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Charging Your EV Away From Home

Upon delivery of our EVs we all face the dual concerns of how and where we can charge when away from home. For some it can be as simple as pulling into a charging station and connecting — for example Tesla drivers using Superchargers with “miles” debited to an account set up when the EV was purchased. For all EVs (including Tesla drivers using anything other than Superchargers) it will depend on who owns/provides the charging station, how that station has been equipped to support a variety of EVs, and the EV driver having an associated account configured to allow filling the battery.

Where can I charge the battery?

Every EV will have a display showing chargers in the local area or along the route if navigating. Depending on the brand of EV the display can be comprehensive or a bit sparse. Some will display frequently updated information on how many charging stalls are in a location, and of those how many are available at that moment. Also displayed might be the expected charging power, the costs if any to use the station, and some nearby amenities. But as to detailed user experiences for a station there may be little or no information displayed by the EV.
And so many EV owners use one or more programs as support or even as their primary source for charging station information. Some well-know programs include:
Plugshare www.plugshare.com
ChargePoint www.chargepoint.com
EVgo www.evgo.com
Electrify America www.electrifyamerica.com
A Better Route Planner abetterrouteplanner.com

These and others are available for download in cellphone app stores.
Each offers a variety of useful information for making the EV experience more enjoyable. For example, some will assist by locating and displaying a course to the nearest public charging stations regardless of the network. Some offer access to helpful EV resources and allow the sharing with other EV drivers of experiences at given locations.

Some apps allow filtering to display only those charging stations that work with a specific vehicle. And typically while using an app the driver can initiate charging and pay with a tap of the cellphone on the charging station, and then receive real-time updates

I’ve identified a nearby charger, or one on my route. Can I use it with my EV?

Here is where an app can make life much easier. Let’s say you have a Tesla but there are no Superchargers in the vicinity. Your cellphone app shows a nearby Electrify America charger. Can you charge your battery there?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
If you went directly to that Electrify America charger without first considering some issues typically displayed in an app you could be disappointed with a wasted journey. Electrify America stations connect via the CCS and CHAdeMO plug. There are usually several CCS plugs and only a single CHAdeMO. But Tesla cannot connect to CCS or CHAdeMO directly even using the little adapter that comes with all new Tesla vehicles (that is for the standard J1772 plug – or J plug – for home and destination charging). One would need a CHAdeMO adapter — cost approximately $400 from Tesla.
Note that no matter the brand of EV in order to use an Electrify America station (for example) you’ll need to have created an EA account and associated a credit card to the account on the EA website or app.
For EA it usually works best to install the app on your phone and use that to start the charger after you’ve plugged in. It is also possible to use a credit card directly on EA chargers but some may find this a bit of a hassle as you can’t just plug in and walk away (like you can with Tesla superchargers).

What about using a J1772 adapter? Who needs it, and where can it be used?

Every EV other than Tesla has a J1772 inlet on the car that allows it to use Level 1 and 2 chargers both at home and at public stations. The little plastic adapter that comes with a new Tesla is used for both of these levels of J plug standard chargers. The level 2 chargers are faster than Level 1 but both use the same J1772 plug. Level 1 is a regular 120V outlet. Level 2 uses 240V “dryer outlet” level power.
Here in Brevard County if you go to Kohl’s at Hammock Landing or the Eau Gallie Library you’ll find some Level 2 chargers that use the J1772 plug, and that’s where Tesla owners only would need the little plastic adapter. These chargers are similar to Tesla’s “destination” chargers where you can plug in and charge while parked for a few hours doing shopping, eating, or maybe watching a movie. A good example of a Tesla destination charger can be found at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex right up front by the entrance. There’s also a J1772 level 2 charger there for non-Tesla EVs.

And CHAdeMO and CSS? What about those when away from home?

