A Simple Guide to EV Charging Connectors

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A Simple Guide to EV Charging Connectors

Charging electric vehicles (EVs) is often highlighted for its simplicity: just plug in and you’re ready to go. Yet, a common worry among consumers revolves around the specific type of plug required, the usability of the Level 1 plug included with their EV, and the process for charging at Level 2 and DC fast charging stations. Here’s the essential information you need.

Level 1 & 2 Chargers

In North America, electric vehicles (EVs) typically utilize the J1772 plug for both Level 1 and Level 2 charging, with Tesla being the exception due to its proprietary plug. The J1772 connector is recognized by the Society of Automotive Engineers as the standard for Level 2 AC charging and is designed with multiple shock-prevention measures for safe use outdoors.

When it comes to Level 2 charging, plug types can vary across different regions. For those traveling to Europe or Asia and opting to rent an electric vehicle, rental agencies will provide the necessary cables to ensure compatibility with their EVs.

Level 1

NEMA 5-15 plugs, standard in most homes, are designed for large appliances and can handle 15 amps and 125V. They’re perfectly compatible with Level 1 chargers, offering the slowest charging speed. NEMA 5-20 plugs are similar, offering 20 amps and 125 volts, but are more commonly found in office settings rather than homes.

The charging cord that comes with your electric vehicle (EV) is well-suited for Level 1 charging. These chargers are widely available, cost-effective, and dependable. For those living in single-family homes and driving plug-in hybrid EVs, Level 1 charging often suffices. Charging at a rate of 4-5 miles per hour, Level 1 chargers are ideal when the vehicle can be plugged in overnight on a regular basis. The charger included with your new car is compatible with any Level 1 charging station.

Level 2

Due to the slower charging speeds of Level 1 chargers, many EV owners prefer upgrading to a Level 2 charger, which significantly boosts charging rates to 20-65 miles per hour. For those residing in single-family homes and looking to make the leap to Level 2 home charging, options include using a NEMA 14-50 plug or opting for a hardwired station installed by an electrician. If a home garage isn’t available or personal installation isn’t feasible, EV drivers can still access Level 2 charging through the extensive network of commercial stations. These are found at workplaces, multifamily residences, retail centers, and various other locations, providing convenient charging solutions outside of the home.

DC Fast Charging

While DC fast charging might not come standard with every electric vehicle (EV), opting for it as an upgrade can be a smart move. DC fast charging stations have the capability to charge a fully electric EV up to 80% in just about 30 minutes, making them perfect for use along highways and interstates. However, the world of DC fast charging doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all plug. Currently, there are three main types of DC fast charging connectors: CHAdeMO, SAE Combo (CCS), and Tesla/NACS. Fortunately for EV owners, many DC fast charging stations are equipped with both CHAdeMO and CCS plugs, ensuring that most vehicles can get a quick charge and continue their journey without significant delays.


The CHAdeMO plug, used at DC fast chargers, works with brands like Nissan and Toyota. Yet, it’s being replaced by the CCS standard.

SAE Combo (CCS)

The SAE Combo (CCS) plug is fast becoming the standard for DC fast charging in new U.S. and European EVs, including models from BMW, Volkswagen, Chevy, and some Asian manufacturers.

Tesla (now North American Charging Standard)

Tesla developed its own unique plug for charging its electric vehicles, which was originally exclusive to Tesla charging stations. This meant non-Tesla EV drivers had to rely on different companies’ Level 2 or DC fast charging options. Recently, Tesla made its proprietary connector available to other car manufacturers. In 2023, major automakers like Ford and General Motors revealed plans to include the Tesla plug, now called the North American Charging Standard (NACS), in their future vehicles.

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