Whether you want to charge your electric car at home, at work or at a public station, one thing is important: the connection of the charging station must match the connection of your car. To be precise, the cable connecting the charging station to your car must have the right plug at both ends. It is not difficult at all, but it is important. The wrong plug on your cable will not allow you to charge, but remember that there are always adapters available.
Type 1 and type 2 plugs for AC charging
There are four types of plugs: two for alternating current (AC), with which you can charge up to 43 kW, and two for direct current (DC), with which you can theoretically fast charge up to 350 kW.
Let's start with AC charging. There are two types of AC plugs: type 1 is a single-phase plug and is often used on EVs and the first PHEVs from America and Asia. It allows you to charge your electric car at a rate of usually 3.7 kW. The maximum is 11 kW.
Type 2 plugs can allow more current to flow through the maximum three-phase cables. Up to a maximum of 43 kW alternating current. The maximum charging speed is 11 kW in practically all home connections. 22 kW is sometimes found at public charging stations, but then the electric car has to be able to cope.
Two types of plugs for DC
There are two types of plugs for DC charging. Firstly, CHAdeMO: this fast charging system was developed in Japan and enables very high charging speeds, as well as bi-directional charging. Also known as bi-directional charging. By the way, did you know that bi-directional home chargers are on the rise? Asian car manufacturers supply electric cars that are compatible with a CHAdeMO plug. The maximum DC charging rate of CHAdeMO is often 100 kW. By the way, an EV with a CHAdeMO connector always has a separate AC connection.
And then there is the CCS plug: the CCS plug is an improved version of the type 2 plug, with two extra power contacts for fast charging. This plug supports AC and DC charging. This means that you do not need two separate connections as with CHAdeMO. The charging speeds of CCS are also much higher. The new Hyundai and Kia cars, as well as Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT can already achieve charging speeds of 200 to 300 kW. CCS can currently deliver a maximum of 350 kW to an electric car.
In Europe, the type 2 AC charger with a three-phase plug is the standard, and most charging stations have a type 2 connection. But beware, some charging stations have a fixed cable. A fixed cable can be very useful in places where you always charge the same car, such as at home or at a fixed parking place at work. The advantage is that you do not need to carry a cable in your car. If you charge your car at a public charging station with a fixed cable, you should check whether the connected cable fits your car's charging socket.
Let's look at two short examples. If you live in Europe and have a European car like the Renault ZOE, you can charge it at a public station using a charging cable with type 2 plugs at both ends (type 2 to type 2) with a maximum of 22 kW. That's the maximum the Renault ZOE can handle on alternating current (AC).
And what about if you live in Europe and drive an Asian car like the Nissan LEAF? Then you'll need a cable that connects the Type 2 connector of the charging station to the Type 1 charging socket of your car (Type 2 to Type 1). The maximum charging speed is then 7.4 kW.
Remember that there are always cables with the right plugs for you, but make sure you buy the right ones.