Electric vehicle (EV) charging standards and how they differ. Ev ac charger

What’s the Difference Between AC, DC, and Ultra-Fast Charging?

Do you know that whenever you’re charging an electronic device, such as your smartphone, the plug is converting AC power to DC? So, what does that mean in terms of electric vehicles (EV): AC stands for alternating current, and DC stands for direct current. These are the two kinds of “fuels” which can empower electric vehicles.

AC chargers have charging powers of up to 22 kW. They’re best for charging cars for several hours or even overnight. In general, the charging power and time also depend on the charged model of the EV.

DC chargers start from 50 kW and up to currently 350 kW. For example, you can charge 100 km in approximately 30 minutes.

And what’s ultra-fast charging? Everything at or above 150 kW. With JOLT chargers you can charge the next 100 km in 5 minutes – which is 6 times faster. Let’s dive deeper.

Main Differences Between AC, DC, and Ultra-Fast Charging

EV charging may seem complicated to newcomers who have zero experience with this new generation of “greener” cars. Firstly, you should learn that AC charging is the most popular and cheapest method at the moment, but it takes the longest time to charge your car. Ultra-fast charging is, by all means, the fastest and most optimal way to get your vehicle rolling for a long ride. It will, however, cost you a lot more.

AC Charging for Electric Vehicles

AC is the power that always comes from the grid and the one that most chargers nowadays use. However, the batteries in electric cars can only store DC power, so it’s the car’s job to change the format. In most electronic devices, a converter is built into the plug, and that’s why EV charging takes longer and tends to be more economical. This is currently the most common charging method for electric vehicles. The usual charging speed is 22 kW, so it’s ideal for charging at home or work as it requires more time.

However, you should note that every onboard charger has a maximum capacity, depending on the car and the power available to the charging infrastructure.

DC Charging for Electric Vehicles

The main difference between AC and DC charging is the location of the AC power conversion. AC chargers need an external DC-converter, whereas DC chargers have the converter built inside the charger itself. This means that the DC charging method doesn’t need an onboard charger to convert power.

Even though AC charging is more popular, a DC charger has more advantages: it’s faster and feeds power directly to the vehicle’s battery. This method is common near highways or public charging stations, where you have limited time to recharge.

Why Ultra-Fast Charging is Best

When it comes to ultra-fast charging, the general charging speed exceeds 150 kW – this is about 5 times faster than both AC and standard DC chargers. One of the most significant benefits of ultra-fast charging is that it offers room for upgrades: the devices are often modular, so they could be expanded with growing demand. The number of vehicle models that can accept higher power is expected to increase in the near future.

The most significant advantage of ultra-fast charging is undoubtedly the time saved – it’s expected to drop below 15 minutes for 80% charging. Our chargers, for instance, take only 5 minutes to charge your car for the next 100 km.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging standards and how they differ

As more and more consumers make the green decision to forego their combustion engines for electric vehicles, they may not be as in tune with charging standards. kW, voltage, and amps might sound like jargon compared to miles per gallon, but these are essential units to understand to get the most efficiency out of your shiny new EV.

Let the following serve as a guide, offering all you need to know about the various charging options out there and how they differ.

Key charging terms to understand

Before we get into the charging standards for electric vehicles, you must be sure you understand some of the terminology you never came across with your ICE car.

The transition to electric energy output rather than combustion brings a new slew of units and the dreaded use of math (we know). Here are some key terms you will come across daily, so be sure to study up.

  • Ampere (Amp) – A unit of measurement for electrical current.
  • Connector / Cord set – A device attached a cable that connects to an EV allowing it to charge.
  • kW (kilowatt) – A unit of measurement to express the output power of the electric motor. Think of it as how much energy the motor generates in a given amount of time. 1 kW = about 1.34 HP.
  • kWh (kilowatt-hours) – A unit of energy marking the energy transferred in one hour by one kilowatt of power. EV battery capacity is measured in kWh, so think of it as your vehicle’s gallons of gas in its tank.
  • Time of use (TOU) – A method of measuring and charging your energy consumption based on when the energy is used. Utility companies charge more at peak times of day when electricity use is higher.
  • Volts – Units of measurement for the push that causes electrical charges to move in a wire.

