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April 22

EV Connectors and Speeds

Image of Octopus Electroverse mascot, Zapman, holding different EV chargers looking confused

EV connectors. The average EV driver will know this as the 'odd-looking plug' connecting the charging cable to your EV socket, but do you know how they charge your EV? And do you know the different types? 

It's important to note that a universal EV connector does not exist. Different EVs use different connectors which supply different amounts of power. And while it's your job to know which connectors are compatible with your EV, it's our job to explain what these connectors do.

If you’re not sure which connectors are compatible with your EV, we suggest checking out the specifications with the vehicle manufacturer. 

Let’s get plugged in…

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Slow Charging

In the UK, slow charging is available across four AC connector types between 0 - 8 kW. This rate of power is typical for home, workplace and on-street charging as your EV is parked for extended periods of time. 

Due to the lower power rate, these connectors will often be the cheapest to use:

1. Type 1 (3 - 7 kW AC) - 5 pins and typically found on older EVs.

Visual for type 1 socket

2. Type 2 (3 - 7 kW AC) - 7 pins and has a handy 'lock' feature, meaning no one accidentally pull the plug - or take the plug - when you're charging.

Visual for type 2 socket

3. Commando (3 - 7 kW AC) - 3 pins. Though generally seen as the second choice to Type 1 and Type 2 connectors, anyone who doesn’t qualify for the Electric Vehicle Home Charge Scheme might consider installing a Commando socket due to the lower cost.

Visual for Commando socket

4. 3-pin (3 kW AC) - the SOS of charging. This option really is the last resort, as prolonged use can damage home wiring.

Visual for 3 pin socket

If you’re interested in learning more about home charging options or would like to book an installation appointment, check out the Octopus Electric Vehicles support page here.

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Cosmic Fact!

While some charge points (like those at service stations) come tethered, others do not. So it’s a good idea to have a backup cable in your boot, just in case.

Fast Charging

Fast charging is available across four AC connectors types between 8 - 50 kW. This rate of power is typical for charging points found at supermarkets, car parks and gyms as your EV is parked for a couple of hours:

1. Type 2 (8 - 22 kW AC) - 7 pins and has a handy ‘lock’ feature, meaning no one can accidentally pull the plug - or take the plug - when you’re charging.

Visual for type 2 socket

2. Commando (8 - 22 kW AC) - 3 pins. Though generally seen as the second choice to Type 1 and Type 2 connectors, anyone who doesn’t qualify for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme might consider installing a Commando socket due to the lower cost.

Visual for Commando socket

3. Type 2 (43 kW AC) - Currently only the Renault Zoe can make use of the full 43 kW AC. If you were to connect a BMW I3 (or equivalent EV) that has an onboard system capped at 11 kW, you will only charge at 11 kW. 

Visual for type 2 socket

4. CHAdeMO (25 - 49 kW DC) - short for ‘Charge de Move’ (...we’ll let you judge the funny points on that one) and was the first DC rapid connector to be created

Visual for CHAdeMO socket
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Cosmic Fact! 

The most common connector in the UK is Type 2, which offers slow and fast charging. However, don't be surprised if your EV charges at a slower rate than the charging point promises; this could be down to your EV's onboard system. For instance, if your onboard system caps at 11 kW, you won't be able to charge any faster (despite being connected to a 22 kW charging point) as your EVs safety system protects the battery from too much power. 

And no, reconnecting the plug won’t trick the system… Good try, though!

Rapid Charging

Rapid charging is available across AC and DC connectors types between 50 - 150 kW. This rate of power is typical for charging points found at motorway service stations to ensure a quick getaway. 

While some rapid chargers offer 150 kW, it's not commonplace, so don't be disappointed when your chosen charger gives a max rate of 50 kW - it's the UK average for rapid charging and is plenty speedy. 

As DC chargers need to convert power before it reaches the vehicle, DC charging stations will come tethered with one (or more) of the below connectors:

1. CHAdeMO (50 - 100 kW DC) - short for ‘Charge de Move’ (...we’ll let you judge the funny points on that one) and was the first DC rapid connector to be created.