Electrify America only makes Level 3 fast chargers at 50 kW, 150 kW, and up to around 300 kW. Non-Tesla EVs have either CHAdeMO (Nissan Leaf and a few others) or CCS/Combined Charging System (GM, BMW, and most of the others). CHAdeMO is a separate, much larger diameter inlet on the car for a giant-sized plug. CCS is called combined because it adds two bigger ports right under the J1772 inlet for the + and – wires for the very high power direct current so that owners can use the upper inlet for their daily home charging or the slightly larger CCS plug for Level 3 fast charging.
Learn more about plugs here:



How can I pay for charging away from home?

First, use your in-car display or favorite app to locate those that are free! Tesla “destination” chargers have the same connector as their Superchargers and your home charger. These are usually hooked to a 240V circuit (Level 2). The power typically is given away for free as the charger equipment is normally given at no charge to the destination (hotel, zoo, vineyard, etc.) by Tesla. These chargers don’t have any “smarts” that will talk to the car for billing purposes as do the Superchargers.
Tesla “destination” chargers are basically the same higher power wall charger you’d install at home, just installed somewhere else where you would park for an hour or more to charge while you’re parked there anyway. The “plus” for the business that has set up such chargers is the anticipated additional revenue that more than pays for the little bit of free power given away.
But for those times when the on-board or in-app information indicates that there will be charges, what then? Let’s say you’re using Plugshare and want to access the charger at Kohl’s. The app says that at Kohls you must get an RFID card at customer service, and there is a $1.25/hour charge. How does one pay for the RFID card? In advance? After charging? The app does not say. Plugshare shows the charger is a ChargePoint brand network so if you had your own ChargePoint account and app on your phone then you can activate and pay for the charge yourself without bothering with Kohl’s RFID card.
All non-Tesla chargers are run by third-party networks and manufacturers each of which require user/password accounts on their websites, the storing on file of a credit card to register each month’s total charges, and a free sign-up to get RFID cards in your mailbox. Thus non-Tesla EV drivers will have a glove box or key ring full of these RFID cards, and have to shuffle through them when using a destination charger like that at Kohl’s. Then after locating the appropriate RFID one can tap on the charger to set up billing and start the charge. Today more charging stations are simply using your smartphone to start the charge instead of the old RFID cards.

Clearly it’s much better to have all of this set up many weeks/months ahead of any road trip. It’s much harder while on a trip and sitting at a charger to set up an account over the phone, or use the website to set up on your cellphone. One very experienced non-Tesla EV owner had accounts with ChargePoint, Blink, SemaConnect, EVGo, and Greenlots. There are others, but those were the ones along this driver’s usual routes. Each third-party, non-Tesla charger host site can set whatever price it wants for charging. Some will set the price at zero and give the power away for free because they know that the extra dwell time while customers wait for a charge will drive new business, and those customers might stick around for an extra coffee or dessert at a restaurant.
One owner recently reported that he had “topped-up” at The Avenues Viera Level 2 charger. After getting a cup of coffee his ChargePoint app reported “20 miles, 53 minutes, 5 kWh $0.”
Other locations will try to recoup the costs of the charger by adding a few pennies over what they are paying for power. But it would take years to pay off going by that alone, so it’s probably not the wave of the future.
Most people can’t think of a charger as anything but a gas station pump that happens to pump out electrons instead of gas. “Pay with Plugshare” was a new feature added recently trying to make it easier to pay for the charges without the need for setting up all those separate accounts. But not all third-party networks have signed on so it’s yet just another confusing way to pay for it all.

How do “destination” chargers differ?

Tesla “destination” chargers are built to use a wide range of input amps. So it will be different for each host depending on how the electrician wired it up vs how much capacity there was in the host’s breaker box. For example, a small bed and breakfast might have at most a 30 or 40 amp breaker. But a large hotel might have 80 amp service making it almost twice as fast as the “bnb,” but still much slower than the Superchargers yet at the same time much faster than Level 1 charging on a 120V outlet.

Remember, if you have any questions about EVs, owning and driving EVs, and charging EVs, you can email us and ask real EV owners that have been driving almost every make and model since 2011.

