EV Charging Connector Types and Speeds. Electric car charger wattage

Levels of EV charging

Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is accelerating faster than experts predicted. This accelerated adoption results from government incentives, an increased choice of vehicles, increased public and private funding for EV adoption, and a cultural shift to greener and cleaner vehicles helping to push down harmful emissions. With the rise in EV adoption, it is essential to understand the different levels of EV charging and how these levels of charging can affect the type of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) you consider.

The Different Levels of EV Charging

There are three EV charging levels; Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. There are differences between each charging level. However, as a general rule, the higher the Level, the higher the power output from the charger and the faster it can charge.

Level 1 EV Charging

Level 1 EV charging utilizes the slowest EV charger available, which provides between 1 kW and 1.8 kW of power through a standard 120-volt AC outlet. Level 1 EV charging is available in North America and uses a standard 3-prong household plug on one end and a J1772 (Type 1) EV connector on the other, which plugs into the vehicle. Level 1 chargers are unavailable in Europe due to standard residential electricity being 230-volt.

How Fast is a Level 1 EV Charger?

Level 1 is the slowest of the electric car charging levels and can take between 22-40 hours to fully charge a standard battery electric vehicle (BEV) from empty. An hour of charging with a Level 1 charger will give your EV between 3-7 miles (4-11 kilometers) of range. All Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) can use a Level 1 EV charger, and they are usually provided free when purchasing the vehicle.

Level 1 EV chargers are almost always used at home as a trickle charger or as a backup when there are no Level 2 or Level 3 charging stations available. Unless you are charging your vehicle at home, a Level 1 EV charger is not very practical due to its slow charging speed.

EV Charging Level Connector Type Typical Output Power Estimated Charge Time (40kWh) Estimated Range Per Hour for Charging User case
Level 1 J1772 1 kW – 1.8 kW 22 – 40 hours 3 – 7 miles (4 – 11 kilometers) Home / Backup

Level 2 EV Charging

Level 2 EV charging is much faster than Level 1 and utilizes a 208-volt to 240-volt AC outlet in North America and a 230-volt (single-phase) or 400-volt (three-phase) outlet in Europe. In North America, Level 2 chargers top out at 19.2 kW (80A), and in Europe, it’s 22 kW. A Level 2 charger can come with various additional functions and features, such as RFID cards, load balancing, and OCCP (Open Charge Point Protocol) networking.

The EV connector type for North America and Japan is J1772 (Type 1); for Europe, it’s a Mennekes (Type 2) connector. Level 2 charging stations can be provided with tethered charging cables (hard-wired to the charging station) or untethered with just a socket (you plug in your charging cable). Currently, Level 2 EV charging is the most common level of EV charger installed globally. However, the installation of Level 3 chargers is growing.

How Fast is a Level 2 EV Charger?

A Level 2 charger can be as much as 19 times faster than a Level 1 charger, depending on the power output and the charge acceptance rate of the vehicle you are charging. An hour of charging with a Level 2 charger can provide a range between 10-75 miles (16-120 kilometers).

Level 2 charging is the most common type used in public charging stations. Level 2 charging equipment can be installed at the home, workplace, and in many public locations such as hotels, retail parks, and supermarkets. It is the ideal charging level for overnight charging or while at work.

EV Charging Level Connector Type Typical Output Power Estimated Charge Time (40kWh) Estimated Range Per Hour for Charging User case
Level 2 J1772 (North America)Mennekes (Europe) 3 kW – 22 kW 2 – 13 hours 10 – 75 miles (16 – 120 kilometers) Workplace, hotels, overnight charging

Level 1 EV charging and Level 2 EV charging are both defined as AC-type EV chargers. Before we move on to Level 3 EV charging it is important to understand the difference between AC-type EV chargers and DC-type EV chargers.

The Difference between AC and DC EV Charging

There are two types of electrical currents for EV charging: AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current).

The power that comes from the electricity grid is AC. However, the energy used for an electric vehicle is stored in its battery, and a battery holds its power in DC. The difference between AC-type EV charging and DC-type EV charging is where the AC power is converted to DC power.

In AC-type charging, the AC is converted in the vehicle by its on-board charger, which is time-consuming; however, with DC-type charging, the conversion takes place in the charging station before the power is delivered to the vehicle, and as a result, it can bypass the limitations of the electric vehicle’s on-board charger and deliver more power. This is what makes DC EV charging faster than AC EV charging.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the fastest EV charger level – Level 3.

