With the different types of EV and PHEV charging cables available in the UK, you might be wondering which one is right for you? In this guide we will explain everything that you need to know in order to choose the right cable, for you and your car.
What kind of cable do you need?
The first question you will need to ask when considering which cable you need, is do I want to charge at home or at a public charging station? Electric vehicles potentially require a different cable for each of these options. Public charging stations on the rapid charging network provide a much faster way of charging your car, although their cables require additional equipment for use at home. While charging from home can be a convenient and cheaper alternative, as you can leave your car to charge overnight, this does tend to be slower.
Charging from home
According to EVWired, charging from home is currently the most popular method of charging electric cars. In order to charge your vehicle from home, you will either require a 3-pin charging cable or a wall-box. Home charging boxes usually require a Type 1 or Type 2 cable. The cable would be plugged into your wall-box socket – providing you have access to off-road parking.
However, if you currently do not have access to off-road parking – in the form of a garage or driveway, don’t panic, because local councils are now beginning to implement charging points within residential areas. Although you will still require your own cable to charge your vehicle.
Charging in public
The majority of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids can be charged in public using Type 2 box units. The Type 2 socket type is the most commonly used to charge your EV while out and about, with most drivers using a Type 2 cable to charge their vehicle.
When it comes to charging your EV, there are three different speeds available: Mode 2, Mode 3 and Mode 4.
Each speed is dependent on your vehicle, the method of charging used, and the kilowatts (kW) used to charge your car.
Mode 2 is a slower, more leisurely 3kW charging speed. This can take anything up to 12 hours to fully charge your car. This is what 3-pin chargers class as, and is best left overnight for a full charge.
Mode 4 covers the impressive rapid chargers, with cables powered up to 120kW. These can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to charge to full, however these tend to be available in fewer locations.
Mode 3 covers most standard charging, including most charging from home charging boxes or charging points. This can fully charge your car at a speed of around 4 hours. Mode 3 cables fit into one of two categories, Single Phase and Three Phase.
Single Phase vs Three Phase
Mode 3 covers a fairly wide amount of charging cables, so these are further described using their Phase. The Phase of a Mode 3 cable describes the maximum speed the cable can charge at and will likely be the most important thing to look for.
Single Phase tends to refer to wall boxes installed at home, which can usually charge at up to 7.4kW.
Three phase charging cables have a maximum speed of up to 22kW, three times faster than the average single phase speed. These are almost exclusively found at commercial sites or car parks, due to the higher installation cost and power draw.
Differences between charging cables
There are a variety of different charging cables available on the market today. In this section, we will discuss the most commonly used socket types in detail.
Type 1 charging cable
The Type 1 charging cable is one of the older plug types, containing 5 pins. These are able to charge at up to 7.4kW.
Type 1 is the standard plug type in Japan and it is also used on some American vehicles. They are lesser known in Europe, being used on only a handful of vehicles. Type 1 includes a fastener that prevents the plug from falling out of its socket while charging.
Popular vehicles that use Type 1 cables include Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs and the original Nissan Leaf EVs.
Type 2 charging cable
The Type 2 plug type is the standard in Europe and China. It contains a 7 pin plug, providing a quick charging time with an output up to 22kW depending on the Phase.
Type 2 chargers are the most commonly used in the UK – as most charging stations support this socket. Type 2 chargers also contain a locking pin as a safety and security feature, to stop the plug from becoming loose, as well as deterring thieves from stealing your cable.
Type 2 cables are compatible with most vehicles currently produced for the UK and Europe, including the Tesla Model 3, BMW 330e and the Renault Zoe.
3 pin charging cable
The 3 pin charging cable has a standard UK plug at one end, with a Type 1 or a Type 2 at the other. This will be plugged into a standard UK plug socket that transfers power between the socket and the vehicle, providing an output of up to 3kW, making this a slower, more leisurely charging option.
Combined Charging System (CCS)
The CCS charger is an enhancement of the common Type 2, providing a higher power range between 50kW-350kW. This enables EVs to charge at rapid high speeds.
These chargers provide up to 50kW and are usually available at public charging stations. They are compatible with EV brands such as Nissan and Mitsubishi.
There are a number of things you should be aware of when it comes to choosing the right cable for your EV, as you have read above. Depending on your vehicle and power outlet, you can choose between slowly charging your EV overnight, or rapidly charging your vehicle throughout the day.