NDEW 2020 Meetup

Hey, drivers! It’s been a while! This year has been a little crazy, as we all know and we haven’t been able to host our normal monthly luncheon meetings. We know everyone was getting a bit restless so we decided to host a driver meet up to close out National Drive Electric Week. This is in addition to the content we’ve been putting out on YouTube which we launched during National Drive Electric Week. We had 13 EVs join us for our BYO coffee and donut socially distant drive in. We’re also happy to report that everybody brought their mask to ensure that we could have a safe event. One of the biggest suprises of the morning was a driver who joined us his brand new Porsche Taycan. As most EV drivers know whenever a new model or make shows up it’s a big deal. They are an instant celebrity. Everyone was very excited to check out the new ride. All in all our first event for 2020 was a success. Thanks to everyone who made it out and we hope to be brining you more outdoor events throughout the rest of the year.

Don’t forget to check out the videos we made specifically for NDEW 2020.

Youtube videos for NDEW 2020

Space Coast EV Drivers NDEW 2020

We’ve created a playlist of videos specifically for National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) 2020. You can also search social media for hashtag #NDEW2020 to see more from around the nation (and the world). Since we couldn’t come out in person with our personal electric vehicles to show to the public and give test rides like we normally do every year, we decided to create a few videos instead. We always get the same set of questions from the public so one of the videos explains answers to our top five frequently asked questions. We also made a few personal videos from the founders about their adventures in public charging and fast charging as well as a video about the different EVs they have owned and driven over the past 9 years. You can go to the official NDEW website and see all the virtual event recordings and learn even more about EVs, charging stations, infrastructure expansion, solar power and renewable energy like solar and wind to charge EVs, and more. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel and subscribe to learn more about driving on electricity as we post more videos throughout the year. We’re aiming for a weekly video so make sure you subscribe to the channel and share with everyone you know. See you at Drive Electric Earth Day in April 2021!

November EV Meetup

For our First Sunday of the Month meetup this time we met again at the Crafty Crab at Hammock Landing in Palm Bay. This is one of the restaurants that has a space big enough for our growing club and is near the charging stations there at Hammock Landing. So once again we were able to show the manager how much extra business the charging stations have brought in. It shows how the charging stations act like advertisements to have customers choose your business over a competitor’s if you have a charging station. This makes it easy to say that the cost of a charging station can come out of your marketing budget. See our charging station info page if you want to learn more about getting a charging station for your business.

We talked about a few things about our electric cars and the new software updates from Tesla that gave Youtube and Netflix and other great features like smart summon that lets you call the car from the parking lot and it drives itself to you standing at the door to the mall. There’s also Caraoke that lets you see the lyrics on the giant screen in the middle of the dash so you can sing karaoke in your car.

Dischord! We use this for chats and planning so we don’t spam everyone’s email. And for sharing news.

We were invited to Earth Day at KSC.
Ford might bring their prototype mustang inspired EV! This is a big if though so let’s not give our hopes up.

Check out prices on MyEV.com and tell everyone you know! This is the best place to learn about EVs while you shop for used electric vehicles without having to filter out gasoline powered cars. You can find a used EV on there for around $7000 for the older models. Did you know the original Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are already 10 years old!? We’ve had production EVs for a decade already and people still think they are something brand new! Take a look and see if there’s a used EV in your future.

Fully Charged Live will be in Austin, TX on Feb 1 and 2. Get your tickets now to attend if you want to go. We won’t be setting anything up but just want everyone to know this is happening.

EV News Daily podcast. 15 or so minutes a day to listen to all the EV and clean energy related news for the day so you don’t have to go read the articles yourself. A great time saver!

If you need a blue polo you can order it from Florida Boy in 5th ave Indialantic. Tell them it’s for the Space Coast EV Drivers electric car club. Say Men’s or Women’s style (men’s has a button in the V-neck) and size S, M, L, XL, or XXL and if you want your name embroidered on the opposite chest from our logo. We have magnetic name tags if you don’t since it costs extra.

