One of the key parts of driving an electric car is knowing how and where charging points are located so that you can feel at ease when out on the road. One of the best tools to help with this is using apps that locate the nearest charging stations, so we thought we’d share some of our top recommendations so you can focus on your journeys. You may already have downloaded the app from your EVs manufacturer, and these can be incredibly helpful as you’ll get detailed information specific to the make and model of your car. As roughly 10% of charging happens on the go, having an app (or even a couple) that shows you the closest charging stations to your location is key! Below are a couple of the apps we recommend to check out.
With the Zap-Map app, you can plan your journeys, find your nearest charging stations as well as pay for your charging all in one app. It also was named ‘Best Electric Car App’ in the 2022 Driving Electric Awards and is available on both Apple IOS and Android.
You can use the Zap-Map app to locate more than 17,000 charging locations across the UK, and also whether or not they are available or if they are out of service. Plus, users can review charging locations using images and text, plus they have access to Zap-Chats which lets users communicate with one another and ask or answer other members' questions.
The app lets you filter different types of chargers, payment options, connectors and access, so users can know ahead of time whether or not a particular charging location suits their needs.
You can also plan your journey using Zap-Map Route Planner, which will show you the suitable charging locations along your journey so you can feel secure in the knowledge that there are charging locations along the way.
Additionally, users can also add new public charging points on the app or even add their own home chargers, from which they can set up a payment system through PayPal, meaning users could earn some extra money while simultaneously increasing access to charge points for other EV drivers.
Plugshare is an incredibly popular, global app and it’s also completely free, so no matter where you live or where you’re travelling to, Plugshare will have the information you’re looking for.
Similar to Zap-Map, the Plugshare app can be used to locate EV charging stations along your journey and check if they are compatible with your vehicle or filter the results to see specific kinds of chargers like fast chargers. One of the best features of Plugshare is users can rate and review the charging stations on the app, so you can know ahead of time other drivers’ opinions and experiences of the chargers.
It’s also a great way to connect with other EV drivers, as the app lets you interact with other users through both images and text reviews, comments and direct messages. Another great feature is that users can add their home chargers to the network, and they can limit what times other users can use their chargers as well as any additional conditions or stipulations. It’s a great way making EV ownership more accessible to all.
You can also use it to plan your trips, as Plugshare can show you where the available charging stations are along your planned route, which comes in handy if you’re a new EV driver or travelling somewhere new.
The Plugshare app Is available on both IOS and android and can also be accessed online.
ChargePlace Scotland is run and owned by the Scottish government, and Scotland’s official national charging network for EVs. The reason the ChargePlace network was created was to make charging and in turn EV ownership more accessible and it’s definitely become a key part of many EV drivers’ everyday lives in Scotland, as most of their 2000+ charging points across Scotland are free to use. On the app, users will be able to see if chargers are available and also what types of chargers are available at the charging stations.
The app is free to download and use, however if you pay for a membership fee of £10 before you’ll get a ChargePlace Scotland card, which can be used to pay at charging points. We recommend getting the card, as sometimes certain charging places aren’t compatible with the app so having the card to activate the charging station is a useful back-up. While most of the ChargePlace charging points are completely free, this one-off cost for a membership card could come in very handy. It's such a great deal!
This app is available on both Apple IOS and Android and it’s compatible with Zap-Map. You can actually filter your results to just show ChargePlace charging stations which is great, as previously mentioned a majority of their charging network is entirely free! You won’t be able to see these options on Zap Map if you don’t have a ChargePlace account.
This may be a slightly unexpected recommendation, but Google Maps can come in handy if you’re looking to find charging stations along your journey. All you need to do is fill in your location and destination, click on the ‘search along route’ option and search for EV charging stations, and you’ll be able to view where they are. Google Maps tends to be pre-installed on android devices and is available for download on Apple IOS.
WattsUp is an app designed for journey planning and locating the nearest charging locations across all charging networks. Compared to some other apps on this list, when you create a WattsUp account, you’ll share your specific charging specifications so you won’t be shown charging stations that don’t have chargers that cater to your vehicle. This way you don’t have to take the time to figure out whether or not the charging options are compatible or not, and you can just focus on the journey.
It’s also a great tool for journey planning, as the app shows an estimated time of how long it will take to reach the nearest charging station. WattsUp is available for both Apple IOS and Android and it’s compatible with Apple CarPlay, but doesn’t work for Android Auto.
The Pod Point app is free and really easy to use and they have a network of over 3000 public charging stations across the country. You can use it to see which charging points are closest to you using Google Maps, as well as whether or not they’re available. Plus, you can also see how much the charging tariff is.
A great feature of Pod Point network is that more than two thirds of their chargers can be used for free, only 30% of the charging stations require users to pay using their top-up and pay as you go app. Additionally, if you use Pod Point to charge your EV at home, you can use the app to track all your charging patterns and costs, making it a great one-stop-shop for all your charging needs.
The Pod Point app can be downloaded for free and you don’t need to pay any membership or subscription fees.
EV Charging cable
As mentioned above, certain apps allow users to filter which kinds of chargers they are looking for. There are two kinds of charging cables and adapters for EVs, and they are categorised as Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 charging isn’t common in the UK as it’s predominantly used in Asia and America, so you’ll most likely not come across this type of charger and adapter if you’re based in the UK. (SaveMoneyCutCarbon)
EV charging cable type 2
As for Type 2, this is the most common type of charging cable and adapter in Europe so you’ll most likely only come across this type of charger, and it has a 7-pin socket. (SaveMoneyCutCarbon)
Cost to charge an electric car
Firstly, it’s important to point out the difference in cost of home charging and charging on the go. Typically, it’s far more cost effective to charge at home, which also tends to be where EV drivers do the majority of their charging. If you’re curious about how much it would cost to charge your electric car at home, check out our blog post where we go into more detail about home charging.
If you’re out and about and need to stop and charge your electric car, knowing ahead of time roughly how much it could cost can be really useful. However unfortunately the cost does vary a lot, and it also will depend on whether or not it’s a rapid charger.
Rapid chargers do tend to be pricier compared to other public chargers, RightCharge estimates the cost could be between £5-35 depending on what kind of car you have. Other public chargers may be similar in price to that of your home charging cost but keep in mind that this may not always be the case. We recommend checking out this guide from RightCharge, as they go more in depth of how these prices work.
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