Level 3 EV Charging

Level 3 EV charging is also called DC fast charging and is significantly faster than Level 2 EV charging. Level 3 charging stations are the market’s quickest and most powerful EV charging options. A Level 3 charging station utilizes a three-phase supply, 480-volt in North America and 400-volt in Europe, with chargers capable of outputting over 360 kW of power.

A Level 3 charging station also comes with various functions and features, such as dynamic power distribution, multi-charging protocol cables, and networking via OCPP. There are stationary Level 3 chargers and portable Level 3 charging stations available.

CCS (Combine Charging System), CHAdeMO, and Tesla Superchargers (NACS) connectors are used for Level 3 EV charging.

Although Level 3 charging is often used in the industry today for all kW’s of DC fast charging, the origins of Level 3 charging technically refers to charging above 400 kW.

How Fast is a Level 3 EV Charger?

As mentioned earlier, a Level 3 charger converts AC to DC within the charger itself, resulting in faster power delivery directly to the EV battery. A Level 3 charger can fully charge a standard electric car in under 20 minutes, depending on its charge acceptance rate.

Level 3 EV chargers are often found at public service stations near highways as they are essential for use on longer journeys. There are several other locations where Level 3 EV charging is becoming more critical, including EV charging for fleets and auto dealerships. Any place where people park for short periods or the vehicle is in constant use – i.e., delivery vehicles.

EV Charging Level Connector Type Typical Output Power Estimated Charge Time Estimated Range Per Hour for Charging User case
Level 3 CCS 1 (North America)CCS 2 (Europe)CHAdeMO (Japan) 30 kW – 360 kW 15 mins – 1.5 hours depending on charge acceptance rate 120 – 1400 miles (193 – 2250 kilometers) Fleets, Car dealerships, highway services, logistics hubs, distribution centers

DC Fast Charging

Discover more about DC fast charging with this ultimate guide.

EV Charging Connector Types and Speeds

A guide covering the different types of electric vehicle connectors and charging speeds.

Last updated: Dec 09, 2022 5 min read

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Similar to phone charging cables, car charging cables tend to have two connectors, one that plugs into the vehicle socket and the other into the chargepoint itself.

The type of connector you need varies by vehicle and the power rating (speed) of the chargepoint.

  • Electric vehicles either have a Type 1 or Type 2 socket for slow/fast charging and CHAdeMO or CCS for DC Rapid charging.
  • Most slow/fast chargepoints have a Type 2 socket. Occasionally they will have a cable attached instead. All DC Rapid charging stations have a cable attached with mostly a CHAdeMO and a CCS connector.
  • Most EV drivers purchase a portable charging cable that matches their vehicle’s Type 1 or Type 2 socket so that they can charge on public networks.

This guide is based on the UK and may not include complete information for all countries. With the exception of Tesla Model X and Model S vehicles to date, which use Type 2 connectors for DC rapids. Adapters that allow to charge these Tesla models via CHAdeMO or CCS connectors are available.

Vehicle side EV connector types

Electric car charging sockets plug into your vehicle and can be thought of the same as the phone-side charging connectors on your Apple or Android phone charging cable. Depending on which phone/car you have, different connectors will fit into your phone/car socket.

Slow Fast Charging

Typically used for top-up charging at home, work and destinations, there are two types of AC vehicle-side connectors.

  • 7-pins
  • Standard EU connector
  • Inbuilt locking mechanism
  • Can carry three phase power

Some models of Renault Zoe can draw 43kW, giving 145 miles of range per hour (for the Zoe, 43kW is classed as an en route Rapid charger).

Assumes 60kWh full battery electric vehicle (BEV) with a range of 200 miles.

Tip: Three-phase power is relatively rare in the UK. There are almost no three-phase power systems in homes, but there are some in a few larger commercial buildings. Most public chargepoints are single-phase 7kW devices.

Rapid Charging

Typically used for en route Rapid charging, there are three types of DC car-side connectors. Most DC Rapid charging stations will have cables with both a CHAdeMO and CCS connector attached so you will just have to choose which fits to your vehicle socket. To protect the battery, Rapid chargers do not consistently charge at their maximum power rating.