August EV meetup

This month we met at the cafe in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott in Cocoa Beach. We came back here because of the free EV chargers right outside in the parking lot. We make sure to let the manager and staff know that all of this business was brought in because of those chargers and that they are paying for themselves. If you want to know more about the different kinds of charging stations, how they work, and how to get them installed at your business to bring in more customers, visit our charging station info page here.

We went over the last event that was just held at FIT, Camp Epic. Children ages 11-14 got to see a few EVs up close, ask questions about them, and learn about them with Mars and space themed activities.

Everyone requested another order of window decals that stick inside the glass for our members. This is because we keep sticking business cards on cars that are already in the club. If we had a window decal we would know they were already in the club. These stickers have been ordered using club funds and ready to give out. to members.

We also said hello to our newest member, Adam. He already has been driving a Chevy Volt for some time and found our group. That brings up our total membership to 120 EVs and 131 members.

Next month’s meeting will be at Squid Lips in Eau Gallie. There is a charging station next door at the library. We like to remind the manager that installing more charging stations at the restaurant would bring in even more business.

The main focus of the meetup was to make sure everyone had tasks for getting ready for National Drive Electric Week (NDEW). This is the last full month we have for planning it and getting the word out. Our flyer is ready and we are contacting newspapers, radio stations, and news outlets to really get the word out. We’ll be recording a Coastal Connections with WFIT a few weeks before the event as well. If you haven’t signed up to attend the Satellite Beach NDEW for Saturday Sept 14 please go to our official event page and do so here. The Space Coast EV Drivers will be doing the work for setting up and planning that event. There will be a second NDEW event the following Saturday Sept 21 in Cape Canaveral at the Manatee Sanctuary Park. The city will be planning and preparing that event so the Space Coast EV Drivers will only need to bring our cars for the Q&A and ride and drives. Sign up for that event on the Cape Canaveral NDEW official event page here. We hope to break more than 70 EVs in one place this year so if you want to see many different makes and models of EVs in one place at one time this is the event you’ve been waiting for. We’ll see you in September!

July EV Meetup

For our first Sunday of the month electric vehicle meetup we met at the Pizza Gallery at the Avenue in Viera. We had a full room with 22 people at the table including a few new members. We added some more EVs to the club including more Tesla Model 3 cars. We’ve noticed over the years no other make/model has grown this fast as the Tesla Model 3. We talked to the manager and let them know that all of this business was brought in because of the new charging station the Avenue recently installed.

We talked about the next upcoming event for our club to bring our personal vehicles to for answering questions. It will be the Camp EPIC at Florida Tech on July 19 from 1-3 pm. If you want to see any of our events and get more details please visit our upcoming events page.

The main event that needs the most attention and planning and help with tasks is the National Drive Electric Week coming up in September. We have it planned for Saturday September 14 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Schechter Center in Satellite Beach. We are going to try to have more than 60 EVs all in the one parking lot from all different makes and models for the public to see and take ride and drives around the block. It’s also the best time to ask questions because they are our personal cars that we drive every day so we’ll have all the best answers from experience of living with them.

June EV meetup

This month we met at the old Moon Hut in Cape Canaveral, now La Fiesta Mexican restaurant. We had 20 people including the new Sustainability Manager for Cape Canaveral, Zach Eichholz. He gave us a quick list of the things on his to-do list for the city:

The city has four, dual ClipperCreek chargers. They are spread out over several locations like city hall, the library, and Manatee Park.
There will be six more coming this year!
More will be added to city hall.
Some will be added to the wastewater treatment plant for city fleet Ford Focus EV and future fleet plug in vehicles. We reminded him instead of waiting for Rivian and Tesla to come out with their 100% electric pick up trucks they can already get plug in hybrid work trucks from VIA Motors and Workhorse.
He wants to see it go to 20 chargers all over the city.

They are still trying to get 25 Tesla chargers in the city including the free destination chargers that include the J1772 plug for all non-Tesla EVs.

