Types of EV Charging Cables You Should Know About

Knowing how to charge your EV will help you stay on the road for longer. But the technology is still new, which explains why there are so many EV chargers. There is a constant struggle for market share with no standard or uniform charging solution.

These differences only add to the confusion. As the technology matures, it will be possible to establish a definitive industry standard. Let’s overview the different cables and chargers.

EV Charging Cables and their Types

Most charging stations have cables already attached for motorists. However, others may require motorists to bring their chargers.

In any case, charging cables play a vital role in charging electric vehicles in California. Charging cables are available in four modes; each is used for different purposes.

It can be slightly confusing to understand exactly what each mode does. The differences are not as simple as the speed of charging.

Let’s take a look at all four modes and their differences.

Types of EV Charging Cables

Mode 1 Cables

Mode 1 cables connect electric vehicles to standard AC sockets using a standard plug. No safety system protects users from electrocution.

Mode 1 cables are not ideal for use with larger electric vehicles. They work best with smaller motors such as scooters and e-bikes.

They are prohibited in many locations because of the inherent risks associated.

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Mode 2 Cables

Most electric vehicles in California will come with Mode 2 charging cables. These cables have a system that provides personal protection against electric shocks.

They plug directly into the EV and a standard domestic socket. Mode 2 cables use a unique In-Cable Control and Protection Device (IC-CPD).

This establishes communication between the car and the wall plug. Charging with mode 2 cables is safe and very convenient for motorists.

The only downside is that it can only deliver 2.3 kW of power. This is why it can take an extremely long time to charge EVs with them.

The use of IC-CPD doesn’t mean that accidents won’t happen. Mode 2 cables can be dangerous if not used as instructed. Motorists should only use Mode 2 cables in the case of emergencies.

Mode 3 Cables

More EV makers are switching to mode 3 charging cables. These cables connect the vehicle to a dedicated EV charging station.

These stations are usually found in public places and parking lots. The cables maintain complete control over the charge. They also protect motorists from electrocution.

Mode 3 cables are used to connect to Type 1 and Type 2 plugs.

Mode 4 Cables

Mode 1, 2, and 3 cables send AC power to electric vehicles in California. The power is then converted to DC using an onboard AC/DC converter.

Mode 4 cables are different in that they use DC charging. The power is converted to DC before being sent to the EV.

This method is much faster and is often referred to as ultra-fast charging. Because it delivers so much power to the battery, it can generate tremendous heat.

EV makers use liquid cooling to keep the heat in check.

Types EV Charging Cables

A Quick Overview of Electric Car Chargers

Charging speed depends on various factors. These include the component, source of power, charging station, onboard charger, and charging cable.

The most important part of the charging cable is the connector. Without the correct charger, charging your electric car would not be easy.

Charger connectors mainly depend on the region where they are used. AC charging stations do not contain integrated charging cables. The driver has to carry the charging cable that fits their EV.

This eliminates the problem of connector compatibility. On the other hand, DC charging stations always have cables.

This is primarily done to control the amount of current and security reasons. This is why it is necessary to find suitable connectors.

The table below briefly summarizes connectors based on their region.

Current TypeRegion
Names (for AC plugs)GB/TType 1 – J1772Type 2Type 1 – J1772
Names (for DC plugs)GB/TCHAdeMOCSS – Type 2CSS – Type 1

At the time of writing, there is no universal connector for EVs. Charging cables, charging stations, and plugs come in various shapes and sizes.

As the above table shows, they also depend on the region. Components for electric vehicles in California use CSS – Type 1 plugs.

The following section looks at the different types of connectors.

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AC Connectors

The earliest form of electric cars used inductive connections to charge their vehicles. This was a slow method and has since become outdated.

Proponents insist on returning to inductive charging. However, they were replaced by J1772-2001 connectors. It worked by linking the car’s infotainment system with the deck.

J1772 – Type 1

Electric cars in California were introduced to the J1772 plug in early 2001. However, it was barely capable of delivering 6.6 kW.

It was replaced by the new J1772 – Type 1 plug developed by Yazaki in 2008. It is known as Type 1 or J-plug and has a power output of 19.2 kW.

Many electric cars in Europe are compliant with the J1772 specification. You will find many hybrids and older vehicles with a Type 1 connector.

Most motorists carry their own cable, so using AC stations shouldn’t be difficult. The Type 1 connector is also used in North America and parts of Asia.

The biggest disadvantage of using the plug is that it only supports one phase. It does not provide support for a built-in locking system.

Type 2

The search for a faster connector led to the creation of the Type 2 plug. Automakers in Europe wanted to use all three phases.

Type 2 plugs, known as Mennekes, were produced in 2003 and replaced Type 1 plugs. Both Type 1 and 2 are based on the same J1772 standard for communication.

Type 2 plugs are superior to Type 1 plugs in many ways. Besides delivering more power, they support an automatic locking system.

The term ‘Mennekes’ comes from the German designer of the same name. It didn’t take long before the public started using the word synonymously with the plug.

