Different Types of Electric Vehicle Charging Plugs

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Different Types of Electric Vehicle Charging Plugs

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular as consumers and policymakers aim to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. As EV adoption grows, charging infrastructure needs to expand to support these vehicles.

There are three main levels of electric vehicle chargers, classified by charging speed. Level 1 provides slow charging through a regular wall outlet. Level 2 offers faster charging through 240V outlets commonly used for large appliances. Direct-current fast chargers (DCFCs), sometimes called Level 3, provide rapid charging by converting AC power from the electrical grid to DC power that can be accepted directly by the EV’s battery.

Different DC fast charging standards have emerged with different connector types. The charging industry is working to develop standards and connectors that enable long-distance travel by EVs through convenient, fast charging. Understanding the different types of plugs and charging capabilities is helpful for current and prospective EV owners planning routes and managing charging needs.

Level 1 Chargers

Level 1 chargers, also known as Level 1 EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), are the most basic and common type of EV charger. As the slowest charging option, Level 1 EVSE plug into a standard 120V AC outlet and provide 2-5 miles of range for every hour of charging time.

The maximum power a Level 1 EVSE can provide is 1.9 kW, which equates to about 15-20 amps. This slow rate of charging is meant for overnight charging at home, not for public charging stations when a quick recharge is needed. The main benefits of Level 1 charging are that it’s widely available using existing electrical outlets, requires no additional infrastructure, and is inexpensive to purchase and install.

The J1772 connector is the standard for Level 1 and Level 2 charging in North America. This rounded-rectangular shaped connector has five pins and is designed for single-phase AC charging. Most EVs come with a J1772 charge cordset so they can plug into common 120V outlets. One downside is that Level 1 charging provides such minimal range that it may not adequately recharge an EV for daily driving needs. Overall, Level 1 works well for light, infrequent EV use but longer daily commutes will require Level 2 for adequate recharging.

Level 2 Chargers

Level 2 chargers, sometimes called Level 2 EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), provide faster charging than Level 1 chargers. These chargers plug into a 240V outlet, which is the type of outlet used for large appliances like electric dryers.

A Level 2 charger can add about 10-20 miles of range per hour of charging. This allows an EV driver to charge their vehicle overnight at home and wake up to a fully charged battery every morning.

The maximum power draw of a Level 2 charger is around 7.2kW. However, some can charge at power levels as low as 3.3kW. The actual charging speed depends on the onboard charger of the electric vehicle.

Level 2 chargers use the J1772 connector, which is the standard for AC charging in North America. The connector has five pins and is a rounded plug that sits flush with the charge port when inserted. Most public AC charging stations provide Level 2 charging.

Level 2 is a good balance between cost and charging speed for at-home charging. The installation is more complex than a Level 1 charger since it requires a 240V circuit. But it provides much faster charging, allowing an EV owner to conveniently charge at home overnight. Overall, Level 2 chargers are an excellent option for daily home charging.

DC Fast Chargers

DC fast chargers, also known as DC level 2 chargers, provide the fastest electric vehicle charging currently available. These chargers deliver direct current (DC) directly to the battery, bypassing the onboard charger. This enables DC fast charging to add up to 80 miles of range in just 20 minutes of charging time. However, not all electric vehicles are compatible with DC fast charging.

The two main DC fast charging connector types are CHAdeMO and CCS (Combined Charging System). CHAdeMO is a DC fast charging standard developed by Japanese automakers like Nissan and Mitsubishi. The CHAdeMO connector provides up to 62.5 kW of power output. CCS is a newer standard backed by European, American, and Korean automakers. The CCS connector offers charging power up to 350 kW, though most current EVs max out at around 120 kW.

Tesla uses its own proprietary connector for Supercharging on Tesla vehicles. Superchargers provide up to 250 kW of power output for compatible Tesla models. This allows Tesla EVs to add hundreds of miles of range in less than an hour. However, Tesla Superchargers are only compatible with Tesla vehicles.

DC fast charging enables EV drivers to quickly add substantial driving range in a short period of time. The high power output recharges the battery much more rapidly than slower Level 1 or Level 2 charging. DC fast charging stations are ideal for long distance trips where minimizing charging time is important. As more powerful electric vehicles are introduced, we will likely see DC fast charging speeds and power outputs continue to increase.

CHAdeMO

CHAdeMO is a DC fast charging standard that was developed in Japan starting around 2010. It was originally created by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Fuji Heavy Industries (now Subaru). The name CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve”, meaning “charge for moving”.

CHAdeMO uses a special DC charging connector that is different from other standards. The connector has thick orange cables and locking pins for high power transfer. CHAdeMO chargers can provide up to 400 kW of power, allowing compatible electric vehicles to charge very quickly.

Many Japanese automakers have adopted CHAdeMO for their electric vehicles, including Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, and Mazda. The Nissan Leaf has been the most popular CHAdeMO-compatible EV globally. Outside of Japan, CHAdeMO hasn’t seen as much adoption, though some chargers can be found in Europe and North America.

CHAdeMO has its own communication protocol that is different from the protocols used by CCS and Tesla Superchargers. While CHAdeMO chargers are technically capable of very high power, most public CHAdeMO chargers provide 50 kW or less. The CHAdeMO standard continues to evolve, with plans to increase maximum power in the future.