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  • High power
  • Neat arrangement with 2 x ‘Type 2’ pins
  • Standard EU Rapid charging connector
  • Only Tesla Superchargers provide DC via a Type 2 connector

Assumes 60kWh full battery electric vehicle (BEV) with a range of 200 miles.

150kW CCS Rapid chargers will become very common, but across the UK most are still just 50kW.

A handful of 350kW CCS chargers exist, however it is not yet common place.

250kW Tesla Superchargers are starting to be rolled out.

Tip: To find out your car’s AC and DC sockets and maximum charging rates, you can visit our vehicle guides.

Chargepoint side electric car connector types

Typically used for top-up charging at home, work and destinations, there is really only one kind of chargepoint socket, though some might occasionally use a traditional 3-pin plug to charge from a wall socket as an emergency backup.

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The Type 2 chargepoint socket is universal, and can be thought of in a similar way to the wall socket for charging iPhones or Android phones (i.e. the socket is the same for each, but the cable is specific to the car/phone type).

Slow Fast Chargers

The “Type 2” socket is the Europe-wide, universal socket for charging electric cars. You can charge any type of car from it, so long as you have the appropriate charging cable for your car. much the same as charging Apple or Android phones from a wall socket.

Approx. range per hour charging

7kW (single-phase)22kW (three-phase)

  • Universal connector that fits to all standard chargepoint sockets
  • Driver brings correct cable with them
  • Similar to wall plug for Smart phone charging

Assumes 60kWh battery electric vehicle (BEV).

Rapid Chargers

Most DC units have tethered cables with both CHAdeMO and CCS connectors that match the car-side sockets, so there are no chargepoint-side DC sockets.

How It Works: Making sense of EV specifications

So you’re considering an electric car – say, for example, the Nissan Leaf Plus. It has a 160-kW electric motor, a 62-kWh lithium-ion battery, 6.6-kW onboard charger, it fast-charges up to 100 kW, has an estimated 363-km range, and it’s rated at 2.2 Le/100 km in combined city/highway driving.

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And if all that made your eyes glaze over, you’re definitely not alone. There can be a steep learning curve with electric vehicles (EVs), and we’ll try to take some of the mystery out of it.

A watt is a unit of electric power, and a kilowatt (kW) refers to 1,000 watts. But a kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measurement of energy capacity — power multiplied by hours. It’s equivalent to the energy needed to keep a 1,000-watt (1 kW) electrical appliance (or an electric car) running for one hour.

LISTEN: This week on our Plugged In podcast we talk all things Polestar with North American boss.

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In a vehicle, kW is used to measure the power of the electric motor that drives the wheels, while kWh measures the capacity of the battery that supplies the electric motor. Compared to a gasoline car, think of kW as the engine’s horsepower — they translate directly — and kWh as the amount of energy contained in the gas inside the tank.

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The battery’s kWh rating measures how many hours it can deliver its power, but that’s based on standard tests, rather than what the car may actually use in real-world driving. When cruising, an electric car generally uses 1 kWh of energy to travel approximately 4.8 to 6.4 kilometres (three to four miles). With a Tesla Model S, its 100-kWh battery can continuously deliver 100 kW for one hour, and the car uses 1 kWh of energy to go 6.4 kilometres. Multiply 100 kWh by 6.4, and you get the car’s estimated range of about 640 kilometres on a charge.

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Our hypothetical Leaf Plus has a 62-kWh battery, giving it an estimated range of 363 kilometres. Just as with a gasoline car, real-world mileage may differ; drive more aggressively and just as you use more gas than the estimated fuel consumption, you’ll use more electricity than the estimated range. Cold weather will also cut into the battery’s range. On any EV, the higher the battery’s kWh rating, the farther it goes before it needs recharging — but that battery will be physically larger and heavier, and correspondingly more expensive.

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When measuring engine power, we’re used to horsepower rather than kW. Translate kW into horsepower by multiplying kilowatts by 1.34 — so our Leaf Plus’ 160-kW motor makes 214 horsepower. Torque is rated using the same pound-feet units for both gasoline engines and electric motors.

Battery charging comes in three levels. Level 1 is a regular 120-volt household outlet; it takes the longest and is mostly viable for plug-in hybrids, which have a much smaller battery (generally 8.8 to 18.1 kWh) or for slowly topping up an EV when there’s no other charging option available. Level 2 is 240 volts, using a specially designed home charging unit or at most public charging stations. All EVs contain an onboard charger to accept Level 1 and 2, and most are rated at 6.6 or 7.2 kW. The higher the number, the faster the battery can charge, and both Level 1 and 2 are alternating current (AC).

