Types of Electric Car Plugs


If you know anything about how electric cars work, you know that they operate via a lithium-ion battery. The battery is recharged by plugging the car into an EV charging station. But did you know there are different types of electric car plugs, and each one has different capabilities, costs and charging speeds? 

Types of Electric Car Plugs

Understanding the different electric car plugs can help you, as an EV owner, understand how and where you can charge your EV. And if you’re a business owner or property manager considering investing in EV charging stations, understanding the car charging plug variations can help you accommodate all your EV driving visitors.

Level 1 and Level 2 Plugs

Level 1 and Level 2 EV car charging stations use the same type of plug, which comes standard on most electric vehicles, except Teslas. It’s called the J1772 plug and can charge your vehicle at a rate of 4 to 40 miles per hour, depending on the charging station voltage and current. 

The standard J1772 car charging plug can charge your car using 120, 208 or 240 volts of electricity, depending on the type of charging station you’re using and the infrastructure where the charging station is being installed. Level 1 charging stations use a 120-volt system. This is analogous to plugging your phone in. You can install a car charging station in your garage or mount it to your house near your driveway and charge overnight. 

Level 1 charging stations are slow, delivering just three to five miles of driving range per hour of charging. But charging with a Level 1 charging station won’t increase your monthly electric bill by a noticeable amount, making it an extremely cost-effective charging solution. 

Level 2 charging stations, on the other hand, use 208 or 240 volts of electricity to charge your vehicle up to 10 times faster than a Level 1 station. Many businesses looking to incorporate EV charging stations into their parking lot deploy Level 2 charging stations. 

However, whether you’re a business or a homeowner, keep in mind that installing a Level 2 charging station may require an electric upgrade. The units themselves are also more expensive, and you may experience higher electric bills with the charging unit. 

As a business owner looking to install EV charging stations, you can mitigate costs by charging customers for charging time or offer a flat rate for EV charging use. Some states and municipalities also offer incentives for installing Level 2 or fast-charging EV charging stations. 

As a side note, Tesla provides an adapter as a standard feature with the purchase of their EVs so you can use any Level 1 or Level 2 charging station to charge your Model S, 3, X or Y. 

DC Fast-Charging Plugs

DC fast-charging plugs (considered Level 3) have many advantages over Level 1 and Level 2 plugs, including their quick charging speeds. A DC fast charger can charge an electric car battery up to 80% from almost empty within 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the vehicle). If you are just “topping off,” so to speak, you can do so in about the same amount of time it takes to pump gas. DC fast chargers cost more to operate due to specialized equipment and increased demand on the electric grid. But they are highly desirable to travelers due to their fast charging speeds. 

DC chargers use two different types of plugs, depending on the manufacturer of your vehicle. Tesla owners can use an adapter to charge at non Tesla Supercharger DC fast-charging stations

CHAdeMO Chargers

The first type of DC fast-charging system on the market, CHAdeMO chargers promote e-mobility by reducing range anxiety and enabling drivers to charge their batteries almost as fast as they could fill a gas tank on an ICE vehicle. CHAdeMO chargers can charge a battery to 80% in about 60 minutes at a rate of roughly 2 miles per minute of charging. 

However, only the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV currently use a CHAdeMO electric car plug for charging. In the U.S., CHAdeMO chargers are quickly being surpassed by CCS chargers (see below). For maximum flexibility, however, business owners might consider DC fast-charging stations that accommodate both types of plugs. 

SAE Combined Charging System (Combo/CCS)

The Combined Charging Standard Combo, or CCS, has become the standard DC fast-charging plug for electric cars in the U.S. It can charge a vehicle’s battery up to 80% in roughly 30 minutes. 

If you’re considering installing EV charging stations and want the latest equipment to accommodate the majority of EV drivers, a CCS system could be your best choice. 

Tesla Supercharger Plugs 

Tesla uses proprietary electric car plugs for its line of vehicles. They are also considered Level 3. Drivers use the network of Tesla Superchargers to charge their vehicles, although Tesla drivers can use an adapter to charge at other DC fast-charging stations that use CCS or CHAdeMO plugs and at Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations. 

Tesla has revealed plans to provide charging adapters for non-Tesla vehicles to use its network of Superchargers. Until those plans come to fruition, other EV drivers rely on charging at home or businesses that provide charging capabilities through Level 2 or DC fast-charging stations compatible with the majority of EVs on the road today. 

Electric Car Plugs with EV Connect

Business owners can reap multiple benefits by installing Level 2 or DC fast-charging stations on their property. As the number of EV drivers on the road continues to grow, demand for charging will increase, as well. EV Connect provides all you need to add EV charging as a service at your place of business. Looking to install EV charging stations at your business? See how we can help!

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who has written about sustainability and solar for 20-plus years. She frequently covers Tesla and Elon Musk for GoBankingRates, GeekTravelGuide.net and other online publications.


CHAdeMO – What Is Fast Charging

InsideEVs – What You Need To Know About the Various EV Charging Plugs in the US

DriveElectricVT – About Charging

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