Electric cars have become increasingly popular in recent years as people become more concerned about the environment and gasoline prices rise. However, with this shift to electrified driving, many car buyers remain uncertain about how electric cars work, especially when it comes to charging. One of the most frequent questions is: what kind of plugs do electric cars use?
To provide an answer, we've put together this handy guide to teach you the basics of electric car chargers and charging plugs, so you can understand how to keep your EV charged and ready to go.
1. What Are Electric Car Charging Plugs?
In order for the electric car to recharge its battery, it has to connect to the charging station via a plug. Electric car charging plugs are used to connect an EV to a charging station, providing the necessary electricity to recharge its battery. Typically, there are two types of electric car charging plugs – AC and DC.
2. AC Plugs
Alternating Current (AC) is the same type of power that runs through the wires in your home. Most residential and public charging stations provide AC power at Level 1 and Level 2 charging. Level 1 chargers use a standard 120V household outlet and can add around 4-5 miles of range per hour. However, they are not practical for long journeys. Level 2 chargers utilize a 240V source and can deliver between 10 to 60 miles of range per hour of charging, depending on the car's battery capacity.
There are two common AC charging plugs used in North America: J1772 and Tesla's proprietary connector. The J1772 plug is used by most non-Tesla EVs, while the Tesla connector is used exclusively by Tesla vehicles.
3. DC Plugs
Direct Current (DC) is a more powerful, faster-charging means of refueling electric cars. DC charging stations are typically installed along major highways and urban centers. These can be classified into Level 3 and Level 4.
Level 3 DC charging, also known as DC fast charging, has two subtypes: CHAdeMO and Combined Charging System (CSS). CHAdeMO is commonly used by Asian car manufacturers, such as Nissan and Mitsubishi. CSS, on the other hand, is used by North American and European carmakers such as BMW, Volkswagen, and Ford. Level 3 DC chargers can add 60 to 80 miles of range in just 20-30 minutes.
Level 4 DC chargers are a newer development, which can add 80 to 120 miles of range in less than 10 minutes, known Combined Charging Standard (CCS). Currently, only Tesla and Electrify America has Level 4 charging stations widely deployed across North America.
4. Compatibility Challenges
There are a few compatibility issues that drivers face when it comes to charging their vehicles. The first is the plug adaptation itself. This can take the form of a cable adapter or a dongle that connects the car to the charging station. The second compatibility issue is the wiring. EVs can have different voltages and charging systems, which can impact how long it takes to charge and the amount of power added.
To address these challenges, automakers and charging network providers have worked on creating a more standardized approach to charging. In North America, this has resulted in the adoption of both the CHAdeMO and the SAE Combined Charging System (CSS) as Level 3 DC charging standards.
5. The Future of Electric Car Charging
Electric cars are becoming more commonplace, so it is no surprise that the demand for charging stations is growing too. Fortunately, the charging infrastructure is constantly evolving, with new charging station designs popping up all over the world. Engineers also continuously work on creating faster, more efficient, and more accessible charging stations.
So, what kind of plugs do electric cars use? It primarily depends on the type of charging station and what type of electric vehicle you own. Learning more about the different types of plugs and charging standards will help you make informed decisions on which charging station to use and what type of EV fits your needs. Electric cars are the way of the future, and with this guide, you're now one step closer to understanding how they work..Recommend：