Monday, September 17, 2012

Charging in L.A.

From the 1991 movie L.A. Story:

Sara: What did you have in mind? 
Harris: Well, I was thinking of taking you on a cultural tour of L.A. 
Sara: That's the first fifteen minutes, then what? 
Harris: All right, a cynic. First stop is six blocks from here. 
Sara: Why don't we walk? 
Harris: Walk? A walk in L.A.? 

Charging is available in L.A., but like most cities, may require a little bit of a walk. One thing you usually try to do when you have an electric car is when the car is stitting, its a perfect opportunity for the car to be charging. Usually with a little planning and research, you can find someplace close to where you are going to charge the car. Drug stores like Walgreens, some stores such as Whole Foods and Banks such as Rabobank are installing chargers at their facilities.Also apps such as Plugshare and ChargePoint can help you find chargers near where you are and may have some checkin information to help you easily locate them.

On my free day in L.A. I tried to catch up with some people and drove around quite a bit. After I got up Saturday morning, I met my once older, but now younger sister Lisa (This is L.A. remember ) for breakfast at the Grove in West Hollywood. The Grove has a set of 6 Blink network chargers on the third floor of the parking structure. 

Blink Chargers at the Grove

After a great breakfast and catching up, I then went up to Canters and took a day picture of the car in front since I didn't think the picture would come out well from my camera phone at night (and my phone was still giving me issues that evening) and then I went to see a family friend, Tara at her salon Rust on Melrose Avenue where I gave here a ride in the car and also got put to work cleaning a mirror they just mounted high on the wall. 

From there, I went to a Target to pick up some things I forgot to pack at Santa Monica and La Brea in a nice new urban-style shopping center, but no chargers. Too bad, because this would be an excellent location.

Then I drove to Pasadena to meet some friends for lunch at Burger Continental on Lake in Pasadena. It's a funky little restaurant that serves all types of food from American, Middle Eastern, Italian and Mexican. Since the hotel charger stopped short the night before, I thought it would be good to find a charger nearby to bump up the batteries and pulled up the Recargo App on my phone and found a charger about 4 blocks away at CalTech's Parking lot #2. This was an interesting structire as the entire top level was a photo-voltaic solar array. The charger was on the lowest level.

A large PV Solar Array at CalTech's Lot #2

This was a 4 block walk from the restaurant. Here I realized maybe an outdoor restaurant was not the greatest venue on a 100 degree plus day in the valley, but we found an air conditioned area in a banquet room and all was well. I then gave my friends Greta and Steve a ride in the car back to where they were parked and proceeded to go back to the hotel in the afternoon to freshen up for the Reunion that night at Canters. On the way back to the hotel, I could see smoke in the distance. The Exxon Mobile refinery south of the hotel was burning off something. I have seen this there before, but with all the efforts I have been doing, it really made me angry to see this and what it was doing to the air.I could see it from the freeway just south of downtown all the way into TOrrance. The thick black smoke was blowing far out into the eastern horizon, ultimately people are breathing in all this crap they were spewing into the air. I am really happy that I am making a meager difference.

Exxon Mobile Refinery in Torrance burning off something

Once at the hotel, I parked the car at the charger to boost the battery while I showered and changed and then went to the reunion.

The stops at the chargers helped, but I still wanted an additional buffer while I was at the reunion. So I wound up going back to the grove and leaving the car there for about 3 hours while at the reunion and just walked 5 blocks back to Canters. Towards the end of the evening. I walked back to The Grove and took the car off the charger with plenty of reserve for the ride back to the hotel.

After grabbing a bite at Pinks after the reunion. I headed back to the hotel and let it charge overnight. This time there was no issues and I had a 100% full battery to start my journey home on Sunday. 

The day stops really made me appreciate the mobile applications that are available to assist in finding chargers. Most are hidden and hard to find. I only found that Hermosa Beach did an excellent job with signage making chargers easy to find, I just didn't need one at the time.

