- EVs and smartphone apps will guide you to find the nearest charging station.
- Many apps have color-coded features that show the station type, charging speed, and functionality.
- Know your EV’s charging type to find the best charging station.
As more public charging stations open around the country, finding them makes owning an EV more desirable. Fortunately, EV manufacturers and entrepreneurs already make it relatively easy to find working electric vehicle charging stations.
Know What Type of Charging Station Your EV Needs
Electric vehicles use a variety of different charging stations and ports. For example, a Nissan Leaf needs a Level 3 with a CHAdeMO plug, while a Volkswagen ID.4 needs a CCS charger at a DC fast-charging station. Plug-in hybrids like the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe cannot use DC fast-charging stations. If this is all too much to remember, consider using an app like Chargeway to find the perfect public station for your vehicle.
In general, all Tesla vehicles can use all Tesla Supercharger stations, and most fully electric vehicles from other makers can use the CCS DC fast-charging stations. Eventually, Tesla Superchargers will open to all EVs.
Know How Quickly Your EV Charges
Another important factor regarding charging stations is your EV’s charging architecture. DC fast-charging stations have 350-kW ports, but not every vehicle can use the speedy ports. Most DC fast-charging stations also have 150-kW ports, which work for most fully electric vehicles. However, if you have a vehicle that can use the 350-kW port, use it as it will charge your EV faster.
Use Your EV’s Navigation System
Most new EVs have built-in navigation systems with charging stations as destinations. Some EVs will guide you to the nearest station based on your battery level. For example, if you have 100 miles of range left, the technology will show you what charging stations are within 80 miles. Polestar and Tesla have outstanding integrated navigation technology, showing you how far you can go and the location of the charging stations within your range.
While in-car navigation is a useful feature, it’s not perfect. The systems do not know if a charging station is operational or not. If you are relying solely on in-car navigation to find a charging station, always have a backup plan in case the station isn’t working.
Get an App
Smartphone apps are popular options for EV owners. These apps share locations of all types of charging stations, and they show whether the stations are functional. These apps are free to use.
Chargeway makes it easy to find a charging station that works with your EV. When you open your account, add your vehicle make and model so the app only shows compatible stations with its color-coding system (green, blue, and red) to show you what stations are best for your EV. It’s available for Apple and Android phones.
The red circles show Tesla chargers, blue show CHAdeMO, and green show J1772 and CSS (everything else). If your EV has a green circle with a 7, that’s the fastest charger for a vehicle like a Porsche Taycan, Lucid Air, or Hyundai Ioniq 6.
Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations will show up as circles with a 1 or 2. Anything with a 3 to 7 will be a DC fast charger. So, when I need to charge my Kia EV6, I look for a location with a green 7. If you drive a Tesla your Superchargers will be shown as a red circle with a level 5, 6 or 7. If you drive a Nissan Leaf you will see blue circles on your station map for fast charging.
It’s an easy system to navigate, and it informs you of stations you might want to avoid. Most restricted charging stations will be labeled with a black R on the colored circle. Others might have information in the details. For example, a few miles from my home is a Jeep dealership with a Level 2 station listed as “Non-Network” – this tells me that I shouldn’t try to use it (I know it’s inside of the dealership’s garage).
You can use the app to plan a trip that includes accurate, average charging time. Users can leave reviews, and the app tells you what type of business hosts the charging station. You’ll know if it’s at a hotel, a Walmart, or a dealership – so you can shop, eat, or hang out in your EV during the charging session.
U.S. Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy is the agency responsible for the federal government’s efforts to add EV charging stations around the country. The agency has an app that shows all the EV charging stations, and it’s accurate. Like the other apps, you can filter stations that fit your EV and plan your route. The map isn’t as robust as other options, but it is easy to use.
A Better Route Planner (ABRP)
If your EV doesn’t have a built-in route planner, A Better Route Planner can help. This app will route you to an EV station while you’re on a road trip. With this app, you add your destination,
and then it tells you how to get there, where to stop for charging, and how long it will take to fill your vehicle. You have to tell the app what type of vehicle you have, your battery percentage when you leave, and your typical speed.
This app is free, but you can’t access all the features with the basic version. The premium version is $5 per month or $50 for the year. The premium features include real-time traffic info, charger availability, and charging notifications.
Charging Station Apps
All charging stations have apps that help you manage your account, pay for services, and navigate to them. If you want to get in and out of the charging stations quickly, add the apps to your phone before you embark on your road trip. For example, I use Electrify America and ChargePoint most often, so I always have those apps ready to go.
FEATURE IMAGE: ELECTRIFY AMERICA
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