Where and how to charge an electric car for free

By Nick Kurczewski

Most people charge their EVs at home, but there are places on the street where you can plug in for free

Quick facts about free charging stations:

Buying an electric car opens up a whole new world of driving – like never having to pay for a single drop of petrol again. But just because you bought an electric car or truck doesn’t mean you have to waste time and money charging it.

See: How much does it cost to charge an electric car? We expect

Charging an electric vehicle battery costs less than filling a petrol tank. But with a little research and planning, you might be able to find a handful of free electric vehicle charging stations.

According to the United States Department of Energy, 80% of electric vehicle charging takes place at home. But what if you need a charge on the go, or you haven’t found a charging station before you got behind the wheel?

Here’s how to top up for free in a variety of driving scenarios.

Read: Your Complete Guide to MPGe, the Electrical Equivalent of Miles per Gallon

Where can I charge my electric car for free?

The good news is that there are several handy ways to top up without spending any money – and an essential first step is to harness the power of your smartphone. For example, the PlugShare app allows EV drivers to filter all types of charging stations, including those that are absolutely free.

Available on both Apple (AAPL) and Android smartphones, PlugShare encourages users to provide real-time information about charging station location and status. Because a free charger is useless if every seat is full or it is out of order when you pull up with a weak battery.

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ChargePoint (CHPT) is another great resource for finding a free charging station. It’s good advice to download multiple apps for chargers that you use regularly. Also, you might just prefer the UI of one over the other.

Charging station providers such as Electrify America and EVgo (EVGO) will also show you information about station locations. Sometimes they offer free recharge promotions at locations that suit you during special times of the year. They may also offer rewards that offer subscriber perks, such as B. Free recharge after earning enough points.

EVgo Rewards, for example, gives subscribers a $10 free top-up once they earn 2,000 points. With this program, a dollar fee equals five accumulated points.

Your city or local utility may also provide free public chargers or offer programs. You can find such free chargers in malls, other mall parking lots, universities, hotels and casinos, public transit stations, and even recreation areas operated by the National Park Service. Some car dealerships may also offer some form of free EV charging.

Learn more: What is EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? Here’s your guide to types of electric cars

What you should know about free electric vehicle chargers

The best things in life can come for free, although they’re not always the most convenient. Chances are that a free EV charger will offer a slower Stage 2 charge rate. In general, this offers a range of around 20 miles when an EV is plugged in for around an hour. DC fast charging or level 3 chargers are much faster and 30 minutes could be enough for a full charge. However, finding a free one may require a little extra searching.

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Lines for free charging stations could also be an issue, or there could be no empty chargers when you arrive at a destination and need to plug in.

If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area and you know you’re near your electric vehicle’s maximum range, make sure you have a backup plan in case your intended free electric car charger isn’t available.

Also see: 2.1 million electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on US roads, and here’s how much gas they saved

Tips for finding free chargers in public places

Free chargers are often placed in high-traffic areas such as malls, airports, or popular fast-food chains and grocery stores. Your city may operate free charging stations to promote clean energy and encourage motorists to visit their downtown areas or other commercial hubs. Using an app to locate these charging stations is an invaluable tool for any EV owner.

While a charger may not be free, keep in mind that the EV you buy may come with some sort of charging incentive. Tesla (TSLA) owners who purchased their vehicle before 2017 have permanent free access to the automaker’s network of Supercharger stations.

Check out: Four valuable lessons I learned on an electric car road trip

Electrify America, one of the largest providers of charging stations, has partnered with various car manufacturers to offer free charging for a certain period of time or a certain number of kilowatt hours of charging.

The Ford (F) F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck and Hyundai Kona electric SUV each come with 250kWh of free charging through Electrify America, which equates to approximately 1,000 miles of free charging. So if you’re buying an electric vehicle, remember to ask if the make and model that catches your eye offers an added benefit like free charging.

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This story originally ran on

– Nick Kurczewski


(ENDS) Dow Jones Newswires

02-10-23 0502ET

Copyright (c) 2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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