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How to Find an EV Charger

Finding a place to charge an EV is easier than you think.

Chevy Bolt EV with an Electrify America charger plugged in
Justin Duino / Review Geek
Don't let finding a nearby electric vehicle charger stop you from buying or renting an EV. You can easily find locations in the car, from your phone, or at popular destinations in most cities.

If you bought your first electric vehicle or have a rental, and now the battery is running low, you’re probably wondering how to find an EV charger. Unfortunately, charging stations aren’t everywhere or nearly as noticeable as gas stations, so here’s how to find one near you.

As electric vehicles continue to gain popularity and new charging locations appear around the globe, it’s becoming easier to find a place to charge up. For now, use the guide below, and you’ll likely find one that’s closer than expected.

First, Figure Out the Charger Plug Type

Combined Charging System plug on the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV.JPG
Hannah Stryker / Review Geek

When you’re driving an electric vehicle, you can’t just stop at a nearby Shell or Chevron for a few minutes to gas up. Instead, you’ll have to find a location that has EV chargers and one compatible with your specific vehicle.

Aside from Tesla, almost all electric cars in North America use the same type of charger plug, meaning you shouldn’t have difficulty finding a compatible station to ease your range anxiety. Still, you’ll want to know what type of plug (and charging speeds) your vehicle accepts before looking for a place to stop.

There’s a good chance your EV has a J-Plug (J1772) or the CCS Combo port (as shown below) for fast DC charging. The round J-Plug works with almost all charging stations, and the CCS Combo uses that same J-Plug along with two additional bigger ports under it for faster charging.

As long as it’s not a Tesla Supercharger, you’ll probably be fine. Plus, many Tesla Supercharger stations now have an adapter to work with newer non-Tesla vehicles, making it easier than ever for EV users to find a place to top off the battery. But again, this isn’t a guarantee, as some older hybrids don’t work with Tesla’s adapter.

Different electric car charging plugs and speeds
Blink Charging

Most modern EVs will use CCS Combo, but if you’re in a Tesla, look for a Supercharging station. However, there are a few exceptions if you’re in an older EV like a Nissan Leaf or something from Mitsubishi, as they both have used Asia’s popular CHAdeMO plug stateside, which you’ll see in our graphic above.

In that case, you’ll need to search for that plug type using your car’s infotainment display or by using a charging station app from our list below. Nissan has since switched to CCS Combo, so most newer vehicles in the U.S. don’t need to worry about CHAdeMo.

Apps to Find EV Charging Stations

public EV charging spot
Kevin McGovern/Shutterstock.com

You can use the infotainment display in the car to find nearby charging stations, but your best bet is downloading one of the many EV charging apps to your phone. That’s because apps dedicated to finding EV chargers are more up-to-date and typically have several filter options (like the plug type) to help you find what you’re looking for.

Many different EV charger apps are available, but PlugShare is probably the most popular choice. It’ll show you a map of over 640,000 chargers at around 100K locations throughout North America, let you pick the speed and port type, and you’ll be all set. ElectrifyAmerica and ChargeHub are good options and don’t forget to try apps from the automaker, like Ford Pass or the Tesla app.

However, downloading another app can be frustrating, so another solid option is simply using Google Maps or Waze if that’s already on your phone. Yes, both Google Maps and Waze have EV charging locations and the same type of filters. On Waze, you can tell the app your EV model, make, and plug type, and it’ll only show compatible charging stations.

As for payment, you can often use a dedicated app from the charger manufacturer to pay or swipe your debit card at the terminal. A lot of EV charging stations have contactless payment terminals, too, making it quick and easy.

Use the Infotainment Display In Your EV

Infotainment display and climate control buttons inside the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV
Justin Duino / Review Geek

If you don’t want to download another app or are busy driving an EV rental, use the built-in infotainment display. Electric vehicles are basically giant computers with more power than a smartphone built into the center console touchscreen. You can use that screen to find charging locations.

If your EV is about to run out of battery and you’re wondering how to find an EV charger, fire up the navigation system or maps app and use it to find the nearest charging station. Most cars have a dedicated section in the navigation tools to find somewhere to charge.

Many newer vehicles will even tell you ahead of time if one’s along your route, giving you ample time to change lanes and stop. Better yet, some EVs will start looking for nearby destination chargers if the battery is getting too low. Electric vehicles are smart, so use the built-in infotainment display to find somewhere to stop and get some volts.

Look for Free EV Chargers

Fast Charging screen inside of a 2023 Chevy Bolt EV
Justin Duino / Review Geek

Did you buy a new Hyundai that comes with free charging? If so, you’ll want to take full advantage of that before breaking out your wallet. A popular trend lately is automakers partnering with EV charger brands and giving it away free to new car buyers. Most deals come with restrictions or fine print, but free is still free. Well, until the deal expires or the company decides to cancel it (like Tesla did).

That said, no matter what EV you drive or when you bought it, getting a charge for free is still possible. Yes, you can top off the battery without paying a dime. Several locations will let you charge an EV for free, like at select restaurants, as long as you’re a paying customer.

For example, many hotels throughout the US will offer free charging as an incentive for drivers to use the hotel. If you get a room, you’ll probably get free charging. We’re seeing something similar at shopping malls and libraries, and some National Parks have free Adopt-a-charge stations.

Keep in mind that many free chargers have a time limit or only offer Level 2 charging speeds, meaning you won’t be going from 10-80%. Still, if you plan a road trip, you could easily go far without paying for electricity. Several apps mentioned above even have filters for “free destination chargers” you can look for on your next road trip.

If you’re considering buying an electric vehicle or want to rent one during a vacation, go for it. You can easily find countless places to charge in a matter of minutes, and it might even help you decide if your next car should be an EV.

In closing, it’s worth mentioning that every major automaker and countless brands are working hard to improve the EV charging infrastructure. Moving forward, finding a place to stop and plug in will only get easier.

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »