Hengyi – Save (and even more) money: How to find free EV charging stations

Electric vehicle charging isn’t free, but there are sites and programs that allow you to charge it for free.Here’s how to save some cash when powering your EV.
With U.S. gasoline prices over $5 a gallon, free charging is a satisfying perk of owning an electric car.Drivers are taking notice; U.S. electric vehicle sales are up 60% in 2022(opens in new window), in part due to a slew of exciting new models.
Electric vehicle charging isn’t free; charging at home means adding to your electricity bill, and many charging stations will charge for charging on the go.But there are plenty of free charging programs out there if you know where to look.
Across the country, private companies (opens in new window), nonprofit programs (opens in new window) and local governments (opens in new window) are offering free electric vehicle charging options.The easiest way to find them is to use the PlugShare(opens in new window) app, which includes filters for free chargers.Much of the app’s content is crowdsourced by real drivers who “check in” at each stop and upload updates about it, including whether it’s still free, how many minutes of charging you can get, and at what level /speed.
Under Map Filters, turn off Show locations that require payment.Then, when you click on a station on the map, you’ll see something like “free” in the description.Note: Another popular option, the Electrify America app, doesn’t have a free station filter.
For EV owners, workplace charging is an attractive way to stay fully charged without having to power it up separately.It’s like someone driving your car to the gas station while you’re at work.
Some companies have started offering free charging as an affordable perk; during our test of our best mobile web stories of 2022, we charged at a free ChargePoint location at Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park.For companies with deep pockets, the cost is minimal.“Providing a workplace for employees costs as little as $1.50 per day at Level 2 and $0.60 per day at Level 1—less than a cup of coffee,” explains Plug In America (opens in a new window).
Check your employer’s parking lot options, but don’t assume you can use other companies’ chargers as they may require verification.If your workplace doesn’t have free chargers, be prepared to add them.The Department of Energy has guidelines for implementing workplace charging(opens in new window), and some states (opens in new window) offer reimbursement for installing Level 2 chargers.
Many new electric vehicles offer a certain amount of free charging, usually at charging stations in the Electrify America network (opens in a new window).They are essentially charging a line of credit that you can cash out.If you haven’t already, check out your car’s free charging options and start charging before the offer expires.Complete list of all electric vehicle models that Edmunds offers free charging (opens in new window).A few examples:
Volkswagen ID.4 (opens in new window): Offers 30 minutes of free Level 3/DC fast charging, plus 60 minutes of Level 2 charging at the Electrify America station.
Ford F150 Lightning (opens in new window): 250kWh of Level 3/DC fast charging power available at Electrify America station.
Chevy Bolt (opens in new window): Buy a 2022 model and get a free level 2 charger at home.While this isn’t a “free” charge, it can save you as much as $1,000, as well as time waiting for a Level 1 snail-speed charge.time is money!
For Tesla, early adopters get lifetime free Supercharging, which means fast Level 3 charging on the company’s network of Supercharger stations.The offer ended in 2017 for new Tesla buyers, although the company says (opens in a new window) it costs four times as much as buying gasoline.It also runs promotions such as free supercharging during the holidays.
You know what it’s like to finally cash in on a coffee shop punch card for free drinks?With rewards programs like SmartCharge Rewards(Opens in a new window) and Dominion Energy Rewards(Opens in a new window), you can do the same with EV.The latter is native to Virginia residents, but check the options in your area; both offer incentives to charge during off-peak hours to reduce stress on the grid.
Others, like EVgo Rewards(opens in a new window), are customer loyalty programs.In this case, the more you charge at the EVgo gas station, the more rewards you get (2,000 points for $10 in charging credits).In addition, EVgo mainly produces Level 3 fast chargers.Free fast charging can be hard to come by, so if you’re going to charge it anyway, you might as well work your way up to some free credits.
This option comes with some upfront costs but offers unique benefits.(Let us know in the comments if you try it.) Using a portable solar panel and generator, you can convert energy from the sun into energy that can charge your vehicle.Once you’ve paid for your supplies and set them up, the fee will be “free”.Plus, it’s 100% clean energy, and the electricity at the charging station or in your home could still come from coal or other dirty sources.
All you need to do is take out the panels and connect them to a generator to charge them.This essentially turns the generator into a big battery that holds power.Then, plug your Tier 1 charger (included in the vehicle you purchased) into a standard household outlet on the side of the generator, change any settings on the vehicle as needed, and voila, you’re in for a trickle charge.It will be slow, but that’s to be expected with level 1 charging.The video above shows how a Tesla owner uses a Jackery(Opens in a new window) product; GoalZero(Opens in a new window) sells a similar system.
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Post time: Jun-29-2022