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Ep. 12 || The Future of Camping: Will EVs Ruin Camping?

Episode Date: March 22, 2023

Summary | Key Topics & Timestamps | Links & Mentions | Full Episode Transcript

Take a look at camping of the future. Are we poised to have camping ruined by rapid electrification? Join Katie & Steve from All Electric Family as they explore what the future of RVing & camping may hold.


Episode Summary

Campgrounds may be more receptive than you think. We chat about our actual experience at campgrounds while towing our camper with an EV.

We ease the fear of having your vehicle damaged and discuss that EVs have built in chargers that monitor power and protect the vehicle from damage. Plugging your EV into “bad” power doesn’t have the same implications as plugging an RV in to “bad” power. Campgrounds may experience damage from an EV if they don’t have the appropriate (and required) breakers, etc. 
 A change in camping fees is likely to occur due to increased power usage by bigger and more technologically advanced campers as well as electric vehicles.

We consider how camping may look different with an EV and talk about destinations and remote locations. Boondocking is possible with an EV and in the future may be even more convenient than boondocking with a gas vehicle.We also discuss how camping with EVs can provide their own set of benefits such as reduced noise and back up power.

Key Topics & Chapter Markers

0:00 Introduction 3:20 Campground Reactions 7:13 Damage to EVs and campgrounds 20:40 EVs & the cost of camping 29:00 State Parks Impacts 36:06 Boondocking 44:23 Benefits and considerations

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Episode full Transcript

KATIE: Are EVs going to ruin the future of camping? That is a question that we are going to talk about today on today's All Electric Conversations podcast.

INTRODUCTION: Welcome to All Electric Conversations where we talk with pioneers and traveling with electric vehicles. We're your hosts, Katie and Steve Krivolavek of the All Electric Family. From road trips and towing to daily life, we'll hear stories of wanderlust and progress to inspire your own adventures with All Electric Conversations.

KATIE: I am Katie.

STEVE: I'm Steve.

KATIE: And we are from the All Electric Family. And obviously this topic is of importance to us as we tow with our EV and have been since 2020. But this is the first full camping season where we actually have two production electric trucks as we're going into this year's summer season with camping and stuff. So we have the Rivian R1T and we have the Ford lighting, which were starting to be delivered at the beginning of camping season last year, but not many people had their hands on them yet. We were one of the lucky few that got our hands on, actually, both over the course of the last camping season. And so we wanted to talk about some of the impacts because we're seeing more and more of that conversation online in the forums, in Facebook groups and things like that on what impacts EVs are going to have when camping and RVing.

STEVE: Yeah. So as we get into 2023 here, we're going to see more and more of those at the campgrounds and what exactly that's going to look like? Is it going to overload? Is it going to upset a bunch of people? Like, what are all the things that are going to happen with that?

KATIE: Yeah. Is it going to increase the cost of camping? Are campgrounds going to shut down because they don't want to deal with it? There's a lot of what ifs out there. So we really want to dive in but we want to jump in real quick here early on and say that if you are interested in towing with an EV that you should go over to and get signed up to come out and camp with us, whether you have an EV now or not, to come check out and talk to people that are already doing it. There's going to be giveaways, there's going to be seminars, we're going to be there with whatever two electric vehicles we have at the time. We'll see what we end up with. But it's a great way to come out and learn about towing with an EV, camping with an EV, because we have a bunch of people that are already doing it and people that have been researching it for years and a little bit of everything out there. So be sure to jump over there to, like I said, to get signed up to come, Amana, Iowa from October 4 through the 8th, 5th through the 8th. Why am I blanking out on the dates right now? But October, the first weekend in October, come on out and join us.

STEVE: Yeah, it's a great time. We'll have a bunch of people there talking about towing with an EV and camping and family and just all sorts of fun stuff. We would love to see you there.

KATIE: Yeah, so.

STEVE: Let's just start with that. So that is a campground that we will be going to. How were we received last year with all of our electric vehicles and our campers and all of that?

