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With more electric vehicles sold in 2023 than ever before, you might be in the market for an EV charger.
But with so many EV charger types out there, it’s easy to get lost in the maze.
While it may seem complicated at first, it’s actually quite a simple process.
And in this guide, we’ll show you all of the EV charger types you need to know, from connector types, speeds, and if you need an untethered or tethered charger.
Let’s get into it:
The most fundamental part of buying an EV charger is making sure it supports your connector.
Unlike petrol or diesel cars, electric vehicles don’t have a one-size-fits-all charging method. In fact, each vehicle will have a specific type of charging connector it’s able to connect with.
Below, you’ll learn more about the most common EV charger connectors.
Often referred to as SAE J1772 or simply J-plugs, Type 1 Connectors are predominantly found in North America and parts of Asia.
If you've got an EV from these regions, chances are you've seen or used a Type 1 connector.
These are primarily used for Level 1 and Level 2 charging, facilitating an overnight charge or a top-up while you're on the go.
Type 2 Connectors are the most common EV charger connectors in Europe.
If you’ve bought an EV vehicle made in Europe, it’s highly likely that you have a Type 2 socket.
Nicknamed Mennekes connectors after the German company that developed them, Type 2 connectors are very versatile and support both single-phase and three-phase power supplies, which means they can handle a wide range of charging speeds.
Although a bit of a mouthful, CHAdeMO is a direct current (DC) fast charger connector that originated in Japan.
This fast-charging system can charge your EV battery up to 80% in just under an hour.
You'll find these connectors at some public charging stations, standing by for a quick battery boost.
Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors are the latest in EV charging technology.
They combine the Type 2's AC charging capability with DC fast charging, using two additional pins below the Type 2 inlet.
CSS connectors come in two different form factors, with a different pin layout - so it’s important to check which one is right.
Although there aren’t a lot of cars compatible with CSS, the main options currently in the UK are the BMW i3, Kia e-Niro, Volkswagen ID.3 and the Jaguar I-Pace.
After ensuring what connection type you’ve got, the next step is picking your actual EV charger.
There are four main types of EV Charger available at the time of writing (February 2024), which all refer to the speed in which it can charge your electric vehicle.
Below, we’ll discuss each and the compatible connector types:
Ultra-rapid chargers are the fastest EV charger available in the UK.
They’re a DC charger that provides a power output greater than 100 kW, with some known to reach 350kW.
In simple terms, an ultra-rapid charger can refill an EV battery to 80% in just 20 minutes.
As of December 2023, there were 4,869 ultra-rapid charging points in the UK - 112% more than in 2022, according to Zapmap.
This continued and growing support makes it far easier to justify buying a compatible car.
The main connector type for ultra-rapid chargers is the CCS connector, which supports up to 350kW DC.
Other connectors like the CHAdeMO and Type 2 are compatible, but you will not be able to reach max speeds with them.
Rapid chargers are the second speediest EV charger on the market and typically offer power from 43 kW to 50 kW.
They can charge an EV battery to about 80% in roughly 30 minutes, depending on your vehicle's battery capacity and charging capability.
Most rapid chargers come equipped with both AC and DC charging options, giving you the flexibility to match the connector type and charging speed with your specific EV model.
As of December 2023, there were 5,628 rapid charging points in the UK - a 22% increase vs 2022.
The main connector types for rapid charging are:
Type 2 connectors can support up to 43kW AC, while the CHAdeMO can support up to 50KW DC.
Public rapid chargers usually have two cables, the CHAdeMO and CCS, so you can pick the right one for your car.
One of the main criticisms of electric vehicles is the time it takes to charge them up.
This can especially be a worry for longer trips.
With rapid and ultra-rapid chargers fast becoming more accessible, you may think that these EV concerns are a thing of the past.
However, there are some caveats.
When using rapid and ultra-rapid chargers, your experience will vary based on the compatibility between your vehicle's onboard charger and the external unit.
In other words, you may not be getting the maximum advertised speeds.
It's also worth noting that repeated use of ultra-rapid chargers may affect battery life over time.
In fact, while ultra-rapid and rapid charging is convenient for long trips, it’s recommended that you use slower or home charging is advisable for routine top-ups to help maintain your battery's health and longevity.
This is why many people buying EV chargers in their home opt for fast or slow chargers, which you can learn more about below.
Fast chargers are the most popular public and home charger in the UK.
According to Zapmap, there were 28,622 fast chargers in the UK as of December 2023 - 94% more than slow chargers and 487% more than ultra-rapid chargers.
Despite being the most popular EV charger and no longer at the cutting edge of technology, support for fast chargers is still ongoing with a 33.5% rise in new fast charging ports in 2023.
Fast chargers support speeds between 7kW to 22kW AC.
In practice, a 7kW fast charger can refill an EV battery in six to eight hours, while 22kW connections can take three hours.
7kW fast chargers are by far the most popular for home EV chargers, and can help maximise your car's battery life.
The two connector types compatible with fast chargers are:
Due to most cars having a Type 2 connector in Europe, it’s recommended that you buy a fast charger if you’re in the market for a home EV charger solution.
Slow chargers are the second most popular public and home charger in the UK, with 14,746 public ports in December 2023 - 65% more than the previous year.
Although you may think fast chargers have rendered slow chargers obsolete, they remain an essential part of the electric vehicle ecosystem.
They offer an accessible and convenient way to top up your EV battery overnight or during extended hours at work.
Slow chargers are rated at speeds up to 6kW AC. You’ll mostly find slow charger ports in residential street lamps, which use the three-pin 3kW connector.
You can expect a slow charger to take up to 12 hours to recharge an EV battery, which makes them only recommended for an emergency top up.
Alongside the type 2 and type 1 connectors, you can also use the UK’s three-pin plug to charge at home and commando plugs.
Commando plugs can provide up to 6kW, and are commonly used to connect caravans up to the mains electricity.
Tesla is one of the world’s biggest EV manufacturers, with the Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3 ranking in the top 2 best-selling EVs in the UK.
One of the biggest benefits of owning a Tesla is that you’ll have exclusive access to a network known as Tesla Superchargers.
They’re rated at up to 150kW and can charge a Tesla’s battery to 80% in 30 minutes.
Tesla’s use their own type of connectors, which are:
There are around 1,100 supercharger points in the UK. If you’re not close to any of these options, many Tesla owners use socket adapters to make the Tesla compatible with public CCS and CHAdeMO connectors.
Up to 250 kW
Approx. 15 min for up to 200 miles range
Tesla Vehicles Only
Directly through Tesla Account
So, you now know what EV charger types are available and what connectors are compatible.
There’s only one last choice you need to make: Do you get a tethered or an untethered EV charger for your home?
Tethered EV chargers are chargers that come with a permanently attached cable.
They offer convenience as you don't need to unpack and pack a cable every time you charge.
Many drivers favour tethered systems for home use because they're always ready to go.
However, one consideration is that they're limited to the connector type of your EV, so if you switch to a vehicle with a different port, you may need a new charger.
In contrast, untethered chargers come with a socket on the charging unit where you can plug in any compatible charging cable.
This flexibility means that you can use different cables for different EVs.
If you own multiple electric vehicles with different connectors or plan on updating your car in the future, an untethered charger could be the more adaptable option.
You can learn more about tethered vs untethered chargers by clicking the link.