Know your electric vehicle plugs, cables & adaptors

31 / 01 / 2020  |  Driver Guides

What type of connector and cables do I need for charging?

The type of connector you will use when charging depends on what type of charging you’re doing – AC is slow/fast charging and DC is rapid/super rapid charging. What you use could depend on where you are and the type of electric vehicle that you’ve got.

AC – Slow/fast charging and types of side connectors

There are two types of vehicle side connectors for slow/fast charging:

Type 1 – Vehicle-side connector

If you have a type 1 vehicle connector then typical AC kW ratings for the car will be either 3.7kW or 7kW. A 3.7kW car will gain approx. 12.5 miles of range per hour of charging, whilst a 7kW car will gain approx. 25 miles of range per hour of charging.

Type 2 – Vehicle-side connector

If you have a type 2 vehicle connector then your car is likely to have an AC kW rating of either 3.7kW, 11kW or 22kW. An 11kW rated car will gain approx. 37 miles of range per hour of charging, whereas 22kW car will gain approx. 75 miles of range per hour of charging.

REMEMBER: It is your car’s AC kW rating that determines how much power your vehicle can take from the charge side connector/power.

Types of charger-side connectors

Once you’ve found out the connector you have for your vehicle, you will need to think about what is available on the charger side for slow/fast charging.

Type 2 – Charger-side connector

A charger-side type 2 connector is likely to have an AC rating of 3.7, 5, 7, 11 or 22 kW.
If you are picking a home charger then it is important to pick the type 2 connector that both maximises your vehicle’s charging capabilities and corresponds to your vehicle’s AC kW rating. For example, if your vehicle can accept 7kW of AC power then it would not be advisable to pick a charge point which only has a 3.7kW rating.

3-pin plug – Charge-side connector

Most electric cars can be plugged in to a 3 point-pin connector which would give 2.3kW of power, equivalent to 8 miles of range per hour of charging. This is not an effective or long-term solution for your charging needs if you have a fully electric vehicle.

Cable requirements for slow and fast charging

Once you’ve established your connector type it’s time to consider the most suitable cabling. The location of where you’re charging will have a bearing on your cable choice.

Home charging – tethered versus untethered
  • Home charging units are either tethered or untethered. Tethered means that the cable is attached to the charging unit already and you simply drive up and plug your vehicle in, whereas untethered charging requires a portable cable that has the correct vehicle and charger-side connectors on each end.
  • If you want to pick a tethered home charger unit then you need to decide which type of vehicle-side connector you need – type 1 or 2. The charger-side will always be a type 2.
  • For untethered, you will need to buy a cable which has type 2 for your charger-side and either a type 1 or 2 connector for your vehicle-side.
  • Public slow and fast chargers are mostly untethered, as such if you’re using one of these units whilst you’re out and about you will need a cable that has a type 2 connector for the charging point and a connector for your vehicle which corresponds with your vehicle-side connector – type 1 or type 2.
  • You may have the same cable at home if you have an untethered charging unit there.
DC – Rapid/Super rapid charging

What power outlets are available for charger-side connectors?
All rapid and super rapid charge points are tethered. This means that the cable you will need to plug in to your car is attached to the charging unit and you do not need to bring your own rapid charging cable. Therefore, you’ll need to locate the type of rapid charger that has the vehicle-side connector cable appropriate to your vehicle – CHAdeMO, CCS or type 2 for Tesla Model S and X vehicles.

The power output of the rapid/super rapid charger will vary between 25kW and 350kW.

Some examples of charge times for rapid chargers:

  • A 50kW rapid charger provides 75 miles of range per hour of charging
  • A 150kW super rapid charger would therefore provide 225 miles per range per hour of charging
  • Whilst 350kW chargers are available there are only very limited numbers because it is not clear how many electric vehicles will be able to charge at this rate

REMEMBER: As with AC charging, the amount your vehicle would be able to take from the unit would depend on its own max DC kW rating.

Types of vehicle-side connectors

Your vehicle-side connector for rapid charging will not necessarily look the same as your AC connector – a different type of connector is required for DC charging.

CHAdeMO – Charger-side connector

Combined charging system (CCS) – Charger-side connector

Type 2 (Tesla only) – Charger-side connector (Tesla model S and X vehicles have a type 2 vehicle-side DC connector)

REMEMBER: How much of the charger’s DC kW your vehicle can take will vary model to model. However, if you know that your vehicle’s DC rating is 100kW then you do not need to drive out of your way to locate a more powerful public charger, as your car will still only be able to take at the rate of 100kW regardless of the higher capabilities of some charging units.


You know what type of charging your electric car requires and what connecting cables are needed, so you are all set for your journey. Below are a couple of tips to help you on your way.

  • Zap-Map – allows you to filter on the type of connection you require, what network you prefer, payment methods and location types to identify chargers available in locations that work for you. Users of the app can also report whether a charger is working or not and this is then made visible to alert other users.
  • A better routeplanner – allows you to enter your exact electric vehicle model and your preferred charger type to calculate the best route, including details of approx. cost per charge and the level of battery you should expect upon your arrival.

REMEMBER: Such detailed planning is only necessary when you are completing journeys which cannot be done on a single charge of battery. New electric models have an increased range and you should find that for most of the time you are charging your vehicle at home, reducing your reliance on the public charging network.

Understanding electric vehicle charging

When it comes to powering your electric vehicle (EV) there’s a variety of ways you can charge it and connect, which means there’s an ideal EV for everyone.

A guide to electric vehicle tax and finance

Electric and low-emitting vehicles can offer real financial benefits and cost savings compared to petrol and diesel equivalents. Read our guide to find out how.

Curing electric vehicle range anxiety

One of the biggest barriers people have when considering an electric vehicle (EV) is the electric range. Find out how far you can go.