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Making Sense of EV Charging Apps & Maps

When I polled a couple of friends about their biggest headaches with owning an electric vehicle, making sense of all the EV charging apps out there was high on their list. As I started to dig into it, I could see why. From community-driven to municipal managed, there are several EV charging apps and websites available. With this in mind, let’s break down the top apps and what their best use scenarios are. I will also share which one is my overall pick for planning EV road trips.

PlugShare

First up on this list of EV charging apps is PlugShare. This EV charging station database includes over 225,000 chargers in the US and Canada. Users can review charging stations like you would a hotel room and even upload photos. This is helpful when looking for charging options with amenities nearby.

You can also fine-tune down to charging networks and adapter types as well as get real-time reports on availability and use. On top of various charging networks, some users even list their home chargers.

That said, this is a community-driven app so you’re banking on other users for it to be accurate. It does have a trip planner however I found it a bit clunky and hard to use. I tried planning out my first EV road trip using this EV charging app and found it cumbersome. Because of that, I would use it for its photos, reviews, and finding a station in a pinch.

What is PlugShare Good For?

Pros

  • One-stop for finding chargers.
  • Finding free charging.

Cons

  • Planning trips.
  • Current charger status.

Tesla and Proprietary Vehicle Apps

Most EV’s include their own navigation system however Tesla’s is by far the most advanced and convenient. Thanks to its massive Supercharger network, planning a trip (within the range of its network) is as easy as telling the car where you want to go.

Using Tesla’s navigation is also very efficient. Not only will you route through Superchargers, but your Tesla will also prep the battery as you approach. This allows for the fastest charging speeds possible.

Now that said, you need to be in the car to use this navigation. Trip planning on the app or website is not transferable to the in-car system. Also, if you are in areas that do not have good Supercharger coverage you will need to use other apps (like PlugShare) to find chargers.

What is Tesla’s Navigation Good For?

Pros

  • Tesla users πŸ™„
  • Effortless planning within its network.

Cons

  • Only for Tesla
  • Does not include 3rd party charging
  • Can not plan a route in advance.

ChargePoint

ChargePoint is a massive network of independently owned charging stations. You will find these in malls, city parking lots, and city facilities. The app is both your map and payment method.

Although some chargers are free, it is up to the property owner as they set the rate. Searching through the app, you can see what the rates are, the charger availability, and user-added photos and notes.

What is ChargePoint Good For?

Pros

  • Convenient app for accessing and paying for ChargePoint chargers.
  • Realtime availability and stats.
  • Can filter for free chargers.

Cons

  • Required to access ChargePoint Chargers (one more app on your phone)

Regional Apps

Speaking of independent chargers, many regions have pitched in to push the EV movement along. This includes several municipal and regional managed charging stations. Most of these have their own apps.

In British Columbia, for instance, BC Hydro offers an app that maps out their charging network. This includes FLO, Greenlots, and ChargePoint chargers. Although I appreciate the effort, it is one more app that is not required if you already have FLO, Greenlots, or ChargPoint apps.

What Are Regional Charger Apps Good For?

Pros

  • Good for the latest info on regionally managed chargers.
  • Good if you are only travelling within the region.

Cons

  • Most charging stations can be found in apps like PlugShare.
  • If part of a charging network, native app can be used to find and access.

A Better Routeplanner

Last up on this list of EV charging apps is my pick for planning a road trip, A Better Routeplanner. In short, the name says it all.

ABRP is as close to Tesla’s navigation as you will find. It calculates all your charging stops on your way to your destination and does it in a clean and modern interface. On top of that, there are plenty of things ABRP does better.

For one, you can plan several routes on the app or website in advance. You can also include non-Tesla charging methods and you can drill down to add weather conditions and driving speeds. Also, you can tie in your Tesla account and use the navigation in your vehicle. This does remove the battery prep for Superchargers so only suggest this method when off the Supercharger network.

Still, ABRP does have some quirks. I found it buggy at times when compiling my EV trips and a bit frustrating to manage multiple trips. To make that easier, I wish you could add notes to your stops instead of just an address. On the positive, I passed this thought onto the developers and they might implement it in their next release.

What is A Better Routeplanner Good For?

Pros

  • Best EV Charging App for planning trips.
  • Navigation through various charging networks and adaptor types.
  • Can adjust for driving conditions for better range accuracy.

Cons

  • File and trip management could be improved.
  • Can be a bit buggy.

Although ABRP is free to use, they do offer a premium service. This unlocks extra features like managing multiple vehicles, historical routes, and real-time weather, traffic, and Supercharger availability. Apple Watch owners will also benefit with premium as you can get notifications on things like charging time, to your wrist.

Full disclosure, I have partnered with ABRP but I love their product! If you want to try ABRP premium, use promo code MYEVTrips to get a 30-day free trial!

What EV Charging Apps do you Use?

This, of course, is only a sample of the EV charging apps out there. It is, however, a list of the most popular apps and methods currently available. For me, ABRP is my go to for road trip planning. PlugShare is for finding municipal and free charging. ChargePoint is for accessing non-Tesla chargers, and Tesla navigation is for in route driving.

What say you? What EV Charging Apps do you use for route planning and navigation? Let me know in the comments below!

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