EV charging infrastructure locations not easy to locate
|Charge Map Link||Description (updated March 18, 2012) All maps use Google interactive user maps.|
|PlugShare||PlugShare seems to be the most up-to-date tracking mechanism for charge stations at the moment. Search by address or zip code in the search box, or just start your search on the map. Offers ability to upload info on new stations. User updatable location information. Offers the ability to upload information on privately owned residential charge stations that are available for sharing (thus the name). Filter charging locations by residential or public charging stations, but there is no ability to filter by type (ie: J1772, Tesla, 120-volt, etc). Home, Public, and DC fast charge stations are represented by different icons.|
|CarStations||Search by zip code or address or just navigate using the map. Offers ability to upload info on new stations. User updatable location information. Filter charging locations by: Connector type – ie: J1772, NEMA5 (120V), NEMA 1450 (240V), Tesla, Avcon, DC Quick Charge, SPI, LPI, Other. Also filter by equipment brand/affiliation – ie: Coulomb/ChargePoint, Blink/Ecotality, GE Wattstation, etc.|
|U. S. Department of Energy||Not as easy to navigate, but comprehensive info provided. Color coded map of United States shows charge station density by state. Click on any state for a list of station locations by city name in alphabetical order within the state. “Details” link offers facility name and phone number, street address, access times, type of charging equipment, number of charge stations, network affiliation and date last confirmed. Map link offers a link to a Google map with locations noted with a small gray triangle. Triangle link gives detailed info also (same as that found by clicking “detail” link). No user updatable info on current equipment functionality.|
|EV Charger Maps||Floating dialog box allows selection of location by address or zip code. Also found via EV Charger News website. As of 8/15/2011 poor representation of known charge facilities showing no J1772 charge locations. Filter by SPI, LPI, AVC, TSL, DCQ, J1772, OC.|
|Blink Network||Shows only those charge stations supported by Ecotality’s EV Project. Shows locations, units available, in use, and offline. Offers Googles “Get Directions” capability. Filter by Level 2, DC Fast Charger, Available, In Use, Offline.|
|ChargePoint Network||Shows only those charge stations supported by ChargePoint Network. Info available: facility name, address, connection type, availability, access (unrestricted or restricted) and price. Filter by Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast charge, Available, In use, Future/Unavailable.|
A blog last week stated that Google was now offering up charging locations via Google Maps (search “EV charging stations”). So we checked it out. For LEAF owners, this map in its current form is virtually worthless. A search on Bing or Yahoo! is no better.
As you likely know, LEAF uses a J1772 connection for Level 2 (240 volt charging) and a CHAdeMO connection for 440 volt DC fast charging. Plus, the included Level 1 charger needs just a 120 volt outlet (and plenty of time). The Google maps give no indication of what type of connection is offered, which makes the location information of little value. Most of the locations indicated are obsolete equipment that may or may not actually still be in service. So we searched “EV charging stations J1772”. This just brought up a list of manufacturers and blog posts about J1772 infrastructure, but no map.
Looking to other known providers offered some help. There are two government subsidized programs providing infrastructure build-out with the launch of the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt – ChargePoint America using Coulomb Technologies equipment and The EV Project using ECOtality equipment. Each offers a map of their charging locations. Let’s take a look.
The EV Project map is just about as useless as the Google map. The locations shown are existing locations, and when a location is clicked on, while it does give the business name and address, it just says “existing”. No mention of whether the station is Level 1, Level 2 or both, nor does it offer the connection type. Most “existing” stations listed currently offer obsolete connections.
The ChargePoint America “Find Charging Stations” map is much more intuitive, and much more useful right from the start. The first graphic that you see will be the entire United States. On this map are blue dots with black numbers. You got it… the numbers indicate how many charge stations are in the area. Click on the blue dot near Houston, Texas with the number 23 on it (currently), and the map zooms to an area centered on Houston and extending out approximately 50 miles from the city. Now there are several more blue dots (which numbers total to 23). Click on these dots and the map zooms in again.
As important as the location information is the following – Status (Available, In use, Future/Unavailable), Power Level (Level 1, Level 2 (Including J1772 info), DC Fast), Pricing and Reservation information. Also available is Access information – unrestricted or time available. All stations are currently free as part of the ChargePoint America data gathering mission. At some point in the future, these stations will convert to a pay-as-you-go system. All other providers would do well to look at the ChargePoint America model as the gold standard.
Nissan also offers two publicly available Level 2 J1772 charge stations during business hours at all Certified LEAF dealers. Currently Nissan offers no map on the LEAF site to provide this information (although we have requested that one be provided). Ultimately this information will be made available via CARWINGS, but that is currently not the case.
Finally, we have found one site that is updated by users (Electric Car Stations). While it has some similarity to the ChargePoint America design, we found it extremely slow to load on one occasion and somewhat faster on another. It does not have the scope of information that ChargePoint America does, but it does provide equipment and connection type. This ultimately may prove to be a very beneficial site if they can provide consistent connection speed and reliable info from their users, which we would expect to be the case.
As more electric vehicles (EVs) hit the roadways, it will be important to know where your “Plan B” is. While we generally have a good idea of where we are headed each day, plans change and with an EV, it is comforting to know that you will be able to get some additional juice when and where you need it.