Are all electric car charging stations the same?

Published by on 02.22.2021 - 4 min

One of the most common concerns that drivers have when it comes to joining the electric car revolution is about chargers. Users want to feel reassured that they will be able to restore battery levels wherever they are, and with a variety of electric car charger options. Read on for all the answers to your electric car charger questions.

Are all electric vehicles compatible with all chargers?

The answer is twofold. Firstly, it depends on the continent. In the United States, for example, there are two electric car charger standards for electric and plug-in hybrid cars: Type 1 (AC) and CCS1 (Combined Charging Standard) or CHAdeMO (DC). Europe also has its own two electric car charger types: Type 2 connector (AC) and CCS2 or CHAdeMO (DC).

How do I know which chargers my electric vehicle can use?

An easy way to find out which electric car chargers are suitable for your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle is to check the handbook. In the UK, for example, there are multiple electric car charging networks, and each one can function a little differently.

Twingo Electric charge

Understanding electric car connectors

There are three parts to an electric car charger: the electric car connector (or “plug”) that goes directly into the car via an inlet port, the cable, and a second plug at the other end of this cable that attaches to the power source — if the cable isn’t directly attached to the terminal.

Different types of electric vehicle connector

Choosing your electric car connector depends on the charger type and the car’s own inlet port. There are four types of electric car connector, two for alternating current (AC) and two for direct current (DC).

The “type 2” electric car connector can be used at all of the most common charging infrastructures, and can receive up to 22kW. The “type 4” electric car connector is used for fast charging using direct, not alternating, current, and can receive up to 50kW. To adapt to this, the Combined Charging System (CCS) has been developed, combining the type 2 electric car connector with contacts for direct current charging.

Fast and slow terminals usually have “Type 1” or “Type 2” plugs, while rapid chargers use CHAdeMO, CCS and “Type 2” plugs. As a general rule, most European models have “Type 2” inlets and the CCS standard, while Asian electric vehicles have a “Type 1” and CHAdeMO combination.

Electric car charging stations: different ways of charging an electric vehicle

People have diverse lifestyles, so there isn’t one charging solution to suit everyone. This is why governments and operators are rolling out a wide array of electric car charging points (and also for plug-in hybrid cars). There are now, for example, more than 200,000 public charging stations in Europe.

Parking charge

What do the different “modes” of charging mean for drivers?

There are 4 modes, or ways, of charging your electric vehicle. Mode 1 refers to the use of a traditional power socket to charge your electric vehicle. But, because there is no dedicated circuit, charging the car is very slow. Mode 2 is the use of an electronic control unit, like the Renault Flexi Charger, to regulate the power. Mode 3 is when you have a dedicated control unit, a Wallbox for example, integrated into the electric supply. This offer faster and safer charging than Mode 1. Mode 4 refers to the use of the fast-charging infrastructure often available on highway rest stops, parking lots, in city centers etc.

Installing an electric car charger at home

By far the most popular way of charging an electric vehicle is at home. Why? Because not only is it more convenient, but you can get a full long charge overnight, and can even make the most of advantageous electricity rates: electricity suppliers are increasingly rolling out special tariffs for electric vehicle owners with cheaper night-time rates. And, while you can charge your car using a standard domestic socket, it’s a safer, (much) faster and more economical decision to install an electric car charger at home, such as a Wallbox.

ZOE charging wallbox

Grants for electric car charger installation

Governments offer grants for electric car chargers. In the UK for example, the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) currently provides grants to help with the purchase and installation of chargers both at-home and at places of work.

Or in the US, where the country, state and even utility companies provide grants to municipalities and transit authorities for the installation and update of electric charging infrastructure. Even in less heavily-populated countries, grants are available: like in New Zealand, where 21 company projects have recently been awarded a combined 3.8 million NZD from the nation’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund.

Don’t forget, driving an electric car also means you can enjoy privileges that vehicles with an internal combustion engine can’t. Certain towns and cities offer electric cars dedicated parking zones, access to low emissions zones, exemption from traffic restrictions, public charging stations for electric vehicles offering dedicated parking spaces, and more.

Whether at home, work or on the road, the electric car charging infrastructure — and charging stations for electric vehicles in particular — is improving at a fast rate around the world. Plus, technology is even being developed on electric cars to enable the vehicle to self-charge itself while driving, much like their hybrid counterparts!

 

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