Once you get an electric vehicle, you’ll quickly realize some of your favorite gas stations don’t offer EV charging. That’s why Tesla, Electrify America, and many third-party brands have apps to help you track down the best, fastest, or nearest electric vehicle charging station.
And yes, you can charge your vehicle at home, but when you’re out and about or traveling, you’ll want to take advantage of apps to help you find the best location or quickest solution. So, what EV charging station apps should you install and why? Here’s what drivers need to know.
Electric car owners will quickly realize they need to plan and prepare for where to charge the car. And while it’s not easy, it’s not very difficult either. Tesla’s network continues to grow, Rivian is opening new charging stations by the day, and there are countless public chargers available if you know where to look.
While we recommend downloading the dedicated app for your manufacturer, like Tesla, Ford, or Rivian, there are also charging network-specific apps like ChargePoint and Electrify America. These show you where each brand has a charger located, and there are countless benefits to using a charging station app on your phone.
These map apps will help you locate all the major EV charging networks in your area, give you tips and tricks, show your distance from a charger, and some apps even let you add filters. For example, some apps can show you any free charging stations nearby. And who doesn’t love a free charge?
So, which apps do you need? Well, that depends on where you live and what vehicle you drive. You can likely use the built-in navigation to find most locations if you have a Tesla. However, these apps will come in handy now that Tesla has released a CSS adapter plug, and you can use public chargers.
Whatever electric vehicle you drive, these apps will make life easier when it comes to charging the battery instead of stopping for gasoline.
One of the best apps overall is Plugshare. That’s because it offers a little bit of everything, has tons of customization and filter options, and will surely get you back on the road as quickly as possible. Plugshare has information on over 620,000 chargers in North America, whether public chargers or brands like Electrify America, EV Connect, Tesla, and others. It’s a one-stop-shop app that has it all.
You can also tell the app what vehicle you drive, so it knows which chargers to show based on your needs or compatibility. It’s honestly one of the best options available right now, and every EV owner should have this app. Download it today from the link below.
My favorite is ChargeHub, as it has an excellent interface and many useful features. When you first download the app and add your vehicle info, the app has an EV charging guide for new owners. This will explain the different charging level speeds, connector types, dos and don’ts, and much more for newbies.
ChargeHub is easy to navigate, with buttons at the bottom to see a map view, trips, community, or your profile. With each tab, you can find nearby stations, set a trip, or interact with the community to see reviews, destinations, and other information. The community reviews are great for finding out if a specific charger is fully functioning or if you’re better off stopping elsewhere.
One of the biggest networks of chargers aside from Tesla is Electrify America. The company is growing fast, installing new chargers constantly, not to mention working with auto manufacturers to offer incentives for new buyers. And while Plugshare will show you where the nearest Electrify America charging station is, the dedicated app is still worth downloading.
You can use the app to filter results to show the nearest charger, the fastest, if the charger is currently in use, and more. You can even change the charger’s output from the app and save money.
Another excellent aggregator tool that pulls information from all the different brands, networks, chargers, and the community is ChargePoint. It’s similar to Chargehub, so choose which one you like the most.
With ChargePoint, you can see a map of nearly 200,000 charging ports, filter them by speed, price, location, etc., or see if the charger is currently in use. Many EV owners also have a ChargePoint charger at home, so this app will let you control and interact with that, set reminders, or track usage. It’s a great app that does a little of everything.
Lastly, we wanted to mention EVgo, as it’s a great option that’s getting better by the day. And while its charging stations are mainly located on the East or West coast, it’ll vary depending on where you live.
EVgo has a fantastic user interface, tons of controls and customization, maps, charger type filters, and real-time information about the charging network. Perhaps the best feature of EVgo is the reservation feature. You can find a nearby charging station, reserve it up to 20 minutes in advance, then show up and plug in without waiting in line. It’s pretty amazing when you stop in a busy location.
Yes, you should absolutely download at least one or two different EV charging apps. Not only will you benefit from everything mentioned above, but they’re wildly helpful for other reasons and a great information source in an emergency. For example, phone apps can often tell you if a charger is a level 2 station or if it has level 3 DC fast charging available. That’ll make a huge difference on a road trip. Or, if you’re about to run out of juice, you can find any possible charger nearby.
Some of the apps detailed here today will confirm if the charger is currently in use, which is helpful when a location only has one or two available. Furthermore, certain brands will even let you reserve an EV charger ahead of time, so you’re not waiting even longer on a road trip.
Owners can check the fees before they arrive and choose to go elsewhere, search for free chargers, monitor the vehicle and charge process, or see the kilowatts available at a specific stop.
Instead of asking Google or Apple Maps where the nearest EV charger is, take advantage of apps with detailed, vehicle-specific information. Give one a try on your next trip.