Do all electric vehicles use the same outlet?


Electric cars are mostly like ordinary cars. You step on the right pedal and the car rolls, you turn the steering wheel and the car spins, and the only real difference is what kind of fuel is used in it. We say stuff like that all the time. If we are completely honest, this is only most of the time true. 99% of the time the only difference is the type of fuel used in the car, but the latter 1% probably needs to be explained.

To provide this explanation, we’ve launched a new segment called “Electric Car FAQs” which hopes to answer these weird questions that come up 1% of the time. The question of the day : do all EVs use the same socket?

Electric vehicle faq: do all electric vehicles use the same outlet?

Even if you don’t know anything about how electric cars work, you could probably guess that they run on some kind of battery. You would be right! This battery acts like a gas tank in a conventional car, storing “electric fuel” in reserve until needed. You even fill it up like a gas tank – the main difference is that you plug the car into an EV charging station, not a gas pump. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

The good news is, it’s easy to plug in your EV! But one thing that a lot of people not realize is that there are different types of electric car plugs and different types of chargers. Each has different capacities, costs, and charging speeds, and this is where some confusion can creep into the conversation.

As always, we’re here to clear things up for you, starting with the chargers.

Electric vehicle charge levels

Image courtesy of GM.

Level 1 is basically a standard 3-pin socket, like the one your phone charger is plugged into. These work the same way, delivering a slow trickle of power to your electric car’s battery to essentially replace a few miles of driving. You will typically get a range of 2-4 miles per hour of charging, and that usually won’t increase your monthly electric bill by a noticeable amount, making Level 1 home charging a hugely cost-effective charging solution.

Level 2 charging stations use 208 or 240 volts of electricity, much like the large outlet your dryer is plugged into. This involves recharging your vehicle up to 10 times faster than a Level 1 station. If you drive more than a few miles a day and want the convenience of knowing that you start each day with “a full tank” when charging at home, the installation of a level 2 charger in your garage is the solution, and you can expect to get up to 200 miles of range from an 8 hour charge overnight.

Since level 2 power is generally available in most commercial locations, many companies that want to integrate electric vehicle charging stations into their parking lot deploy level 2 charging stations. level 2 in your home or business, be sure to check with your local utility for discounts and incentives to help keep costs down.

Level 3 DC fast charge

DC fast charging outlets are generally considered “level 3” and have significantly faster charging speeds than “AC” level 1 or level 2 chargers. With enough juice, a DC fast charger can charge a battery. electric car to 80% of almost empty in about 20 minutes (depending on the vehicle)… but now is a good time to tell you that not all “level 3” recharges are created. equal.

“Level 3” is a generic term that was quite clear. As technology has progressed, this is a term that has led to more confusion than anything else, as it could mean anything from around 25kW of power to over 300kW (! ?).

That’s why some electric car owner apps like Chargeway have “split” the level 3 load into levels – 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 – to highlight this difference. At a local (well, local in Chicago, anyway) of ‘level 3’ station at Chargeway, it would take about three and a half hours to go from 10% to 90% charge in a car like the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach E. …

Chargeway display cap, level 3 charger

Screenshot of the Chargeway app.

… On another local charger, a “level 6” to use Chargeway’s naming system – time drops dramatically. You can get the exact same charge in under 40 minutes (below), instead of (quick math) 2015 minutes. It’s a lunch break or a grocery run, and knowing in advance what to expect when you arrive at a fast charger will make a big difference in your experience.

Chargeway Display Cap, Level 6 Charger - Mustang Mach-E GT

Screenshot of the Chargeway app.

The National Auto Dealers’ Association recently partnered with Chargeway to help train electric car dealers to use this more intuitive ‘level 1 through 7’ power system when talking about electric vehicle chargers … but they also want to use Chargeway to simplify outlet conversion. , which we will discuss next.

Different types of EV sockets

CHAdeMO was the first type of DC fast charging system on the market and helped early e-mobility users reduce range anxiety. Cars equipped with CHAdeMO plugs can quickly charge a battery to 80% in about 60 minutes at a rate of about 3 km of added range per minute of charge.

Mitsubishi Outlander CHAdeMO

Image from CleanTechnica.

Today, the Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (pictured above) are the most common CHAdeMO vehicles, but even they or they are switching to the more mainstream J1772 with their next generation of electric cars. Still, there are hundreds of thousands of used electric vehicles on the market that use this standard, so it’s worth knowing about.

Most “modern” electric vehicles (with the notable exception of cars built by Tesla) use the J1772, and the J1772 socket can charge your car using 120, 208, or 240 volts of electricity, depending on the type of charging station you are using. These are the “level 1” and “level 2” that we talked about earlier, and this is the most common type of charge you will find.

For fast charging, these same cars use the standard SAE combined charging system, or CCS. Developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE, Natch), it is the most widely used fast charging standard in the world and works with most fast chargers – but not, currently, the Tesla Supercharger Network.

Tesla cars on the Tesla Supercharger The network uses proprietary standards which, although also referred to as “level 3” by most networks, generally fall within the “level 6” or “level 7” range offered by Chargeway. Tesla drivers have exclusive access to the nationwide network of Tesla Superchargers to charge their vehicles, but they must use an adapter to charge at other DC fast charging stations that use CCS or CHAdeMO outlets and at DCS charging stations. level 1 and level 2.

Tesla Supercharger in Florida, by Zach Shahan / CleanTechnica.

Colors and numbers

We’ve already talked about how a charging app displays information can have a huge impact on your expected wait times while you’re charging. Chargeway also simplifies the process of finding the right charging stations for your car. Instead of displaying a ‘generic’ charging map that shows all the chargers in your neighborhood, Chargeway only shows you the stations that will work for your specific car, reducing anxiety and making it easier to ‘refuel faster’ with electric fuel.

Blue for CHAdeMO, green for J1772 / CCS and red for Tesla.

Chargeway Electric Car Charging Number Color System

Image courtesy of Chargeway.

Higher numbers equate to faster charging, so if you’ve got a Chevy Bolt it’s a Green 4. A Mustang Mach-E? It’s also a Green, but it will upgrade to level 6. A brand new Tesla Model S? Red 7.

It’s intuitive, and it’s the language many dealers will be using soon. “Because the more than 16,000 NADA member dealers represent almost all major automotive brands, their adoption of Chargeway will de facto create a ‘standard dictionary’ of electric vehicle charging terms,” ​​the press release read. NADA official. “” Green “outlets,” level 6 “chargers, and so on. This will facilitate communication between dealers and buyers of electric vehicles, regardless of brand. “

That said, we hope we’ve made the different types of EV charging and chargers clearer for you. If you want to learn more about smarter ways to view or talk about electric vehicles, you can connect with Chargeway founder Matt Teske on the Electrify Expo podcast with CleanTechnicais Jo Borras (me!) on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Original content of CleanTechnica.

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