KATIE: They loved us there. They wanted us back. They were super excited because we're using the same campground as we used last year, and they wanted us to come back when we decided to go ahead and have the rally there again this year. They were super excited to have us and even us saying that it's going to be even bigger this year. And they were like, great, sounds good. And that is what we've typically seen when we're camping.

STEVE: Definitely what we've typically seen. But we don't want to gloss over the fact that we do know people that have been turned away from campgrounds towing with electric vehicle. That hasn't been the case for us, but that has happened. And so one of the things that we talk about quite often is your leaders in campgrounds and stuff like that, what are they going to do? Well, we've already unfortunately seen a glimpse of that with KOA and they've already talked about how they only have. Nine or something like that.

KATIE: Very small number yeah.

STEVE: Of campgrounds that are actually able to charge an EV. And there's a whole lot of stuff that we can talk about with this. From what I can tell, those campgrounds that they say are equipped for it, they do have a charging station, so a J-1772. That's what I've seen. I don't know if that's actually accurate or not, but when I did reach out to them one time and they did say to talk to your campground, but they did reiterate some of the stuff they did have on their website. And I think that that's what Katie is chomping at the bit to talk to you about. But I think that some of the information that they're saying on there, I do worry a little bit about how that may be perceived from other campground owners as being the gospels.

KATIE: Yeah. No, I mean, KOA is a big it's a big company. Right. Like, they have lots of campgrounds, and the campgrounds are individually run operated. Whatnot? But Koa is still giving them guidance on what to do. And so a little small, independently owned campground that's not associated with KOA may look to KOA to say, what should I do about this? How should I handle electric vehicles coming in? And so I think that it is not good that KOA came in and said that essentially, they said, you're going to ruin our electrical systems. You're going to ruin your car's electrical system. Don't charge at campgrounds. Campgrounds can't handle it. Like, it was a very period statement that they made when they made this article, which is interesting because if you go back in their other blog posts, they talk about welcoming EVs and coming in and camping with your EV. And so all of a sudden, this switch flipped where they were like, no, just kidding. Don't come here to charge your EV. And then with Steve reaching out to them and asking them and then them saying, well, just ask your local campground. Well, and that's what they should have said in that article. So that not to influence other campgrounds to just blindly go along with this. First and foremost, I think we need to address that is plugging into a campground that is not…so let's say that the campground is not capable of charging your EV, right? Because there are going to be electrical systems that are not capable of handling it. If you plug your EV into a campground that is not capable of charging an EV, is it going to ruin your car?

STEVE: I'm confused on that question, because what determines that a campground isn't capable?

KATIE: Well, we're going to set aside because every campground can charge a vehicle. But let's say so you plug in, it's 100 degree day, all of the RVs in the campground are running their two or three ACs, and then you plug your EV in and it shuts the campground down. We're just going to go worst case scenario right here from the top. Is that going to ruin your EV?

STEVE: The EV? No, because it has an onboard charger, so it's only going to put in the electricity that is good enough for it.

KATIE: Yeah. And they put it in bold letters on this KOA blog right. That it could ruin your EV if you plug into these campgrounds. And that's flat out wrong, because the EVs have, they're monitoring what's going on so that you don't get bad power. That's why if you plugged into your house and the grid went down, it's monitoring all of that stuff. Right. So we just need to take that off. KOA needs to take that off their website because it's just flat out wrong information. It's not going to ruin your EV. Now, yes…

STEVE: I think what they're doing is taking liability off of them with saying that.

KATIE: But it's creating a disbelief among people, that, It's just making it look bad, right? Like it's making EVs look bad. And that EV people are idiots and can't like they're even going to ruin their car by plugging into a campground. Yeah, and so I know they're trying to take the liability off of themselves, but they shouldn't state it in that way. They could state it and to avoid damage to your vehicle or something like that, but it says you can damage your vehicle and it's not going to happen.

