It was nearly 6pm when we left Portsmouth. Three hours later than planned, but we had a full battery and only 250kms to go.
How did we choose our next stop when we’ve never driven an EV in the UK before?
The way we plan trips is partly based on where we want to go and partly on the overnight charge options available. Overnight charging is key because the car is stopped anyway.
In the UK there are a growing number of motorway services with 22kW charge points (Ecotricity have set up many) but sleeping in a UK motorway service stop is not high on my list of things to do.
One day hotels.com will have a filter option for hotels with charge points but the only resource I know of now is the excellent zerocarbonworld.org site. They have helped many UK hotels install 7kW outlets, which is the bare minimum for an overnight stop on a Tesla roadtrip.
When I booked the hotel I confirmed they had the outlet and that it was working.
You may have seen in my earlier posts what a Mennekes looks like, but, trust me, this is not it!
I had heard about this kind of thing in the UK a few years ago… In order to charge at more than 13A (3kW) people would connect two plugs together to get 26A. A highly dodgy idea but the only option for some.
The trouble was I did not have any UK plugs! They’re not easy to buy in Madrid and all the stops I had planned had Mennekes or industrial sockets (I had expected to have a chance to buy a plug in Scotland before charging at my brothers home).
So how to charge? No worries I thought… This is a hotel so they must have some spare plugs and cable somewhere right?
You would think so but the manageress was not willing to take the “risk” of giving me access to the maintenance room. She said that in the whole hotel there was not one spare lamp or device that could be used to temporarily help me out. Hmmmm.
I think hotels need to understand that, for EV guests, a working charge point is more important than hot water or a bed! We had arrived late due to the issue on the ferry and in order to keep to plan with only a 26A (6kW) charge I needed to get the car charging immediately.
I told her not to worry however, and went to our room where I found some “spare” plugs. Luckily by chance I had a spare industrial socket that could be used.
This allowed us to charge at 26A, which would in theory mean that by 11am we would be ready to go to Scotland.
I won’t bore you with more details but to give you an idea of how things evolved… At 1am, after 2 hours at 26A something had melted in the wiring to the EV point (supposedly prepared for 52A) and the circuit was dead. Thanks to very helpful staff we found an outlet in the kitchen and ran the cables out the window. At 5am the fuses in the plugs blew (they clearly can’t handle 13A for more than a few hours) and it took several attempts and more help from the night staff before this could be fixed.
In the end, despite all this, I replaced the plugs in our room, and we were on our way north by 11.30am.
In the next update for this trip we will go back from Scotland to Spain through London, visiting an excellent hotel in the center with charging, and also staying in a fantastic English manor house near Winchester.