There are a whole bunch of EV charging apps out there, each one offering slightly different feature sets, so it can be tough to sort the wheat from the chaff. Worry not: we’re here with a no-nonsense guide to the best charging apps – including what you need to know and what each one has to offer.
Ready to get charging? Here’s everything you ever needed to know about EV apps (but were afraid to ask)...
EV charging apps: What do they actually do?
Let’s start with the basics: why do you even need an app in the first place?
When we talk about apps for EVs, there are actually a few different types that come under that same umbrella – each with a different use case.
When you’re out on the open road, it’s important to be able to find your nearest available charger when you need to top up. Apps that find chargers do so by letting you search for compatible ones – either in your area or along your route – with the best apps also offering live availability info that confirms whether you’ll be able to slot right in, or if you’ll have to wait a while.
Once you’ve found a charging station that works for you, these apps will also help you get there by incorporating turn-by-turn navigation – usually using either Google Maps or Apple Maps.
Charging your EV
You’ll usually need an app to facilitate the actual nuts and bolts of charging. That means unlocking the charger, starting and ending the charge, and then paying for your use – either using billing information stored in the app, taking card details, or connecting you to a mobile wallet service like Apple Pay.
These apps also let you head off and do other things while your car charges – if you enable push notifications, they’ll let you know when charging is complete (or that you’ve hit your desired battery percentage).
If you want an EV app designed to help you find chargers, think about where you’ll be driving. While some options are great on a local basis, others will be better suited to those driving across country borders. That’s because some app providers – like Spirii – have roaming agreements built into their charger network, which makes it much easier to find and use compatible chargers when you’re using your car abroad.
EV car apps
Some EVs themselves come with dedicated apps designed to help you get the most out of your vehicle. Teslas, for example, come with a dedicated app for locking and unlocking the car, setting climate control options, monitoring things from afar using external cameras and notifications, and – in the US – even summoning your car to drive towards you from a distance of up to 60m.
Why do I need several apps for charging my EV?
If you pick the right app for your needs, you don’t! Ultimately, it’s up to you as to whether you want a bunch of apps that each focus on doing one thing, or one app that can handle everything in one place.
In the next section of this article, we’ll run through a bunch of apps covering both of those camps – take a look through the list and figure out which one you think will best suit your needs.
Is there an app for free EV charging?
We’d love to be able to say yes here, but the truth is that electricity costs money. That means that wherever your EV charging app takes you to charge up, you’re going to need to pay for the juice your car uses.
The good news is that most EV charging apps are free to use, and you don’t need to pay a premium for using them on top of the cost of your electricity usage. On top of that, the really smart apps out there can let you know in advance what the current charging tariff is at any given charging station, as well as letting you schedule charging for when rates are at their lowest.
What’s the best EV charging app?
Okay, so which apps are worth your time? Whether you’re trying to find your nearest local charger, set up charging and go run some errands, or planning a big multinational road trip, we’ve rounded up the apps you need to consider. Starting with one you probably shouldn’t be surprised to see on this list…
8 EV charging apps worth checking out:
1. Spirii Go
At Spirii, we know that having to manage and swap between a bunch of apps just to achieve one thing. That’s why we made Spirii Go – your one-stop shop for EV charging. First up, Spirii Go helps you find your nearest compatible charger with a raft of custom filters – and then helps you get there with integrated navigation using either Google or Apple Maps.
Spirii Go is platform and hardware-agnostic, which means you’ll be able to use the app to charge on a huge range of stations, and it also incorporates international roaming features that add some 200,000 chargers across Europe to your list of options.
It’s best for the planet if you charge when energy consumption is at its lowest, and best for your wallet to do the same. That’s why Spirii Go lets you pick and choose your charging hours so that you’re only sipping juice when it’s best for you and the environment alike. You can also keep tabs on your kWh consumption per day, week, or month.
