Using ChargePoint – an essential charging network to know for Australian electric car owners

For those EV owners that don’t drive a Tesla, charging can be a bit more difficult as they can’t use the Tesla Supercharger or Destination Charger networks. Thankfully a great company by the name of ChargePoint has taken up the ropes and now offers a huge number of mostly free charging stations throughout Australia.

What’s ChargePoint?

ChargePoint
A BMW i3 charging at a ChargePoint charger

ChargePoint is an independent company that not only makes EV chargers, but manages a huge deployed network of them.

They are the largest and most open charging network in the world with charges in many countries, including Australia. In the general Sydney metro area alone there’s over 80 chargers installed at places like Stockland and Westfield. This continues to show that EV charging infrastructure is already growing well in Australia.

You can sign up to their network online and then simply go and use their chargers whenever you wish. You’re able to use their chargers on a wide range of EV’s from many manufacturers. From Tesla (with an adapter), to Nissan LEAF’s you can just pull in and charge up, most of the time for no charge at all!

How does it work?

Using a ChargePoint charger is very simple. You located a nearby charger through their app and once you arrive, simply scan your ChargePoint card up against the charger and plug in.

Once charging the app will tell you all the details about your charging, how much greenhouse gases you’re saving and more. After you’re done you just unplug the connector and drive off.

Tesla owners will need to use an adapter or conversion cable from the usually used J1772 standard to the Tesla connector.

How do you sign up?

The first step in getting a ChargePoint account is to Sign Up on their website. Once you’ve signed up you can have a ChargePoint card delivered which looks like this.

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You can also download their fantastic app which we’ll cover in a bit below. Signing up lets you chose your own EVatar and participate in their online community if you want to. You can also tell them exactly what EV you drive and they’ll then only show you charging stations that work best with that car.

Mobile App

With both an Android and iPhone app, ChargePoint gives a simple, but decent enough, user experience. After you download the app it uses your location and EV car type to show you the nearest and best chargers for your needs.

Many of their listed charging points are free but there are a few that do charge. Either way you can add filters so that you are only ever shown the exact type you want, for example all Level 2 free chargers.

You can remotely monitor your charging status seeing how much power you’re using to charge and how much energy you’ve consumed over the whole charge. It will also tell you how long you’ve been charging for and allow you to stop the session if you wish.

It would be great to see a few more features added to the app, such as the ability to track how much energy you’ve consumed over time or export your data. It more than gets the job done now though.

Another great use of the app is that you can use it on your phone to start the charging session too. This means that if you don’t have your ChargePoint card on you or you just don’t want to carry yet another card around you don’t have to worry.

The ChargePoint network

While their network is much bigger in other countries like America, there are still plenty of both paid and free chargers available. You can browse their whole network online too using this website.

As said above, when using their mobile app it will automatically show you the nearest chargers using your location. From there you can see what chargers are nearby and how many there are. In the image above it’s showing 1 charger in the bottom left as well as 2 chargers in the centre area.

ChargePoint
Here you can see a Level 2 charger that’s available to use

If they’re lit up in green then that means they’re free and available to be used. Blue means they’re in use and Grey is an unknown state. When you do tap on each charger you can see exactly what connector type it uses, how far away it is and how much power it can give you to charge.

ChargePoint
If a charger is grey it means it’s state is unknown

When you show up at a ChargePoint charger, you just swipe your RFID card, wait for the station to unlock the charger for you to use, and then plug it in. It takes about the same length of time as it would to start pumping petrol.

A fantastic service

ChargePoint

With more and more Australians buying and wanting to buy EV’s it’s great to see a company already well developed in this area. With a great, simple model it encourages its users and provides many benefits to EV owners and businesses.

Companies can have their chargers installed at their workplace to encourage EV ownership as well as reward their employees. They can also be used to attract customers. Charging an EV can still take a long time depending on what type of car/charger you use. This means the EV owner will need something to do while their car is charging. So if the ChargePoint is near your business it’s quite possible they’ll go in and buy something driving sales.

So have you used ChargePoint? What was your experience good or bad? Let us know in the comments below!

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