Zach mentioned the chargers have not added any noticeable amount to the city’s power bill. This is important to know that it is OK to give the power away for free because it will pay for itself many times over with all the extra business it will bring from EV owners spending money in the local restaurants and shops.

The city has a brand new sustainability page on their website here:

We have three events to add to the calendar:
Camp epic, solar tour of homes, founders day.
We will be doing National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) on Saturday Sept 14 in Satellite Beach.

If you want to see any of our next events to come learn about driving electric, just check our upcoming events page. And if you want to learn more about charging stations visit our info page. If you just want to ask a quick question you can send us an email.

Drive Electric Earth Day 2019 Recap

Saturday, April 27, 2019 was the first Drive Electric Earth Day event in Satellite Beach at the Schechter Center. This was similar to our event we do every year in September where we give ride and drives in our cars around the block as well as answer all of the questions we can about driving electric. This time we were able to be a part of the Earth Day event the City of Satellite Beach was already planning. Since we are the ones that drive the cars every day to work, school, shopping, and visiting friends and family we are the ones to best answer real world questions about driving electric cars. We had 22 cars show up from many different makes: Tesla, Nissan, Chevy, Honda, Toyota, and BMW. One of the highlights of the event was a 21 foot center console boat that was on a trailer being towed by a Tesla Model X, the all electric SUV with a 5,000 pound towing capacity. You can find a video showing it being towed away in the album link below.

We talked to nearly 200 people and gave 21 test rides around the block. Everyone was surprised to find out how much power and acceleration every one of the cars we brought had. Even the low end models had faster off-the-line takeoff power than most normal gasoline powered cars. Most of the people we talked to agreed that their next car would be electric or a plug in hybrid.

We shared a few links to visitors such as:
Sierra Club EV Guide
Rivian Electric Trucks and SUVs
Via Motors Plug in Hybrid Work Trucks
Workhorse Plug in Hybrid Work Trucks

Here’s the full album to all the photos taken from the event:

Earth Day at Enchanted Forest 2019 Recap

We were invited to bring our tent and electric vehicles to the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary natural park in Titusville for their Earth Day event again this year. We brought 3 cars this time: Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, and 2nd generation Nissan Leaf. We were able to talk to over 100 people as they came through to see the other vendors and exhibitors with eco-friendly goods and services. The native plants were a big hit with lots of people interested in getting their landscaping more drought tolerant and requiring less watering. The bee and butterfly friendly flowers were getting the most visitors to learn how to help the bee colonies grow as they are truly needed for our food crops.

Our cars were parked well into the traffic circle with the food trucks so grabbing a bite to eat around lunch time was very convenient. This also meant we couldn’t give any test rides since we were so close to the walking activity for visitors. We let everyone know about our upcoming event on the next Saturday for Drive Electric Earth Day in Satellite Beach. That event was the one with the test ride and drives. It is also a nation wide event put on by grass roots EV enthusiasts and owners like us with some help from Plug in America, the Electric Auto Association, and the Sierra Club. Look for the recap from that event next!

Here’s the complete photo album from the event: https://photos.app.goo.gl/opsDNQC2HhQPcdgV9

April monthly ev meetup with visitors

We had our monthly meetup on the 2nd Sunday of the month instead of the first so we could have our visitors from Norway meet with us. They found out about us from the EV News Daily podcast. If you haven’t subscribed to it yet we highly recommend it! They just got their new Tesla Model 3 and their child is a student at FIT. Since they were visiting FIT anyway we thought it would be the perfect time to meet up and talk about electric cars and charging stations. They introduced us to a company in Norway called Zaptec that builds smart charging stations that can split up the power as more cars plug in. This is different from running a dedicated circuit from the breaker box to each individual charger. This way with Zaptec chargers you only need the one, big circuit and as each car plugs in it will slow down the charge to the other cars so you can have many more cars charging that would normally be allowed. This makes the most sense for apartment and condo complexes. Thai Thai House at Hammock Landing was a great spot to have our meetup and we’ll be back there again in the future. We agreed that next month we should meet at Ginger & Garlic in Rockledge.