18Aug, 23 August 18, 2023
  • By evcharger

Electric vehicles are increasingly becoming a common sight on roads worldwide as more drivers make the switch to emission-free mobility. With advances in battery technology and declining costs, EVs now offer driving ranges comparable to gas-powered cars. However, one key difference that takes some getting used to is how we “refuel” electric vehicles.

Instead of gas stations, EVs use connectors that transfer electricity from the grid directly into the high-capacity battery onboard. With various international standards and proprietary designs in place, choosing the right charging connector can seem confusing at first. 

This in-depth guide covers all the key details about the various connectors used for charging electric vehicles.

Types of EV Charging 

EV Charging can be via – Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). AC is slower, while DC is faster.

AC charging involves transferring electrical power in the form of alternating current through a standard electrical outlet or dedicated charging station. AC electricity flows into the vehicle’s battery and is converted to DC to charge the battery chemically. It is best suited for slow, overnight home charging sessions. 

DC fast charging bypasses the altering of current and feeds direct current into the high-voltage battery pack. As the name suggests, DC provides a much faster charging time, typically 30 minutes to 80% charge, ideal for public stations and long-distance travel. 

Now, let’s examine the various connector standards used for each charging method. 

AC Charging Connectors

Type 1 Connector

The Type 1 charging connector, also known as the SAE J1772 standard, is commonly found on electric vehicles in North America as well as some models in Asia, like the Nissan Leaf. As a single-phase connector, it supports AC power delivery of up to 7.4kW. The rounded protruding pins make it ideal for simple home charging from a standard 120-volt wall outlet without requiring an expensive level 2 charging station installation.

It has a rounded and trapezoidal shape, and when you connect Type 1 connectors, they make a reassuring click to show they’re securely attached. While it’s slower than the newer DC fast charging methods, people with off-street parking can still conveniently use overnight Type 1 charging.

SAE J1772 (Type 1) Connector 
SAE J1772 (Type 1) Connector 

Type 2 Connector

The IEC 62196 Type 2 standard, a three-phase AC connector, has emerged as the dominant choice for Europe, China, and selected Asian markets. In comparison to the single-phase Type 1 connector, the Type 2 facilitates faster charging rates, boasting a maximum power transfer capability of 22kW when charging at home and a robust 43kW when utilizing public fast chargers.

Some U.S. car companies have started including the Type 2 connector in their electric vehicles to give drivers access to more public fast charging stations globally. The Type 2 has sturdy, rectangular-shaped pins arranged in a trapezoid shape. This makes it extra durable compared to the rounded pins of Type 1, so it holds up well to heavy use at public charging points. 

Despite its robustness, the Type 2 is still simple to plug in and charge with each night at home. In this way, the Type 2 strikes a great balance – it’s rugged enough for high-traffic public stations but still convenient for daily home charging.

Most of the public charging stations worldwide either use type 2 connectors or are transitioning towards it. However, most EV manufacturing companies still provide both type 1 and type 2 ports inside their EVs to broaden the charging options for EV drivers.

IEC 62196 Type 2
IEC 62196 Type 2

GB/T Connector

While the Type 2 connector is widely used in other parts of the world, China created its own domestic standard called GB/T for AC charging of electric vehicles sold in China. The GB/T connector looks similar to Type 2 but has a reversed pin alignment. It supports charging rates up to 27.7kW. 

China is well on its way to being the largest EV market globally, but the long-term plan for charging standardization in China is still uncertain. However, electric vehicles with dual GB/T and CCS connectors provide flexibility to drivers. Within China, they can use the faster GB/T system. When traveling abroad, they can access international CCS fast charging networks. This dual-connector approach bridges the gap during this transitional time.

GB/T Connector
GB/T Connector

Comparing Level 1 and Level 2 Home EV Charging:

Charging LevelLevel 1Level 2
Current12A max40-100A
Typical Power1.4-1.9 kW3.3-19.2 kW
Miles Added Per Hour (24 kWh battery)2-5 miles10-25 miles
Installation Cost$0$500-2000
Charging Time for Full Charge (24 kWh battery)24 hours8 hours
Charging ConvenienceSlow charging, suitable for occasional useFast charging, ideal for daily use

DC Fast Charging Connectors

DC Charging Connectors

CHAdeMO Connector 

Japan was one of the pioneers in recognizing the need for fast electric vehicle charging, similar to gas stations. This led to the development of the CHAdeMO standard by the CHAdeMO Association. Initially, it could provide 50kW of power, but with equipment upgrades, it could reach 62.5kW to 125kW. CHAdeMO quickly became popular in Asia and gained an early presence in global charging networks.

However, CHAdeMO had a boxy and asymmetrical design that caused compatibility issues. People wanted a universal solution that could work internationally. While CHAdeMO is still widely used in Japan today, its future role is uncertain as older charging infrastructure gets updated with newer technologies like the CCS combo connector or the Tesla Supercharger.

