6 Best EV Charging Stations (and How to Choose One)
If you’re thinking about buying an electric car, chances are you’ve given some thought to how you’re going to charge it. For some EV owners, that means installing a charger at home or at work, but it’s also a good idea to look into public charging stations.
After all, EV chargers aren’t like gas stations in the sense that you can drive up to any gas pump and pay with your debit or credit card. Most EV charging stations use one of three different connector types, and may require you to top up a membership card or download an app in order to charge your car and pay for it.
With that in mind, here’s a guide to the best EV charging stations in North America, and how to choose one based on price, location, and compatibility.
The 6 Best EV Charging Stations in North America
Even just a few years ago, electric vehicle charging stations could be hard to come by in some parts of the U.S. But as more states and private companies invest in EV charging infrastructure, it’s easier than ever to plan a trip from New York to California.
You’ll find everything from DC fast charging stations, which have a higher amp level and short charge times, to Level 2 chargers, which have the same amperage as most home EV chargers and cost less to use.
But which is the best EV charging station for your battery electric car or plug-in hybrid? Let’s take a look at how six of the biggest networks in North America compare.
1. Tesla Supercharger Network
When you think of electric vehicle chargers, you may think of the Tesla Supercharger network, which was one of the first EV charging networks to launch in the U.S. As of 2022, you’ll find over 2,500 Supercharger locations in North America.
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This network is the go-to option for Tesla drivers, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that fast charging will cost you: You can expect to pay between $7.80 and $15.60 to add 300 miles of range to your vehicle in less than an hour. (You’ll also pay to idle if you happen to leave your car plugged in.)
If you bought your Tesla before 2018, you may be eligible for complimentary charging, but new Tesla models don’t qualify for this incentive.
The other thing to note is that Tesla uses the SAE J1772 connector type, so if you want to charge your Tesla on another network, you’ll need an adapter. Non-Tesla cars aren’t able to use the Supercharger network yet, but they may be in the future.
EVgo offers a wide range of charging options for fleets, businesses, and individual EV owners. EVgo has over 800 charging locations, and is run entirely on renewable power, so you can drive as much as you want without producing any emissions.
Pricing varies depending on your region: For example, in California, you’ll pay 29 cents per kilowatt-hour and $1.99 per session fee. Or, you can get an EVgo Plus membership for $6.99 per month and pay 25 cents per kWh and a $0 session fee.
EVgo also has an EV charging app that you can use to find out which fast chargers are currently available near you, reserve a charger, and monitor your battery status.
ChargePoint is one of the best-known providers of electric vehicle supply equipment, so you can use their equipment at home and on the go.
The ChargePoint Home Flex is a weatherproof home charger that’s suitable for indoor or outdoor use and uses a NEMA 14-50 or 6-50 plug. (You may need an electrician to install a 240-volt outlet if you don’t have one already.)
On the road, you can plug in at any of ChargePoint’s own locations, or use one of their partner stations with your ChargePoint account.
Charging rates are set by the property owner, so you’ll need to look them up in the free mobile app to compare them. You can initiate a charge by tapping your Android or iOS device or your membership card on the charging station. Sign-up is free, but there’s a $4.95 fee to replace your card if you lose it.
4. Electrify America
There’s an interesting backstory to Electrify America: This network was launched by Volkswagen in 2016 after it was accused by the EPA of deceptive practices regarding diesel emissions. The company reached an agreement to invest $2 billion in electric vehicle charging stations, including $800 million in California alone.
Now, it has more than 2,200 charging stations around the U.S., with prices determined by kilowatt-hour or per minute. Guests can expect to pay 43 cents per kWh in California, while Pass+ members pay 31 cents per kWh and a membership fee of $4 per month.
You can find a station near you using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integrations, or download the app for remote monitoring and contactless payments.
Blink is a charging network that’s a little on the smaller side: It won’t be easy to drive cross-country using only Blink charging stations. Still, it has a high concentration of chargers in some parts of the U.S., including Florida, Tennessee, and Texas.
Rates start at 39 cents per kWh for Level 2 charging, with higher prices for non-members. Blink also offers a wide range of home charging stations, and you can use the app to get notifications when your EV is finished charging or gets unplugged.
Finally, there’s Volta, which has a network of over 2,000 charging stations that are free for the first 30 minutes. Instead of building charging stations around the country, Volta offers fast charging at commercial locations in metropolitan areas, so you can charge your battery while shopping or eating lunch.
Volta is ad-supported, which means that private companies sponsor each charging station in return for ads displayed on the screen.
How to Find the Best EV Charging Station
Charging an electric car is more convenient than ever, but it’s important to have a plan to charge your EV before you buy one. That’s because different automakers may offer incentives for installing a home charging station or joining a charging network.
Here are a few things to help you choose the best EV charging station for you.
Prices vary from one charging station to the next, and even from region to region. You’ll typically pay more for DC fast charging than for 120-volt or 240-volt charging.
Some automakers have partnerships with charging networks that can save you money. For example, Ford owners get access to the BlueOval Charge Network, which comes with discounted membership to the Electrify America network.
There are three main connector types used in electric cars: the SAE J1772 (found on Teslas), CHAdeMO (found on the Nissan LEAF and Toyota Prius), and the Combined Charging System, or CCS (found on the Chevrolet Bolt).
Some charging stations only support certain connector types, so you’ll need to plan ahead and make sure the charger you need is available (or buy an adapter).
It’s also important to carry around a suitable charging cable. Maybe you use a 40-amp, 25-foot cable to connect to your JuiceBox home charger, but you have a smaller one to use at public charging stations. You don’t want to overdo it on cable length or you may have a hard time fitting it back in your trunk.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a charging network is how many locations you’ll have access to. You don’t want to sign up for a monthly membership only to find out that there are just a few charging stations in your area.
The good news is that most networks will let you “roam” and use your membership card on partner networks, which is useful if you go on a road trip.
Still, the more widespread the network the better, that way you don’t have to download multiple apps or keep tabs of multiple memberships.
Choose the Right Electric Car for You
In some cases, the type of EV that you drive will determine which charging stations you have access to. For example, if you don’t drive a Tesla, then the Supercharger network is out of the picture (for now), but any of the other networks are available to you.
Find out if your automaker offers any incentives for joining one of their partner networks.
If your charging network offers home charging stations too, you’ll be able to monitor all of your charging sessions on a single EV charging app.
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Compare EVs Near You