EV Basics - car charging connections explained | Smart Home Charge

EV Basics - car charging connections explained

28th Aug 2019 Danny Morgan


Type 1. Type 2. CCS. Chad who? The world of EV charging and its connection types can be a tad confusing. We promise it isn’t as complicated as it sounds and we’re here to explain the differences anyway.

There are several charger “types” or connections for electric vehicles. The type of connection will depend on the vehicle, but all types of connector fall into one of three categories which indicate the power output (measured in kilowatts) and speed of charge.

Unsurprisingly, the higher the power output (kilowatts or kW) the faster the charging capability of the device.

The three categories are: Slow, Fast and Rapid charging.

Most vehicles will include a charging port for Fast charging at home or on the road, such as Type 1 or Type 2, as well as a Rapid charging port which includes CCS and CHAdeMO.

At a glance

Slow – up to 3kW

Very few electric car owners use a Slow charger. It’s usually a three-pin plug charger, which should come with your EV, and is more of a last resort. It does the job, but it can take upwards of 12 hours to charge depending on the vehicle’s battery size.

We recommend installing a dedicated Fast electric car charger for the home. You can find out more about charging at home in this handy guide.

Fast – 7.4kW (up to 3x faster than a three-pin plug)

Fast chargers are becoming the most common method to charge an EV at home. If you buy an EV or you want to hire a Tesla or another electric car for a year, for example, then we recommend installing a dedicated EV charging point at your home. These are sometimes called “wall boxes” or wall chargers.

The most common power output is 7.4kW which can charge an EV in 3-10 hours, depending on the battery size.

Bigger batteries, such as those found in the Jaguar I-PACE (84.7kW), can take up to 13 hours. It sounds slow, but it’s unlikely your EV will ever be completely empty and most electric car owners do not charge it to 100% either unless necessary.

You can compare car chargers or view the compatible chargers with your car.

Fast – 22kW (up to 10x faster than a three-pin plug)

There are 22kW Fast chargers available for the home, but these require a three-phase power supply. You will most likely find these chargers on larger residential properties, places of work, or public car parks.

Rapid – 50kW to 150kW

Rapid chargers can charge most EVs from 0-80% in less than 30 minutes. They are usually found at motorway services, car parks and, increasingly, fuel station forecourts. Most Rapid chargers are 50kW, but more powerful units are being installed such as 150kW.

A Nissan Leaf using an Ecotricity Rapid charger

What’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 EV connections?

Depending on the vehicle, different types of charging connections and cables are in use. The connections available are:

  • Type 1 - favoured by Asian car manufacturers
  • Type 2 - fast becoming the most common.

In practice, there is no real difference to the end user – you. Whether your vehicle has Type 1 or Type 2, you still plug in and charge the same way. Of course, if your vehicle has a Type 1 charging port you will need to use a compatible Type 1 charger and cable at home or at a public charging station.

Some people have likened the competition between Type 1 and Type 2 (and the different Rapid chargers – see below) to VHS and BetaMax. It’s an amusing comparison, but you need not worry – there are plenty of both Type 1 and Type 2 chargers and vehicles about, in the same way that there are more than enough petrol and diesel pumps.

What’s the difference between CCS, CHAdeMO and Tesla Type 2?

Rapid DC chargers use a separate connection to facilitate the use of more powerful charging units.

These include:

  • CCS (the most common in Europe)
  • CHAdeMO
  • Tesla Type 2 – Tesla only

CCS is fast becoming the most common charging port and connection for Rapid DC charging. It can charge up to 350kW currently, although the UK only has up to 150kW at the moment, while most chargers are 50kW. These chargers can add anything from 75 miles to 225 miles in 30 minutes. As the public charging infrastructure expands and improves, expect this to change.

Note: charging speeds are also dependent on your vehicle's on-board charger. Even if the charger is 150kW, your vehicle may be limited to 100kW for example. 

CHAdeMO is the most common charger in the UK, although CCS is becoming very popular too. You shouldn’t find it difficult to find either. CHAdeMO typically charges at 50kW, adding around 75 miles every 30 minutes.

Because Tesla likes to be different, the manufacturer utilises a Type 2 connection for its Tesla-only Supercharger network. These Superchargers can charge at 130kW, but this is not guaranteed. However, the network is one of the most extensive and reliable in the world. Tesla’s also come with CCS connections too.

 

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