Whether you charge your car at home or use a public charging station, charging electric cars often goes hand in hand with a charging app on your smartphone. However, there are many different charging apps with different functions, features, and use cases. How can you tell them apart?
In this article, we dive into the topic of charging apps and explain the key differences between each type.
1. Public electric vehicle charging applications
The type of EV charging app most people think of first is a public charging station finder. These apps mainly consist of a map that shows all the charging points in a given area and includes details such as the type and number of charging stations. There are many different public charging apps which can be downloaded for free or for a small fee.
Of course, other apps like Google or Apple Maps can also show charging stations around you. However, these services typically miss many important details when charging on the go, such as the status of a charging station and whether it’s available, making them a less reliable option for planning trips.
Crucial information when driving electric, especially on long journeys, is the availability of a charging station on your route. Having to wait for the previous user to finish recharging could add considerable extra time to your trip. Even with a fast charging stationit takes at least 15-20 minutes, so knowing if a charging station is available in advance is beneficial for a smooth trip.
Using a charging app, you can check the availability of charging stations along your route and find out if they are busy. If so, the app can help you find the nearest alternative that fits your trip, so you don’t have to waste time waiting for charging stations to become free.
Beyond the availability of a charging station, its status is also important to consider when planning a charging stop. Like many other devices, charging stations can sometimes fail due to hardware or software failures or network issues. Either way, showing up to a loader and finding it out of order is a frustrating and often stressful experience.
A charging app can also help monitor this aspect, letting you know when a charging station is down. Since most public charging stations are connected to the internet, they can easily send real-time status information to a database, which can then update charging apps with the status of the charger. This way you can be notified in advance if a charging station is out of service and plan an alternative stop.
Whereas most EV drivers charge their car at home for everyday use, on-the-go charging is often necessary for longer journeys. Generally, public charging costs more than home charging, as the charging station operator often adds a margin on top of the cost of the electricity used. As these differ from provider to provider, it is worth checking prices in advance to select the cheapest option for charging your car.
A charging app can provide one-touch price information, allowing you to easily compare prices between charging stations. If you have several charging stations along your route and sufficient range, you may decide to charge where it is more convenient and cost-effective, rather than stopping to charge at the nearest available charging point, which may not meet your needs.
Charging costs are particularly important if you plan to use DC charging, as it can be much more expensive than slower AC charging. By checking beforehand, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Of course, charging speed is another key differentiator between charging stations. While a AC charging station can usually charge a car in a few hours, depending on the power output, a CC fast tankger should be able to charge an electric vehicle in as little as 15 minutes.
Both have their advantages, and the most optimal charging speed depends on your needs at any given time. Whichever one you choose, a charging app can make it much easier to find a charger with the required speed. Indeed, some applications allow you to search for charging stations with a specific power, ensuring that it corresponds to your needs.
Charging experience and reviews
Beyond the convenience of a charger’s functionality, another useful feature of a charging app is the ability to check other EV drivers’ experience with a specific charging station and read reviews. By doing so, you can discover aspects of a charger that might not otherwise be obvious: for example, if there are recurring problems with a charging station or what kind of services that location offers.
It’s a useful way to get a feel for a location and make sure it has amenities that meet your needs. Going back to the example of a long-haul trip, you might want to make sure the charger location will have restrooms, vending machines, or a coffee shop, to name a few.
2. Home EV Charger Applications
In addition to public charging apps, which primarily serve as a tool for finding charging stations, home charging apps allow you to control a charging station in a home setting. It is usually supplied by the manufacturer of your charging station and designed to work with your charger.
Like public charging apps, these apps provide insight into the charging process and allow you to check the status of a charging session, manage your charger’s power consumption, get insights, and collect data on energy consumption.
In turn, a home charging app puts you in control of your charging station by letting you manage many of its features with just a tap of your smartphone. For example, you can remotely start and stop the charging process, receive notifications when your electric vehicle is charged, schedule charging sessions, set reminders and track electricity consumption in real time.
All of these features become very useful for owners who wish to schedule charging, for example to avoid charging during peak hours, when electricity (usually) costs the most, or to Avoid powering multiple devices at the same time.
Dual compatibility of EV charger apps
In some cases, a charging app can be used to manage both public and home charging, giving drivers the convenience of a single app for all of their electric vehicle charging. This is often the case for home charging apps that also integrate a map of available public charging stations, allowing users to find and manage chargers on the go as well.
3. Charging applications in electric cars
For most electric vehicles, charging control is not limited to an app on the driver’s smartphone. Indeed, electric cars are generally delivered with pre-installed software that allows the charge to be managed from inside the vehicle, often more precisely than an external application.p done.
This is due to the fact this The app constantly communicates with the car and can collect real-time data, which it can use to suggest adjustments to optimize battery life and charging. For example, it may suggest the driver to slow down if they notice that battery usage is higher than expected and range needs to be maximized.
Similar to public charging apps, in-vehicle apps can also communicate with charging stations, letting them know the status, availability and costs at a given location. With this information, the app can suggest route changes if the nearest charging station is unavailable or add or remove additional charging stops based on your driving style.
In-vehicle charging apps can also be connected to the electric vehicle driver’s smartphone, allowing them to receive information and control charging remotely, similar to home charging apps.
As the adoption of electric vehicles grows, charging will become a more critical consideration for drivers. A variety of load applications can help manage this process, each with different strengths and uses in different situations. We hope this article has provided you with a good overview of the different types of recharge apps and their strengths.
There are of course many other features that modern charging stations are capable of, including a range of smart charging features that can optimize energy consumption, track and manage costs, and protect your home’s electrical circuit. For more on this, read our in-depth blog post at smart EV charging at home.