EV Resource To Know #1: PlugShare (Charging App)
There are other apps, newer apps, and sleeker, fancier apps, but PlugShare is a favorite around here. That’s because it’s simple to use, is packed with features, and offers great information about getting your car charged no matter where you are on planet Earth.
PlugShare is both a desktop-friendly website as well as a mobile app. It’s basically a Google map with crowd-sourced, real-time data and reviews from over half a million charging stations internationally. PlugShare users love to photograph the chargers and offer handy tips and tricks on how to find and use them. The app can be jiggered to show you all the charging networks as well as PlugShare users who offer their own chargers or wall outlets to help fellow EV owners. PlugShare also offers a “Pay with PlugShare” function to reduce the number of charge-system memberships you need.
PlugShare has all the basic functions an EV charging app should offer, and though the interface is clunky and old-fashioned, the number of users and array of up-to-the minute reviews makes it very useful for EV road-trippers, long-distance commuters or folks who can’t charge at home.
EV Resource To Know #2: Chargeway (Charging App)
Chargeway is an app similar to PlugShare, but with a mission to “make the way we charge EVs as simple as possible.” The twist? A color-coding system so that when you look at the map, you can quickly spot the type of charging (Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast Charge, ChaDeMo, etc.) in a quick, clear way. The idea is, why learn what all the levels and systems are when you know your car needs the “green” icon to charge up as quickly as possible? It should be as simple as the “regular, mid-grade, premium” sign about the gas station; we don’t need to know the chemistry behind the meaning of 91 octane, just that our car needs it. If you have a Tesla, you need the red dots with “5” or higher in them; if you’re driving a Nissan, you need the blue four or five to get the fastest ChaDeMo charger. (If you do want to know all the ins and outs of public charging options, though, we’ve got another blog post for you!)
It’s very sensible, but that’s not the only advantage Chargeway offers over traditional charging maps or the ones in most EVs. Not only can you customize your route planning with the year, make, and model of your car, you can also change the speed you’ll be cruising, and the expected outside temperatures, which helps planning—the EPA-rated range tells you how fast you’ll go at the speed limit on a sunny day, and depending on the weather or the number of available stations on your route, you might want to go faster or slower than that for the most efficient route and speed. For instance, a 2017 Chevy Bolt EV can go 238 miles at 55-65 mph, but given its slow charging speed, you may want to go slower than that to get an overall shorter travel time.
EV Resource To Know #3: Level 2 Charger with Timer
Every EV made comes with a charger, and it’s almost always a very basic “Level 1” unit that plugs into a grounded 110-volt outlet (the standard type found throughout your home). These can be very, very slow; more than two days in some cases. That’s fine if you drive less than 100 miles a day, but having the ability to completely recharge your battery when electric rates are lowest (usually between midnight and 6AM) requires a little investment.
Luckily, most Americans have garages in houses built after 1980, which likely also means people living in houses will have a robust circuit to use for a 240-volt, 32-amp (or greater) charger. These are coming down in price (and there’s still a tax credit to help pay for it, on top of local and state incentives); they start around $300 and don’t need installation—you just plug them into that big fat dryer outlet. Once you train yourself to plug your car in at night and set the unit’s timer so you don’t buy expensive peak-time electricity, you’ll wonder how you got along without it.
If you don’t have a 240-volt outlet in your parking area, an electrician can install it for around a few hundred bucks (the price varies depending on how far from your electrical panel you want it). And Flux can help here – we offer custom charging plans and support to all our customers.
EV Resource To Know #4: Vehicle Manufacturer Owner App
The smartphone and browser-based app your EV’s manufacturer offers may be really good…or, to put it delicately, may not be really good (and that’s all we’ll say!). Regardless, it’s still a very valuable resource, and all the EV manufacturers (Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, etc.) offer one.
EV Resource To Know #5: Social Media
Most of us would agree social media is an almost Biblical plague that brings great wailing and gnashing of teeth along with videos of dogs and babies, but it’s still useful as a resource.
The human feature that social media exploits is our desire to gather in like-minded groups. Sometimes this feature is used to stir the pot and get folks steamin’ mad about pretty silly things, but it can be harnessed for good, as well. Facebook has large groups for the owners of every make and model of EV made, there are web-based discussion forums and all sorts of videos on YouTube showing you how to do everything from checking tire pressure to major bodywork.
That means if you have a problem, question or just need a friend (and don’t we all?), it’s just a few taps or mouse clicks away. There are groups for Tesla fans in every city and state, there are websites where first-generation Nissan Leaf owners compare battery capacity, and YouTube channels showing us how to either rebuild or blow up a Model S. Like all human inventions social media can be a curse or a cure—it all depends on how its used.
Got other EV resources you love that we didn’t mention? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!