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As electric vehicles (EVs) grow in popularity and use, so do the number of charging stations. Even though the majority of car charging happens at home, prospective buyers may be concerned about a low battery occurring while far from a charging port. Traditional gas stations are typically easy to find along most roadways. Charging stations tend to be less front-and-center, and may even be located in obscure locations, such as in the upper levels of parking structures and deep within office parks.
Luckily, there are multiple apps downloadable to smartphones designed to help EV owners find charging stations no matter where they are. Based on coverage and user-friendliness, check out the top 4 electric vehicle charging station apps:
As the leading app for EV drivers, PlugShare provides near-global coverage of charging stations and over 800,000 downloads. It constantly improves based on community participation, with users contributing reviews, photos, and new locations of charging stations — even those homeowners have opened to the public. Users can also connect with other plug-in vehicle owners and have access to the most accurate and complete public charging station map. Notable features include:
- Coverage: Over 90,000 charging stations in the USA and Canada, and global coverage of an additional 110,000-plus stations.
- Navigation: Provides turn-by-turn directions to stations you want and a built-in trip planner for finding stations on road trips.
- Filtering: Lets you apply filters to only see stations relevant to your EV’s needs and specifications, favorite network, and charging station types (such as fast chargers or level 2).
- User-Base: Connected user-base for reviews, tips, photos, and PlugScore ratings for finding the reliable stations.
2. Open Charge Map
Supported by a community of businesses, charities, and other invested groups, Open Charge Map (OCM) aims to provide a high-quality, public, and free database of charging stations. It is a non-profit app designed to avoid conflicting charging networks’ limited maps and instead work with them to provide services to users. Open Charge Map is developed and run by volunteers and donors and shares its information openly. It’s listing of stations and locations is ever increasing based on crowd-sourced data and cooperating businesses, even including room for contributing developers. Features include:
- Coverage: As of January 2019, Open Charge Map is in 68,411 locations and shows 128,288 charging stations across the globe.
- Navigation: Lets you select nearby locations and provides directions including distance and time to destination.
- Filtering: Allows you to browse based on location, charging level, connection types, private or public usage specifications, network, operational status, data provider, and submission status.
- User-Base: Users can submit new locations, add comments, check-in at stations, and even edit existing locations. Interested parties can also contribute to app and map development.
Chargemap provides the most coverage of charging stations in Europe, with additional locations popping up in other places from new users across the globe. Chargemap gains a lot of its information from users, such as new charging station locations, and pictures and comments about those stations. As their user-base grows, their listing of stations around the world increases as well. Users can also use the Chargemap Pass as a payment system for compatible charging networks — though currently only available in parts of Europe. Additional features include:
- Coverage: Map displays over 55,000 locations and 180,000 charging stations, with the majority listed in Europe. As users contribute to station listing, newer users add new stations in different parts of the world.
- Navigation: Provides you with the shortest, most efficient route to the selected charging station. You can also plan a trip by incorporating Chargemap’s route feature with points of interest.
- Filtering: Allows users to simplify and narrow down desired locations on the map by using filters for charging speed, connector type, Chargemap Pass compatibility, and more.
- User-Base: Users are the key to gathering reliable information on charging stations, which is then backed by Chargemap’s quality team for accuracy and publication.
ChargeHub has over 100,000 users and a team devoted to creating the best charging experience from home to public places. Its extensive reach across North America includes a live-updated map to provide users with information on every charging station in the United States and Canada. ChargeHub is not limited to one network and lets the user view the live-availability status of thousands of stations. Users can also set notifications for when a new station appears according to their interests, whether that be location, charge type, or another category. Stations under some networks can even be paid for and activated through the ChargeHub app. Highlighted features include:
Coverage: Map includes total coverage of all charging stations in Canada and North America.
- Navigation: Comes with a trip planner for finding ideal charge points in addition to directions that can be followed in-app or opened in Google Maps.
- Filtering: Station options filterable by car specifications, charge type, network, power, and more.
- User-Base: Users can add new stations, share private charging stations, post photos and comments for customer experience, and check-in. They can also chat with fellow-users, and check out ChargeHub’s guide for additional questions.
Vehicle and Network Specific Apps
All the above-mentioned mobile apps provide extensive coverage of charging stations that span charge type, connector compatibility, network, and more. Certain electric car manufacturers offer apps for their vehicle owners to direct them to specific charging station, such as Tesla's supercharger system. Charging station networks, meaning the charging port’s provider, may also have an app designed to connect users to their type of stations. Whatever the EV owner’s preference, having a charging station app downloaded to his or her android or iOS smartphone helps with charging while on the road.
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