CCS (Combined Charging System)

The Combined Charging System (CCS) is a DC fast charging standard that was developed by European automakers to support faster charging. CCS combines the J1772 AC charging plug with DC fast charging capability through an additional DC connector below the AC pins.

CCS was designed to allow both AC and DC charging from a single port. On the charging station side, CCS uses the SAE J1772-2009 connector for the AC portion. This contains two AC pins for power delivery and a set of control pins. Below this is a pair of DC pins that handle high-voltage DC fast charging.

The goal of CCS was to standardize DC fast charging for electric vehicles in Europe and other regions. Rather than creating an entirely new plug design, CCS built upon the existing J1772 standard which was already widely adopted for Level 1 and Level 2 charging in North America. This allowed automakers to design CCS compatibility into their EVs while maintaining backward compatibility with J1772 for normal AC charging.

CCS is now one of the most common DC fast charging standards globally along with CHAdeMO. It offers charging speeds up to 350 kW and is supported by automakers such as Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai and others. CCS stations can be found throughout Europe, North America, and in parts of Asia. The connectors and communication protocols are standardized so CCS vehicles can charge on any CCS station regardless of brand or location.

Overall, CCS provides a unified fast charging solution that leverages existing technology while offering ultra fast charging speeds through a DC connection. It was strategically developed by European OEMs to meet the needs of the European EV market. CCS has now achieved widespread adoption as a leading DC fast charging standard for EVs globally.

Tesla Supercharger

The Tesla Supercharger is a DC fast charging network exclusive to Tesla vehicles. It uses a proprietary connector that only fits Tesla models like the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y.

Tesla Superchargers provide some of the fastest charging speeds available today, delivering up to 250 kW of power. At maximum output, Teslas can add hundreds of miles of range in just 15-30 minutes of charging.

The Supercharger network has over 25,000 individual Superchargers globally, making long distance travel more feasible for Tesla owners. Stations are strategically placed along major highways and thoroughfares to enable convenient long-distance driving.

Tesla continues to rapidly expand the Supercharger network, especially in North America, Europe, and China. They aim to provide charging access within driving distance throughout primary travel routes.

Access to Superchargers is included with all new Tesla vehicle purchases, providing free, unlimited fast charging. This perk has helped drive Tesla’s popularity as an EV brand focused on reducing range anxiety.

Overall, the proprietary Tesla Supercharger network offers important advantages for Tesla drivers through its unmatched charging speeds, expansive coverage, and free charging access. It serves as a key part of the brand’s appeal and infrastructure.

J1772

J1772 is the most common Level 1 and Level 2 plug type in North America. It was developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and has gone through a few iterations, with the latest version being J1772-2009.

The J1772 connector has five pins – two AC pins for power, two control pilot pins, and one proximity detection pin. On Level 1 EVSE, it provides 120V AC charging at up to 1.9 kW (16A). On Level 2 EVSE, it provides 240V AC charging at up to 19.2 kW (80A).

The J1772 plug is used by all major electric vehicle models in North America, including Tesla with an adapter. For DC fast charging, most vehicles use the CCS combo plug which has the J1772 connector along with two DC pins.

A key advantage of J1772 is its wide availability and interoperability between different electric vehicle models. Drivers only need to carry one adapter to charge at the thousands of public J1772 charging stations across the continent. It is the standard for public AC charging in the United States and Canada.

Type 2

The Type 2 connector is the most common plug type for Level 1 and Level 2 charging in Europe. It was standardized in the IEC 62196-2 specification as the single plug type for AC charging in the region.

The Type 2 connector uses a 7-pin configuration and is compatible with single phase AC power up to 22 kW, as well as three phase AC power up to 43 kW. It provides a safer and more robust connection compared to older plug types.

All new electric vehicles sold in Europe are required to have a Type 2 inlet. The connector is also found at many public charging stations across Europe. An adapter may be needed in some areas to connect the Type 2 plug to local outlet types like Schuko sockets.

The Type 2 plug has a distinct rounded shape and bulky size compared to other connectors. It is larger in order to accommodate AC power at higher voltages. The plug is locked in place magnetically during charging.

Overall, the Type 2 connector provides a standardized and future-proof solution for AC charging in Europe. It allows drivers to easily charge their EVs across borders without needing multiple charging cables. As electric vehicle adoption increases, the Type 2 plug will likely remain the dominant EV connector type in Europe.

Conclusion

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure continues to expand and improve. As EVs become more mainstream, more public and home charging options are becoming available. With Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, most daily charging can be done slowly overnight at home. For longer trips, DC fast charging provides a quick power boost in under an hour.

Multiple DC fast charging connector types exist, but the two main standards are CHAdeMO and CCS. CHAdeMO is popular in Asia and with earlier EVs, while CCS is favored by European and American automakers. Tesla uses its own proprietary connector for Superchargers. Adapters can allow some cross-compatibility between connector types.

The outlook for EV charging is positive. Charging networks are expanding in metro areas and along major highways to alleviate range anxiety. Charging speeds continue to increase, with some new EVs supporting 200+ kW for even faster charging. Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology will also help optimize charging and energy usage. Home, workplace, and public charging options will likely keep improving to make EVs more practical and appealing.

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