A Guide to EV Charging Cables and Charger Plugs

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Choosing the best charging cable might be problematic if you’re new to electric vehicles. You may be wondering whether you should get a cable at all, and if so, which one is best. This guide will help you choose the right EV equipment by introducing you to the various EV charging modes and plug types. 

Choosing the right charging cable

There is not an universal standard for EV charging as many manufacturers use different charging technology. The most important considerations are the charging capacity and ‘charging rate’ so the amount of the power that the cable can handle, usually measured in kilowatts (kW). It is crucial to choose a cable that is compatible with the charging station and the EV’s charging capabilities to ensure efficient and safe charging. 

EV charging cable modes

Charging cables have four different modes. The “level” of charge is not always correlated with these modes. To find more about charging levels, read this article.

  • Mode 1 – this method enables effortless connection of an EV to a regular AC socket-outlet. However, it is not seen as safe for electric cars and has been forbidden in many countries. This method of charging is ideal for light electric vehicles like e-bikes and scooters.
  • Mode 2 – typically, an electric vehicle (EV) that you buy will include a charging cable known as a Mode 2. With a maximum power output of 2.3 kW, you may use this connection to charge your car using a standard household socket.
  • Mode 3 – Your car is connected to a special EV charging station via a Mode 3 charging cable, which is the most typical type used for AC charging. They can be found in offices, homes, workplaces, residential locations, public parking slots, etc.
  • Mode 4 – mode 4 charging cables are designed only for DC charging, and the power is converted before being sent to the vehicle. When you charge an EV with DC, you can drastically cut down on charging time. This process is frequently referred to as fast charging or ultra-quick charging. The cables must be permanently attached to the charging station and are frequently liquid-cooled to handle the heat because this method of charging sends much more power straight to an EV’s battery. 

Types of EV Charging Plugs

The charging plug is a connecting plug that you insert into an electric car’s charging outlet. Depending on the power output, the car’s make, and the country where it was made, these plugs may be different.

Charging plug connector types for electric cars. Home AC alternating or DC direct current fast speed charge.

EV Charging plug types (AC)

Type 1

Type 1 plugs, also known as SAE J1772, are most frequently used with car models from North America and Japan. They are single-phase and have a 7.4 kW maximum power output.

Type 2 

The official plug standard for the European Union is the type 2 plug, usually referred to as “Mennekes” after the German business that created it. These three-phase connectors can offer up to 43 kW for public charging and up to 22 kW for private charging, which is a larger power transfer capability than Type 1 plugs.

GB/T 

China created its own charging technology, known as GB/T by its Guobiao national standards. The GB/T plug comes in two varieties: one for AC charging and the other for DC fast charging. The single-phase GB/T AC charging plug can produce up to 7.4 kW. Don’t be deceived by its similar appearance to the Type 2 plug, as its pins and receptors are inverted.

EV Charging plug types (DC)

CCS 

The standard for quick charging plugs in North America (CCS1) and Europe (CCS2) is the Combined Charging System, or CCS for short. It can support both AC and DC charging, which is why it is known as a hybrid charging system.

CCS1 

The CCS1 plug is an improved Type 1 AC plug that has two extra power connections to provide DC rapid charging. Aside from Tesla’s Supercharger technology, which has its own connector and can charge at speeds of up to 350 kW, CCS1 is the most popular fast charging plug in North America.

CCS2

The CCS2 is an improved Type 2 AC plug that has two extra power connections to provide DC rapid charging. DC power output ranges from 50 kW to 350 kW for CCS connectors. For CCS1 or CCS2, the upper part of the connector can be plugged into a conventional Type 1 or Type 2 plug to facilitate AC charging while leaving the lower DC power connections unoccupied.

CHAdeMO

CHAdeMO is a fast-charging technology for battery electric vehicles developed in 2010 by the CHAdeMo Association. Asia now leads the world in the production of EVs that work with CHAdeMO plugs, and CHAdeMO recently revealed technology that can charge between 200kW and 400kW. As per the brand data, the majority of CHAdeMO charging points in use worldwide are located in Europe. Half of them are in the UK, Germany, France, Norway, and Spain.

GB/T 

China has its own DC charging standards, just like it does for AC charging. Currently, up to 237.5 kW can be delivered with the present GB/T DC charging socket. To create a third generation of connectors that should be able to transmit 900 kW, GB/T is actively collaborating with CHAdeMO. 

Zevenaar, The Netherlands - September 10, 2015: Black Tesla Model S electric car at a Tesla supercharger charging station. Superchargers are free connectors that charge Model S in minutes. Superchargers are used for long distance travel, located along the most popular routes in North America, Europe and Asia.

Tesla Superchargers

Tesla owners can charge at their own charging stations which are exclusive to their own vehicles. The Tesla Supercharger has a unique proprietary plug that looks like a standard AC Type 2 socket but is only compatible with Tesla vehicles. Although Tesla’s Supercharger network dominates the European charging market, they have begun designing their cars with CCS2 in North America. Tesla also revealed that their long-awaited CCS to Tesla proprietary plug adaptor would soon be available, enabling Tesla drivers outside of Europe to use DC charging stations that aren’t owned by Tesla.

EV Adapters

Besides plugs and charging cables, there are also EV adapters. EV adapters are for drivers who want to switch their charging methods or buy another EV or PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) of a different type. There aren’t many adapters on the market, despite the fact that there are many standards. It is not advisable to utilise adapters since doing so introduces a new component into the electric connection between an EV and a charging station, raising the risk of a failure and compromising functional safety.

If you are an electrician you might be interested in an EV charger test adapter. To find out more about the safety of a wallbox, read a full article prepared by a specialist from Megger.

Have a look below to get EV charging cable assemblies from brands, including Phoenix Contact, Harting, Amphenol, WeidmĂŒller and others.

Vehicle Charging Cables, DC CCS 2, Open, Amphenol

Vehicle Charging Cables, AC Type 2, WeidmĂŒller

EV Charging Cables, AC Type 2, HARTING

Electric Vehicle Charge Point Adapter, Chauvin Arnoux


Learn more by reading our article that covers everything you need to know about EV charging.

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