Sunday would be the start of a 1 1/2 day trip back home. I would take a more casual route and try other chargers on my way home. Overall, I drove over 150 miles around town before I would start hitting more remote chargers along the way home. This time I would go to the charger I couldn't find in Thousand Oaks, a charger in Santa Barbara and then back to the chargers I had used in Solvang, Atascadero (where I would spend the night in a motel) King City and then a charger in Monterey before going to class. 

This was definitely a journey.

The Final Leg: Tarzana to Torrance.

The final leg was probably the easiest. I had a short 45 minute commute from Tarzana in the San Fernando Valley to Torrance where my hotel for the weekend would be. After some sushi for dinner, I headed east on the Highway 101 to the 405 to go into LA, through the south bay and finally to the hotel. Apparently it was an interesting day on this route A brush fire had broken out in the Sepulveda Pass between the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles which is a major corridor between the two cities.

While I was charging in Thousand Oaks and Tarzana, others were stuck for 3 hours in the fire suppression and clean up. Luckily while I was charging, most of the mess was cleaned up and I just dealt with construction traffic. Here I thought it would just be best to not go to Canters late at night because I couldn’t get a good picture of the car at that time, so I decided to take the picture in the morning would I would be in the neighborhood to have breakfast with my sister. So I just stayed on the 405. Driving through LA, the traffic was not too bad until I got passed Los Angeles International Airport. Here, there was more of a construction backup, but this time with my Clean Air Stickers where any freeway legal electric car can apply and can drive solo in the High Occupancy Vehicle (aka Car Pool) lane. Standard hybrids used to have this option, but it was taken away recently as the program proved to be successful and there was no longer the need for an incentive for drivers to purchase hybrids.

I breezed by the traffic jam at 11:20 PM and shortly made it to the hotel near the intersection of the 405 and 110 freeways in Torrance. Once I was there, again there was no signage pointing to where the chargers were. However cruising around parking lot, I found the charger in the back of the property. The layout was a little unusual. They had an old style paddle inductive charger and a Clipper Creek non-networked charger. The chargers were 2 spaces apart. There was one parking space between the two chargers with a sign for only that spot that said “Electric Vehicle Parking Only”. But these signs were not at the charging spaces. Again, the cord was short on the Clipper Creek, so I backed in and started the charge. The batteries were hot, over 90 degrees, but hopefully they would get a good full charge while I slept. I checked in and after getting into the room and calling the family, I quickly fell asleep. I was pretty much away for 43 hours with just a couple of quick naps. I woke up the next day and got ready to have breakfast with my sister and unfortunately, the car only charged to 81% and had some sort of charger fault, but more on my charging in the next post.

Free Parking and Free Charging at the Holiday Inn in Torrance

So in all, I met my goal. I charged at all the stations I said I would (plus 1 more), I took longer than expected, but I made it within my goal of 24 hours and my estimates were not terribly off. The drive was definitely challenging, but it was possible. Would I do it again? Unfortunately I had 2 a couple of days later, but I didn’t have the 24 hour deadline, just that I get back to Monterey by 6 PM Monday for a class at the Aquarium.  I hope this journal gives encouragement to others with Electric Vehicles to burst their range bubble and get out and explore. If you have the time, it is an interesting way to turn a trip into a journey.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Solvang to Thousand Oaks

This was the hardest leg of the trip. One thing I didn't really say much about was that I got up at 5:30 AM on Thursday, September 13, 2012 to help my wife get her day started, worked from home, went to a doctors appointment, was interviewed by the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County for the trip and attended my docent trainee session at the Monterey Bay Aquarium before leaving  for the trip. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep in King City, but I was getting a little frazzled on the second to last leg from Solvang to Santa Cruz and I made some mistakes along this portion. As noted in the previous post, the battery in my phone was dead so it was not very easy to get connectivity so I could not check for updates or try to get more accuracy on location of chargers. One good thing I did was print out my itinerary and directions in case for some reason some electronics failed so at least I had that as a backup and a contingency charger selected in case I could not find the charger I picked for the trip in case there was an issue.

