Where Can You Charge an Electric Vehicle for Free?

Making the switch to an EV can seem scary at first when you think about the complications of electric vehicle charging. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Drivers can find free electric vehicle chargers in a lot of places. What are some of the more popular free charger stations for EVs?

Looking for free electric vehicle charging locations?

The Grand Canyon is one park that offers free electric vehicle charging stations
The Grand Canyon is one park that offers free electric vehicle charging stations | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of the best resources for finding electric vehicle charging options is an app. PlugShare and EVPassport are good places to start. These apps can tell you where a charger station is located and what kind of charger it is. It might also alert you when a location is offering free EV charging. For the most part, each location will set its desired price based on various factors. Looking at the PlugShare free EV station map, there are 432 free chargers in North America.

Visitor Centers near the highway, energy-focused businesses, and colleges pop up a lot. Museums, casinos, and parking garages also show up on the map. A good place to find free chargers is also through a highly populated shopping plaza or a hotel. Some Whole Foods stores partnered with Blink Charging electric vehicle chargers for free charging. That was back in 2019, though, so it may have phased out by now.

Many major hotel chains offer free electric car charging as well. A hotel might build the option for free charging built into another fee. There is a valet fee or a parking fee that might cover the cost of the chargers in a roundabout way. Drivers could avoid this with a validated parking ticket, but that might cost you a hotel lunch.

Parks, Perkins, and other car dealerships offer free charging

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If you are in a pinch, car dealerships probably have a free charger you can use. These might not be accessible after a certain hour but could work during regular business hours. Tesla has had a variety of free charging offers for electric vehicles. Early buyers of the Model S and Model X got free charging through the Tesla Supercharger network. Not too long ago, the same was offered to new buyers of the S and X. Automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have had similar offers.

A lot of outdoor locations offer free charging to encourage people to visit. The National Park Service has adopted electric vehicles for the fleet. Due to this, there are chargers on location for park visitors, NPS employees’ personal vehicles, and NPS fleet vehicles. The Grand Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park, and Gettysburg National Park are just a few of the participating parks. Not all of these options are free, but some like The Oasis at Death Valley offer free charging due to onsite solar fields. Many beaches across the country also offer a free charger or two.

New high-volume restaurants might offer an EV charger or two, such as Perkins or McDonalds. There might only be one or two on the property but can get you some extra miles while stopping for a snack. Taco Bell in California is getting some chargers, but they likely will not be free.

Special holidays usually see free charging offers

Some other ideas for free electric car charging are police stations, malls, and special days. Historically, charging stations will offer free charging ahead of holidays. Fourth of July, Earth Day, and Labor Day weekend all saw free charging offers. These are major travel holidays, especially for automotive travel. Keep an eye on social media for similar offers on holiday weekends.

Overall, there are a lot of ways to find a free charge these days. These offers can change quickly, but a bit of research can help drivers find a free charge. Another option is installing a charger at home. Installing a home EV charger can be expensive upfront but can pay off in the long run.

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