What EV charging apps do I need on my phone?
Buying an all-electric car or van presents a whole new world of possibilities, like never needing to pump a single gallon of fuel. It also raises many questions, like where and how to charge your electric vehicle, including beyond your home or office. This is where recharge apps come to the rescue.
Improved battery technology means a typical electric vehicle can travel longer distances. And it helps reduce the dreaded range anxiety that keeps many car buyers on the fence when it comes time to consider an electric car. Yet, when you take long trips that exceed the maximum range of your electric vehicle, you will need a public charging station.
Charging apps can be invaluable in getting the most out of any electric vehicle. Let’s take a look at the popular charging apps, the apps you need, and the best ones to keep charged in your smartphone.
What are charging apps used for?
A charging app can help an electric vehicle owner find charging stations. Phone apps also help users determine if chargers are Level 2 or Level 3 DC fast charging stations. Some also show available kilowatts and whether the units are currently in use. The apps also allow users to monitor the charging status of their vehicle when plugged in. Users can plan routes to maximize the available range of their electric car and even reserve a spot at a charging station for a specific time and day.
Depending on the app, you can also see the current status of nearby charging stations and know in advance if there are any issues, such as a faulty charging station or high charges, before planning a stop. This can save you time and money, not to mention the possibility of running out of charge because the station you had in mind has been taken out of service.
Some apps, such as PlugShare, include how-to tutorials with advice for electric car drivers on how to charge and which chargers are compatible with their type of vehicle. Others allow you to connect with other EV drivers to share useful information about charging stations and offer various travel tips to make your electric drive a smooth experience.
Which do I need?
The answer starts with where you live and what electric car you drive. For example, a Tesla owner can rely on their car’s in-car navigation to locate Supercharger stations, which (for now) can only be used with the automaker’s line of electric vehicles. Still, a faulty Supercharger plug or excessively long waits to charge at a specific station could be avoided by using an app or two to provide real-time information on pricing, availability, and potential issues.
This applies to any electric vehicle, regardless of manufacturer. The electric car you drive probably has an available application specific to the vehicle or the manufacturer’s range of electric vehicles. It’s a great place to start, although browsing through the charging apps that best suit your driving needs is a smart move.
If you plan to rely on a specific charging network like ChargePoint, you’ll definitely want to add these apps to your smartphone. We also recommend adding PlugShare as this app easily aggregates all networks and allows you to see the locations of each type of charger, plan trips, and more. Read more below for more details.
You may also need Electrify America, as you might qualify for free charging if you just bought a new electric car. See the list of eligible cars.
It is best to plan your journeys when going further afield as the network may be different than in your area. The more apps you have at your disposal, the easier it is to access when you’re on the go. You’ll stay better informed if curve balls occur during your travels.
What are the most popular charging apps?
Electric car owners will find plenty of choices when it comes to charging apps. Some of the most popular apps allow you to filter to find stations that will allow you to charge your EV for free. See the information below which, as of today, applies:
PlugShare gets 4.6 and 4.7 stars for Android and Apple respectively. The app helps you find EV charging stations, including Tesla Superchargers, locally or while driving. It is considered a must-have app as it offers over 600,000 EV charging stations across a sample of networks including ChargePoint, Electrify America, FLO, EVgo, EV Connect, Volta, and more. You can filter the choices by plug type. It provides real-time availability.
You can plan car trips, mark locations, share live updates and get charging tips from other users. Although you can pay for in-app charging at participating locations, many people keep other apps on their phones for convenience.
ChargePoint scores 4.5 stars for its Apple and Android app and boasts a network of over 163,000 enabled ports. With the app, you can locate and recharge stations from other major networks in real time with updates on your charging status. You can also use your account to recharge at FLO, EVgo and other stations.
The app lets you see tips and advice from other users about specific charging stations you can use along your route. Since some people use ChargePoint home chargers due to local or national EV incentives available, the app lets you schedule your charging and reminders, track usage, and more.
Many people download Electrify America in addition to other apps because it focuses on Level 3 DC fast chargers. The app scores 3.9 stars on Apple and 4.7 stars on Android. Some reviews mention glitches and other issues. But, the new updates listed show that the app continues to improve. Electrify America is a fast growing network with lots of funding and expansion. The company also plans to build luxury charging stations.
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The app sends notifications when chargers open and identifies which ones are available, including Level 2. You can track your charge status and get notified when your electric car reaches the desired charge state. The app offers perks like reduced fees for a monthly subscription when you join Electrify America’s Pass+ plan. You can start or stop your charging session remotely.
The company is a subsidiary of Volkswagen. Tesla owners need an adapter to charge with Electrify America.
With EVgo you can reserve a charger in advance. It allows you to filter preferences by connector and charger type. You can monitor your session and see other real-time load details on the app, while earning rewards for your activity. You can also filter by location. The app gets 4.1 stars on Apple, but much less at 1.8 stars on Android. Recent Android and Apple users are reporting app issues from a recent update.
This network is one of the largest US networks of free electric vehicle chargers. When you download the Volta app, you can check availability and locate chargers at malls, malls, grocery stores and other retailers. The app tells you what 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 also pay for additional time. The app also provides directions to the charger from the app and allows you to report any issues. Most Volta stations operate from 6am to midnight but may vary depending on location policies.
What is the best app to find EV charging stations?
PlugShare is a useful resource that covers all types of charging stations versus others that only focus on a specific brand or design. However, no app works perfectly for every scenario.
Therefore, feel free to mix and match charging apps. You might prefer one app’s user interface over another, even though they both offer nearly identical pros and cons.
The best charging apps not only let you find nearby electric vehicle charging stations, but they also provide information on charging speed, current rates, and availability. They also list the routes that take into account the charging points during long journeys and if the terminal is compatible with your electric vehicle.