Electric Vehicle Charging Guide
Understanding how and where PiVs can be charged is an important part of any decision to choose a PHEV or EV.
One of the best independent and up to date sources for information on PiV charging and infrastructure is Zap-Map (https://www.zap-map.com/). The following information on charging connectors and types has been adapted from the Zap-Map Guide to EV Charging.
There are four main types of PiV charging – slow, fast, rapid and super/ultra-rapid charging. These represent the power outputs, and therefore charging speeds, available to charge a PiV.
Each charger type has a set of connectors designed for low or high power use, and for either AC or DC charging. The following sections offer a detailed description of the four main charge point types and the different connectors available.
Note: Power is measured in kilowatts (kW) and all charging times are dependent on the battery capacity of the individual vehicle.
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 or 3-pin plug outlets, but it’s also possible to charge via a Commando connector, which are more commonly used to provide a power supply to caravans and boats.
On the vehicle-side, the European standard for the inlet socket on new vehicles is now the Type 2 (7-Pin) socket. However, older Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV models use the Type 1 (5-pin) socket.
Models that have always used a Type 2 socket then use the corresponding CCS rapid connection, whereas although the Leaf and Outlander have converted to the Type 2 socket for standard charging, they still maintain the CHAdeMO socket for rapid charging.
Most, but not all, PiVs come 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 are fitted with a compatible connector for the car’s AC inlet port. These cables enable a PiV to connect to most untethered charge points, while use of tethered units requires using the cable with the correct connector type for the vehicle.
It’s worth remembering that charging speeds – and therefore charge times – are not only dependent on the charge unit, but also on the vehicle’s onboard AC or DC charger. The charging speed will be limited to the lower of the two figures.
AC Charging – Slow and Fast
AC Charging (Alternating Current) is the most common form of charging infrastructure primarily found at home, in the workplace or at other public places such as supermarket car parks. The battery can’t take AC directly, so an onboard charger converts it to Direct Current (DC).
The speed at which a battery charges is determined by the charge unit and the on-board charger. For instance, a PHEV with a 3.5kW onboard charger will only take power at 3.5kWh even if connected to a 7kWh charge unit.
Similarly, an EV with a 7kW onboard charger will only take power at 7kWh even if connected to a 22kWh charge unit.
Slow Charging is typically from a domestic 3-pin plug socket and is commonly used by many owners to charge at home overnight. However, as battery sizes are increasing, the time taken to fully charge an EV by this method is increasing. An EV with a 50kWh battery would take approximately 24 hours to fully charge from a 3-pin socket.
However, slow charging is not necessarily restricted to home use, as 3-pin charging sockets can sometimes be found in workplace and public charge points. Because of the longer charging times compared to fast units, slow public charge points are less common and tend to be older devices.
Whilst 3-pin slow charging is fine if a little bit time consuming, because of the higher demands of PiVs and the longer amount of time spent charging, it’s a good idea for anybody who needs to charge regularly at home or the workplace to think about getting a dedicated PiV charging unit installed.
As well as home units, fast chargers tend to be found in places such as car parks, supermarkets or retail parks where you’re likely be parked for an hour or more.
Fast chargers are typically rated at 7kW but slower 3.7kW and faster 11kW or 22kW (single or three-phase 32A) units can also be found. Charging times vary depending on unit speed and the vehicle, but a 7kW charger will recharge a compatible EV with a 50kWh battery in around 8-9 hours.
Tesla chargers provide 11kW or 22kW of power but, like the Tesla Supercharger network, are intended only for use by Tesla models. Tesla does provide some standard Type 2 chargers at many of its locations, and these are compatible with any PiV using the correct cable, although some of these are tethered units with a Type 2 cable connector.
DC Charging – Rapid and Super/Ultra Rapid
Rapid chargers supply high power Direct Current (DC) straight into the battery (bypassing the onboard charger) and are the fastest way to charge an EV. They’re typically used for charging en route and so are found in motorway services or in locations close to main roads.
Non-Tesla rapid DC chargers have the charging cable tethered to the unit and provide power at 50kW (125A) via either the CHAdeMO or CCS charging connector. Both types will typically charge an EV 10–80% in about 50-60 minutes depending on battery capacity. In many cases, the charging units power down when the battery is around 80% full. This is to protect the battery and extend its life.
The vast majority of EVs use the CCS connector, however the Nissan Leaf utilises the CHAdeMO socket.
Rapid charging can only be used on vehicles with a rapid-charging capability. Not all EV models have the additional CCS connector and this may be an optional extra as part of the model specification.
Given the easily recognisable connector profiles (see images above), the specification for your model is easy to check from the vehicle manual or by inspecting the onboard inlet.
The next generation of ultra-rapid DC units will increase the power first to 150kW and then to 350kW, which will significantly reduce overall charging times. However, in a similar way to the AC onboard charger, not all EVs can charge at these higher rates and are limited to 50kW.
Tesla’s Supercharger network also provides rapid DC charging to drivers of its cars, but use a Tesla Type 2 connector and charge up to 250kW.
Rapid AC chargers can also be found which provide power at 43kW (three-phase, 63A) and use the Type 2 charging standard which some vehicles make use of.
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