Now for what went wrong. First, the route I chose to get out of Solvang. Back in the day, I used to ride the Solvang Century. An 106 mile bike ride from Solvang to Santa Maria with 6,000 of my closest friends. When I would leave the event, I would take the state route 246 to state route 154 to rejoin the 101 back in Santa Barbara.

From above, this looks like a great idea. I would not have to back track to Buelton to bet back on Highway 101. What I forgot from my bike riding days was the hill climbing required for this route. I didn't realize it until it was too late. One site I found after the fact was, This site is primarily for bike riders to plan their route, but it is also helpful for EV drivers as well. Here is the profile of my shortcut from bikeroutetoaster:

I believe the scale is meters in elevation to kilometers in travel.

So at from 30km to 36km I had a pretty nasty hill climb. This is also a 2 lane highway. I did maintain the speed limit on the road and was courteous to pull to the right when passing lanes were available (Do you hear that Prius owners? I moved to the right. Try it sometime. However one pickup truck was offended I held him up 5 seconds while I drove the speed limit and proceeded to honk and throw something at my car as he passed in the carpool lane. I kept my cool and let him pass (more on him later)

The downhill was pretty nice though and was charging the whole distance down. On my way back, I will take 101 instead.This will be 102 miles instead of 88 miles, so I need to watch my mileage carefully.

So I made it past the issue on Route 154, and started down the 101 south through Santa Barbara, and here I got in a traffic jam (There was an accident in south Santa Barbara. Remember that pickup. I was able to find a bus here and used it as a drafting agent (Remember that pickup truck that was trying to have a food fight on Route 154? I passed him while he was stuck in the "Fast" lane. The bus made for a nice way to maintain speed. I was able to use it all the way to Camarillo, before the Conejo grade. I then followed another truck up the grade until I was rolling downhill into Thousand Oaks.

I was approaching the location where my next charging location was supposed to be, Janns Marketplace. A shopping center with a few big box stores and restaurants, so it it seemed like a good stopping location. However, there was no sign if the chargers! I still had no power to my cell phone and I was down to 11 miles on the range computer. I went back and forth through the parking area with no luck. I was tired and desperate.

I then hit the BMW assist button. I reached an agent who was friendly, but still was not able to give me any indication where the charger might be. She gave me businesses to look for, but none were visible from where I was. I had to give up and ask her to feed me directions to the National Park Service headquarters. She got me the directions and I was able to drive up a long uphill driveway and found a pseudo futuristic office complex where there happened to be 3 Clipper Creek chargers that were free and a Blink Fee Charger. I plugged in but it was hot and muggy and no amenities. There used to be a visitor center in this location, but it was closed and the offices were sealed tight. So no restroom and no power for my phone and I had been drinking a lot of water to stay cool.

I was antsy and looking at sitting for 3 to 4 hours to get charged to get to the hotel was not looking appealing and I didn't want the family to worry about me. I saw from the charging site that the mall which was about a half mile down the hill had a Verizon Wireless store. My idea was to first take care of my bladder and just buy a spare battery for my Droid Bionic and then call my wife to let her know I was almost there. However this plan backfired too. I drove down the hill, had to hunt for a parking space and then went to the store just to find out they didn't carry batteries.I thought I was smart and took my power adapter with me so in case there was an issue, I could just plug in my phone and get it jump started. I searched around outside and found a a covered outlet. lifted the cover charger wouldn't fit under the cover. #*(&$@)^%!!!!

So back up the hill to charge for a while. I got to talk to a nice lady from the park service who was disconnecting her Leaf who thought I was another ActiveE driver who parks there on occasion. She recommended I walk back down the hill and see a movie, but I was concerned about the gates at the bottom the National Park Service Entrance and that I could return to a locked parking lot. So I stayed with the car and continued to think of alternate ways to get my phone to work.

