This guide walks through the various charging options open to plug-in car drivers. With two main factors to take into account – EV charging speeds and connectors – all electric car drivers need to understand which systems can be used with their vehicle.
EV charge points are primarily defined by the power (in kW) they can produce and therefore at what speed they are capable of charging an EV.
There are three main EV charging speeds. Rapid charging units (43, 50, or 120kW) can provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes; Fast charging points (7-22kW) can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours; Slow charging points (up to 3kW) are used for longer charging times, around 6-8 hours.
The following sections offer a detailed description of the three main charge point types and the different connectors available.
• 50kW DC charging on one of two connector types
• 43kW DC charging on one connector type
• 120kW DC charging on Tesla Supercharger network
• All rapid units have tethered cables
Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an EV, often found in motorway services or in locations close to main roads. Units supply high power direct or alternating current – AC or DC – to recharge a car to 80% in 20-40 minutes. All come with the charging cable tethered to the unit, with one of three connectors attached.
Rapid charging can only be used on vehicles with rapid-charging capability. With two of the three different connector types available being rapid-charging specific – see images below – the specification for your model is easy to check.
Rapid DC chargers provide power at up to 50kW (125A), use either the CHAdeMO or CCS charging standards, and are indicated by purple icons on Zap-Map.
Both connectors are typically able to charge an EV to 80% in 20-40 minutes depending on battery capacity and starting state of charge. Once charging reaches 80%, the unit’s power output will drop to a slower rate to preserve battery life and maximise charging levels.
Users of rapid DC units select the appropriate connector for their vehicle and use the tethered cable to plug the car in, rather than their own cable.
Tesla’s Supercharger network also provides Rapid DC charging to drivers of its cars, but at a much higher rate of up to 120kW. Like other Rapid DC units, the cable is tethered to the unit, but the connector at the end is Tesla’s version of Type 2.
While all Tesla models are designed for use with Supercharger units, many Tesla owners use adaptors which enable them to use a 50kW rapid units fitted with a CHAdeMO connector. While these provide less power than a Supercharger, they are far more common in the UK and elsewhere.
Rapid AC chargers provide power at up to 43kW (three-phase, 63A) and use the Type 2 charging standard. They are indicated by green icons on Zap-Map.
Rapid AC units are typically able to charge an EV to 80% in 20-40 minutes depending the model’s battery capacity and starting state of charge. Once charging reaches 80%, the unit’s power output will drop to a slower rate to preserve battery life and maximise charging levels.
Users of rapid AC units select the a Type 2 connector for their vehicle and use the tethered cable to plug the car in, rather than their own cable.
CHAdeMO – 50kW DC
CCS – 50kW DC
Type 2 – 43kW AC
Tesla Type 2- 120kW DC
EV models that use CHAdeMO rapid charging include the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and Kia Soul EV. CCS compatible models include the BMW i3, VW e-Golf, and Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
Tesla’s Model S and Model X are exclusively able to use the Supercharger network, while the only model currently able to charge on Rapid AC is the Renault Zoe.
• 7kW fast charging on one of three connector types
• 22kW fast charging on one of three connector types
• 11kW fast charging on Tesla Destination network
• Units are either untethered or have tethered cables
Fast chargers, all of which are AC, are typically rated at either 7kW or 22 kW (single- or three-phase 32A). Charging times vary on unit speed and the vehicle, but a 7kW charger will recharge a compatible EV in 3-5 hours, and a 22kW charger in 1-2 hours.
These type of chargers tend to be found at destinations, such as car parks, supermarkets, or shopping centres – somewhere that an EV will potentially be parked at for an hour or more.
The majority of fast chargers are untethered, though some home and workplace based units have cables attached. The latter units mean only those vehicles that can use that connector type will be able to charge on them; in contrast to the more common use of a driver’s own connector cable. Untethered units are therefore more flexible and can be used by any driver that has the correct cable.
The most common type of fast charger is an untethered 7kW Type 2, though fast chargers can also be found with Type 1 or Commando connectors. Fast charge units commonly have two sockets to charge two cars at the same time, though one is not unusual.
Charging speeds from fast chargers will depend on the car’s on-board charger, with not all models able to accept 7kW or more. These models can still be plugged in to the charge point, but will only draw the maximum power accepted by the on-board charger. For example, a Nissan Leaf with standard 3.3kW on-board charger will only draw a maximum of 3.3kW, even if the fast charger is 7kW or 22kW.