Ready to pay? We know it’s the least fun part of the process, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a pain. Spirii Go lets you charge, pay, and go, with instant receipts and a range of possible currencies and methods – including Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Miio can connect you to any of over 60,000 charging stations across Portugal, Spain, and France. It offers navigation alongside all the features you’ll need to start and stop charging – as well as making payments with virtual cards.
Its best feature is the upfront payment estimation. For compatible chargers, Miio can let you know the exact tariff, and then use that to show you a price projection for your charging session. Just tell the app what percentage you’re at now and how much you’d like to top up to, and it’ll calculate the length of time needed and the final cost – eliminating nasty surprises.
The PUMP app makes it easy to plan longer journeys across Europe. It’ll help you plot a route that connects you to compatible chargers, avoids ones you don’t want to use, and calculate your total charging costs for the whole trip – even for return journeys.
PUMP also helps you find charging spots with nearby things to do, like restaurants and services. Best of all, Spirii’s network of 200,000+ chargers is included in PUMP’s listings! Don’t live in Europe? A US version of the app is currently in the works.
Northe aims to collate charging station information and access from a bunch of different providers into one place, with easy payments and route-planning options. That extensive list of over 100 operators includes the Spirii partner network, which means you’ll never find yourself too far from a compatible charger.
The app is slick and easy to use, with account-sharing features and Apple/Google Pay support built right in.
The &Charge app is built around community, with crowdsourced information at its core. As well as helping you find nearby chargers, it incentivizes contribution to the charging network in the form of reviews, photos, and information about nearby services that others might find useful by offering ‘kilometer’ tokens that you can exchange for money off your next charge.
You can even earn KMs by shopping in the app with its range of brand-name partners – think of it like Airmiles but for EVs. On top of that, the app helps you open up your home charger to nearby drivers.
Zeemcoin has a similar idea to &Charge, but swaps in-app electricity tokens for cryptocurrency that can be spent on partner shops, or held for passive income. Drivers find, use, and review chargers in exchange for the titular virtual currency (Zeem is short for ‘zero emission’, by the way), and those tokens work in the app’s store with a growing list of partners.
It’s another great example of how we can leverage the growing community of global EV drivers to improve the overall experience of charging for everyone.
PlugShare is a huge global charging community that aggregates chargers from every provider across the planet. In the app, you’ll be able to filter by plug type, including CHAdeMO and SAE/CCS, as well as charging speed, including Level 1, Level 2, and DC Fast Chargers. That’s alongside reviews, photos, and tips for each station provided by fellow EV drivers.
You can get involved in that community by adding unmapped chargers as you come across them – you can even add extra information that people can add to their search filters – like if there’s a bathroom or restaurant onsite. You’ll also get notifications when new chargers are added near you.
As you can probably guess from the name, Bonnet is a UK-based app that provides access to chargers in Britain and beyond. The app boasts a network of some 16,000 chargers in the UK, and thousands more across Europe – with a network that’s always growing.
Bonnet also offers two subscription tiers (called Bonnet Boosts) that offer 10 and 15% off your charges respectively, alongside a ‘premium’ plan that helps make route planning simpler thanks to a raft of smart features like battery and price estimation.
What’s the best app for finding EV chargers?
Ultimately, the best app for you is going to be the one that offers access to the largest range of chargers where you live. Bonnet, for example, is going to be better for you if you live in the UK than something like Miio.
Either way, we’d recommend a charging app with wide-ranging partner agreements, otherwise you’re going to need to have a few different apps handy that can speak to different providers’ chargers.
We’re obviously biased here, but Spirii Go is a fantastic option. Our partner network is always growing, and right now we’ll help you find and charge at over 300,000 stations – with smart features that make payment and consumption monitoring a breeze. That’s why we have a really strong 4.4-star rating from over 1,000 reviews on the App Store!
Spirii Go has been developed by EV drivers, for EV drivers. We know that the transition to electric isn’t without its speed bumps, which is why we’ve worked hard to make an app that has everything EV drivers need to make getting from A to B as simple as possible.