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Fast-charging, often called Level 3, is direct current (DC) at 480 volts or more, and is only available at public stations. These are still relatively rare (but growing fast) due to the high cost of installation. There are different types — one of the issues automakers and charging providers face is a lack of standardization — including CCS for most vehicles, CHAdeMO for the Leaf and a few others, and Tesla’s proprietary Superchargers.

Not all vehicles can accept fast charging, and those that do have an extra charging port for it. Most fast-charging sites provide power at 50 kW, but newer ones are 100 to 150 kW, and a few can provide more than 250 kW. Most EVs capable of fast charging accept 50 to 150 kW, depending on the model. If the charging station can deliver higher power than the vehicle can take, it reduces energy flow to match the car’s capacity.

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Rapid fill-ups for minimal downtime are key differentiators at the top level. Tesla’s Superchargers are 150 kW (and its upcoming V3 network is 250 kW). The Porsche Taycan can charge at up to 270 kW — if you can find an appropriate station. At that level, a Taycan can pull in enough energy in four minutes to go 100 kilometres.

But on any EV, the quoted power rates are maximum and the car will fast-charge up to that rate. Numerous factors, including temperature and how charged the battery already is, will affect the recharging rate. The time it takes to fast-charge is usually advertised to 80 per cent of battery capacity, rather than to full. That’s because all charging slows down as a battery cell nears its full capacity, to avoid potential damage — your phone does this, too. The last 20 per cent can take as long as the first 80 per cent did.

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Finally, let’s look at the Leaf Plus’ rating of 2.2 Le/100 kilometers. EVs are more accurately rated in kWh/100 km — how many kilowatt-hours of battery it takes to travel 100 kilometres. For that, the Leaf Plus gets 19.5 kWh/100 km, but consumers aren’t used to that. One litre of gas has the energy equivalent of 8.9 kWh of electricity, and so Natural Resources Canada uses Le/100 km for litre equivalent — how much gas you’d burn to get the same energy the car is using from its battery. An EV uses much less equivalent energy than a gasoline car to go that 100 kilometres, which is why the fuel efficiency rating is so low.

Use either rating to compare EVs, along with all the kW and kWh information you’ve now learned to decipher, to know if you’re getting the electric car that’s right for you.

Author’s note: My thanks to John Voelcker, a reporter and analyst who has covered electric cars for 15 years, for his assistance with this story.

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How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Vehicle?

There is no simple answer, but knowing the variables will help you better estimate the time it takes for an EV fill-up.

Figuring precisely how long it takes to charge an electric car is akin to asking, How long does it take to cross the country? It depends on whether you’re on a plane or on foot. Recharge time is dependent on a host of variables, many of them nuanced—even the length of the charging cable can influence it—that make providing a precise answer impossible. But we can give you some reliable guidelines.

Ignoring the more minute variables, the charging time of a vehicle comes down to a few primary factors: power source, the vehicle’s charger capacity, and battery size. Ambient conditions play a smaller part, with both cold- and hot-weather extremes adding to charge time.

Factors That Affect Charging Time

Charger Level

Let’s start with the power source. Not all electrical outlets are created equal. The common 120-volt, 15-amp receptacle in a kitchen is to a 240-volt outlet that powers an electric dryer as a squirt gun is to a garden hose. All electric vehicles can, theoretically, charge their large batteries off the standard kitchen outlet, but imagine trying to fill a 55-gallon barrel with a squirt gun. Recharging an EV battery with a 120-volt source—these are categorized as Level 1 according to SAE J1772, a standard that engineers use to design EVs—is measured in days, not hours.

If you own or plan to own an EV you’ll be wise to consider having a 240-volt Level 2 charging solution installed in your home. A typical Level 2 connection is 240 volts and 40 to 50 amps. While fewer amps is still considered Level 2, a 50-amp circuit will maximize most EV’s onboard chargers (more on those in a minute). Because, if you’re not maximizing the effectiveness of the vehicle’s onboard chargers, a lower-than-optimal power source is essentially a restrictor plate that lengthens the charge time.

