What Is PlugShare, and How Does It Work?

As the world switches from gasoline-powered cars to EVs, there will be some growing pains. One of the significant issues some EV owners have has to do with charging. In many places in the world, there are more EVs than chargers, and many EV owners don’t have one at home because they’re renters or for various other reasons. While the government is building more chargers, EV owners have a bright idea of how folks can charge their EVs in the meanwhile, and it’s called PlugShare.

What is PlugShare?

A phone displaying the PlugShare app.
PlugShare | Brianna Soukup via Getty Images

As the name suggests, PlugShare is an app where folks can share their charger with other EV or PHEV owners. As Car and Driver wrote, PlugShare started many years ago when the charging infrastructure was worse than today. A lot of the people on PlugShare see it as a way to support the EV community as well as pioneer something new. 

PlugShare is like Airbnb, but EV owners can request access to a homeowner’s charging station instead of booking a night’s stay. On top of that, EV owners who’ve charged at a stranger’s home can leave reviews and post pictures. However, unlike Airbnb, there aren’t many EV owners. Quite a few hosts haven’t gotten a customer in a long time. Some may have even forgotten they were on PlugShare.

While the unique aspect of PlugShare is that homeowners can share their home chargers with others, PlugShare also has other features. It has an interactive map of additional charging stations, and EV owners can play with it to find public and private charging stations near them.

How to use the PlugShare app

According to PlugShare, over 200,000 charging stations are currently listed in the U.S. and Canada. Most of those stations are public, and only a few thousand homeowners share their chargers. However, PlugShare isn’t totally free. The app itself is free, but the actual service of using someone’s charging station won’t be.

After all, the hosts allow you to take up space on their property and charge your car with their electricity. But since electricity is cheap, the price an EV owner will pay will likely be low. There are a lot of factors at play, but drivers shouldn’t expect to pay more than a few bucks.

To make things easier, PlugShare also has a feature that allows drivers to pre-pay for the charging. This is only available at participating locations, however. Otherwise, it’s reasonably simple to pay with PlugShare. Once you enter your credit card info into the app, you must press the Pay with PlugShare button. 

There are a lot of other useful apps for EV owners

PlugShare is one of the better EV apps, but there are other good EV apps, too. Even though EV charging is cheap, folks on a budget may want to consider getting free charging. Volta is an app that shows you where many of the free charging stations in the U.S. are at. These free chargers are usually located at businesses, such as malls and grocery stores. As a rule of thumb, most of those businesses will allow you to charge there for free for two hours. 

Another good app is Electrify America. Its primary focus is DC fast charging and is helpful for EV owners who don’t want to wait around too long to charge. That said, it’s not a perfect app, but improvements are on the way.

RELATED: 10 Best Electric Vehicle Charging Map Apps to Download in 2022