As a contingency, I did bring a 70W pocket inverter with a 3 prong plug in case i needed a boost in power. This one did not work well in the ActiveE, but when I found the sweet spot, the green LED ready light eventually turned on. I plugged the phone charger into the inverter and after a few minutes, it worked!!! I then called home and let them know I was OK and got a couple of updates out. As the lot got darker and emptier, I was able to locate another charger in Tarzana at a library that was a little closer to civiization. I drove the car down to the library to the Eaton charger and let it sit for a couple of hours while I had dinner, by this time, my phone died again.

This leg of the journey had me a bit on edge, but it showed the importance of amenities and signage in and around the charger, but with some planning for contingencies, I was able to continue.

Atascadero to Solvang

(Apologies for these late entries - My main internet access tool, my phone died and was not resuscitated until near the finish). I will supply more pictures later. Atascadero to Solvang saw a big shift in my mileage and cost. The day warmed up and the Solvang charger was a fee based charger. The temperature when I arrived in Atascadero was 55 degrees. When I left after the charging was completed, it was up to 74. This is when I started using a truck to part the air for me (but not really going for a draft where I would be dangerously riding the truck's bumper), but following at a comfortable distance. This shot up my mileage efficiency from 3.4 kWh per mile to 3.5 kWh to 5.0 kWh per mile.The range estimator shot up my range from 85 to 90 miles to 130 miles. When I arrived in Solvang with 38% state of charge remaining, this meant less than a 4 hour charge I originally estimated.
This was helpful to drop my overall energy usage. Solvang charges $1.25/hr and I would up using $3.57 worth of electricity. With the tourist trade abundant in Solvang, the car received its most attention while on route. I was surprised how many Europeans were in Solvang too, but they all had great questions. Solvang had plenty of restaurants and gift shops, but lacked the modern amenities in the other stops. E.g. when I saw a bunch of freshly adobe painted stucco structures in Atascadero, I knew a Starbucks must be near (which there was) within 2 blocks of the Rabobank charger.In Solvang, there were no Starbucks, or chain stores, so it would be hit or miss to find a store that offered WiFi. I did use a  WiFi hunting application on my Kindle Fire to find a provider and was able to use for a little while, but then one of my biggest issues of the trip occurred, my phone died.
There are two issues that I have with my Android phone (or as I call it, my German iPhone Nein) is that some OS/App updates make once good applications into poor applications. The other is there is no warning when you have applications drawing more power than they are producing. SO even though I had my phone on a USB connection to the car to draw power, it was not really net charging and the phone eventually quit. With my Droid Bionic, once you have gone into a full depletion, it is just about impossible to get it to build up enough of a charge to start without an AC wall plug connection, so the only internet device I had with a full charge was my Kindle Fire, that only really worked with a WiFi connection. Also apps are limited on this device since it is pretty much controlled by Amazon, so my ability to do much to verify my next charger in Thousand Oaks would be an issue.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mission Accomplished

 Door to Door in 23:21 and 338 miles with only a few minor hiccups. I will try some changes in my next run Sunday and Monday and put together a summary posting by NPID. I tried to start writing the detail for Solvang and Thousand Oaks, but I was literally falling asleep at the keyboard. So I will add them from my notes.  Thanks for your support, questions and words of encouragement. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, September 14, 2012

King City to Atascadero

So far I am running behind schedule. I still think I will make it to LA in a day, but I am not going to sweat the schedule too much. Turns out I should have used a 5.8 kWh for 95% of the charge and 2.9 kWh for the last 5% if I need a full charge while the batteries level if I take it to the full 100%. ( or 5.51 + .15 = 5.66 kW) looks like it is a more realistic charge rate even though the internal charge could handle 6.6 kWh. I did get the internal power working in the car, but it looks like my AC inverter is flaking out.

