EV charging in caravan parks

What is the EV etiquette around charging an EV in a caravan park? How much should we pay?

Charging during our stay at Lorne caravan park

As pointed out in Bryce Gaton’s article on EV Etiquette (in Renew magazine issue 155), it’s not appropriate to expect to charge for free. Because fast chargers are almost non-existent off the main highway routes, our long distance trips in the Kona EV would not be possible without charging at the caravan parks we stay at. We don’t expect to travel for free and are always happy to pay. But how much?

We have discussed our car charging at caravan parks we have stayed at, and responses have been surprisingly varied …

  • “No-one has ever asked us about that before. Go for it!”,
  • one manager turned down an offer of payment,
  • one park charged us only a $10 surcharge after we told them we estimated our power usage as $25 over a 3 night stay,
  • another requested we avoid charging at peak times, and that we tallied our power consumption to pay per kWh on departure.

This is far from a consistent approach!

‘Powered sites’ at most caravan parks generally include a single 15 Amp power outlet. These cost about $5-14 more than unpowered sites. There’s no monitoring or charging of power used so the same fee applies whether it’s campers in a tent, and just charging phones and devices, or a large caravan with electric appliances, air conditioners, heaters and the rest. Everyone pays the same, regardless of power used.

Charging at a caravan park. We plug the camper trailer into the 15 Amp socket, and charge the car by plugging into a camper trailer socket.

At caravan parks we plug the car charger into a 10 Amp power point in the camper, with the camper plugged into the 15 Amp caravan park outlet. This is slow charging. At home we charge from a 10 Amp power point, mostly when our solar panels are producing plenty of power, and easily keep up with our daily driving needs. On long trips however, we might need to slow charge for over 24 hours to replenish a low battery.

The most widespread EV charging infrastructure … a 10 Amp power outlet

If we arrive with a low battery, we might need a large initial charge. But if we stay two or three nights, even with a reasonable amount of local driving during the days, we estimated a total of $20 – $25 for the stay. If staying longer, the daily average might be even less.

Several caravan parks saw EV charging as an issue but were unsure how to deal with it. We see several possible approaches:

Self monitored pay for use

The EV owner would need to keep tabs on how much power is used for charging. This can be calculated as either:

  • hours of charging x 2.4kW (e.g. charging from 10pm to 8am would be 10 hours of the charger drawing 2.4 kW = 24 kWh), or
  • change in battery charge percentage x battery capacity (e.g. charging our 64 kWh battery from 42% to 80% means 38% of 64 kWh = 24.3 kWh)

This relies on the honesty and diligence of the EV owner to record these details, and agreement on the rate to pay per kW (we generally assume 40c/kWh). While we are happy to use this method, it could easily be exploited.

Flat rate surcharge

One suggestion was a $10 per night surcharge for EV campers. This may be the simplest approach. But the power consumed for EV charging will depend on the EV’s battery capacity, how full it was on arrival, and on how much (if at all) the car was driven during the stay. Also, fast charger locations are growing rapidly, and as these become more widespread, charging needs in caravan parks might reduce. Because of these factors, a flat rate or surcharge does not seem a fair approach.

Current locations of fast chargers (CCS2) in Australia (Plugshare, April 2021)
This shows over 200 fast chargers around Australia. From Adelaide to Port Douglas they are at 200 km spacing (or less).

Installing separate car charging

Some caravan parks indicated they had looked into installing car charging. The different EV charging options can be confusing until you actually use an EV. This video shows the different types of chargers, and issues faced in using them. Caravan parks are most likely to install AC chargers, such as Tesla destination chargers (most of which only work for Tesla vehicles), or generic “Type 1” or “Type 2” chargers that charge at about 7 kW (three times the rate of a regular 10 Amp power outlet). These chargers would allow us a full charge of our car (say from 10% to 100%) in around 8 hours. There are various ways caravan parks could manage payment for using these chargers.

However, unless these chargers were installed very close to the powered campsites, they may not be especially of interest. We like to have our car close by in the caravan park, so we can access various bits and pieces we carry in it. The ideal solution for us would be to have a Type 2 AC charger at the powered site. But this is unlikely to become feasible.

Metered outlets for each campsite

Individually metered pedestals or powerheads are already available (e.g. M-tech, Kmac) that would provide central accounting for power use at each powered site. This article claims these reduce overall power consumption by campers (not just by EVs). Obviously this approach would involve significant outlay, but would enable EV charging to be costed in a consistent way with other power usage.

We will continue to discuss this on our stays.

Update 5-Jul-2021: Have recently read on WikiCamps that a Big 4 Holiday Resort at Bulahdelah NSW is metering powered sites individually, and charging for power used on departure. Perhaps other parks will follow suit.

One thought on “EV charging in caravan parks

  1. I similarly have plugged our camper trailer into the powered site’s 15A supply and then the car into the trailer’s 10A outlet. We tend to turn off charging at peak times to avoid tripping the supply over breakfast and dinner times when we could have combinations of fridge microwave kettle and induction hotplate running. I have not offered anything extra for car charging. I look at the bigger vans and think that they are heating water for showers, running aircon or electric heaters that are also large loads for extended times. I also see some vans plugged into more than one 15A outlet.
    By having the car plugged into the trailer and only one connection from trailer to 15A supply, I figure that I can always show that I am taking no more than the 15A supply I paid for with the site.

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