is it possible that when you manually rewired your 30A 220V plug, you might have missed one of the phases? A single phase from 220V will give you 110V. Sounds like that might have been what happened.

    What you're doing is potentially dangerous unless you're careful about the connectors used. I'm not surprised that you tripped a breaker. Assuming your UMC is the same one that I have, it's designed to sense the adaptor that you plug in and adjust accordingly. If you purchased the official NEMA 10-30 or NEMA 6-30 adaptor for the UMC, then it would know not to pull the full 40A but only the code value of 24A. By rewiring the NEMA 14-50 wire with lower-rated plugs, you're risking overheated receptacles and/or tripped breakers unless you remember to carefully adjust the current on your VMS screen. That's because the wire is telling the UMC that it can pull the maximum power.

    When someone says "30A," you might want to be skeptical. A better way to evaluate the situation is to look at the actual receptacle once you get there and go by the codes. 220V receptacles do look different from 120V receptacles, assuming they were installed to code. Your UMC manual should have drawings of these. I haven't seen every one of them yet, in person, but it seems that only the NEMA 6-30 and NEMA 6-15 look the same with different capacities.

    I'm curious what sort of receptacle you were dealing with at that 30A RV park. It would be handy to have a reliable volt meter with you so you can see what you're dealing with before you rewire. In the example situation you recounted, you could have found out before you started that the 220V receptacle had only 120V on it, and you'd know which pins were working.

    Well, so long as you have the UMC adaptor for 50A 220V, then that's the safest choice.

    Note that it wouldn't necessarily be as risky to buy one 30A adaptor for the UMC and then do a little rewiring on the far end to fit NEMA 14-30, NEMA L14-30, NEMA 10-30, and/or NEMA 6-30 as needed (at least not any more risky than manual wiring of high voltage). That's because all of these look the same to the UMC and vehicle charging system, so rewiring is not probably going to cause as much trouble.
     
  17. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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  18. S-2000 Roadster

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    Nice! At least it clearly says 30A 125V on the receptacle (at least for that brand). Thanks for the images.

    Yes, it would be nice if the UMC had an adaptor for that. It's tempting to rewire one of the 30A cable adaptors for this plug, but since none of the UMC adaptors have the specific 30A 120V combination, I'm not sure whether it would be entirely safe. I do get the impression that the UMC is primarily concerned with adjusting for the current rating, so maybe it would work (e.g. with the NEMA 14-30, NEMA L14-30, NEMA 10-30, or NEMA 6-30). Interestingly enough, if you look at the UMC manual, there is a missing Color Label for green 30A with 4 bars - I have no idea whether that means there's another adaptor supported (could be the J1772?).

    P.S. I was making a joke about the Tokarev TT-30, which takes 7.62 mm rounds. :wink:
     
  19. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    #19 richkae, Jun 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
    As far as I know the Roadster does not support 24amps at 120volts. Even if the J1772 spec defined a pilot signal for that combination ( most likely it does but I don't know for sure ) the car will not accept it, and the UMC most likely doesn't have an option to generate it.

    I asked Tesla to add this feature to their mobile charger when they first introduced the UMC and they declined. I dont know if they can't or don't want to.

    The pigtails for the UMC have some internal trickery to tell the UMC box which plug they are so it can select the right pilot signal to generate. If you change the plug on one of the pigtails it will keep making the same pilot signal it used to, and then the car will think it knows how much it can draw.
    I also believe that whenever you tell the car ( with the pilot signal ) that it can draw some form of 240V but it only detects 120V, it always drops down to 12amps.
     
  20. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    Regarding hot breakers: When I drove my car home in July 2009, the very first RV park I charged at had a bad breaker that got hot and tripped on me so I got no charge overnight. You want to give them a few minutes to see if they got hot - especially if they look old.
    Full story here:
    EV Noob lesson #1 | High Speed Charging
     

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