Monday, April 5, 2010

E-RV “HomeE” #183 An earth shaking camping experience!

What an incredible 3 days camping with Mini-E #183. The Mini-E can hold all the needed gear as you can see in the picture. The Mini-E is far more than just an urban commuter car. With campgrounds and soon an electric charging infrastructure in place there will be no limits to what you can do or where you can go.

First a beautiful 90 mile drive out to Borrego Springs, The drive involved an elevation change of 4800 ft. (nearly a mile straight up) from sea level to the peak of the mountains back close to sea level at Borrego. Most of the drive was at around 50 to 60 mph on back twisty roads that the Mini E just loved. We arrived with 15 miles left on the range indicator. The next morning after a full charge the range indicator showed 107 miles.

Speaking of charging,

We thought we were going to recharge at 110 volt 12 amp which would take 28 hours to recharge. But we found a better way!

The first night we charged at our camp site, the electrical box had two twenty amp breakers tied to a 30 amp plug and a normal 110 receptacle. First we tried the supplied cable to the normal 110 outlet with the setting on the Mini-E at 12 amps. The meter turned slowly but this worked fine and we would have no problem charging to full over the next two days.

We then tried a 30 amp RV pigtail we purchased and used the 32 amp charger setting.
We were surprised that the 110 cable supplied with the Mini-E could handle the 32 amp setting without tripping but it did. The meter was flying and we were able to fully charge #183 in just over 8 hours. This is three times as fast as at the 12 amp setting and meant that we could drive like crazy the next day!

The next day it was out and about in the beautiful Anza Borrego Desert. The flower season is spectacular and we drove 93 miles around the desert and to the Salton Sea, we also hiked several miles all over the desert. We returned to the camp site in the early afternoon and we were sitting by the pool, when the big 7.2 earthquake centered about 80 miles away hit!

The shaking was intense and lasted for a solid minute, water lapped over the pool as the earth shifted under our feet. Buildings creaked and Julie leapt out of the way of the pool shade structure she was laying under as it swayed and creaked as well. Everyone was OK and Borrego had a few broken windows and water pipes along with boulder strewn roads but no major damage.

That evening we decided to try and charge #183 at the next site over, This only had a 30amp breaker and a 30amp receptacle. Even though the car was set to 32 amps this also worked just fine and the car was fully charged, charging from 1pm to 9pm.

This morning it began to sprinkle in the desert and Julie and I decided to pack up and head home. Same trip in reverse except this time we had rain, a very strong headwind and 40% temps but the Mini-E handled the 90 miles and grade changes no problem, we arrived home with 6 miles on the range indicator.

The Mini-E is a super fun camping vehicle and works great at RV sites with plug ins. Julie and I had so much fun we are planning a longer 10 day trip up the coast of California this summer using the same 32 amp 8 hour charging strategy as we hopscotch and recharge nightly.

We had a blast!


1 Six person tent
2 Sleeping bags
1 King size air mattress
2 Pillows
1 Two burner stove
2 Bottles of propane
2 Folding chairs
1 Duffle bag of cloths
1 Duffle bag of cooking gear and utensils
1 Lantern
1 Flashlight
1 First Aid Kit
1 Digital camera & bag
1 Air mattress pump
1 Bag of food products

For most of the food & beverage supply we shopped out in the desert after making camp.


  1. Super post Peder! You might be the only person to pack more in a MINI-E than I do!. Congrats on the great trip, I hope there are many more. BTW, my solar system is up and running now; really cool!
    Tom #250

  2. Neat article. An electric vehicle would make a great "toad" (towed vehicle) for the RV community.

  3. RV Marlan,

    That it would and you could charge it up right there at your camp site.

    Just another example of the valuble use for an electric car. Imagine how quiet the site would be and I don't think most toads need to drive more than 100 miles in a day.

    thankls for checking in and commenting.

  4. Tom,

    It was your pics that convinced me I could "stuff" the Mini-E.

    The charging at 110, 32 amps worked like a dream with the standard mini-e supplied charging cable thus allowing fairly quick overnight charging (8 hours).

    I'm sure BMW does not approve of our "stuffing" and my using their 110 cable at 32 amps, but it works!

    And for the record, a little coleman two burner propane stove fits neatly behind the passenger seat and below the vents so it does not block them. All it takes is about 1 inch of seat travel from the max.


  5. Peder,
    I recently remodeled my bathroom and picked up the tile in the MINI. It must have been 1,000lbs of tile. The car barely moved ;)

    I'm getting my $850/month worth...

  6. Peder - Thanks so much for this blog.

    On my E*Tour I considered trying the 32 amp RV pigtail and the 32 amp setting but was too much of a wimp to give it a shot. I will now put that in my quiver.


  7. Great! Peder, what a nice trip!
    I'm planning some summer fun too, just made a deal for another year!

  8. Thanks for documenting the trip; that sounds like fun. Wow, 90 miles including a 4800' elevation change.

    You could pull 32A on a 30A breaker?! Sounds like the breaker isn't doing its job...normally you only want to pull 80% of the breaker rating, so I would use 24A on a 30A breaker. Although what I really use at campsites is the 50A (and 240V) outlets that some places have. I can pull 40A out of there, and add 30 miles per hour to my car.

    Did your cable get warm? Maybe they over-engineered it to handle a larger load, but if it gets warm when you pull 30A, I'd dial it back. Having a melted cable is no fun.

    Good luck on your trip up the coast. I recently took a trip on 101 (which is really only on the coast in Oregon). In case it helps, some details of my trip are at

  9. You are lucky you did not start a fire running 30 amps through a 14 gauge wire. Must have been cold weather.

    Anyone else reading this should be warned NOT to try it. Put a NEMA 14-50 plug on the big wall box and take it with you if you want to charge at 30 or 50 amps on the road.

    Forest fires are no fun, this is a god way to start one.