King City is a great location that has been added to the central coast network, but it is in a commercial section of town and with me being there between 1:30 and 5:30 AM, there was nothing to do but sit and sleep in the car, which wasn't too much of a problem, except there was no restroom, so a little bit of dancing going on but when it was time to go, I went to the local McDonalds and all was right with the world again.

The trip has been a little cool and foggy so far. Temperatures have been in the low 50's which appears to be affecting my mileage. The first stretch only produced 3.4 miles per kWh. The 65 miles between King City and Atascadero were also chilly, but seemed fairly flat, so I was able to get up to 3.5 miles per kWh. The sky is clearing so it should warm up for the next 82 mile leg to Solvang.

The Atascadero charger is in a retail location. It is an older Clipper Creek level 2 charger, but it is located at an eco-friendly Rabobank with a pretty impressive set of PV panels on 2 sides of the bank. There are lots of businesses around too. There is a Starbucks, Movie theater, Rite Aid, Dennys, Subway and other points of interest within walking distance. It is nice to be able to walk around and use the wifi at the Starbucks while I am waiting for this charge.

Now that I am in Atascadero and hitting up Solvang next, this is reminding me why I wanted to do this trip in this fashion. I received a few troll comments on the Santa Cruz Sentinel article questioning why anyone would want to do this, but I think it has a practical purpose. Yes, there are definitely better ways to get to LA and yes, low end public transportation is faster, but this is more about the journey. Can it be done? What are the challenges? What would make it tolerable? Would it make sense that my next car be a 100 mile range EV like the ActiveE or would I want something with a quick charge capability? What other infomration would I wish I had when I arrived in a town? (Closest public restroom, restaurant, wifi, places of interest). It may be difficult for someone who has not driven an electric car to understand the need to know, but with all the comments, you can't refute the cost of $5 in charging, but the cost of time is a definite disadvantage.

This trip also reminds me of a wonderful trip I had with my family six or seven years ago. We took our X5 up from L.A. to Redding and hung a left into the redwoods. We then used the GPS to find places of interest like Whiskeytown lake and other interesting places along the way. Just being able to stop and look around today and experience the people in a location rather than just blow past it along the interstate making it less of a drive and more of a journey.

Aptos to King City

So far, so good, but running a little behind schedule. The car was fully charged when I took off from Aptos at 12:01 AM, but some construction and slower speed limits had me into King City about 15 minutes later than expected. The Charger at Hartnell College in King City was up and operational as expected. However the car is stating it will take 4 hours to charge. I will take a nap and see how it goes. Mileage is 3.4 miles per kWh, outside temperature is 56 degrees F and the batteries when I parked were 71 degrees F.
Besides that, I did receive an email from ChargePoint when my charge completed at the Community Foundation in Santa Cruz, however my ChargePoint app seems to have uninstalled itself from my phone, so I am setting the app back up.

Besides the battery running down faster and charging slower than expected, the other two issues are there is no internal power source while charging, so I am running my laptop on its battery power, also, looks like there is no bathroom around here at 1:30 AM. But the area is quiet, so I should be able to sleep well.

Anyway, there was a good article about the trip in the Santa Cruz Sentinel tonight here

Night all

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Final Preparations

Opportunity Charging at Walgreen's Santa Cruz on Sept 12 
Today is the day. I have the car all cleaned up, going over my plans and packing everything in the car. I had a great conversation with a reporter and photographer from the Santa Cruz Sentinel  I will be taking the car to it's first charging point, The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, today around 4 PM for one more set of interviews, and then off to Monterey for training as a guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (My next adventure), back around 9:30, have the family drop me off at the car and then prep to leave at 12:01 am tonight on my journey to L.A. I will continue to post updates at charging stops on my route. You can follow here or on twitter at @JournEV or from the Facebook BMW ActiveE Driver Group.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Final Schedule for Driving an Electric Car from Santa Cruz to L.A.