CHAdeMO Connector
CHAdeMO Connector

CCS Combo Connector

The Combined Charging System, known as CCS, has become the leading global DC fast charging connector. It combines the strengths of older technologies like CHAdeMO and AC charging interfaces. The CharIN Association developed it, and there are two CCS variants: CCS1, mainly used in North America, and CCS2, widely used in Europe and other regions.

Both CCS designs support AC charging with integrated Type 1/Type 2 pins. They also feature two additional DC pins, allowing for power draws of over 350kW using liquid-cooled cables. Automakers are quickly designing new vehicle models around CCS because it allows them to serve 90% of the growing public charging infrastructure.

CCS 1 (North American Standard) vs. CCS 2 (European Standard)
CCS 1 (North American Standard) vs. CCS 2 (European Standard)

Tesla Supercharging 

Tesla was an early player in high-power charging networks and initially used its own unique plug. This was good for Tesla owners initially, but things changed when other car manufacturers got involved, and standard charging connectors became more common.

Tesla now produces vehicles with dual connectors, allowing them to use both Tesla’s proprietary plug and the CCS (Combined Charging System) connector commonly used by other electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers. Additionally, Tesla has introduced adapters that enable non-Tesla EVs to access their Supercharger stations, promoting wider accessibility.

In international markets, Tesla Superchargers have adopted the CCS2 standard, aligning with the industry standard for fast charging. In the United States, Tesla primarily uses its special plug as the primary connector for Tesla Superchargers.

Tesla Proprietary Connector
Tesla Proprietary Connector

Insights on the Road

Opting for an electric vehicle that has both AC and DC fast charging connectors is a great way to maximize flexibility for the future, regardless of regional differences in connectors. For instance, the Volkswagen ID.4 comes equipped with both the CCS2 plug and Type 2 connector, making it adaptable across AC and DC standards. 

Before you hit the road, it’s wise to check charging station compatibility along your route using apps like PlugShare. This helps ensure you can charge up efficiently on long journeys. As more charging networks focus on building hardware around universal connector standards, owning a dual-connector EV will pay dividends in future-proofing.

Top charging networks understand that installing chargers with multiple connector types helps future-proof their investment as standards evolve. Carrying adapter dongles can also be handy if you encounter an unexpected station with a different plug type. Although standardized fast charging is expanding quickly, properly planning trips using apps prevents range anxiety concerns.

With the right adapters and route planning, you don’t have to stress about where and when to charge. You can just enjoy driving without worrying about charging logistics. As fast charging networks mature, recharging your EV on the go becomes as fast and seamless as gassing up a conventional car.

Importance of Standardization 

As more public DC fast charging stations are installed along highways and in cities, having universal connectors for electric vehicles helps lower barriers to mainstream EV adoption. Standardized charging encourages further build-out of charging networks since companies know their hardware investments will withstand technological changes. Standardization also allows automakers to devote their engineering talent to advancing battery technologies rather than designing proprietary plugs.

When charging an EV is as seamless and fast as gassing up at a petrol station, it instils consumer confidence to purchase the EV. Though regional differences still remain, collaboration on universal protocols accelerates the transition to a unified, future-proof charging ecosystem. Even as charging tech evolves in the decades ahead, standardization ensures drivers can count on reliability and accessibility. 

Portable Chargers 

Portable Level 1 and 2 chargers offer a convenient solution for charging on the go. Level 1 plugs into regular 120V while level 2 plugs into specially installed 240V wall outlets using lightweight cables and plugs. Some models weigh just a few pounds, with the charging cable integrated to coil up neatly for easy carrying between places.

While not as fast as permanent stations, portable chargers provide excellent flexibility. Their power output ranges from 1.5kW to 7.2kW, balancing portability with meaningful charge rates. These portable units are super handy for charging at workplaces, apartments, and RV parks, bridging the gap between home and public charging. Their versatility expands the charging accessibility anywhere a basic electrical outlet exists.

Final Thoughts 

As electric vehicles gain popularity, it’s important for drivers to understand the different charging connector types available. There are two main charging categories:

Slower Alternating Current (AC) charging is often used for overnight home charging. Then there’s ultra-fast Direct Current (DC) charging, ideal for public stations and enabling long-distance trips. For AC, Type 1 connectors are most common in North America, while Type 2 dominates in Europe and Asia. China uses its own GB/T standard.

On the DC fast charging front, CHAdeMO was an early DC standard pioneered in Japan. Now, the Combined Charging System (CCS) is the global leader. Tesla has its proprietary Supercharger network but is adapting their connectors to support universal standards.

Now that you know all the charger connector types, you can conveniently charge up anywhere you go in the growing global EV ecosystem.