When you buy an electric vehicle, “fueling up” takes on a whole different meaning.
As an EV owner, you’ll likely charge your vehicle at home. But, if you live in an apartment building, for example, you may need to access one close to home to charge your batteries. In addition, if you plan longer trips or have lots of errands around town, you’ll likely need to find a charging station. And, unlike gas stations, they are not on every corner nor are they often easy to spot.
That’s why you’ll likely need to install two apps on your smartphone. One is to find the closest charging station. The second is one that you need to start changing.
Canada has a network of charging stations and the number is growing. It already has more than 500 fast chargers as part of a network of over 4,000 Level 2 and Level 3 charging sites tucked away in garages, parking lots and behind buildings.
Some public charging stations are free, provided by business or malls for example. Most require payment which can be done by credit card, if you’ve signed up with the network or by RFID (radio-frequency identification) card. Some networks charge a flat rate, others by the minute.
Below are the five top charging apps for drivers of electric vehicles in Canada.
1) PlugShare– This is a free app and website that allows vehicle owners to find and review charging stations and connect with other EV owners. It shows the location of charging stations around the world and includes a database of more than 125,000 charging stations in the U.S. and Canada. You can also find details of what kind of plugs the stations support, plan a road trip and figure out your stops and durations. Stations often come with detailed descriptions, photos and available amenities. It also provides real-time availability – how many stations are free.
2) ChargeHub– Limited to Canada and the U.S., this app is a free mobile and web platform that is connected to more than 55,000 charging stations. It is connected to various charging networks such as Blink, Hydro Quebec’s Circuit Electrique and others. You can log in with Facebook and add your charging station to the map along with requesting permission from other EV owners to plug share. Again, users can rate and comment on charging stations. The app includes a store where you can find accessories to power your electric car at home and a blog.
3) ChargePoint– This is a charging network that allows you to upload money to the app to pay for your charge. It offers a wide network of stations around the world. You can tab your phone against a charging station to start charging and the app doesn’t need to be open to initiate the process. It will show you how long your car has charged, how much power its received and an estimate the mileage gained and cost for the stations that are not free. It also explains how you control a Chargepoint home charging station (if you buy one), let’s you see when your EV is charging, remote start a charge and set timers.
4) Google Maps- Most of us already have this app on our phones. If you type EV charges in the search bar, a list of the nearest chargers will populate. It includes pictures of each charging site, distance to it and the type of adapter it has.
5) Your vehicle’s app – Every EV will have its own app that includes a charging navigation function. It may even have built-in navigation to charging stations in your area
Driving an electric vehicle is an adjustment and the technology is improving all the time.