Today I got word from Sharon Sarris from the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance that the charger in King City is installed and provisioned and ready for use! Thanks to everyone involved and Hartnell College for getting the charger online!!

So my route is now committed. Aptos to King City to Atascadero to Solvang to Thousand Oaks to L.A. The only bad news is the optimistic charging rate estimate of 7.7 kWh was probably too high as commercial high voltage power is delivered at a lower rate 208V than residential 240V and others in the ActiveE community think the performance is closer to 6.2 kWh when charging commercially. So I knocked my charge rate down and now I am closer to a 20 hour driver again with 5.7 hours of driving and 14.2 hours of charging, but still under a day and my total charging cost?  $5 in Solvang.

Here is how the spreadsheet came out.

On a time schedule, it loosely comes out to this:

There we have it. I will be posting updates from each charging point starting Thursday night here on this blog, on the ActiveE Facebook group and on Twitter at @JournEV

Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Return of the King (City)

El Camino Real, the Royal Highway. It is the 600 mile road that originally linked the California Mission system. Most of that route betwen San Jose and Los Angeles is now part of Highway US 101 which links Northern California to Southern California. This is the route that I originally wanted to follow on my trip except there was one stretch of 109 hilly highway miles between Salinas and Atascadero that was just too daunting in my 100 mile range BMW ActiveE that I was willing to take on.

In the middle of that stretch is a town called King City. The town was founded after the purchase of the land by Charles King in 1884 who bought the land from the Spanish Rancho San Lorenzo. Charles King transformed the once Salinas Dessert into a fertile wheat farm and later work to harness the Salinas River has transformed the area into a fertile agricultural region. There is an "EV Friendly RV Park" in King City called Ciudad del Rey Motel and Trailer Park, but their gates are only open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM and they charged $25 to charge. Because I planned to drive through the area around 2 AM and also due the high cost, I chose a route that would take me inland to Interstate 5 to the KOA Campground in Santa Nella for $10, then a free charge at the Harris Ranch's Tesla Roadster charger and then pick up my original route in Atascadero on a 90 mile detour where I would actually arrive a few hours earlier than waiting for the Ciudad Del Rey trailer park to open.. Both of the alternative chargers require adapters to charge my BMW with its J1772 connector.

But now, things might be lining up very favorable for my trip. Sharon Sarris, from Green Fuse Energy who is also the Founder and Co-Facilitator of the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance and member of the County of Santa Cruz Commission on the Environment let me know that the installation of a new ChargePoint charger at the Hartnell College campus in King City should hopefully be ready in time for my trip. Sharon has been working with Piet Canin of Ecology Action who was the grant manager of the project which was partially funded by the California Energy Commission. This week George Bent from Clean Fuel Connection has been overseeing the installation and they have been waiting for the concrete to cure. Now the installation should wrap up, then the paperwork just needs to be completed and the charger needs to be provisioned on theChargePoint network and it will be ready to use.

This is not only a huge benefit for me, but to any other Electric Vehicle driver that wants to drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The distance between Level 2 EVSE charging stations will be less than 90 miles. Cars that have 100 mile range can easily make this route. This will also will cut an hour out of my driving time and 2 hours out of my estimated charging time. 

So even if the charger is not ready for some reason, I still have my alternate route and equipment to make the trip. But just like how El Camino Real linked the network of Missions and Charles King transformed a desert into a thriving agricultural town, this charger is the golden spike in the north/south route and the ability for Electric Vehicle drivers to make the journey between California's largest cities without burning gas in an internal combustion engine vehicle while enjoying the towns along this majestic highway.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Finding a Place to Stay with an Electric Vehicle

The final piece of planning was probably one of the more time consuming parts of the trip. Where to stay with an electric car while away from home? With an electric car, your home becomes your home base. It's not only where you reside, but where you fill up.

