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Find An Electric-Car Charging Station: How Do I Do It?

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Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

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Here's the situation: You've bought, or are planning to buy an electric car.

You've done the math, figured out the vehicle you want, and know that 80 percent of your charging will be done at home.

But what about the other 20 percent? Luckily, finding those electric car charging stations isn't as difficult as you might think. In fact, some may even say it's pretty easy--but there's no harm in seeking a few pointers.

Internet search engines

If you're reading this, then you're already connected to a vast resource perfect for finding your nearest charging station: the internet.

As long as you know where you want to be, finding a station is easy. Type "San Diego charging stations" into Google for example, and the first four or five hits all provide you with details on exactly where to find the nearest electric car charging location. You'll usually get an address, zip code and information on the type of charger--even information on whether it's currently operational.

In addition, you may find internet searches return hits for charging network providers themselves--a handy future resource you can then access directly in the future.

Mobile applications

If you own a smartphone--and as an electric car owner, we'd be surprised if you didn't--you'll have access to dozens of charging station apps through your phone manufacturer or provider's dedicated application store.

Apple users can access the App Store, for example--and a search for "charging stations" returns dozens of applications dedicated to finding your nearest charger. Most use the phone's in-built location services.

Some are more comprehensive than others, with certain apps (those for dedicated networks, for example) showing only that network's sites. But others, like Open Charge Map, use global, user-inputted data on charging locations for maximum coverage.

In-car data

Finding your nearest charging station could be as simple as getting in your car and switching it on.

Many electric vehicles these days feature in-built navigation systems. Not only do these sometimes show your remaining range on a map scale, but they'll often display the location of nearby charging points too.

Such systems are more of a backup than a definitive reference to fall back on--it's better knowing where you're expecting to charge in advance, rather than using your navigation system as a last resort when you only have three miles of range remaining--but it's certainly convenient.

Word of mouth!

Still struggling to find nearby charging stations, or chargers at a location you're intending to visit?

Good news--as an electric car owner, you're part of a growing community only too happy to help those new to the concept. Head on to internet forums or specialist websites and speak to other owners in the know. They might even be able to inform you of off-the-map locations, and some might even be kind enough to suggest you use their home charger, if you're lucky.

Whichever method you choose, finding a new charging station will soon be no more difficult than finding your local gas station.

And of course, most of the time you'll still be plugging in at home...

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Find An Electric-Car Charging Station: How Do I Do It?
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Comments (9)
  1. A MAJOR resource is the GoElectricDrive.com website that links to the DOE mapping for Alternative Fuel Stations that includes all charging units. This mapping coordinated by Nat. Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and is the focal point for consolidation of this info. They have automated downloads of updates by the Blink System mapping and the ChargePoint mapping. The site also allows for updates or comments on particular locations based on user experience.
    The next challenge will be distinguishing the levels and types of DC Fast Chargers. Presently there are a variety of power levels (from 25 kW to 100 kW installations) that charge at different rates...as well as now the US SAE standard for DCFC called the combo connector was released 10/2012
     
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  2. Er, picking the right DC Fast-Charger is actually trivial I'd say, easier even than L2.
    DCFCs come in exactly 2 flavors: CHAdeMO or Tesla S. If you drive a Model S, pick the one with the big Tesla logo on it. Anything else: use any of the others, they're all compatible.

    As there are exactly zero SAE-CCS stations or vehicles installed or available, the risk of confusion is nil.

    Back on topic:

    Another vote for Recargo: http://www.recargo.com/
    Also, PlugShare: http://www.plugshare.com/
     
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  3. See previous posting on DCFC units -
    There are presently 3 of the DCFC Combo connector models in UL approval process and the first DCFC SAE Combo connector equipped vehicle (Chevy Spark) will begin to appear in showrooms this summer.
    Only the Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi I are equipped with CHAdeMO japenese DCFC standard connectors at present.
     
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  4. I'm about to use the networks for the first time soon which should be interesting.

    To be honest I've been charging for 15 yrs using 120vac outlets getting 2-2.5x's my battery range in a single day. But my EV's are very light subcars that you can charge from them in 2-3 hours.

    I new EV is a long distance cruiser 2 wheel Streamliner but again as lightweight I'll be able to recharge in 20 minutes from level 2 stations. Enough time to stretch and check on my emails.

    In Fla ChargePoint is getting close to coverage in the middle of the state. I'd like to see a station every 20-30 miles on major roads. Every major highway intersection normally has a 13kvAC line so power is already there.
     
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  5. In my experience, I find Recargo is more updated than the DOE link. The DOE link does provide other type of energy refilling stations.

    DOE:

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/

    Recargo:

    http://www.recargo.com/
     
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  6. ReCargo gets my vote too - and I'm UK based where the mix for official public charge stations consists of 240VAC, 13A standard mains socket, J1772, Mennekes, ChaDeMo, the European Combined Charging System, and, hopefully soon, some Tesla Supercharger sites. Good thing about ReCargo is the flexibility of updating existing sites and uploading new ones. Works well too. And there's an app.
     
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  7. ditto for recharge
    fast & easy to use
    app for iphone & android
    works on iphone 3gs

    openchargemap a bit clunky
    relies on internet & faster processor
    ie not iphone 3gs
     
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  8. PlugShare is my choice - it has everything...
     
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  9. I have a simple website to search for EV charging stations.
    http://chargestations.info/
     
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