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Can You Charge Your Electric Car at an RV Park Campground?

Almost all RV parks offer electric hookups for RV’s that have substantially more powerful outlets than a standard wall outlet. So does this mean they could be a good place to recharge your Tesla or any other electric car? We’re going to take a look at if and how you can charge your car at campgrounds.

Charging a Tesla at US campsite RV hookups: the TT-30 adapter

Can You Charge a Tesla at a Campground?

One of our favorite things about electric cars is that they can be powered by almost any electrical source. This means worldwide fuel compatibility, and the actual energy can come from many different sources. One day you might be solar or hydro powered, and the next natural gas or diesel. Along the same line a charging station isn’t the only place you can charge a Tesla. The power pedestal at a campground is likely capable of charging your electric car, too. You may need an adapter or two, but it’s possible. 

However, the campground may not be all that thrilled with you doing so. It’s best to check the campground policies or ask the staff before plugging in your car to charge.

Electric cars have the potential to draw much more from the pedestal than most RV’s do. Because of this if there are multiple cars charging on a campground’s electric system, it can cause an overload and blow a fuse or damage the electrical wiring. Most campgrounds are built to only handle a portion of the electrical capacity that is actually installed. Because of this, you might need to limit the amperage your car is drawing.

We have been traveling with an electric hybrid car for years and have charged it at campgrounds almost everywhere we go. We, however, charge it very slowly on a 120V circuit and only draw around 1400 watts. We will talk about amperage and wattage at campgrounds a bit later.

Pro Tip: Need to charge your RV while on the road? We uncovered Can You Charge Your RV at Tesla Charging Stations?

tesla car charging at an RV park
A Tesla can be a great second vehicle when camping, but they cannot be flat towed and need to be on a trailer

Do Some Campgrounds Prohibit Car Charging?

Yes, some campgrounds do not allow EV charging. Some allow it but charge an additional fee. Some we have been at even have dedicated car chargers. Currently, it varies greatly from place to place, but most campgrounds don’t have any rules about it yet. The ones that do usually have weaker electrical systems that are already overloaded.

As EV camping becomes more standard, expect to see more rules around charging. Electrical infrastructure will need to be more robust, and those campgrounds that upgrade might have a leg up in the EV world.

Can You Go Camping With an Electric Car? 

An electric vehicle can be a great option for camping. Appreciating nature means taking care of it. This means leaving as little impact as possible on the environment. And driving an electric car is a great way to have a minimal impact.

Some electric cars will even excel at camping adventures beyond that of their gas counterparts. You can use the unused engine space to store more camping gear.  Many EV owners can actually camp inside your car with heat and AC comfortably. All Teslas include “Camp Mode,” which provides airflow and maintains the interior temperature of the vehicle while you sleep. We love leaving our car on for our pups and running the AC. Its very quiet and efficient, but we would never leave a gas car running all night.

Best of all, if your campground allows it, you can plug your car into the power pedestal at your campsite to charge your electric vehicle. No need to scout out other charging stations on your trip! 

Chevy volt charging at a campground
The chevy volt is a plug in hybrid and makes a good tow vehicle

How do you charge an Electric Car at a Campground?

To charge your electric car while camping, you’ll need a few things, like a charging cable. Unlike many charging stations, campgrounds don’t include anything but a plug. Most EV’s can use a Mobile Connector or charger to plug into standard outlets. Usually, you can use a set of adapters to plug into different size outlets.

Many campgrounds offer three different outlets for a campsite. The outlets are a 15 or 20-amp 125V NEMA 5-15R, a 30-amp 125V NEMA Tt 30-R and a 50-amp 240V NEMA 14-50P. The outlets define how much amperage (and thus wattage they can handle). The 20 and 30-amp plugs are 120V and will be a much slower charge than a 50A 240 V plug.

If you are going to be charging at a campground, you are likely going to want to have an adapter for each of these plug types and know their limits. If you have an RV, you will likely be plugged into one of the outlets, and it will limit your power consumption. You also want to limit your car to about 80% of the amperage of the circuit. Thus a 50 amp plug, you should only draw 40Amps. This is because at full load, you will heat the wires and breaker, and it will most likely trip eventually.

graphic of campground plug receptacle types
You should have an adapter for each plug type at a campground and understand the amperage limits.

Pro Tip: With electric vehicles becoming more common, new brands are popping up on the market, like the Canoo EV truck. But will this new electric truck make it? Find out!

Other Ways to Charge Your EV While Camping

You must plan where you’ll charge your car before setting out on your camping adventure. Fortunately, if you enter your destination into Tesla’s navigation system, it will show you all the Tesla Superchargers along your route. Be sure to pay attention to the car’s guidance as you don’t want to miss a charging station when your battery is running low and risk running out of power.