Visual for CHAdeMO socket

2. CCS (50 - 150 kW DC) - or ‘Combined Charging System’ is the UK's most popular DC rapid connector, and most new EVs in the UK are being fitted with the CCS plug socket. You might have noticed that the top half of the CCS graphic looks like a Type 2 socket - well, that’s because it is! When you want AC power, slot a Type 2 connector into the top half of your EVs socket - when you want DC power, use the CCS connector (the additional two pins engage the rapid charge).

Visual for CCS socket

And if you are worried that rapid charging will affect battery performance, don't be! EVs have intuitive safety systems to prevent such damage. While connected to a rapid charger, your EV constantly communicates its charge status and how much power it can handle. As a result of this secret dialogue, the flow of electricity regulates to ensure your EV battery is not overwhelmed. Pretty clever, right? Vive la electric révolution!

Ultra-Rapid Charging

Ultra-rapid charging is available in one DC connector type, the charger must be above 150 kW to qualify as Ultra-Rapid. This rate of power is seriously fast (and the most costly) and can only be found at service station charging points:

1. CCS (150 - 350 kW DC) - or ‘Combined Charging System’ is the UK's most popular DC rapid connector, and most new EVs in the UK are being fitted with the CCS plug socket. You might have noticed that the top half of the CCS graphic looks like a Type 2 socket - well, that’s because it is! When you want AC power, slot a Type 2 connector into the top half of your EVs socket - when you want DC power, use the CCS connector (the additional two pins engage the rapid charge).

Visual for CCS socket
Tesla Superchargers

With over 950 supercharging stations in the UK (and more to come), you've likely seen a Tesla Supercharger at service stations on your travels. In the UK, there are two types of Tesla Superchargers: V2 and V3. V2 offers a rate of 120 kW, while V3 offers a whopping 250 kW (soon to increase to 300 kW). 

V2 Superchargers have dual-cable connector posts for:

1. Tesla Type 2

Visual for type 2 socket

2. Tesla CCS Combo 2 - directly compatible with all Model 3 vehicles (and any Model S and Model X built after May 2019).

Visual for CCS socket

Whereas V3 only offers cable technology for:

1. Tesla CCS Combo 2 - directly compatible with all Model 3 vehicles (and any Model S and Model X built after May 2019). Earlier Model S and X models can access V3 Supercharging via a CCS Combo 2 adapter.

Visual for CCS socket
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Cosmic Fact!

Superchargers used to be an exclusive perk for Tesla customers, however, in May 2022, Tesla admitted the UK into the non-Tesla Supercharger pilot.

This pilot allows any EV with CCS capability to charge at a Tesla Supercharger pilot site - currently totalling 15 in the UK. In order to charge, users will need to download the Tesla app and create an account. Tesla Superchargers are not yet compatible with Electroverse.

Interested in learning more? Head to the non-Tesla Supercharger pilot FAQ page.

AC? DC? What does it mean?

For those needing a refresher: 

  1. AC = alternating current

  2. DC = direct current

Power taken from the grid is always AC because it can transmit over great distances without much loss of power. But to store power in a battery (like in an EV), there must be a conversion to DC. 

A direct current gives life to electronics as power is released from the batteries in one direction, as and when needed. Essentially this is how you can switch an EV off, turn it back on two days later, and still have charge to drive to the shops. 

Depending on how you charge your EV, DC conversion either happens through the charging connector or the vehicle's onboard system. While both methods of conversion are automatic, you’ll need to be mindful of your EV's onboard system capacity (e.g. 11 kW), as this can affect the charging speed for AC connectors. So, why do DC chargers exist if an EV can convert the power itself? 

It's all about speed. 

Imagine the EV onboard system as the middle man - cut out the middle man, and you've got a speedy boarding pass to some super fast charging. 

But DC charging is a far more complicated and costly process than its AC sibling. The average DC charging station uses 50 kW of power (over twice the average power of an AC station), and as such, it demands much more power from the grid. More power = more cost. 

graphic showing ac/dc power

To get the latest charging rates*, simply go into the Electroverse app and tap on the relevant charging pin!

*Electroverse does not own any chargers on our network and does not control the rates, we simply pass through the rates provided to us by the charging provider. Where possible, we offer discounts!

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