Chris101 wrote:^ unless I'm missing something, there is a monthly fee to become a member of those shareable plugs that offer 'free' charging.. so you still pay to be a member translating to ultimately NOT free. At least as I understand it, there are monthly membership fees in various groups (I forget what they are called)... and you can't use a 'free' plug unless you are properly registered and a paying member.
Yes, you are missing something.
While EVgo *does* charge a monthly fee, many (?most?) other networks do not. I have accounts for SemaCharge, Greenlots, ChargePoint, GE, Blink, and others. I pay NO monthly fees - I only pay for my consumption of electricity (if there is a charge).
Some networks will charge you to get a card (GreenLots used to - that's why I don't have a card : I just have their app on my smartphone). You may be able to get a free ChargePoint account, without a card, and just use your phone. Heck, you may be able to use a free chargepoint charger without an account, just using their app (I know that I have started a charge from the app - but I also have an account with them).
Also there are quite a few "no network" chargers : just stand-alone chargers that you pull up to and use for free.
- The Volta charge spots at Village Crossing in Skokie are 100% free - just pull up and plug in - no account needed.
- The R Place bar & Grill in Forest Park has 4 free non-networked (ClipperCreek) level-2 plugs
At any rate, you should sign up for any network where you can do so for free.
Use plugshare.com, set the prefs for free only (uncheck the "payment required locations" box), turn off all
networks (including "Other"), and have the map show a 30-mile circle around your house/work/shopping.
One by one, turn on ONE "network" to see if it is worthwhile for you to sign up for them. Do they have free charging where you drive/park/shop/work? Then, toggle off the "free" pref - are there a LOT of stations near where you drive? (i.e., might it get you out of trouble one day - giving you that extra 5-10 miles to get home?).
Then, turn "free" back on, toggle OFF the network you were just looking at, an toggle ON the next network in the list - repeat step above.
After about 3-6 minutes, you should have figured out :
- which networks can provide you with free charging in a convenient manner - near where you go (so if you can get a free account, it's worth the hassle of signing up)
- which networks have a LOT of charging stations around where you drive - even if they are pay stations. That can help you get to where you are going.
Personally, I avoid EVgo (I find them way too expensive) as well as Blink (too expensive and also often broken). ChargePoint tends to have a LOT of stations, they don't charge a monthly fee, and the stations might be fairly inexpensive (sometimes less than at home). Each ChargePoint station is different - the owner of the location sets the price, not "ChargePoint" (the company). A quick look around Chicago and some were free, some were .50/hr (so about 16 cents/kWh) and I even saw one for .08/kWh. I don't know how much you pay for electricity at home, but that doesn't sound too expensive to me (especially "free").
Lastly, look at free "other" network (that is generally all of the "non-networked" stand-alone chargers where no network card is needed). A *lot* of these spots are in pay parking lots, or at hotels - you probably won't be able to use them. It will also generate a LOT of possibilities, so do this one last.