Buying a fully electric vehicle presents a whole new world of possibilities, like never needing to pump a single gallon of fuel. And EVs can travel longer distances on a single charge than ever before, which raises many questions, like where and how to charge your electric vehicle beyond your home or office. This is where charging apps come to the rescue.
Charging Apps Are Helpful
Charging apps can be invaluable for getting the most out of any EV. A charging app can help an electric vehicle owner find charging stations and help users determine if the chargers are Level 2 or 3 DC Fast Charging stations. Some also indicate the kilowatts available and if the units are currently in use. Apps also let users monitor their vehicle’s charging status once plugged in. Users might plan routes to maximize their electric car’s available range and even reserve a spot at a charging station for a specific time and day.
Depending on the app, you can also learn the current status of nearby charging stations and know beforehand if there are any issues, like a faulty charge point or hefty fees, before planning a stop. This can save you time and money, not to mention avoid the possibility of running out of charge because the station you had in mind went out of service.
Some apps, such as PlugShare, include handy tutorials with tips for electric car drivers about how to recharge and which chargers work compatibly with their vehicle type. Others let you connect with fellow EV drivers to share useful information about charging stations and offer various travel advice to make your electric drive a seamless experience.
How to Pick an App
The answer starts with where you live and the electric car you drive. This holds true with any electric vehicle, no matter the manufacturer. It’s wise to use an app affiliated with public stations where you plan on doing the majority of your driving. The electric car you drive likely offers an available app specific to the vehicle or the manufacturer’s lineup of EVs. That’s a great starting point, though browsing charging apps that make the most sense for your driving needs is a smart idea.
Downloading several apps can be helpful. Some might prefer the user interface of one app over another, even if they both offer nearly identical pros and cons. and provide valuable information when traveling away from home.
The best charging apps not only let you find nearby EV charging stations, but they also provide information related to charging speed, current rates, and availability. They also list routes that factor in points to recharge during extended drives and whether the station is compatible with your electric vehicle.
If you plan on relying on a specific charging network like ChargePoint, then you’ll definitely want to add those apps on your smartphone. PlugShare can also be helpful because it easily aggregates all the networks and allows the user to see the locations of each type of charger, plan trips, and more. Read more below for specifics.
It’s best to plan your trips when you head farther afield because the network could be different than the one in your local area. There are some networks that have strong regional presence, and their app may be helpful if you are traveling to that area. The more apps at your disposal, the easier the access when you’re on the go. You’ll stay better informed if any curveballs occur during your travels.
Also, know the charger and plug connector type your EV requires and factor this into your decision. Many charging apps cover all types of chargers. So, all an EV driver needs to do is filter out the ones suitable for their vehicle.
Some Apps to Consider
Electric car owners will find plenty of choices regarding charging app, which is good because not one single app works perfectly for every scenario. Please know the list below is not intended as an endorsement, nor should this list be considered the only apps worth looking into.
PlugShare helps users find EV charging stations — including Tesla Superchargers — locally or on road trips. It’s considered a must-have app because it features more than 600,000 EV charging stations across a cross-section of networks, including ChargePoint, Electrify America, FLO, EVgo, EV Connect, Volta, and more.
You can filter the choices by plug type, and it provides real-time availability. It allows the user to plan road trips, bookmark locations, share live updates, and get charging tips from other users. Even though you can pay for charging in the app at participating locations, many people keep other apps on their phones for convenience.
ChargePoint offers a network of more than 163,000 activated ports. With the app, you can locate and charge at stations from other major networks in real time with updates about your charging status. You can also use your account to charge at FLO, EVgo, and other stations.
The app lets you see tips and advice from other users about specific charging stations you may use along your route. For those who use ChargePoint home chargers, the app allows you to schedule your charging and reminders, track usage, and more.
Electrify America is a fast-growing network with lots of funding and expansion. Many people download Electrify America in addition to other apps because it focuses on Level 3 DC fast chargers.
The app sends notifications when chargers open up and identifies those available, including Level 2. You can track your charging status and get notified when your electric car reaches a desired state of charge. You can start or stop your charging session remotely.
With EVgo, you can reserve a charger ahead of time. It allows you to filter preferences by connector and charger type. You can monitor your session and see other real-time charging details on the app, while earning rewards for your activity. You can also filter by location.
Volta is among the largest U.S. network of free EV chargers. The app can check availability and locate the chargers at malls, shopping centers, grocery stores, and other retailers. It also tells you the charger level and connector types it accepts and how long you can charge for free.
In most cases, free charging is allowed for up to two hours, but you can pay for additional time, too. The app also provides directions to the charger from the app and allows you to report any issues. Most Volta stations work from 6 am to midnight but may vary based on location policies.
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