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 mobile phone charger in.
Here are the main types of EV connector and the car manufacturers they are associated with:
They allow for rapid DC charging only, up to 50 kW, when you are away from home.
These are often found on EVs made by Nissan, Peugeot, Citroen and older Kias.
Where you see a CHAdeMO socket in a car, you will always see another charging socket next to it. See ‘Two Sockets in One Car’ below.
This is because CHAdeMO is a DC, 50 kW, rapid charging system only. You will use your CHAdeMO socket when you are away from home and need to charge, e.g. at a motorway service station.
CHAdeMO cannot provide slow/fast home AC charging. For home charging, you will also have a second socket: most likely Type 2, or possibly Type 1 (see below).
In the connector wars, the CHAdeMO plug appears to be losing out to CCS. 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.
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.
Teslas have a CHAdeMO adapter so they can use CHAdeMO rapid chargers if there are no Superchargers around.
The new Nissan Leaf e+ can theoretically be charged at 100 kW DC via CHAdeMO, but there are currently precious few charging stations set up for 100 kW CHAdeMO.
These sockets permit rapid DC charging, like CHAdeMO, but also allow slow/fast home AC charging.
CCS stands for Combined Charging System.
Manufacturers that use it include Hyundai, BMW, Jaguar, newer Kia models and VW.
Tesla is also starting to offer a CCS socket in Europe, starting with the Model 3.
Most rapid CCS chargepoints in the UK are rated at 50 kW DC, though recent CCS installations are normally 150 kW.
There are even CCS charging stations being installed now that offer an amazingly quick 350 kW charge.
No currently available cars can charge at 350 kW, though the forthcoming Porsche Taycan will be able to. That will offer blindingly quick battery refills.
Home AC slow/fast CCS charging is delivered via a Type 2 plug (see below).
The picture shown right is of a Combo 2 (Type 2) CCS plug which is now the norm for CCS cars in Europe.
The CCS standard does not currently allow for bi-directional energy flows like CHAdeMO.
This is a competitive advantage that Nissan may look to exploit in the short term, before CCS incorporates the bi-directional functionality, too.
Type 2 connectors
These connectors are very common for slow/fast home charging, but also used by Tesla and Renault for rapid charging.
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.
Many universal charging points will have a Type 2 socket. In other words, 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.
If you have an eagle eye, you will notice the shape of a Type 2 plug is the same as the shape of the upper part of a CCS socket.
This means a Type 2 plug can be inserted into a CCS socket for home AC charging.
The Tesla Supercharger network is being upgraded, and will soon be able to offer 250 kW charging to Tesla models that have the right on-board charger.
The Renault Zoe also has an unusual Type 2 socket. It offers slow/fast home AC charging up to 7 kW, but also rapid AC charging away from home at 43 kW.
Type 1 connectors
These connectors offer slow/fast charging.
The official standard is SAE J1772 and it has a 5-pin plug.
It’s a standard used mainly in the USA for charging points and is now quite rare in the UK.
You are unlikely to find a Type 1 charging point when you are out and about.
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 socket at the other. You push the Type 1 plug into your car, and the Type 2 socket receives the Type 2 plug from the charging point. Sorted.
Two Sockets in One Car
Some EVs have more than one socket: one for fast/slow AC charging; the other for rapid DC charging.
For example, the Nissan Leaf 40kWh EV has both a CHAdeMO socket for rapid DC charging and a Type 2 socket for slow or fast AC charging.
You would use the Type 2 socket to charge your car at home. The CHAdeMO socket is designed for rapid DC chargers at motorway service stations.
The photo shows the CHAdeMO socket on the left (covered with a cap) and the Type 2 socket on the right with a plug inserted.
One Socket only
Car designers prefer fewer interruptions to their beautiful designs and so smaller, one socket charging solutions are on the rise.
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.