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Are electric car chargers universal?

Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Just bought a new EV? Wondering are EV chargers universal, or do you need different cables and adaptors to use any of the electric vehicle chargers you might experience.

Well the short answer is yes, electric car chargers are universal. EV chargers are capable of charging most electric vehicles on the road so long as you have the correct charging cable.

The different EV charging cable types are:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Type 2 CCS
  • CHAdeMO

Are EV chargers universal?

In this article, we will discuss are electric car chargers universal, or do they differ by make or plug type. We will cover whether the different makes and plug types affect the charging times you experience while using these EV chargers.

Are all electric car chargers the same?

In essence electric car chargers are the same (universal) and can charge most electric vehicles. However, electric car charging is categorised into 3 different levels. Each level represents a different power output, which affect charging speeds. Each level of charging has a designated charging connector, for low or high-power use and AC or DC charging.

What are the different levels of EV charging?

Level 1 charging

These chargers use a 120 volt AC plug, also know as a 3 pin in the UK. This type of plug is found everywhere in your home. Level 1 cables are sometimes supplied when you purchase an EV. They consist of a 3 pin on one end and generally a type 2 connector on the other. This charging type gives you roughly 4 miles of charge per hour. By far the slowest form of charging you can do! For safety reasons we wouldn’t recommend you charge an EV for long periods this way.

Level 2 charging

These chargers use 240 volt AC plugs. Generally referred to as “fast chargers” these are the most common type of EV charger you will find. Generally found at residential properties they are best used to keep your EV topped up. Capable of charging at a rate of 7kW to 22kW (22kW can only be achieved with three-phase electricity). This type of EV charger is around 3x faster than a level 1 charger giving you roughly 16 miles per hour, depending on the size of your EVs battery. As this type of charger should be professionally installed these are a far safer way of charging your EV over night.

Level 3 charging

Known as DC (direct Current) fast charging, these are 480 volt. This is the fastest way to charge your EV, although not currently as popular as level 2 chargers, they are gaining popularity as more service stations and densely populated locations are installing them. These charge at a rate of 43kW to 100+kW, providing around 20 miles a minute! You could fully charge your EV in around 20 minutes to an hour using level 3 chargers. These are perfect to use during coffee breaks on long trips.

Types of EV charging cables

As there are different charger types, it would make sense there are also different charging cables. Using different cables allows most EVs to be charged via 1 charger type. Although, there are EV charging cables that specifically work with AC charging and others for DC. DC chargers usually have a tethered cable, while most AC chargers are untethered. Having untethered chargers allows you to switch charging cable types depending on the vehicle.

Type 1 (AC charging)

Type 1 charging plugs are a single phase standard plug for EVs. A Type 1 plug is used in cars from America and Asia. This uses 5 pins with a latch to keep the cable secured in the vehicle. The Nissan Leaf is an example of a car which utilises a Type 1 charging plug. This cable can charge a car at a power level of up to 7.4kW. This is generally enough power to charge your electric vehicle at home and powerful enough for a small workplace to offer electric vehicle charging.

Type 2 (AC charging)

A Type 2 charging plug is capable of single and three-phase charging, it is the standard model used for EV charging cables in Europe. A Type 2 charger has 7 pins but no latch, instead vehicles that use Type 2 have a locking pin to secure the plug in place. When used in domestic homes this type 2 charging cable can charge an EV with a power level of up to 22kW, while commercial or public charging can be up to 43kW.

Type 2 CCS (DC charging)

A Type 2 CCS (combined charging system) is an enhanced version of the Type 2 plug. Featuring 5 pins plus two additional power contacts which allow for fast charging of your EV. These additional contacts allow for DC charging of power levels up to 170kW, although most EV charging points are around 50kW. This is the most common EV charging type found at rapid charging stations such as those at service stations.

CHAdeMO (DC charging)

The CHAdeMO is a 10 pin plug, used for fast charging power levels up to 50kW. Found on only a few UK vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius. CHAdeMO plugs will soon be phased out in favour of CCS and Tesla Superchargers.

The EV chargers we supply at R-EV Power are compatible with the Type 2 plugs and CCS. We supply our EV chargers untethered, as most new EVs come with EV charging cables. This reduces unnecessary costs when purchasing an EV charger. We can supply charging cables at your request. If your looking for an EV charger get in touch for a quote, our team can generally install it within days.

How do I know which charger type to use with my EV?

When you purchased your electric vehicle you would have been told. You could also find this information within your electric vehicle handbook.

Do any electric vehicle have specific chargers?

Yes, Tesla is the only vehicle manufacturer who makes their own EV chargers. These are specifically for Tesla electric vehicles only. These is a specific Tesla app which directs owners to the nearest supercharger station.

Can I charger my electric vehicle at a Tesla supercharger?

As of May 2022, Tesla created superchargers that are suitable for non Tesla EVs. These charging stations are compatible with electric vehicles that have a CCS charging type.

How do I find electric vehicle charging points?

There are many apps which you can download to find EV charging points, such apps as Zap map.

Can electric vehicles charge themselves?

Yes, using a process called regenerative braking. This process captures the kinetic energy when you brake and converts it into electric power that charges your vehicles battery. If used well, you can recapture around 15-30% of your cars energy, thus increasing your vehicles range.

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