Electric car charging stations: fees, where to find & more
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Now that electric cars are becoming more popular, a big question is, “Are there enough electric vehicle charging stations to keep them all moving?” Short answer, yes - and more public stations are being installed every month.
It’s extremely beneficial for you to install a charger in your garage, but it’s likely that you’ll need to charge up while you’re out. The good news is that public charging stations are popping up all over the place, from workplaces to shopping centers.
Whether you drive a Tesla or a Kona EV, we’ll walk you through the basics of finding charging stations when you’re on the go in order to help ease your range anxiety.
Every electric car model can be charged at a universal charging station. Teslas, however, require a J1772 adapter - unless they’re being charged at a Tesla Supercharging or Destination Charging station, which are made specifically for them.
Check out our in-depth blog on all things Tesla: Tesla Charging Stations: What to Know on the Go
There are two types of public charging stations that charge your car at different levels of speed, aptly named Level 2 and Level 3 chargers.
The most common and practical option is the Level 2 charger. They can charge your car in a few hours, so they make sense if you are stopping for dinner on a road trip or doing some shopping. Level 3 charging stations are the fastest, providing enough charge in a short period of time, but they are also the most expensive.
In order to pay, simply download the station's app and add your credit card information. Prices vary depending on the cost per kWh in the local area and if the app or town you charge your car in has extra fees.
The most cost-effective way to charge your EV is actually using solar panels to power a home charger; this will cost the least over the lifetime of your car. But having access to public charging stations is important, too.
Public charging stations can be found all over the country, making EV charging easy. Image source: Electrek
There are over 41,000 charging stations throughout the United States and they include universal charging stations like ChargePoint (which we'll elaborate on below) as well as Tesla Superchargers and Destination Chargers.
Generally, public charging stations can be found next to major highways, in busy shopping centers, mall parking lots, and busy town centers situated closely to main street attractions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, California has the most charging stations due to a population more inclined to purchase electric vehicles and as a state that promotes electric-friendly policy. Alaska has the least amount of public charging locations, with 67 in total. But, as a less populous area, 67 might be enough to serve all of the EV drivers in the state.
As far as Teslas go, there are over 25,000 Superchargers globally. Tesla does not list the amount of chargers they have within the U.S. but based on the map below, you should be covered from coast to coast.
Tesla Supercharger locations within North America. Image source: Tesla
The average distance between charging stations is currently hovering around 70 miles and will continue to get smaller as new charging stations are being built to match the increase in electric car purchases.
Your GPS will be able to determine the best route based on the energy your car has, the energy it will use during the drive, and the closest charging point along your route. Consider range anxiety a thing of the past.
A lot of companies exist solely to supply an electric charge for EV drivers on the go. The most popular ones are Electrify America, ChargePoint, EVgo, Chademo, and the app that allows you to use all locations with a Ford, FordPass.
Electrify America claims to be the largest public fast charging station provider in the U.S. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen and was founded to offset the damage done by the Volkswagen emissions scandal. With Electrify America, you can download the app and either pay as a guest, a member, or a member+. Member+ is the cheapest charging option but also comes with a $4 monthly fee.
While costs can vary based on location, you can expect the charging fee to be around .43 per kWh as a guest or member and .31 per kWh as a member+ at an Electrify America DC fast charger station. Alternatively, if you use the less-quick Level 2 charging station, it will cost .03/minute.
Let’s say you stopped at an Electrify America station to charge your car for two hours. With the typical member registration, you can expect to pay .43 cents per kWh of charge, meaning, if you needed a hundred miles worth of charge, which is about 30kWh, it would cost you $43, about the same as a tank of gas.
ChargePoint stations are located all over the United States and as a company, they sell and install charging stations in the parking lots of office buildings and shopping centers.
By downloading theChargePoint app, you can take advantage of over 30,000 stations around the country. You can also pay via the app, with prices that vary, depending on the location and owner.
Over 130 million people live within 10 miles of an EVgo charging station, with over 800 fast charging stations available across 34 states. EVgo’s chargers are run on 100% renewable energy and offer two plans for payment options, either a monthly Membership (which includes a $7.99 fee) or Pay As You Go.
With both plans you have a limit of 60 minutes of charge time and pricing varies based on your state and region. If your car does not need or is not equipped with fast-charging ability, you can use the Level 2 charger for a rate of $1.50/hr in any location. To find an EVgo station, you can use their website or app to locate one near you.
Another option is Chademo, the largest global fast charging station. Most of their presence is in Europe and Asia but there are 6,000 U.S. locations. Similar to the other charge stations, you can search your location to find a Chademo station nearby.
Chademo does not seem to have a membership rate for charging costs and each location’s pricing varies; you will either be charged by minute or by kWh.
If you have a Ford EV, you can download the FordPass app for access to most charging stations throughout the county. FordPass is different in that you can use the app to pay when you visit any charging network nationwide. That way, instead of downloading another app every time you charge at a new station, you can keep everything in one place.
As an EV owner, the best way to charge your car is to install a charging system at home. The type of charging port you need will vary depending on your car's make and model, with the biggest variation being a Tesla versus a non-Tesla.
Working with an experienced electrician is your best option when installing an at-home charger. The charging port needs to be installed properly to work with your home’s electrical wiring, so having a professional install it is the safest choice.
Most home charging stations are Level 2 wall-mounted outlets, which need special installation. Wall chargers come with various cord lengths so be sure to measure from your wall to your car to make sure the cord can reach.
The most popular home portal choices are below:
Image source: Tesla
If you own a Tesla, you need to install a Tesla-brand wall charger, known as the Wall Connector. The charger itself costs $500 and installation costs will vary based on what local electricians charge.
Image source: Chargepoint
The company that builds public charging stations also sells a product that can be installed for home charging, the ChargePoint Home Flex. The ChargePoint works with all electric car models and costs $699, not including installation.
Image source: JuiceBox
Another popular at-home charging option is the JuiceBox 40 charger. This charger connects to your WiFi, enabling you to get notifications for when your car is fully charged or to remind you to plug it in. You can get a version that can be plugged into a normal outlet, but we recommend the faster Hardwired charger that gets installed by a professional and costs $560.
Although we are not yet at the point where there are charging stations installed in every public parking lot, a perceived lack of public charging stations should not hold you back from purchasing an EV.
Public charging stations are popular enough that you can plan a cross-country route around where you need to stop to charge. So while it is not as easy as simply stopping at the gas station, it is possible with a little extra planning.
The benefit of installing a home charging station will also go a long way in reducing range anxiety. If you remember to charge your car each night, your daily commute and errands will be no issue. If you find yourself driving further than you anticipated, a public electric car charging station should be within a close enough range to get your car charged up in time.
The cheapest way to charge your EV is at home, especially if you install solar panels - it will be essentially free. Find out how much you can save by powering your electric car with solar by using our solar panel calculator.