As mentioned in the overview, there are three main types of EV charging – rapid, fast, and slow. These represent the power outputs, and therefore charging speeds, available to charge an EV. Note that power is measured in kilowatts (kW).
Each charger type has an associated set of connectors which are designed for low or high power use, and for either AC or DC charging. 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. Rapid devices supply high power direct or alternating current – DC or AC – to recharge a car to 80% in 20-40 minutes. In most cases, the charging units power down when the battery is around 80% full to protect the battery and extend its life. All rapid devices have the charging cable tethered to the unit.
Rapid charging can only be used on vehicles with rapid-charging capability. Given the easily recognisable connector profiles – see images below – the specification for your model is easy to check from the vehicle manual or inspecting the on-board inlet.
Non-Tesla rapid DC chargers provide power at 50 kW (125A), use either the CHAdeMO or CCS charging standards, and are indicated by purple icons on Zap-Map. Both connectors typically charge an EV to 80% in 20-40 minutes depending on battery capacity and starting state of charge. The next generation of rapid DC units will increase the power first to 150 kW and then to 350 kW which will significantly reduce overall charging time.
Tesla’s Supercharger network also provides rapid DC charging to drivers of its cars, but use a Tesla Type 2 connector and charge at up to 120 kW. While all Tesla models are designed for use with Supercharger units, many Tesla owners use adaptors which enable them to use 50 kW rapid units fitted with a CHAdeMO connector. While these provide less power than a Supercharger, they are more common in the UK and elsewhere.
Rapid AC chargers provide power at 43 kW (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.
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 7 kW or 22 kW (single- or three-phase 32A). Charging times vary on unit speed and the vehicle, but a 7 kW charger will recharge a compatible EV with a 30 kWh battery in 3-5 hours, and a 22 kW charger in 1-2 hours. Fast chargers tend to be found at destinations, such as car parks, super-markets, or leisure centres where you are likely be parked at for an hour or more.
The majority of fast chargers are 7 kW and untethered, though some home and workplace based units have cables attached, usually with a Type 1 connector. The latter units mean only those vehicles that can use that connector 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 EV with the correct cable.
Charging rates when using a fast charger will depend on the car’s on-board charger, with not all models able to accept 7 kW 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 3.3 kW on-board charger will only draw a maximum of 3.3 kW, even if the fast charger is 7 kW or 22 kW.
Tesla’s ‘destination’ chargers provide 11 or 22 kW of power but, like the Supercharger network, are intended only or use 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.
Almost all EVs and PHEVs are able to charge on a Type 2 units, with the correct cable at least. It is by far 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.
- 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
Most slow charging units are rated at up to 3 kW with some lamp-post chargers being rated at 6 kW. Charging times vary depending on the charging unit and EV being charged, but a full charge on a 3 kW unit will typically take 6-12 hours. Most slow charging units are usually untethered, meaning that a cable is required to connect the EV with the charge point.
Slow charging is a very common method of charging electric vehicles, used by many owners to charge at home overnight. However, 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 and tend to be older devices.
While slow charging can be carried out via a three-pin socket 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.
All plug-in EVs can charge using at least one of the above slow connectors using the appropriate cable. Most home units have the same Type 2 cable as found on public chargers, or be tethered with the a Type 1 connector where this is suitable for a particular EV.
Connectors and cables
The choice of connectors depends on the charger type (socket) and the vehicle’s inlet port. 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.
Most EVs are supplied with two cables for slow and fast AC charging; 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. These cables enable an EV to connect to most untethered charge points, while use of tethered units require using the cable with the correct connector type for the vehicle.
Examples include the Nissan Leaf which is typically supplied with a 3-pin-to-Type 1 cable and a Type 2-to-Type 1 cable. The Renault Zoe has a different charging set up and is comes with a 3-pin-to-Type 2 and/or Type 2-to-Type 2 cable. For rapid charging, both models use the tethered connector which are attached to the charging units.
- 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.