Tesla’s Destination Chargers provide 7, 11, or 22kW of power but, like the Supercharger network, can only be used by Tesla models. Tesla does provide some standard Type 2 chargers at many of its destination locations, and these are compatible with any plug-in model using the correct cable.
Type 2 – 7-22kW AC
Type 1 – 7kW AC
Commando – 7-22kW AC
Almost all EVs and PHEVs are able to charge at Type 2 units, with the correct cable at least. It is by far and away the most common public charge point standard around, and most plug-in car owners will have a cable with a Type 2 connector charger-side.
There are some charge points around that have use a Commando or Type 1 connector, but these are relatively few and far between, with the dominant standard being Type 2.
• 3kW slow charging on one of four connector types
• Charging units are either untethered or have tethered cables
• Includes mains charging and from specialist chargers
• Often covers home charging
Slow charging units are rated at 3kW. Charging times vary on unit speed and vehicle, but a full charge for an EV will typically take 6-12 hours.
Slow charging is the most common method of charging electric vehicles, used by many owners to charge at home overnight. Slow units aren’t necessarily restricted to home use, with workplace and public points also able to be found. Because of the longer charging times over fast units, slow public charge points are less common.
Home charge points are commonplace though, largely because those who buy an electric car often find themselves qualified to apply for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. This gives buyers money off a fully installed EV home charging unit.
Slow charging units can be either tethered or untethered, with untethered charge points often using a Type 2 inlet to connect an EV with. Tethered points typically have a Type 1 connector where this type is required by an owners’ EV model.
Although termed 3kW units, slow home charge points can actually potentially charge at up to 3.6kW, because they can be rated for 16A, rather than the 13A or less available from the mains.
While slow charging can be carried out via a three-pin socket too using a standard 3-pin socket, because of the higher current demands of EVs and the longer amount of time spent charging, it is strongly recommended that those who need to charge regularly at home or the workplace get a dedicated EV charging unit installed by an accredited installer.
3-Pin – 3kW AC
Type 1 – 3kW AC
Type 2 – 3kW AC
Commando – 3kW AC
All plug-in electric vehicles can charge using at least one of the above slow connectors. Often home charge points will be compatible with the same Type 2 cable used for public charging, or be tethered with the a Type 1 connector where this is suitable for a particular EV.
Connectors, Cables, and Cars
Most EVs come with two cables; one with a three-pin plug and the other with a Type 2 connector charger-side; and both fitted with a compatible connector for the car’s inlet port on the opposite end.
These cables enable an EV to connect to most untethered charge points, while use of tethered units – where the cable is permanently attached to the charge point – require using the cable with the correct connector type for the vehicle.
For example, a Nissan Leaf is typically supplied with a 3-pin-to-Type 1 cable and a Type 2-to-Type 1 cable – both described as charger-to-car. In contrast, a Renault Zoe can use 3-pin-to-Type 2, and Type 2-to-Type 2 cables.
The choice of connectors depends on the charger type (socket) and the vehicle’s inlet port and charging standard. On the charger-side, rapid chargers use CHAdeMO, CCS (Combined Charging Standard) or Type 2 connectors. Fast and Slow units usually use Type 2, Type 1, Commando, or 3-pin plug outlets.
On the vehicle-side, European EV models (Audi, BMW, Renault, Mercedes, VW and Volvo) tend to have Type 2 inlets and the corresponding CCS rapid standard, while Asian manufacturers (Nissan and Mitsubishi) prefer a Type 1 and CHAdeMO inlet combination. This doesn’t always apply, however, with the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Toyota Prius Plug-In being exceptions that prove the rule.
• UK 3-pin (BS 1363)
• Industrial Commando (IEC 60309)
• American Type 1 (SAE J1772)
• European Type 2 (Mennekes, IEC 62196)
• Japanese JEVS (CHAdeMO)
• European Combined Charging System (CCS or ‘Combo’)
• Tesla’s proprietary supercharger connector
To find out what cables are suitable for a particular EV model, EV Connectors has made this helpful video detailing exactly the types of cable that are available and how to find the right one for your EV.
Public EV Networks in the UK
More than 20 different EV charging networks are currently available to UK EV users. Zap-Map’s guides provide details of each network, including coverage, membership types, cost and charging options.
Home and Workplace charging
Several UK suppliers and government schemes are available to help EV owners obtain a charging point for a home or work place. Zap-Map guides provide info on all the latest options available for home or work charging.