Electric Car Charging Connector Guide
If you have an electric vehicle, charging up is unlike popping to the nearest fuel station to fill the tank. Instead, the connector you have for your car determines where you can plug in and top up.
But fear not, getting to the correct charge point isn’t as complex as it appears. As newer models emerge into the market, standardised connectors are becoming the norm.
However, there are different chargers, including rapid, fast and slow chargers. So, what’s the difference? Read on to find out more about EV chargers and connectors.
What Are The Different Types Of EV Chargers?
There are several types of EV chargers – rapid, fast and slow. These terms refer to the power outputs and charging speed and are measured in kilowatts (kW).
Rapid chargers are one of the fastest ways to top up your vehicle. These charge points are commonly found at service stations and points close to main routes. Depending on the EV model, some will reach around 80% charge in approximately 20-30 minutes. All DC rapid chargers have a tethered cable, so you don’t need to have your own to use these points.
Ultra Rapid Chargers
Ultra-rapid charge points are typically rated 100kW+ for even faster charging capabilities. These are less common than rapid charge points but are also mainly found in motorway service stations.
A fast charge point is typically rated between 7kW and 22kW AC. These are the most common types of home chargers. They are also found in public spaces such as workplaces and supermarkets.
A 7kW charger will refill an average EV battery in around six to eight hours. At the top end, a 22kW charger will complete it in about three hours. Many of these types of charge points do not have tethered cables, so you’ll have to use your own. But, it’s essential to check the connector compatibility.
Slow charge points are rated between 3kW – 6kW, which is one of the slowest forms of EV top-up. For example, charging with a 3kW unit will take around 6-12 hours. So they are typically used for overnight charging at home.
Most slow charging units are not tethered, so they require a compatible charging cable.
What Are The Different Types Of EV Connectors?
Alongside the different types of chargers, there are also various connectors depending on the car model. In some cases, European models such as Audi, BMW and Renault will have specific connectors. In comparison, Asian car makers have other combinations.
Find out more about common connector types below:
|Connector Type||Power Rating||Approx charger range per hour||Features||Type of charger|
|AC Type 1||3.7kW
No locking mechanism
|Slow and fast charging|
|AC Type 2||3.7kW
Inbuilt locking mechanism
Most common connector
|Slow and fast charging|
|DC connector||Rapid charging|
|DC Combined Charging System (CCS)||50kW||75 miles||High power rating
2 x Type 2 pins
Will potentially be most popular DC connector, with up to 150kW rating in the future.
|Tesla Type 2||150kW||225 miles||Only Tesla Superchargers||Rapid charging|
|3-Pin Plug||2.3kW||8 miles||Slow charging
Should only be used in emergency situations
|Commando CEE plug||Up to 6kW||10-20 miles||Commonly associated with caravan hook-ups
Can be connected to a charging cable via an adapter to achieve 22kW
Most electric vehicles have a Type 2 connector. However, not all models can charge using AC rated units.
These connectors have a typical rating of 50kW and are mostly found on Japanese and Korean cars. Many electric charge points will have a CHAdeMO and CCS connector, so you can choose which is suitable for your vehicle.
Combined Charging System (CCS)
This is the most popular connector type at rapid and ultra-rapid charge points. The connector offers a combined AC and DC port. But it can come in different formats – 7-pin and 5-pin, so check the combination before use.
Tesla Type 2
If you have a Tesla, there is a specific network of rapid charge points called Superchargers. These are mainly found at motorway service stations. However, others are available at locations on main routes.
Charge points are rated up to 150kW and are only suitable for Tesla models. However, there is a Tesla CCS or Tesla Type 2 connector depending on the model.
There are also adaptors available for the Tesla Model S and Model X, which enable the use of public CHAdeMO and CCS points.
3 Point Plug
This plug is just like you get at home, and many electric cars are supplied with a three-pin charging plug. However, they are rated up to 3kW and charge slowly. They are also typically only recommended for use as an emergency recharge.