At our house we have a 240V 30 amp level 2 charger. This charges the car in about 3 hours. We also use the "virtuous circle". Not only do we have a charger at home, we also participate in our utilities time of use rate, we also lease a SolarCity solar panel Photo Voltaic (PV) System to generate our own power. During the day we produce power and power our home and whatever we do not use, we push back into the grid charging our power generation back to the utility. We then use time of use rates and program the car to charge after midnight and buy the power back at a significantly lower rate. The system is too new for me to quote the net effect, but we currently buy the power after midnight for the car at about 5 cents a kilowatt hour, meaning it takes about 80 cents to recharge the car. The beauty of owning an electric car is not only the low cost, but the convenience of coming home, plugging in and returning to a fully charged car. I never have to divert my commute to find a gas station and face ever fluctuating prices.

When travelling,just like how a hotel provides a place to rest, I will need to have my hotel work as my home base for the EV as well. One of the requirements is that the hotel I am staying have an EVSE that I can charge the car overnight.  Unfortunately, travel and hotel websites do not yet offer this search option. Many are taking the right approach. Marriott installed over 30 EVSE stations last year. I did attempt to try several websites to see if they gave an option to search by EVSE. I tried Hotwire, Kayak, Travelocity, Expedia and None offer a search criteria, amenity filter or description that includes electric vehicle secondary equipment or EV charging listings. I also checked hotel sites directly. My hotel preferences are usually Intercontinental Hotel Group, Marriott Hilton and a funky little boutique hotel that my company gets a good rate, The Belamar in Manhattan Beach. Again, none of these sites allowed a search for EVSE, provided amenity filters or descriptions showing you could charge an electric vehicle at their locations. I did send an email to the Belamar asking if they had a charger or facilities to let me charge there. They were quick to respond that there was a Walgreen's 12 blocks away.Not really a viable option.

So back to my old trusty friend, the Recargo website. Although they do not provide a search by type of business, they do provide the business names on the map. The disadvantage is that you have to search in Recargo by a community and not by business type or brand name (Searching on Holiday Inn took me to EVSE locations in Turkey). The community at a time search does not work very well at my destination. Since Los Angeles starts somewhere in New Mexico. It required several searches around communities where I wanted to be based to find a hotel that I wanted to stay. I decided to make the airport area my base and searched communities I was familiar with around there. I managed to find an Embassy Suites and Renaissance hotel on the Recargo site.

So this was promising, these hotels are usually nice and the rooms were not too expensive, around $120 a night just for the lodging. I went back to the Hotel's websites and I found no mention of their chargers at these specific locations, but I did find other sites that confirmed that there were chargers at these locations along with the status data on Recargo.

The problem now was the price to park and charge. Although the chargers were free, it was $23-$25 a night to park at these locations. Trying to keep this trip on the cheap, this was an issue for me, so I decided to keep looking. I continued sweeping the communities in the area for other possibilities. Then I found the Holiday Inn in Torrance, CA. Recargo listed this as an operational charger, I have tons of points from my consulting days where I had platinum status with IHG and the hotel was recently renovated earlier this year. No problem. I called the hotel and they confirmed they had a charge and it was operational (again, nothing noted on the web site description) and they did not charge for parking. So, I wound up getting a free place to stay on points, free parking and free charging. It's a little bit of a commute at 19 miles from the reunion I am going to, but the cost makes it worth it.

So it was quite a bit of effort but the travel industry is starting to see the advantage to catering to electric vehicle drivers. Hotel executives are seeing the potential of adding chargers to their locations as noted in Andy Kincaid's Hotel Business Review article on ECO-Friendly practices. Not only is it an inexpensive way to promote their properties as green and environmentally conscious, but when a car is charging, you have a captive customer. They will be compelled to check in, use the amenities and shop. If hotels did a little better job making the information available about their chargers, it would improve their utilization as more people adopt electric vehicles and integrate their use into their travel activities.