Electric vehicle charging level standards

As the EV world currently operates, there are three levels to charging your vehicle based on varying speed and power. The tier system starts with the lowest charging at Level 1 and gets faster from there.

These levels are important to understand as they each offer pros and cons. Furthermore, each will be preferential at some point given your driving circumstances on a given day.

Level 1 – 120V chargers

Think of Level 1 as a universal charging option. If there is a wall socket nearby, you will be able to charge your EV without issue. A 120V socket and 15 amps remains the standard electrical outlet in North America, although you’re probably looking at more like 12 amps for a continuous load after de-rating your breaker.

Still following? Either way, it shouldn’t be too tough to find a plug in any home or garage, which is nice.

With that said, 110-120V is the bare minimum amount of juice you can pull into your EV. As a result, recharge times trickle at a rate of 3 to 5 miles of range per hour, based on the 1.4 kW power the average 120V wall socket supplies at 12 amps. So if the battery capacity of your 2021 Mustang Mach-E is 88kWh, you’re looking at days to charge, not hours. Nearly 63 hours by our count.

Level 3 – DC Rapid/fast/Superchargers

The name may vary, but the process is the same. For the sake of explanation, let’s refer to them as DC fast chargers (DCFCs). These Level 3 chargers abandon the alternating current (AC) methods above to mainline power directly from the grid. While they require a lot more power (480 volts and 100 amps), their output is truly “super.”

DC fast chargers can offer 50-350 kW of power; some in Europe are even reaching 400 kW. Depending on the power available, a Level 3 charger can fully replenish your EV in twenty to thirty minutes. This type of charging is ideal for roadside stops, or retail where you may not be parked for too long or need to get back on the road.

Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 charged from 22% to 80% in just 16 minutes, so these fast charge numbers grow quicker by the day. It’s important to note that not all EVs are currently equipped for DC fast charging, although most all new EVs hitting roads do.

If that is the case for you, there are plenty of public charging stations that offer Level 2 power.

Electric vehicle charging standards for connectors

Now that we’ve covered the levels you can choose from when charging, we will FOCUS on the equipment you may encounter. These charging connectors vary by electric vehicle and are separated into two categories – The standard Level 1 and Level 2 connector, and DC fast charging connectors. Here’s how they differ.

SAE J1772

This connector is the industry standard for all electric vehicles performing Level 1 or Level 2 charging. Whether it’s the cord provided with the purchase of your EV or the Level 2 charger outside of Whole Foods, the J1772 is going to connect.


This is the first of three types of connectors currently present on EVs and first introduced. Originally it was implemented to be the industry standard, developed through the collaboration of five different Japanese automakers.

As a result, the CHAdeMO connector remains affluent in Japan and on EVs from Japanese manufacturers. This includes automakers such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Nissan.


Shortly after the CHAdeMO was introduced, a second connector called the Combined Charging System (CCS) was implemented as an additional charging standard.

Where CCS connectors differ from CHAdeMO, is that they allow for AC/DC charging on the same port. CHAdeMO-equipped EVs require an additional J1772 connector cord to achieve Level 1 or 2 charging.

This connector is the preferred mode of charging amongst European and American automakers, including BMW, Ford, Jaguar, GM, Polestar, Volkswagen, and even Tesla. Additionally, CCS is will be present on the upcoming Rivian EVs.

Tesla Supercharger

From day one, Tesla has chosen to pave its own way in the EV industry, and that is no different with its Supercharger connector. This proprietary connector exists on all Tesla models in North America, although it does offer CHAdeMO and CCS adapter for certain markets.

For example, its Model 3 was built with a CCS connector for Europe. Furthermore, older European Teslas were retrofitted with adapters to support the existing connector plus the standard CCS type 2. This helped Tesla owners utilize the growing charger network overseas.

