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EV Charging Plug Types: Electric Vehicle Charging Decoded

EV Charging Plug Types

Most drivers don’t realize that electric vehicle charging plugs are not always the same. When you think of plugging something in people usually picture a common 110v home outlet which has been a standard for decades. But while electric vehicles have evolved, so have their charging plugs. Let’s take a look at the EV charging plug types you might find when topping up the battery on an electric vehicle.

EV Charging Plug Types

For the sake of simplicity we are going to talk about the six most common EV charging plug types: Type 1, Type 2, CCS Combo 1, CCS Combo 2, CHAdeMO, and Tesla. There are actually several more electric vehicle plug types that are either outdated like the old General Motors EV1 paddle charger or newly proposed like the Megawatt Charging System (MCS). If you look at the charging port on an electric vehicle in a major city, you will likely find one of the following plugs.

Type 1 – This is probably the first plug that most people saw on mainstream electric vehicles. It is a round body plug with five pins. Technically it is the SAE J1772 connector, but is also sometimes referred to as a “J Plug” connector. There is a variant of this plug that adds two DC fast charging pins at the bottom known as the CCS Combo 1. This variant uses the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard to allow for DC fast charging of compatible vehicles. It is only able to handle single phase AC current.

SAE J1772 Type 1 EV charging plug
Type 1 (SAE J1772 ) electric vehicle charging plug.
CCS Combo 1 EV charging plug
CCS Combo 1 EV charging plug.

Type 2 – The next step in charging was designed to handle more power. It is a round plug with the top flattened and seven pins. It is designated SAE J3068. The additional pins allow for single and three phase AC current. Like the Type 1 there is also a variant that adds two DC fast charging pins at the bottom and is known as the CCS Combo 2.

EV charging plugs CCS Combo 2 plug (left) and Type 2 plug (right)
The left electric vehicle charging plug is a CCS Combo 2 plug, the right plug is a Type 2 plug. Notice the added DC charging pins at the bottom of the CCS plug.

Type 3 – Likely only EV drivers around Italy and France will be familiar with the Type 3 connector. There are two variants of this connector. The Type 3a is round with four pins and can only handle single phase AC current. The Type 3c is oval in shape with seven pins and can handle both single and three phase AC current. This connection has been largely phased out.

Type 3 EV charging plug schematics. On the left is Type 3a, on the right is Type 3c.
Type 3 EV charging plug schematics. On the left is Type 3a, on the right is Type 3c.

Type 4 – These mainly consist of the DC fast charging CCS Combo 1, CCS Combo 2, and CHAdeMO connectors. They are focused on supplying DC power directly to the battery.

CHAdeMO – This connector has been in use for years but is slowly being phased out. It is a round plug with 10 pins and incorporates a DC fast charging ability. Designed for direct DC charging of the battery it does not incorporate connectors for AC current.

A CHAdeMO electric charging plug.
A CHAdeMO electric charging plug.

Tesla – Automaker Tesla created their own connector which was only used on their vehicles. It is a rounded trapezoid shape with five pins and can handle two phase AC current as well as DC current. This connector is being phased out by Tesla. 

Tesla proprietary vehicle charging plug.
Tesla proprietary vehicle charging plug.

In some cases there are adapters to allow plugging one type of connector into a different charger. For example Tesla offers an adapter to connect a Type 1 connector to their vehicles. Care must be taken though to verify that the charger specifications match those of the vehicle.

Electric Vehicle Charger Levels

As there are different EV charging plugs, there are also three different charging power levels. Different electric vehicles charge at different rates. DC charging has become the preferred method for 

Level 1 – This charging level is the slowest and uses a single phase 120 volt AC circuit that can supply up to 24 amps. Basically a big battery charger plugged into a normal house outlet.

Level 2 – This charging level uses a single phase 208 or 240 volt AC circuit that can supply up to 32 amps. It also has special wiring specifications but is a faster charger. This is the most common type of EV charger.

Level 3 – The fastest charger available. It uses a three phase 480 volt AC circuit that can supply up to 400 amps. There are actually two levels of DC charging based on how much amperage it can supply. A Level 1 DC charger can supply 80 amps, while a Level 2 DC charger can supply a whopping 400 amps. These chargers typically use CCS Combo 1, CCS Combo 2, CHAdeMO, and Tesla plugs with DC power pins.

These electric charger plugs are not set in stone. As electric vehicle technology moves forward there are new standards for EV plug types in development. Demands for faster charging coupled with larger battery capacity necessitate more efficient recharging methods. 

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Brian Medford View All

With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.

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