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What EV Charging Apps Do I Need on My Phone?


Car charging app for your smartphone

Buying a fully electric car or pickup truck 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 charging apps come to the rescue.

Improving battery technology means a typical EV can travel longer distances. And that helps reduce the dreaded range anxiety that keeps many car shoppers on the fence when it comes time to consider an electric car. Yet, when you take long drives that extend beyond your EV’s maximum range, you’ll need a public charging station.

Charging apps can be invaluable for getting the most out of any EV. Let’s take a look at popular charging apps, which apps you need, and the best ones to keep loaded in your smartphone.

What Do Charging Apps Help With?

A charging app can help an electric vehicle owner find charging stations. Phone apps also 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.

Which Ones Do I Need?

The answer starts with where you live and the electric car you drive. For example, a Tesla owner can rely on their car’s onboard navigation to locate Supercharger stations, which (for the moment) can only be used with the electric automaker’s range of vehicles. Yet, a faulty Supercharger outlet or excessively long waits to recharge at a specific station could be avoided by using one or two apps to provide real-time information about pricing, availability, and potential problems.

This holds true with any electric vehicle, no matter the manufacturer. 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.

If you plan on relying on a specific charging network like ChargePoint, then you’ll definitely want to add those apps on your smartphone. We also recommend adding PlugShare because this app easily aggregates all the networks and allows you to see the locations of each type of charger, plan trips, and more. Read more below for specifics.

You also may need Electrify America because you might qualify for free charging if you just purchased a new electric car. See the list of cars that qualify.

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. 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.

What Are the Most Popular Charging Apps?

Electric car owners will find plenty of choices regarding charging apps. Some of the most popular apps allow you to filter to find stations that will let you charge your EV free. See the information below that, as of this writing, applies:

PlugShare

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 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. It provides real-time availability.

You can 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

ChargePoint gets 4.5 stars for its Apple and Android app and 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. Since some people use ChargePoint home chargers due to available local or state EV incentives, the app allows you to schedule your charging and reminders, track usage, and more.

Electrify America

Many people download Electrify America in addition to other apps because it focuses on Level 3 DC fast chargers. The app gets 3.9 stars on Apple and 4.7 stars on Android. Some reviews mention glitches and other issues. But, new updates listed show 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.

RELATED: How EV Charging Could Become Easier in the Future

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. The app offers benefits like reduced charges for a monthly fee 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.

EVgo

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. The app gets 4.1 stars on Apple, but far fewer at 1.8 stars on Android. Recent Android and Apple users report app issues from a recent update.

Volta

This network is among the largest U.S. network of free EV chargers. When you download the Volta app, you can check availability and locate the chargers at malls, shopping centers, grocery stores, and other retailers. The app 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.

What Is the Best App for Finding EV Charging Stations?

PlugShare is a useful resource that covers all types of charging stations versus others that focus solely on one specific brand or design. However, not one single app works perfectly for every scenario.

As a result, don’t be shy about mixing and matching charging apps. You might prefer the user interface of one app over another, even if they both offer nearly identical pros and cons.

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.

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