Some Tips for Using a Better Routeplanner

By Paul Gipe

For planning trips in our Chevy Bolt we now use A Better Routeplanner exclusively. We found it more consistently accurate–or nearly so–than any other routeplanner we’ve tried.

Here are my previous articles on route planning.

Some EV newbies have asked how to set up A Better Routeplanner to work with their car and their itineraries. As a result, here are a few tips for setting up A Better Routeplanner.

Take some time to explore A Better Routeplanner. I did and it pays off in knowing all its features.

Let’s begin with the home page. In the lower right corner is a plus sign and a question mark.

The plus sign opens a set of icons, some of which are self explanatory. The half moon opens night mode. The squiggly line toggles Real-Time Navigation on and off. The circle with a dot in it is to center the map on your location. The plug symbol opens the Level 2 filter dialog and the map’s zoom factor.

The question mark opens up a page explaining how A Better Routeplanner works and who its authors are as well as where you can find FaceBook pages and a blog about the planner.

In the upper left is the planning dialogue with a place for you to enter your location and your destination. You can save a planned route for future reference. And you can add waypoints to routes that the planner may otherwise avoid. This is equivalent to dragging a route in Google Maps.

Importantly, there’s a tab Show Settings. Clicking it brings up a limited set of options. Here you can select the kind of vehicle you’re driving. We use a Bolt so a Bolt is selected here.

Note that there’s a line for Reference Consumption. This is set automatically by the software’s designers for the vehicle you select. Leave this alone if you’re a newby. You can adjust the reference consumption after you’ve gained experience with your car and your driving style and you’ve found the planner gives consistently high or low results.

Start Depart Charge is an important entry. We start all road trips at 100% State-of-Charge. If you start all trips at only 80% SOC, this is the place where you note that.

Charger Min Arrival charge should be set at what you feel comfortable with. Eric Way of fame has arrived so often at charge stations with such a very low SOC that I describe him as Eric 1% Way. Most drivers don’t ever want to get that low.

Goal Arrival Charge is another item that can be adapted to how you want to drive and to your specific trip. It differs from Charger Min Arrival as a charger stop is typically an intermediate stop and not your final destination. There may or may not be a charger at your destination.

Max Charge is the SOC that you want to leave the charge station with. Charger etiquette and practicality often dictates that you don’t want to charge at an intermediate stop to more than 80%. It takes a long time to charge beyond 80% because the charge rate has stepped down dramatically. There also may be other drivers waiting to use the charge kiosk. If you need to charge to 100% it’s polite to move off a DCFC kiosk and plug in to a Level 2 dispenser.

On the lower left is a tab to Show More Settings. This is where you can enter more parameters for the trip you’re taking and the weather. You can set the temperature you expect to encounter as well as any head or tail winds. These can have a profound effect on the estimate of how much electricity you need for a trip. It’s best to experiment with them before you leave home to see what effect they have. Head winds, because they increase drag by the square of the increase in wind speed, can greatly increase the energy needed to drive a segment. Extra weight in the car doesn’t have much effect, for example, carrying four passengers instead of one.

You can also set the planner to filter only those charge stations that work with your car. Because we use a Bolt, the planner is set to only reveal CCS and Level 2 stations.

There’s no need for a Live Car Connection or to Synchronize your car with ABRP unless your a techie or a nerd.

Adding a Waypoint

There are two ways to add a waypoint.

You can click on Add Waypoint in the upper left and type in the location you seek, and then select it from the drop down list that appears. If the waypoint is not in the position from the starting to ending point that you want, simply move it the correct position by clicking and holding the symbol to the left of the text box.

The other way to add a waypoint is to right click its position on the map and select from the menu that appears.