For the absolute fastest charging possible, you’ll want to plug into a Level 3 connection, colloquially known as a DC fast charger. These are the EV equivalent of filling that barrel with a fire hose. A certifiably lethal current of DC power is pumped into the car’s battery, and miles of range are added in short order. Tesla’s V3 Superchargers pump out up to 250 kW and Electrify America’s automotive defibrillators fire out up to 350 kW of heart-stopping power. But like all charging, the flow is throttled back when the vehicle battery’s state-of-charge (SoC) is nearing full. And vehicles’ ability to accept DC charging varies widely. The Porsche Taycan, for example, can charge at up to 270 kW, while a Chevy Bolt EV can manage only 50 kW.

How Much Range Does a Fast-Charger Add in a Half-Hour?

Generally speaking, when an EV battery’s SoC is below 10 percent or above 80 percent, a DC fast charger’s charging rate slows considerably; this optimizes battery life and limits the risk of overcharging. This is why, for example, manufacturers often claim that fast-charging will get your EV’s battery to 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Some vehicles have a battery preconditioning procedure that ensures the battery is at optimum temperature for Rapid charging while en route to a DC fast charger. So long as you utilize the in-car navigation system to get you there, that is.

Maximum Charging and Driving Range

That last 20 percent of charge may double the time you’re hooked up to the fast charger. The time-consuming affair of completely filling the battery via a DC charger makes these units best utilized on those days when you are traveling a long distance and need additional electricity to reach your destination. Charging at home overnight–sometimes called top-up charging–is a better solution for getting the juice you’ll need for daily, local driving.

Battery Size

As the hunt for range supremacy continues, the battery capacity of some EVs has ballooned to absurd levels. Others are targeting increased efficiency. This plays a massive role in charging time. Upsize our barrel to an 85-gallon unit. Even with a fire hose, it’ll still take longer to fill than the smaller 55-gallon barrel. While a GMC Hummer EV is built on an architecture capable of 350-kW intake, filling its 212.7-kWh battery compared to the 112.0-kWh pack found in a Lucid Air Grand Touring requires exponentially more time, even if the charging rate is similar. The Lucid can travel over 40 percent further on a charge while having 100 kWh fewer in its battery pack than the Hummer. Efficiency, indeed.

No doubt someday manufacturers will settle on a single metric for expressing charge times. But for now, know that filling up an EV’s battery still takes considerably longer than topping off a gas-powered car’s fuel tank no matter how or where you do it.

There is a common misconception that the thing you plug into an electric car is the charger. In fact, there’s a battery charger in the car that converts the AC electricity from the wall into DC electricity to charge the battery. Onboard chargers trickle power into the battery pack safely and have their own power ratings, typically in kilowatts. If a car has a 10.0-kW charger and a 100.0-kWh battery pack, it would, in theory, take 10 hours to charge a fully depleted battery.

To gauge the optimal charge time of a specific EV, you divide the battery capacity’s kWh number by the onboard charger’s power rating, then add 10 percent, because there are losses associated with charging. This is assuming the power source can maximize the vehicle’s charger.

Typical onboard chargers are at least 6.0 kilowatts, but some manufacturers offer nearly twice that, and the cream-of-the-crop have more than triple that figure. The current Tesla Model 3 Performance, for instance, has an 11.5-kW charger, which can take full advantage of a 240-volt, 60-amp circuit to recharge its 80.8-kWh battery, while the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 comes with a 7.6-kW charger. Doing the recharge-time math indicates that it will take nearly the same time to fill the two cars’ batteries, though the Performance model’s is roughly 30 percent larger. The beauty of a well-paired electricity source and onboard charger is that you can plug your EV in at home with a nearly depleted battery and have a fully charged steed waiting for you in the morning. You can also find approximate recharge times on some EV manufacturers’ websites.

K.C. Colwell is Car and Driver’s executive editor, who covers new cars and technology with a keen eye for automotive nonsense and with what he considers to be great car sense, which is a humblebrag. On his first day at C/D in 2004, he was given the keys to a Porsche 911 by someone who didn’t even know if he had a driver’s license. He also is one of the drivers who set fast laps at C/D’s annual Lightning Lap track test.

Jacob Kurowicki’s love affair with cars doesn’t end at track weapons and posh land yachts, but rather extends to the dopey and eccentric. Pining for a Pontiac Sunfire GT as a child was the first indicator, but an ongoing desire for a Lamborghini LM-002 is the kicker. He luckily found a home in the Car and Driver testing team that allows him to further develop his love for the automotive world and the oddities that come with it.

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