Even after testing the connector adapter in the Korean market last December, Tesla has yet to bring it to North American drivers. Last month, however, EVgo announced it would be bringing Tesla compatible connectors to over 600 of its US charging stations. Regardless of the other connectors and their compatibility, Tesla’s Supercharger network already features over 20,000 charging stalls at over 2,100 stations around the world.

Most recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has shared that the American automaker will begin sharing its EV network with other EVs later in 2021.

For more detailed information, check out our Tesla Supercharger guide.

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The different types of EV chargers explained

The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is accelerating across Europe. And with this, the need for a proper EV charging infrastructure is rising. Within such an infrastructure, different types of EV chargers should be available. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about EV chargers.

First, we’ll explain the difference between AC DC chargers. Then we will show you what the different types of charging possibilities there are as well as the types of plugs across the globe. And finally, we will look into two chargers specifically designed for electric fleet or electric heavy transport.

What are AC chargers DC chargers?

In short, the difference lies in the way an electric vehicle is charged. EVs can be charged in two ways: AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). The power available from the grid is AC. However, batteries can only store electricity with a direct current. So, to store power into the EV’s battery, a converter needs to change the electricity from AC to DC.

AC chargers are usually slower chargers, charging the battery at a slower, but steadier pace. DC chargers are most commonly fast chargers, charging the battery from 0% to 80% at a Rapid pace. This difference has to do with where the conversion from AC to DC takes place.

When an EV is charged with an AC charger, this conversion happens inside the vehicle. This allows for a simpler AC Charger or a Wallbox. However, the power is limited due to the size of the converter integrated in the car. With DC charging, the conversion takes place within the charger itself. DC chargers are therefore bigger and more expensive, but it comes with the benefit that far more power can be delivered to the vehicle. In the image below, this difference is visually shown.

Next to the place of conversion and the power delivered, there are more differences between AC and DC chargers. For example, DC chargers obtain more information from the battery than AC chargers and can provide a better estimation of the remaining time of charging.

When EVs were just introduced to the market, there was an exceptionally large lack of DC chargers. Charging at home (with a slow-paced AC charger) was most common. EV producers, therefore, provided bigger on-board chargers (or converters) inside the EV.

For example, Renault Zoe used to charge up to 22, and even 44kW, without a DC charging capability. With the relatively small size of the battery of this early time, this solution was quite suitable.

The market has now shifted towards larger battery cars with more autonomy, requiring faster charging. Resulting in an increase in public DC chargers. With this trend, most EV cars now include both AC as well as DC charging capabilities. AC on-board chargers are now getting smaller and more cost-effective, usually in the range of 7kW or 11kW, resulting in lower purchasing of EVs.

The different EV Charging possibilities

As explained, the speed of charging depends on the electric current (AC or DC). But other factors also influence the speed of charging, such as the power of the charger and the power an EV can handle. This means if you charge your EV with a charger of 100 kW and your vehicle can only handle 50 kW, the EV will charge at 50 kW.

The image below gives an overview of the different EV charging possibilities and an indication of the charging speed per type.

Domestic or workplace chargers are slower chargers. Slow charging is most commonly used for places where EV drivers can charge their car overnight or for about 8 hours or more. This could be at home, at the office or for example at a hotel. These chargers are almost always AC chargers.

Public chargers fully charge a vehicle in a few hours and are therefore typically placed at destinations where drivers tend to park their car for several hours. Such as public parking places, shopping centres, and restaurants. Public chargers are usually AC chargers as well, but it’s not uncommon to mix AC chargers with DC chargers in these places.

Fast chargers can be used in many different situations. They are, just like public chargers, typically installed at places such as shopping centres and restaurants. Car dealerships also often provide visitors with an option of fast charging. Fast chargers are also seen at service stations, which is ideal for EV drivers with smaller batteries.

