KOA: how to use, etc.

KOA: how to use, etc.

I notice several mentioning KOA as a source for on-the-road charging. What are the specifics? Must one be a member (pay the annual fee)? How about specific campgrounds. Do some proprietors/owners get hinky about one pulling up for a charge? Is there a generally agreed upon fee for the service?


ChrisPDX | July 31, 2013

I believe they are all franchised, so there's no way to give you good answers for all of them. You will need to call the ones you plan to go to for specifics. However, there is no annual fee or membership to stay at a KOA. They have a club like system that's similar to frequent fliers for airlines, but it's not mandatory.

When it comes to charging at KOA or any RV site for that matter, the primary thing to request is a 50 amp hookup. Don't request a NEMA 14-50 as they won't know what that is. Reading other people's experiences, the reactions to charging have been very mixed. They include charging a few dollars an hour, a fixed fee, a full RV day rate (regardless of how long you are there) to flat out not allowing you to charge. Therefore it's critical to call ahead of any you plan to visit.

I just spent this last weekend camping at a KOA with my Tesla. I booked a 50 amp RV spot and made sure they were OK with me camping in an RV spot (normally not allowed but they were OK since I didn't actually bring an RV). They even lowered my rate to a standard electric camp site ($15 less per night). However, I ran into another issue which appears to be common. Even when I lowered my recharge rate to 30 amps, I blew the circuit breaker. Because they are exposed to the elements and heavily used, be prepared for issues. So it would be very wise to watch the charge status for awhile and don't just assume all is going well. I ended up charging at 26 amps. Not great, but still enough to fully charge overnight.

Brian H | July 31, 2013

excellent advice and feedback.
As you imply: call ahead wherever possible. And check hours. You can't assume 24/7 booking offices.

Earl and Nagin ... | July 31, 2013

I should add that I've never experienced or heard of any KOA refusing to allow an EV to charge. They also often offer cabins for rent that are sort of spartan hotel rooms that can be convenient places to stay over night.

ChrisPDX | July 31, 2013

The being denied access I mentioned came from an incident mentioned in TMC at a KOA in Forsyth, GA. An E-mail was sent to them by an owner asking about access and they replied back saying they do not allow EV charging at RV spots. Fortunately that does not appear to be a common issue.

Brian H | July 31, 2013

Yes, they are franchises, and others have reported occasional refusals. Phone ahead.

DHrivnak | July 31, 2013

I have found campgrounds and actually virtually everyone to be open to EVs and charging in general. That said one issue I had with a KOA is the NEMA 14-50 was really two 120V legs. I hear most RV's do not really use 240V but 120V split to the neutral. So this wiring can work for them. So with 120V showing on my meter the car would not charge as the Roadster expects 240V.

And they are franchised and prices and rules vary WIDELY.

Bob Kroll | August 1, 2013

These comments match my experiences in a recent round trip from the west coast to the east coast and back. We stayed at many KOAs, never refused unless they were closed for the season. Even one that was closed (an RV park not part of the KOA system)allowed us to plug in overnight in the otherwise empty park and leave a $20 bill in their mail box.

We had the experience of circuit breakers tripping but were able to avoid it by dialing down the amperage on the touchscreen to 36 amps.

Brian H | August 1, 2013

The commenter here Peter7 is an EE who was part of a cross-country (xc) trip that used KOA etc. almost all the way. His edge was that he'd rigged up a snazzy "Multi-Input EVSE" that plugged into two 14-50s at once, and drew up to 80A! He seems to have thought better of publicizing his design, though. Too bad.

nwdiver93 | August 4, 2013

"RV's do not really use 240V but 120V split to the neutral"

Pretty sure that's normal... I've heard of 240v L-N but I've never seen it.

plusplusjames | August 14, 2014

When you blow the circuit, is this switch right there? Or is in the office (or elsewhere)? That could waste an evening if the circuit breaker goes off and you don't have access to reset it.

centralvalley | August 14, 2014


I can only comment on the three experiences that I had charging at an RV park with a 14-50.

None of the three were KOA.

Every one: Best Western Motel and RV Parking (Cedar City UT), Pioneer RV Park (Quincy CA) and Bridgeport RV and Marina (Bridgeport CA) had dedicated circuits at each plug in site. Each had a circuit breaker for the 50A plug as well as for the 110.

In each case I flipped the breaker to "on," then plugged in the UMC, then plugged into the car.

There were no issues. I suppose if the car tripped the breaker after a short period, one would have to unplug the car, reset the breaker and then repeat. And then probably reduce the amperage at the touchscreen to a lower amount to be safe.

Earl and Nagin ... | August 14, 2014

I'll echo centralvalley's experience. All RV spaces I've used (scattered across CA, NV, and UT) have had breakers at the site. If you blow a breaker, you just return to the car, turn the breaker off, unplug your car, plug your car back in.
I recommend looking for another 14-50 outlet or lowering the charging current from the touchscreen or you're likely to blow the breaker again.

bevguy | September 1, 2014

There is no need to confine yourself to KOA. Though many do have rooms that you could stay in overnight while charging.

The majority of RV Parks have RV 50 plugs,, I think the same thing as NEMA 1450. Some welcome Tesla, some don't. Phone ahead.
Some are underwired and won't put out the full 40 amp. Just set your car to lower amps. Hint, these receptacles get more in and out plug ins than they were designed for so may be quite loose.. Bring some twine and duct tape.

State park campgrounds are mostly welcoming but sometimes charge the same fee as if you had a RV vehicle plugged in all day,. And at peak season all,the sites may be full.

Then there are the J1772 Blinks. Which may or may not be working.