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

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

Buying a Tesla or any other electric car means you can drive right past those gas stations on your way to a weekend camping adventure. You’ll likely turn some heads as you drive through the campground, but you will need to charge your car after setting up camp. 

Many modern campsites come with electrical hookups, so does this mean you can charge your Tesla while camping? Let’s find out. 

Can You Charge a Tesla at a Campground?

A Tesla Supercharging Station isn’t the only place you can charge a Tesla. The power pedestal at your campsite 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.

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

Can You Go Camping With an Electric Car? 

An electric vehicle can be a good 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.

While many electric vehicles can’t handle off-roading, you should have plenty of room for the bare necessities of tent camping. You can even use the unused engine space to store more camping gear. 

Plus, if you’re a Tesla owner, you can actually camp inside your car. All Teslas include “Camp Mode,” which provides airflow and maintains the interior temperature of the vehicle while you sleep.

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! 

Tesla parked at sunset.
Take your electric vehicle on your next camping adventure!

What Equipment Do You Need to Charge an Electric Car at a Campground?

To charge your electric car while camping, you’ll need a few things, like a charging cable. Tesla now includes a Mobile Connector with each purchase. It also comes with the NEMA-15 adapter, which makes it possible to plug in to standard 120V outlets. 

So, in addition to the charging cable, you’ll need the proper attachment for the charging port. Tesla and other electric car manufacturers sell various adapters for this purpose. You’ll want multiple adapters so you can charge no matter the campground’s connection.

Tesla also has the NEMA 5-20 adapter for 125V outlets and six other 240V adapters if you want Level 2 charging (faster charging).   

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

Tesla charging station.
There’s no need to find a charging station when camping with your Tesla if you have the correct mobile connector.
Tesla with doors up in desert.
A Tesla is a great adventure vehicle for camping lovers.

Other Ways to Charge Your Tesla 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.

Carrying a portable charging station with you is another excellent option. It’s much better than mooch-charging off a business, but it does take a little forethought. Research the best portable charging options to help prevent a sticky situation on the road. 

Tesla parked in parking lot.
Make sure to research whether or not your campground allows you to charge your Tesla before plugging in.

Should You Charge Your Tesla at Campgrounds?

In reality, charging a Tesla likely uses less power than many RVs plugged into shore power. Many larger RVs come with multiple air conditioning units, using thousands of watts of power. A single unit can use 3,500W just for startup. A rig with multiple units running air conditioning several hours a day will pull tens of thousands of watts of power. 

On the other hand, a standard Tesla Model 3 will usually draw about 7,200W. So if you’re planning a tent camping trip at an RV campsite, there’s no logical reason not to charge your Tesla at a campground. 

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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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 The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, 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.


Friday 3rd of December 2021

Planning to camp in Aptera. To see