Ultra-fast chargers and High-Power-Chargers (HPC’s) are the quickest way to charge an EV and are therefore perfect for service stations next to busy highways or close to main roads, ensuring EV drivers can complete their long journeys. These chargers are exclusively DC chargers and can charge an electric vehicle rapidly from 0% to 80%, typically in 20 to 40 min. Next to installations at existing service stations, these chargers are also used to create new Fast Charging Hubs.

Fast chargers and HPC’s are much more complex to install. They require a full solution installation, including advanced study of the site upfront, custom electricity supply from the distribution network operator, installation, and maintenance. TSG Charge is an expert in this field and helps you with the installation and future maintenance of fast chargers and HPC chargers. Read more about TSG Charge.

The different types of plugs across the globe

With the introduction of EVs, different type EV plugs were created, depending on electrical network characteristics as well as the current used (AC / DC). This is why there are many variations of plugs across the globe. In the image below, you find the EV charger plugs per region of the world.

In Europe, the official standards approved by the European Commission is Type 2 plug for AC charging and CCS 2 for DC charging. CHAdeMO car plugs are also still found in Europe, but will be reduced over time as most EV manufacturers are moving to CCS European Standard.

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EV chargers for commercial fleet or heavy industry

EVs used in a commercial fleet are either passenger cars (such as a taxi fleet) or e-Vans (for last mile delivery). Passenger cars or e-Vans are usually charged at their depot centres with dedicated parking spaces, similar to chargers found in public parkings. Usually, such depot centres install a combination between AC chargers and faster DC chargers, with the majority being AC chargers.

However, fleet charging compared to public charging requires a higher number of chargers to be installed, which has a significant impact on the complexity of installation. Such as the sizing of the local LV electrical network as well as the connection to the local electrical Distribution Network Operator.

Often the addition of a new point of connection, of a transformer or even of an electric substation may be necessary. As an expert in the field, TSG can advise you in defining the right solution for your fleet.

For heavy vehicles, such as e-buses or e-Trucks, DC Ultrafast chargers are recommended. Next to that, there are two specific types of chargers that can be very useful: pantograph chargers and mobile chargers.

Pantograph chargers

A pantograph charger is a powerful charger (up to 450kW) that connects with the vehicle on top of its ceiling. The biggest advantage of a charger like this is that it works more efficiently. The e-Bus or e-Truck is placed beneath the charger and the connection is made automatically with the charger above. The driver saves time as he does not have to get out of the vehicle to connect the charger.

Mobile chargers

A mobile EV charger can be compared to a power bank for your mobile phone. Mobile EV chargers are chargers you can take with you on transport to charge your vehicle at any time, to ensure long journeys can always be completed. Mobile chargers are quite new and are used in the heavy transportation industry in combination with a dedicated DC charging infrastructure.

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We take care of the installation project from A to Z. We plan, design, build, deploy, and commission the entire EV charging infrastructure. Furthermore, our skilled technicians are always just around the corner to perform maintenance, corrective as well as preventive.

Our Charge experts advise you on which type of chargers fits your business the best, how many chargers you can install on your site, on what location chargers are best placed, and which specific local requirements or regulations you should take into account. Creating the best e-mobility experience, and together with our customers, enabling a more sustainable world.

You won’t be confused about electric vehicle charging after reading this

A significant factor that scares people away from electric vehicles is confusion around charging. Every gas station in the land is fitted with nozzles that will fill any gasoline-powered car’s fuel tank. But not all EVs use the same plug, and then there’s the matter of alternating current (AC) versus direct current (DC) systems. And what do the different levels of charging mean?

The good news is that it’s not that complicated, and we’re here to explain everything you need to know.

EVs require electricity to charge, as the E in EV suggests. But that electricity can be AC, like the appliances in your home, or DC, like a USB device, only many times more powerful.

First, a quick note on charging times. Many factors can affect how long charging takes, including the capacity of the battery, its state of charge at the start of the session, the battery’s temperature at the start of the session, the actual cell chemistry, and, of course, how much power can be drawn by the EV’s battery. Charges can range from a few miles of range added every hour, if you’re relying on a household 120 V socket, to as much as 100 miles of range in 10 minutes if you’re charging from a powerful DC charger.

