Connecting your EV to a charger is the basis of being an electric car owner. But which to choose? Webasto is here to guide you through all of your EV purchases.
While the first electric vehicles (EVs) were created in 1884, there is a major push for more EV adoption within the last couple of years than ever before.
President Biden is requiring that at least 50% of all vehicle sales consist of electric vehicles. A majority of automotive executives (52% of the 1,100 surveyed), according to a 2021 KPMG report, believe this goal is achievable.
The hurtle most are seeing as the first to overcome? Accessible, fast and reliable charging stations. This article will explore the differences among charging connectors and how to choose the EV connector that’s best for you.
EV charging connectors
While all EVs offer lower or zero pollution emissions to the environment, not all are created the same. There are some variations among charging connectors that depend on several factors, from the size and shape to the charging speed and setup.
Charging your EV via a charging station is not dissimilar to using a charger for your phone. Instead of a charging box that connects to any plug found in the house, EVs use a charging station you can set up in your garage or outside your home (depending on where you park your car).
Once the charging station is installed by an electrician or plugged into the voltage-appropriate outlet, all you have to do is connect to your car and wait for it to charge.
Types of charging connectors
Beyond the standard charger, your vehicle comes with, you should consider upgrading chargers, portable chargers and charging types you’re likely to find in public. Because not every charger is compatible with each other, we’ve broken down the different types of chargers and their functions. To follow, we will cover the types of EV charging connectors available for your vehicle.
Level 1 chargers
The 15 amp, 125v charger known as NEMA 5-15 is the standard charging plug you’d most likely have in your home. It’s the same plug used for your large appliances such as the refrigerator or washing machine. The NEMA 5-20 is very similar but is usually found in public spaces that conserve energy such as office parking garages.
Level 1 chargers are the slowest at a rate of four to five miles per hour. It’s best for those who can plug their car in and leave it overnight to recharge, don’t drive often and have ample time available. The equipment that comes with the typical EV will have a Level 1 charger with it.
Level 2 chargers
If you require a faster charge, a Level 2 charger is your best bet. They are not sold with your new EV but are usually bought as an add-on at the time of purchase or lease.
Along with a charging capacity of 20-65 miles per hour, they also require cords and equipment that differ from Level 1 chargers to run properly.
Most vehicles in North America use the J1772 plug (except for Tesla, which uses a proprietary Level 2 plug). The J1772 is considered the standard charger for Level 2 vehicles by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) — a professional association in charge of setting standards for the automotive industry. For this reason, this type of charger is also known as the SAE J1772.
Tesla chargers come standard with Level 2 charging connectors. Although Tesla has its own charging requirements and hardware, aftermarket adapters are available so that Tesla vehicles are broadly compatible with other charging ports.
Level 1 and 2 charging options offer alternating current (AC) charging, in which the energy being created from the plug is converted into usable energy inside of the vehicle. However, rapid public charging stations use direct current (DC) power.
DC fast charging allows the power to convert the energy for the vehicle in the charger itself and into your vehicle. These types of chargers are typically larger and used for en-route rapid charging (like a fuel pump for a gas-powered vehicle).
Rapid chargers have CHAdeMO and CCS connectors attached, requiring you to select which type fits your vehicle socket.
While rapid charging seems ideal because of the rate at which it charges your vehicle, it is not recommended as an everyday source of power because of its inconsistent charging patterns, which can hurt your vehicle’s ability to charge.
The CHAdeMO charger typically charges at a rate of 75 to 150 miles per half-hour. A CCS charges at a rate of 75 to 525 miles per half-hour depending on the type of connector watt capacity.
Which charging connector is best for you?
Most EVs you buy off the lot are equipped with a Level 1 charger cable that you can just plug into your everyday 120-volt outlet. As we mentioned, however, this type of charging method, although fine in emergencies, is very slow. Level 2 chargers must connect to a 240-volt outlet and recharge your vehicle much more quickly.
If you have a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) or a battery electric vehicle (BEV), your needs will be different. PHEVs have much smaller battery capacities than BEVS — 5 to 20 kilowatt-hours (kWh) versus 60 kWh to 100 kWh respectively.
Electric car charging is all about making sure your vehicle is fully charged when you hit the road.
While the number of chargers on the road grows as we prepare for the President’s 2030 goals, there is still a lot of work to be done to reach the nearly 145,000 gas-fuel stations around the U.S., according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the leading global trade association for fuel retailing.
If the Level 1 charger that came with your EV does not fit your lifestyle, you will need to consider alternatives.
Choosing the right EV charger
Some things to consider when you’re shopping for a charger should include:
- Cost: While affordable, prices range between $200 and $1,000.
- Cable length: You need to have a plan for where your vehicle will be parked most of the time in relation to the charging station. Cable length ranges between 12 and 25 feet.
- Smart or standard: A smart charging station can help you keep track of how charged your vehicle is, how much energy you’re using, and even set up bidirectional charging (depending on the charging station type). Standard charging stations do not have this capability but will stop when the vehicle is done charging.
- Plug-in or hardwired: A plug-in station allows you to move the cable around when you need to (like if you travel by vehicle often), but are often not as high-powered as a hardwired station. Hardwired setups do require an electrician to install or relocate your charger.
- UL-listed: When choosing a vehicle, make sure your car is as safe as possible. A UL-listed charging station can help bring you peace of mind with an independently-tested piece of technology.
Certain vehicle manufacturers will develop specific chargers that are compatible with certain vehicles. Here is a brief list of those options as you consider the type of vehicle and charging connector you want:
- CHAdeMO: Compatible with Mitsubishi, Nissan, Kia, and Toyota.
- CCS: U.S. and European EVs, including BMW, Volkswagen and Chevy.
- SAE J1772: All U.S. EVs
Contact us today to learn how you can get started towards an EV-fueled tomorrow.