How to Optimally DC Fast Charge Electric Vehicles

Tesla Model X charging

We learned how to optimally DC Fast charge our electric vehicle on our last road trip. During my son’s spring break at school, we drove 339 miles from Orange Big Sur, California. Our latest road trip taught us how to optimally DC Fast charge our electric vehicle. So we packed up our 2018 Tesla Model X, took our breakfast to go, and were off. We left Orange around 8 am and reached Big Sur around 4 pm.

The EV road trip to Big Sur was one of the more beautiful drives as we drove through green rolling hills, vineyards, and the windy mountain cliff road overseeing the Pacific Ocean. Our family has an older electric vehicle with a shorter battery range. Under ideal conditions, we can go over 200 miles on a single charge. On our drive, however, we did not encounter ideal conditions. My wife, who was driving, is a fast driver. We experienced dips and raises in elevation throughout the road trip, which can further eat into your electric vehicle battery usage. As a result, we had to make a quick stop to charge our vehicle in Miramar beach, 125 miles into our trip.

Electric Vehicle Charging at Miramar

The EV chargers were at a posh hotel called,  Rosewood, Miramar beach, 125 miles from Orange. We plugged in our electric vehicle for a 30-minute charge and walked to the hotel to look at some shops, use the restrooms, and check out the available food options. My wife found a store owned by Gwyneth Paltrow called Goop and bought some face cremes, and we were back on the road. 

We have taken several road trips with our electric vehicle and learned some tips. For example, when we started taking our first road trips, we would charge our battery to 100% or close to the full mark every time we had to stop to charge our electric vehicle. In part, we did not want to get stranded between charging stops. However, we learned that when you charge over time, the rate at which electricity flows into your battery slows down. Therefore, there is an optimal period to charge. If you wait past the optimal charging point, you will stay longer and charge much slower.

We figured this out and started to follow the recommendation of the electric vehicles trip planner. For example, our electric vehicle told us to leave at our Rosewood stop after 30 minutes. Waiting past that 30-minute mark will make you wait longer and start to charge at a slower rate. At around 80% of your EV battery’s capacity, charging speeds typically are reduced to about 5 miles per hour.

DC Fast Charge Electric Vehicles at Pismo Beach

Before we reached Big Sur, our final stop was at Pismo Beach, California. We drove through hilly terrain covered with vineyards and beautiful scenery to get to Pismo Beach. The electric vehicle chargers were in an outlet mall, so we walked around, used the restrooms, and bought snacks. We were back on the road in about half an hour.

The final part of our trip was along the Pacific Coast Highway along the coastline traversing up the mountain along windy cliffs. The scenery is breathtaking, and I posted a picture of the ocean view.

Road to Big Sur
Electric Vehicle road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway | Electric Driver Image

We arrived at our lodgings close to 4 pm and checked in. We had a nice single room, and my wife chose the lodgings based on the destination charger on-premises. The bad news was that it was not working when we checked out the charger, it was not working, so we had to drive 5 minutes to another charging location at a private resort called Ventana. There were some excellent hiking trails while we charged our EV for the next day’s activities. We saw a rainbow on the way to drive back to our lodgings for the night.

Electric Vehicle Handled Rocky Roads

We spent the next two days driving up and down the coast, hiking at some beautiful parks in dense forests with waterfalls and gorgeous ocean views. One part was worth mentioning as it was a first for us. There was a beach. We had to drive down a narrow single-lane road in poor condition to get to this beach. At specific points of the drive, we had to raise the clearance of our electric vehicle to clear some of the giant holes in the road. The beach was beautiful, and the sand had a purple sheen. Our EV road trip to Big Sur was lovely and highly recommended. I provided some tips to optimally DC fast charge your EV below.

Purple sand beach at Big Sur
Purple sand beach | Electric Driver image

DC Fast Charging Tips

  • Find a compatible DC fast charger: Remember there are three standards for DC fast charging, Tesla CHadeMO, CCS, and Tesla. Find a charger that is compatible with your electric vehicle.
  • Use the Fastest DC fast charger: When possible, always use the fastest DC fast charger possible. Charging speeds can range from 25 kW for older chargers to 350 kW. Using the faster charger will save you time.
  • Watch battery temperatures: DC fast charging creates a lot of battery. Watch battery temperates and if your battery is hot let it cool down before DC fast charging.
  • Do not charge 100%: DC fast charging strains your battery, especially if you charge to 100%. Aim to limit your DC fast charge to 80-90% and rely on slower charging methods like a destination or home charger for most of your charging.

Following these tips can help you get the most out of your electric vehicle when DC fast charging.

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