It’s also worth noting that an EV’s battery has a gross capacity that is larger than the useable capacity. Automakers build some overhead into the pack that never gets fully depleted, and we have seen some car companies increase the net capacity with software updates as they become more comfortable with monitoring battery life.

On that topic, remember that any EV sold in the US must have an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty. And despite any scary stories you may have heard, there is no reason to think an EV’s battery will have to be replaced any sooner than a gasoline-powered car needs a new engine. Finally, since Ars is a US-based site for a primarily US-based audience, this article is focused on US EVs and chargers.

Level 1

Let’s start with AC charging, the least-powerful option that takes the longest time to recharge a battery. Most EV owners can charge at home, and at-home charging means using AC. AC charging is also more kind to a lithium-ion EV battery than fast charging, although, again, the myth of deteriorating EV batteries is a misconception; your battery should last the lifetime of the car, just as an engine or fuel tank does.

The cheapest way to do AC charging, and the slowest, is to use a normal 120 V outlet. That’s unlikely to supply the car’s battery with much more than 1.5 kW, and since EV batteries are mostly in the range of 60–120 kWh, you can see you’ll be in for an impractically long wait if you want to take a battery from a low state of charge back to 100 percent. In fact, many OEMs have stopped listing level 1 charge times in their press kits.

But AC charging will add between two to four miles of range each hour, and plenty of EV owners do use level 1 charging, particularly on older EVs with smaller batteries, like the Chevrolet Bolt or Nissan Leaf. And while a full charge might take several days to charge starting from empty if it has a big battery (like a Hummer EV), an EV primarily used for short trips is much easier to keep topped off so that each morning starts with a full battery.

Level 2

The next option still uses AC electricity but at a higher voltage and amperage—240 V and as much as 80 A, although more likely somewhere closer to half of that. How much power an EV can draw from a level 2 supply depends on that car’s onboard charger and the amperage of the outlet that the EV supply equipment (EVSE) is connected to. Some might be as low as 3.3 kW in the case of a plug-in hybrid EV, but 7.7 kW or 9.6 kW are common for battery EVs, with a handful able to charge at 19.2 kW.

An EV usually comes from the manufacturer with a portable EVSE, most often rated at 32 A. For level 2 charging at home at higher rates of power, an EV owner will need to install a hardwired EVSE, either from the OEM or a third party like Juicebox. Also, the free chargers you might find at a shopping mall or parking garage will almost certainly be level 2 chargers.

Again, it’s impossible to give exact charging times to 100 percent without knowing the make and model of the EV and the EVSE’s power, but a level 2 charger will typically be sufficient to recharge a battery EV overnight. You can expect a level 2 charger to add between 10 to 20 miles of range each hour, depending on the specifics of that EV.

Level 3

Using DC to recharge an EV is where things get much quicker—and more expensive. Between permits and upgraded electrical infrastructure and the actual cost of the DC charger, plus any battery storage, a DC fast charger can cost anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000, making them impractical for home use. But they’re useful if you need to drive farther than your battery’s range or if you don’t have the ability to charge at home, as a level 3 charge—more commonly called a DC fast charge—will rarely take even an hour.

Unlike with AC charging, DC charge times are invariably only quoted to 80 percent. The line that describes a battery charging over time is not linear; it’s S-shaped. That means the first few kWh are charged much more quickly than the last few, and it can take as long to fast-charge a battery from 80 to 100 percent as it can from 10 to 80 percent.

Level 3 chargers come in many different kW ratings. Older (or broken) chargers might offer as little as 50 kW—OK for older EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt—but that means more than an hour of waiting time for a newer EV with a larger battery.

As ever, actual charging times will depend on a multitude of factors. Between 30 to 40 minutes to 80 percent is quite common for new EVs, particularly if they‘re limited to lower power or have battery capacities on the large side. Most EV batteries operate at 400 V, but some use 800 V or even 920 V, and these EVs can charge much more rapidly if they’re plugged into a 350 kW level 3 machine. This is how a Porsche Taycan can charge to 80 percent in 22.5 minutes or a Kia EV6 or Hyundai Ioniq 5 can charge to 80 percent in 18 minutes.

