Seriously, how do you even begin to think of buying an electric vehicle without considering how you would charge it?
Like any device with a rechargeable battery, such as a mobile phone, the accompanying charging plug is critical to its effective charging, especially if the charging sockets have specific variations. However, unlike a mobile phone with a common standard among most manufacturers, the electric vehicle is just coming up with common standards among its manufacturers. Consequently, it may be tragic if you fail to consider the charging plug of the EV you plan to buy regarding the locally available charging sockets.
I. European Electric Car Plug Standards
Like all highly regulated industries, most countries often have standards and requirements that manufacturers must satisfy, especially quality and safety.
These requirements are often strictly enforced, and manufacturers who fall short can be severely penalized. However, other requirements that are not strictly enforced by law also exist. Such requirements primarily result from professional bodies and institutions trying to standardize best practices and methods that suit available or local forms and setups.
The differences in the types of EV car plug mostly fall within the form and setup requirement, which usually has to do with the manufacturer’s design based on the available electrical setup. European countries generally align regarding standards which is the case with EV chargers and plugs. These standards are generally categorized under the AC and DC chargers.
AC Car Charge Plugs
Generally, AC charge plugs are of 2 types – type 1 and type 2 AC car plugs and differ in form and capacity.
- Type 1: This type of AC charge plug is a single-phase charge plug often suitable for charging levels of 7.4KW with a voltage of about 120 volts. European residential electricity voltage is 230 volts, almost double the requirements for this type 1 AC charge plug. This voltage level is not suitable for this charge plug and, hence not in use in Europe.
- Type 2: This plug type can charge at a common level of 22 kW for residential and up to 43KW in public charging stations. These are the type supported in most European countries with IEC 62196 connectors known as MENNEKES.
DC Fast Charge EV Plugs
While the AC charge plugs have just type 1 and type 2, the DC charge plugs have 3 different types. These plugs include Combined Charging System (CSS), CHAdeMO, or the proprietary Tesla charge plug, which is only suitable for Tesla EVs. DC charging stations can deliver rapid charging to EVs from 0 – 80% within minutes, and it is not uncommon to find fixed cables on public charging stations around Europe. The reason is that the standard for EV manufacturers in Europe are the same. Unlike other climes where the cables on the charging stations are not fixed, a driver can simply plug in an adaptor to the sockets where the plugs are not matching.
- CCS (Combined Charging System): The CCS is the standard for most European public charging stations since they have the infrastructure and power capabilities to offer fast charging levels to EVs. The CSS is simply a modified type 2 charge plug with additional 2 pin contacts for the sockets. While it is used for DC charging, it can also be used for AC charging up to 350kW.
- CHAdeMO: This charge plug is not the most popular in the European clime as it is in the Asian market. It also supplies fast charging and can charge as fast as 100kW and act as a bidirectional charge plug.
- Tesla: This type of charge plug is a proprietary type made by Tesla exclusively for charging its electric vehicles, including its Model 3. You can only connect it to Tesla’s charging stations, also known as Tesla Superchargers, with a 480-volt capacity. Still, it can be connected to a type 2 charging socket with an adaptor also made by Tesla.
II. North American Electric Charger Plug Standards
The American EV community also has its charge plug standards, just like the European standards. However, some similarities include categorizing the plugs into AC and DC charging plugs. Also, the AC are both divided into type 1 and type 2 charging plugs, while the DC categories also have the CCS, CHAdeMO, and Tesla charge heads. However, the similarities end, as the power supply and charging levels have very different capacities. Still, using an adaptor in some cases where the charging stations’ cables are not fixed can help an EV driver take advantage of both worlds.
AC EV Charging Plugs
The same categories as obtained with European standards are also obtainable with American AC charge plugs, which are of 2 types – type 1 and type 2 AC car plugs.
- Type 1: Since the American residential voltage supply is around 120 volts, it then follows that the Type 1 charge plug will be most suitable for the American market. This single-phase charge plugs slowly at 7.4KW and is ideal for home charging often through the night.
- Type 2: This is also similar to the European Type 2 charge, which can deliver as much as 43KW for public charging stations. But, here, type 2 is known as the J1772 plug.
DC EV Charging Plugs
DC chargers deliver fast charging at very fast levels using a 480-voltage input, speeding up battery recharge to about 50% in about 25 minutes. And while the American standards look similar to European standards in categories, there are some differences.
- CCS (Combined Charging System): This charging plug is just a slight modification to the J1772, just the same way Europeans added two pins to the type 2 AC charger. As a professional regulatory body, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed and endorsed the CCS charging plug. In truth, every EV manufacturer in North America uses the CCS for DC charging save for Mitsubishi and Nissan.
- CHAdeMO: This charging plug was a Japanese invention and, as such, is not in North America except for Mitsubishi and Nissan with their outlander and Leaf models, respectively. The EVs must have another charging outlet on the EV to charge with this CHAdeMO as it is, unlike the CCS, that is a modified version of the Type 2 AC charging plug.
- Tesla: The Tesla charging plug remains the same, both for the American and the European market. Though, it has started adapting its new models to take up the CCS charging outlet and is also inserting CCS charging sockets in its charging stations known as SuperChargers.
III. Choose the Proper Electric Charging Plug for Your Car Uses
With proper consideration before picking your choice of an electric vehicle, you can choose a charging plug that best suit your local context, travel time, and brand of EV. You only need to keep the most critical things in perspective.
This consideration should include:
The charging time – If you require a fast-charging station due to being mostly on the road and not having the luxury of taking a long time to charge or the capacity of your battery, getting a type 2 or DC charger will be most beneficial.
The price – While type 1 charging plugs are not as fast as type 2, they are not expensive as they often come standardly with the EV. However, a type 2 charging plug is fast but has a significant price tag.
Installation – You should also consider if the charging plug will require some rigorous installation. For instance, a type 1 charge plug comes with little, or no installation as most require a simple plug and play action. However, a type 2 often requires some rigorous installation and might even require that you call in a professional.
To wrap up, deciding on the type of electric vehicle you should buy should often begin with choosing a charging plug, as this is a critical requirement based on your locality and driving activities. Also, finding a reliable manufacturer or supplier is often overlooked but equally important since a sub-standard charging plug can let you down in your desperate time of need. Still, weigh your options well before committing to one of the charging plugs. Critically consider the price, installation constraints, and the time it will take to charge your electric vehicle’s battery. So, now that you have this information, what’s your next move?