Charging point connector types – Explained
Remember the fight between VHS and Betamax? Or Windows and Mac OS? There is always a competitive battle over standards with emerging technologies.
In the EV world, the manufacturers are slugging it out over connector types and standards. Basically, the plug and socket shapes differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. It’s like when you travel from the UK to Spain and can’t plug your hairdryer in.
Here are the main types of EV connector and the car manufacturers they are associated with:
Type 2 connectors
These connectors are the norm in Europe for charging your electric car at home, on a standard AC electricity supply.
Type 2 connectors are often called ‘Mennekes’ connectors, after the German manufacturer that invented the design. They have a 7-pin plug.
The EU recommends Type 2 connectors and they are sometimes referred to by the official standard 62196-2.
Most untethered, or ‘universal’, charging points in European homes will have a Type 2 socket. So, the cable you get out of your EV’s boot needs to have a Type 2 plug on one end to go into the universal charging point on your wall.
The other end of the cable plugs into your car’s socket. That socket will usually also be a Type 2 socket, though on older cars or certain new ones you will find a Type 1 socket (see below).
If you have a tethered charging point on your wall – rather than untethered – then just uncoil the cable wrapped around the charging point and stick the plug into your car’s socket (either Type 1 or Type 2).
In the UK, a Type 2 charging point on a single-phase electricity supply at home allows you to charge your car at a maximum of 7.36 kW. The formula is: 230 volts x 32 amps = 7,360 Watts, or 7.36 kW.
On a 3-phase electricity supply – the kind you might find at work – Type 2 charging points can charge at 22 kW. However, your car’s onboard circuitry may not allow for charging at such a fast speed.
Tesla has developed a modified Type 2 socket that also permits rapid DC charging.
Tesla’s adapted Type 2 socket, which can be found in the Model S and Model X in Europe, allows both charging at home on a normal house AC electricity supply, but also rapid charging at up to 120 kW using DC electricity.
These Tesla-only, DC electricity charging stations can be found, for example, at motorway service stations. They are known as superchargers.
The latest versions of the Tesla Model Y, Model 3, Model S and Model X can all be charged at up to 250 kW at version 3 Tesla superchargers now being rolled out globally.
Type 1 connectors
This type of connector is mainly found in North America and is used for home charging on AC electricity supplies.
The official standard is SAE J1772 and it has a 5-pin plug.
However, the new Mitsubishi Outlander – a popular plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – does still have a Type 1 socket for AC charging.
You are unlikely to find a Type 1 charging point when you are out and about in Europe.
Practically all new charging points at supermarkets, hotels, etc., will be Type 2 untethered sockets.
However, this is not a problem. If you have an EV with a Type 1 socket, one of the cables in the boot will have a Type 1 plug at one end and a Type 2 plug at the other. You push the Type 1 plug into your car, and the Type 2 plug into the charging point. Sorted.
These sockets permit rapid DC charging, and are designed to charge up your EV very quickly when you are away from home.
CCS stands for Combined Charging System.
Manufacturers that use it on their new models include Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, MG, Jaguar, Mini, Peugeot, Vauxhall / Opel, Citroen, Nissan, and VW. CCS is becoming very popular.
Confusing bit coming up: The CCS socket is always combined with either a Type 2 or a Type 1 socket.
For example, in Europe, you will often come across the ‘CCS Combo 2’ connector (see picture) which has the Type 2 AC connector at the top and the CCS DC connector at the bottom.
When you want a rapid charge at a motorway service station, you pick up the tethered Combo 2 plug from the charging machine and insert it into your car’s charging socket. The bottom DC connector will permit the rapid charge, whereas the top Type 2 section isn’t involved in charging on this occasion.
Many rapid CCS chargepoints in the UK and Europe are rated at 50 kW DC, though recent CCS installations are normally 120 kW or 150 kW.
There are even CCS charging stations being installed now that offer an amazingly quick 350 kW charge. Look out for the Ionity network gradually installing these chargers across Europe.
Check the maximum DC charge rate for the electric car you are interested in. The new Peugeot e-208, for example, can charge at up to 100 kW DC (pretty fast).
If you have a CCS Combo 2 socket in your car and want to charge at home on AC, you simply plug in your normal Type 2 plug into the upper half. The lower DC part of the connector remains empty.
These allow for rapid DC charging at public charging points away from home.
CHAdeMO is a rival to the CCS standard for rapid DC charging.
CHAdeMO sockets are found on the following new cars: Nissan Leaf (100% electric BEV) and the Mitsubishi Outlander (partially electric PHEV).
You will also find it on older EVs like the Peugeot iOn, Citroen C-Zero, Kia Soul EV and the Hyundai Ioniq.
Where you see a CHAdeMO socket in a car, you will always see another charging socket next to it. The other socket – either Type 1 or Type 2 – is for home AC charging. See ‘Two Sockets in One Car’ below.
In the connector wars, the CHAdeMO system is losing out to CCS at the moment in Europe (but see CHAdeMO 3.0 and ChaoJi below). More and more new EVs are favouring CCS.
However, CHAdeMO does have one major technical advantage: it is a bi-directional charger.
This means electricity can flow both from the charger into the car, but also the other way from the car into the charger, and then on to the house or grid.
This allows so-called “Vehicle to Grid” energy flows, or V2G. If you have the right infrastructure, you could then power your house using electricity stored in the car’s battery. Alternatively, you can send car electricity off to the grid and be paid for it.
Teslas have a CHAdeMO adapter so they can use CHAdeMO rapid chargers if there are no superchargers around.
Two Sockets in One Car
Most EVs nowadays have just one combined Combo socket via CCS.
However, if you have CHAdeMO, you will always have two sockets.
For example, the Nissan Leaf 40kWh EV has both a CHAdeMO socket for rapid DC charging and also a Type 2 socket for home AC charging next to it.
The photo shows the CHAdeMO socket on the left and the Type 2 socket on the right.
One Socket only
Car designers prefer fewer interruptions to their beautiful designs and so smaller, one socket charging solutions are on the rise.
For example, a combined CCS (rapid DC) / Type 2 (AC) socket is becoming very common.
Electric Car Charging in China
China is the biggest market – by far – for electric vehicles.
They have developed their own charging system, officially referred to by their Guobiao standards as: GB/T 20234.2 and GB/T 20234.3.
GB/T 20234.2 covers AC charging (single-phase only). The plugs and sockets look like Type 2, but the pins and receptors are reversed.
GB/T 20234.3 defines how rapid DC charging works. There is just one nationwide DC charging system in China, rather than competing systems like CHAdeMO, CCS, Tesla-modified, etc., found in other countries.
Interestingly, the Japanese-based CHAdeMO Association and the China Electricity Council (which controls GB/T) are working together on a new DC rapid system known as ChaoJi. In April 2020, they announced the final protocols called CHAdeMO 3.0. This will allow charging at over 500 kW (600 amps limit) and will also provide bidirectional charging.
Considering China is the largest consumer of EVs, and that many regional countries are likely to join including possibly India, the CHAdeMO 3.0 / ChaoJi initiative may well dethrone CCS over time as the dominant force in charging.
Even if you are still completely confused by connector types, the good news is that it doesn’t matter.
If you already have an electric car, and want a home charging point installed, you tell the charging point manufacturer what EV you have and they will tell you which models are appropriate.
If you’re going to get an electric car shortly, it’s the same process. Tell the charging point manufacturer which electric vehicle you are getting and they will go through the options.
Most charging point manufacturers will have more than one model of charger for your car (tethered, untethered, etc.). See our main Charging Point page for more details.
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