This allowed automakers to install EVs using similar methods. They would then install the type of plug based on the target market.

Tesla Model X and Model S in Europe feature Type 2 plugs (slightly altered). They can be used at any AC charging station for ease of use. The Tesla Supercharger Networks also use this plug.

The power output of Type 2 connectors depends on the charging station. Public stations have a power output of up to 43 kW. Private stations can only go up to 22 kW.

Types EV Charging Cables You Should Know

GB/T Plugs

The GB/T plug was developed in China in collaboration with Guobiao Standardization Commission. This is also where the plug got its name from.

It is the only plug that is currently used in China. This has led to the standardization of the EV industry in China.

Motorists in China don’t have to worry about incompatibility when charging their electric cars. China also happens to have one of the most developed networks of charging stations.

It is easy to confuse GB/T plugs with Type 2 connectors. However, the two are incompatible because their pins and receptors are reversed.

The power output for single-phase GB/T connectors is up to 7.4 kW.

DC Connectors

DC connectors are much faster than AC connectors. Most charging stations can support up to 150 kWh, but 50 kWh stations are common.

350 kWh and 270 kWh chargers are also in the works. Let’s take a look at DC connectors.

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CSS Charging Plug

CSS or Combined Charging System is a plug standard used throughout Europe and North America. It supports both DC and AC charging, hence the name.

There are two standards of CSS chargers, depending on the region.

CSS1 (North America)

The CSS1 plug is based on Type 1 AC plugs. It features two additional power contacts to support DC charging.

CSS1 is most commonly found in North America. It is only second after Tesla’s Supercharger tech, which features its own plug.

CCS 1 plugs have a power output of a whopping 350 kW. This makes them significantly superior to their AC counterparts.

CSS2 (Europe)

The CSS2 is based on Type 2 AC plugs. It features two additional power contacts to support DC fast charging.

CCS2 plugs support a wide range of power outputs from 50 kW to 350 kW. They also support AC charging by plugging Type 1 or Type 2 plugs.

These plugs can be inserted into the upper half of the connector. The DC power contacts may be left empty.

CHAdeMO Charging Plug

CHAdeMO charging plug is primarily used in Japan. It supports power outputs of up to 200 kW.

More importantly, it enables bidirectional charging, a promising concept.

Interestingly, CHAdeMO plugs were initially not supported by automakers in Japan. However, the CHAdeMO standard is increasing in number.

It went up from 11,000 in 2015 to 45,000 in 2022. Of these, 22,500 are in Europe and 8,000 in North America.

The European Parliament’s efforts to phase out the plug were in vain. European lawmakers require fast charging stations to have at least one CSS connector.

It is easy for charging stations to have more connectors. With that said, automakers are slowly switching from CHAdeMO connectors.

CHAdeMO supports power outputs above 400 kW. China is also working on a super fast connector capable of 900 kW.

Types EV Charging Cables You Should Know About

Tesla Charging Plug

Finally, Tesla has its proprietary charging plug. It has a massive network of over 35,000 Superchargers around the world.

Until recently, their network could only support Tesla EVs. A Tweet by CEO Elon Musk suggested that the network may soon support other EVs.

Tesla’s charging plug looks similar to an AC Type 2 socket. However, it does not allow non-Tesla EVs to charge.

Tesla’s Supercharger network is available throughout the North American market. However, it is also being rolled out in Europe.

Tesla Model 3 will use CSS Type 2 to cater to the European market.

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What are Phases?

Here’s another word that only adds to the confusion: phases.

The power grid is divided into three phases. Phase 1 can only use one of three power phases. This means it will take more time to charge the car fully.

Phase 3 can use all three of the power lanes. This will take less time to charge the EV.

You must choose the right cable depending on the electrical installation and the EV’s onboard-charger.

The table below takes a look at single-phase and three-phase connections.

Single Phase 16ASingle Phase 32AThree Phase 16AThree Phase 32A
3.7 kW7.4 kW11 kW22 kW

The phase connection directly affects how quickly you can charge your EV. For example, single-phase connections take 27 hours to deliver 100 kWh.

But three phase connections require only 5 hours to deliver 100 kWh.

Why You Should Choose a High-Quality Cable

It is a good idea to have multiple charging cables with you. You can keep one at home and the other for charging when traveling.

It is recommended to invest in a high-quality cable. These cables will withstand more wear and tear. They are less likely to fail and develop a fault.

High-quality cables are made from durable materials. Low-quality cables are more likely to fail. This is because they may not feature high-quality materials.

You can also choose different cable lengths, from 4m up to 10m. A longer cable gives you more degree of freedom. However, it would be more heavy and expensive.

In most cases, a smaller cable should suffice.

EV Charging Cables

Wrapping Up

So there you have it: everything you need to know about electric car chargers.

As always, consult the car’s instruction manuals for more information. Select a cable with kW and amp ratings corresponding to your car’s onboard charger. So, what are your experiences with electric car charging in cables?

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