STEVE: The other part of what they're talking about is damaging their electrical system. It's their prerogative, whatever they want to do and say on that front. We've plugged into plenty of pedestals and things like that. And there are safeguards built into these pedestals; breakers that will trip if it actually heats up too much. And all of this stuff that's going to actually prevent the pedestal from actually being ruined or their electrical systems. And on modern RVs, they're taking a ton of electricity anyways because you have everything in there. And so…There's a lot that goes into it so no, EVs aren't going to ruin their pedestal. I could argue that just modern RVs potentially could. There's a potential for any of it. So like how things are ran, you only have a certain you have a capacity of what your whole campground is rated for, and it's actually less than what, depend upon the infrastructure that's built in. But typically it's less than running at 100% capacity. So that's where, like, electrical engineers and people that are building these things out will say, well, if everybody is drawing that full 40 amps off of a 50 amp pedestal, it's going to crash the transformer or whatever it is. I don't know if it's called a transformer, but like the big power that's coming in. And so that's potential. We talked to a campground owner last year, and he had his go down, and he had to have the electrical company in and put in a bigger service for his. And this is out in the middle of nowhere. The only electric vehicle that's ever been hooked up to his campground is ours. And no, we weren't there when it crashed. A lot of these already have aging infrastructure that can't handle some of the modern RVs. And one of the statements he said is, these new RVs have two, sometimes three, air conditioners. He's like the refrigerators running off of it. They have ice makers that run off of it, microwaves, all this stuff.

KATIE: Air dryers, hair straighteners, I guess.

STEVE: So, like, he was, you know. Just saying that they're drawing a lot more power. So yeah, electric vehicles potentially are going to add to that. So I think that there needs to be more of an education side of it is what I see with it. What we personally do is not overload the pedestal all by monitoring our power usage, we'll jump down the amps of the vehicle, how much it's drawing. We have the capability of doing that into our camper as well. And so I know that's a very privileged thing to be able to do that as far as the jumping down your camper, but understanding that maybe you could only plug in your electric vehicle, not the camper too, or just running a few things in your camper while you're charging your EV. So there's a bunch of different stuff that can be done. It's more education than anything if you ask me.

KATIE: Well, I think people need to but people need to realize that these RVs are pulling thousands of watts at once, right? So if your one AC is running, it could be like around 1000 plus watts. So then you get multiple of those running and you're getting up to where you're probably running around 5000 watts worth of stuff. So, you’re getting to where you're getting to be almost equal to what an EV would be running to pull to charge just off of the ACs. And then there is so many things because you have to think about like if you're running a satellite like that's, pulling power in your camper, there's so many things that are pulling power now in campers. And I think one of the things so when we talk about monitoring and drawing down our amps and stuff, so we have a surge protector that is monitoring our power usage and stuff, so people having those that would be beneficial to help with issues. But I think the thing that it boils down to, and we talk about this a lot when we're talking about charging your home as well, is that when are EVs charging? They're not charging in the middle of the day when it's 100 degrees and everybody's running all of their ACS and everything's on, and all of their campers. EVs are charging overnight when there is less power usage in the camper itself. Right? Your AC is not running as much because the sun isn't up. You're not watching TV, you're not cooking, you're not, um, you know, you don't have your party lights on. You're not running your smoker. You know, like, EVs typically charge overnight when the grid is not at peak usage, whether that's the grid of the campground or the grid of your house. So I think that it comes to when those arguments come around. Well, again, most of the time, an EV is not going to be charging when the peak of the power is needed. You're using it at a time when there's less draw. So I think that there also needs to be education about that, right? So if you get to a campground and you don't have to plug in right away when everybody's cooking dinner and doing all of these things, then hold off, wait, don't charge your EV right away. Plug it in right before you go to bed. You still get a sufficient charge, and then you can go about your day. So there's just a whole lot of education, and I think that EVs get a bad rap, a bad name, just because of the unknown. People just don't know what they're going to do, so they just jump to that. Whatever it is, it's going to be bad.

STEVE: Yeah, so there are plenty of I'm not sure where to go from here.

KATIE: So how do we get the education out to campground owners? How do we teach that information to the campground owners? What do we need