If you’re already at the campground and need to charge your vehicle, check for a Tesla Supercharging Station or EV charging station nearby. There’s still hope, however, if you can’t charge at the campground and a charging station is too far away. If you’re in dire need, many establishments have a 110-volt outlet somewhere outside. You could try to sweet-talk a local business into letting you plug into an outdoor power outlet. They might not let you do this for free, and you should definitely patronize their business as a thank you. And never try this without getting the owner’s permission first! 

Keep in mind that these outlets take an incredibly long time to charge an EV, typically no more than three or four miles per hour. So don’t expect to go anywhere anytime soon. But, it does beat getting stranded somewhere and calling a tow truck.

Tesla charging station.
There’s no need to find a charging station when camping with your Tesla if you have the correct mobile connector.

Should You Charge Your Electric Vehicle at Campgrounds?

The problem with charging EVs at campgrounds is always capacity. If you charge slowly, you should not have a problem. If you want to charge faster, you may have to prioritize other appliances if using an RV.

Ultimately, it’s crucial to communicate with the campground management or staff and adhere to their policies regarding EV charging. Respectful and responsible charging practices will help ensure a positive experience for both EV owners and campground operators. As EV’s become more standard, there will be more and more overloaded electrical system problems at campgrounds. The campground should know its electrical capacity and be able to tell you where or when you can charge.

However, you should follow their rules and restrictions if the campground specifically prohibits EV charging at campsites.

Pro Tip: Want to find some free camping spots for your next Tesla camping adventure? Make sure to use these Best Boondocking Apps and Websites for Amazing Free Camping.

10 Tips for Camping with your Tesla!

What Does the Future of Electric Vehicle Camping Hold?

While it’s common to see large diesel or gas-powered trucks pulling campers through the campground, that’s likely to change in the future. 

More and more car manufacturers are creating not just electric vehicles but also electric trucks. As demand for EVs grows and technology advances, we expect to see more electric vehicles in campgrounds for tent campers and even, eventually RVers. 

This means that our electrical infrastructure will most likely need to improve as well and hopefully fueling up as your roasting marshmallows will be commonplace.

Would you consider an EV for your next vehicle? Drop a comment below!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Penelope Russell Bartell

Friday 3rd of December 2021

Hoping to get a Ford Lightning. I tested a Ford Ecoboost and the Lightning will be even cooler. Looking forward to its towing capacity and battery capacity. It's the future. Infrastructure needs to improve around the nation.

William Lorimer

Friday 3rd of December 2021

Your lead on the email may be misleading. Unless features like Camp Mode are being used electric cars will not lose significant battery charge “draining down to zero” in several days. I leave my Volt for 6 months at a time and the loss is less than 10%. Keep up the good work.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 12th of December 2021

Thanks for the feedback. You're right; it might not be true of all electric vehicles. Teslas, however, do lose charge when left sitting. How much the battery drains depends on several factors, but it's not uncommon for a Tesla to lose upwards of 10 miles of charge in a day. This is often referred to as "vampire drain."

Gary James

Friday 3rd of December 2021

These EV's pollute as much or more than gas powered vehicles. Electricity is not magically produced and solar and wind dont cut it either. All of the rare earth metals are mostly mined by the Chicoms and where are the recycling plants needed to do the end of life needed to clean up this mess. In Wyoming they bury windmills blades from across the country because no one can recycle them and in Germany they take teir cute littes EV's when they die and park them side by side since they cant recycle the battery/ Please don't push this crap without giving the other side the exposure it needs to make a rational decision.

Charles Anthony

Monday 6th of March 2023

@Gary James, You have read too many faux 'news' stories of EV's bad, gas cars good. How about some FACTS. One up, EV batteries are 95% recyclable, its now common practice. The car bodies and parts betwixt the two transport methods are the same. My EV chassis and frame is made to accept ALL propulsion systems. How about the rare earth metals that go into your 'holy cat. converter [or 's'}. You do have windmills correct, at least, which is why they have improved the methods. Guess how much pollution is done by your 'holy refinery' and its HUGE electric power needs. So, which makes the most sense; One 'cat converter' on the chimney of the power plant that makes the electricity for my EV and your Gas Cars needs-- or 'x' million cat. converters on 'x' million autos. And you left out natural gas power plants, solar power plants, hydroelectric power plants, and the up and coming nuclear fission plants. Now sit in the corner, and read some factual research.


Friday 3rd of December 2021

Planning to camp in Aptera. To see