One thing worth bearing in mind is that many charging networks currently appear more focused on deploying new chargers than maintaining existing ones. Although many public level 3 chargers have credit card readers, they’re often inoperable, and you may need to download the charging network’s app (such as Electrify America, EVGo, ChargePoint, and so on) and create an account to use a charger with the least amount of hassle.


Then there’s the plug business. While it’s true that not all EVs use the same plugs, the reality in 2022 is that there is, in fact, a de facto standard across the US that every new EV sold today uses, with one large and one small exception. This means that it doesn’t matter if you drive a Volkswagen ID.4, a Mercedes-Benz EQS, a Nissan Ariya, or a Kia EV6 (to name but four)—all of them use the same plugs and can charge at the same chargers.

Level 1 and level 2 chargers both use the same plug, the SAE J1772. It’s a relatively bulky thing with five pins and is rated for everything from 1.4 kW to 19.2 kW.

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The de facto standard level 3 plug is the Combined Charging System (CCS) Type 1. It’s a much bulkier plug since it combines the already big J1772 plug with two large DC pins below, all attached to a thick and heavy cable. If you buy a new EV today from almost any car maker, it will use CCS Type 1 to fast-charge.

The big exception is Tesla. The company deployed the first of its Superchargers—its brand name for level 3 chargers—in September 2012, while the rest of the auto industry was still getting its act together. So it went with a proprietary plug of its own, a much more elegant and much lighter design. However, even this may change.

The European Union isn’t crazy about companies locking customers into proprietary plugs, and European Teslas actually use the European version of CCS, Type 2. Here in the US, federal funding for charging networks requires that the chargers adhere to industry standards, which has led Tesla to explore the idea of adding CCS Type 1 plugs to Superchargers at some point in the future.

The small exception is the Nissan Leaf, which used a rival Japanese charging standard called CHAdeMO. This offered an even bigger, even more cumbersome connector. What’s more, it required an EV to have two separate sockets, one CHAdeMO and a second J1772, unlike CCS, which includes the J1772 port. CHAdeMO remains a thing in Japan, but the only EV on sale in the US that still uses CHAdeMO is the Nissan Leaf, and that model is reportedly not long for this world. Consequently, CHAdeMO chargers may be harder to find, but every Electrify America location should include at least one CHAdeMO plug.

Route planning

Of course, in order to charge an EV on the road, you have to be able to find a public charger. And unlike gas stations, charging stations don’t often advertise themselves with large illuminated signs that are visible from miles away. That means a road trip requires an extra planning step. But don’t worry—it’s not nearly as difficult as having to print out MapQuest directions like we used to do, never mind the olden days of road atlases.

Odds are good that the EV you’re driving will know where all the chargers are and will be happy to navigate you to them via its onboard navigation system. Depending on the car, it might even know the status of the actual chargers there and may even begin heating your battery to ensure the quickest fast charge once you plug in.

But, many EV drivers rely on third-party smartphone apps, including PlugShare and A Better Route Planner (although this one requires a subscription). Usually, these apps let you plan routes, taking into account the battery capacity and efficiency of the EV you’re driving, its starting state of charge, and how much charge you want remaining when you arrive at your destination.

It’s also useful to download the apps for charging networks, as those apps will provide the real-time status of chargers—whether they’re functional, in use, or broken. If you’re in a pinch, especially if you’re driving in rural areas, some dealerships will let you use their level 2 chargers. An app like PlugShare will list those, along with check-ins from users that have successfully charged there.

You can even use the US Department of Energy’s database of EV charging stations website (or its smartphone apps), which as of press time contains 49,430 level 2 and 3 locations in total, of which 6,415 are level 3 fast chargers.

Expect those numbers to grow significantly in the next few years as the federal government spends 5 billion on fast chargers located roughly every 50 miles across the Interstate Highway System.

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