Commando CEE plug
A Commando plug is typically used for hooking a caravan or motorhome to electric at a campsite. However, these connectors can also be used with a charging cable if you have an adaptor.
Type 1 connectors are generally found on older models such as the first-generation Nissan Leaf. They have a five-pin plug and are typically found on fast and slow chargers.
AC Vs DC Connectors
One of the most important distinctions when it comes to EV charging is AC versus DC connectors. AC stands for alternating current, while DC is short for direct current – which are both types of power.
All power that comes from chargers (and the electric grid) is AC. However, the batteries used by electrical vehicles store power as DC. So, at some point, that AC power needs to be converted. The source of conversion is where the two types of connectors differ.
AC connectors are the original and most common type of EV charger. They feed AC power into cars, relying on a converter inside the car (often referred to as an onboard charger). As you might expect, this converts AC power into DC before feeding it into your vehicle’s battery.
On the other hand, DC connectors have an AC-DC converter built into the charger. This allows it to convert AC power from the grid to DC power before feeding it directly into the car’s battery. As a result, it can provide what’s known as rapid charging – because it essentially bypasses the onboard charging step.
DC connectors are a big step forward for EV charging. At present, they’re usually found at public fuel stations, though they will undoubtedly become more common as home chargers over time.
Get to know your EV car
Learning about your EV car and the type of connector and charge capabilities is helpful to ensure you don’t get caught out on a journey. Also, knowing what connector you have makes it easier to search charge points closest to you, wherever you are. However, some roadside recovery companies such as The RAC have built-in emergency mobile electric chargers - just in case you don’t make a charge point in time.
With the 2030 deadline looming, the electric car market and charge point network are growing. So, it could be a great time to think about making the switch. For more information on leasing an electric vehicle, get in touch to find a car to suit your lifestyle.
Are all EV charging connections the same?
No. There are several different types of EV charging connectors. The most common connectors include:
- AC Type 1
- AC Type 2
- DC CHAdeMO
- DC Combined Charging System (CCS)
- Tesla Type 2
- 3-Pin Plug
- Commando CEE plug
The type of connector depends on the model of your car. This also determines what electric charge points you can use.
Are all type 2 EV chargers the same?
Not all Type 2 EV chargers are the same. The general AC Type 2 connector is a common plug on electric vehicles. However, Tesla also has a Type 2 connector, which can only be used at Tesla charge points.
Can I charge my electric car from a 13-amp socket?
Technically, yes, you can. Many electric cars are supplied with a 13-amp socket (3-pin plug) that can be used for home charging. However, it is an extremely slow way to charge an EV and should only be used for emergency or occasional charging.
What is the most common EV charger?
The most common electric charger is a Type 2 unit. It is found in most public charge points, and many owners have a cable with a Type 2 connector.
Can I use an extension cord to charge my electric car?
Most EV car makers advise against using extension cords when charging an electric vehicle. This is because they pose a fire risk due to the lead overheating as they are designed for domestic appliances.
Can I install my own EV charging point?
No. An electric charging point needs to be installed by a registered electrician with experience in EV charger installation. This ensures your charging point is safe, compliant and wired up to approved standards. You may be able to get a grant to help with the cost of a home charger installation. Government grants are available for flat owners, renters and leaseholders. Businesses, charities and landlords may also be eligible. Find out more about grants here.
Can you charge an electric car from a normal plug socket?
Yes, charging an electric vehicle from a standard plug socket at home is possible. However, this is the slowest way to charge an EV, and it is only usually recommended for emergency charging.
Where can I find my nearest charging station?
Finding your nearest EV charge point is simple. Head online and enter ‘electric charging points near me’ for a list of local EV charging locations. Many search engine results will give you a list of connectors available at the charging station, plus directions. Apps such as Zap Map also provide details of local charging points and types of connectors catered for at each.