Helping you pick the right cable and understanding
how to charge your car correctly.
What Cable do I need for my Electric Car?
A portable charger allows you to charge your vehicle from a domestic 13amp 3-pin UK plug socket. This is beneficial as every property in the UK has one of these, meaning that you will be able to charge your vehicle wherever you go as you can take your charging cable with you.
16amp vs 32amp
16amp supplies are most commonly used with home charging solutions. 16amp can support a maximum charging speed of 11kW in Three Phase mode and 3.7kW in Single Phase mode. Most early models can only support 16amp charging in Single Phase mode as this is the maximum supported by the onboard charger.
32amp supplies are more common with newer EV models and charge points found in public destinations and they can support fast charging in Single Phase mode. 32amp can support a maximum charging speed of 22kW in Three Phase mode and 7.4kW in Single Phase mode. 32amp cables are generally considered as “future proofed” and are backwards compatible with cars/charge points that only support 16amp charging – the cable will just max out at 16amp.
Single Phase vs Three Phase
Single Phase connections are very common in residential areas and these connections are typically used for all home-based charging. Single Phase connections are typically used for standard, or “slow” charging with a 16amp supply, although fast charging is supported with a 32amp supply.
Three Phase connections are most common in commercial areas, making them a good solution for charging a car at work, and is typically faster to charge than a Single Phase connection as a Three Phase cable has two additional live wires in comparison. The car itself, as well as the charge point, must support Three Phase charging in order to enjoy the benefits of three phase charging.
Can I plug a portable charger into an extension lead?
Yes. Like with most electrical items, you can use your portable charger with an extension lead.
Can I use a 32amp cable with a car that only supports a 16amp supply, or vice versa?
Yes, the 32amp cable will work with a car that only supports 16amp, the maximum charging speed will just be that of your car when using a 16amp cable. Likewise, using a 16amp cable with a car with a 32amp supply will only be able to charge at the maximum supported speed of a 16amp cable.
How will I know if my property supports Three Phase charging?
The easiest way to tell what power supply a property has is to look at the fuse on the service head. If there are three 100amp fuses then the property has a Three Phase supply and will support Three Phase charging, whereas if there is only one 100amp fuse then the property has a Single Phase supply and will only support Single Phase charging.
What Kind of Plugs Are There for Electric Cars?
Type 1 Plug
The type 1 plug is a single-phase plug which allows for charging power levels of up to 7.4 kW (230 V, 32 A). The standard is mainly used in car models from the Asian region, and is rare in Europe, which is why there are very few public type 1 charging stations.
Type 2 Plug
The triple-phase plug’s main area of distribution is Europe, and is considered to be the standard model. In private spaces, charging power levels of up to 22 kW are common, while charging power levels of up to 43 kW (400 V, 63 A, AC) can be used at public charging stations. Most public charging stations are equipped with a type 2 socket. All mode 3 charging cables can be used with this, and electric cars can be charged with both type 1 and type 2 plugs. All mode 3 cables on the sides of charging stations have so-called Mennekes plugs (type 2).
Combination Plugs (Combined Charging System, or CCS)
The CCS plug is an enhanced version of the type 2 plug, with two additional power contacts for the purposes of quick charging, and supports AC and DC charging power levels (alternating and direct current charging power levels) of up to 170 kW. In practice, the value is usually around 50 kW.
This quick charging system was developed in Japan, and allows for charging capacities up to 50 kW at the appropriate public charging stations. The following manufacturers offer electric cars which are compatible with the CHAdeMO plug: BD Otomotive, Citroën, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Subaru, Tesla (with adaptor) and Toyota.
For its supercharger, Tesla uses a modified version of the type 2 Mennekes plug. This allows for the Model S to recharge to 80% within 30 minutes. Tesla offers charging to its customers for free. To date it has not been possible for other makes of car to be charged with Tesla superchargers.
What Types of Charging Cables Are
There for Charging Electric Cars?
Mode 2 Charging Cable
The Mode 2 charging cable is available in different versions. Often the Mode 2 charging cable for connection to an ordinary domestic socket is supplied by the car manufacturer. So if necessary drivers can charge electric cars from a domestic socket in an emergency. Communication between vehicle and charging port is provided via a box connected between the vehicle plug and connector plug (ICCB In-Cable Control Box).
Mode 3 Charging Cable
The mode 3 charging cable is a connector cable between the charging station and the electric car. In Europe, the type 2 plug has been set as the standard. To allow electric cars to be charged using type 1 and type 2 plugs, charging stations are usually equipped with a type 2 socket. To charge your electric car, you require either a mode 3 charging cable from type 2 to type 2 (e.g. for the Renault ZOE) or a mode 3 charging cable from type 2 to type 1 (e.g. for the Nissan Leaf).
Charging power levels of up to 3.7 kW (230 V, 16 A) can be reached with a domestic socket with the appropriate fusing. Your electric car will be charged via a mode 2 charging cable. We would definitely recommend a maximum charging power of 2.3 kW (230 V, 10 A) if the socket has not been checked beforehand. Domestic sockets can also sometimes be found at public charging stations. This charging method is available for all electric cars.