What types of recharging are available for our electric vehicle?

Electric Vehicle, Renewables

Have you ever wondered how many types of recharging exist to charge your electric vehicle? Today we explain which are the most common and their differences.

Every day, millions of people use a wall or pole charger to power the battery of their electric vehicle, and this continues to gain ground as a mobility alternative among the population. Thus, this gesture, which until recently was a very unusual thing, is fortunately beginning to become more commonplace and everyday in our environment. Many people have noticed electric vehicle chargers in a public car park, at a petrol station, at a public charging point in the heart of the city or in the garage of their community. But how many times have you stopped to think about how many types of recharging there are and what their technology is? And the fact is that, like so many other everyday things, electric vehicle charging is a complex task of research and technology that we would like to explain today. Let’s get to it!

There are currently four modes of recharging, although one of them is in demise. Let’s take a look at each of the modes and what characterises them.

Mode 1. This is a type of recharging which, due to its risk of overheating, is in practice disappearing. So much so that in countries such as the United States this mode is banned. Basically, it is the oldest and most “analogue” system, since there is no direct communication between the socket and the vehicle, as there is in the other modes we will see below. In addition, charging is slow, in alternating current and with a maximum charging power that reaches a peak of 3.7 kW.

Mode 2. This mode is quite similar to the previous one in its basis of operation, as it can also have a maximum power of 3.7 kW and the slow recharging takes place in alternating current. Nevertheless, it is a common mode – the vast majority of 100% electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids are equipped with this charging cable – which differs from Mode 1 in the intercommunication between vehicle and charger. Basically, if the electricity grid experiences any kind of unforeseen disturbance or error, our charger cuts off the recharge and protects our vehicle from possible power surges, for example.

It is recognisable because it is simply a “box” that plugs into a socket and is equipped with protection systems to ensure correct charging without scares. This box allows slow charging in single-phase mode and with a voltage of 230V.

Electric Vehicle Charging Modes

Mode 3. The popular high school boy. This is the most recognisable type of recharging that we can see installed in the typical wall charger in our community garage, in the public car park where we park to visit a city or in the car park at work. This is a recharging mode, also alternating, which improves on the previous ones thanks to having even more preventive systems in the event of disturbances in the network and greater intercommunication between network, charger and vehicle. It can be distinguished from the previous ones by a device called a wallbox that is fixed to the wall of the installation. This is responsible for performing the functions of protection and communication between the grid and the vehicle.

According to Spanish legislation, this charging mode is mandatory for public charging points, complemented by Mode 4, which we will see later on. It recharges in single-phase or three-phase mode, allowing us, if our car is prepared for it, to recharge it at 32 amps (more than 7.2 kW and 400V, reaching 43 kW in some cases). It is the safest, most reliable and fastest type of charging.

Mode 4. The most common type of recharging at charging stations and outdoor public spaces. To be understood, it is easily recognised because it is, visually, the most similar to the traditional petrol pump that we all know perfectly well. So much so that the cable is incorporated into the charging point itself.

Its main characteristic, perhaps due to its location, is its speed. It is a direct current charging system, unlike the previous ones, which ranges in power from 50 kW (super-fast) to 350 kW (ultra-fast), which allows us to recharge our vehicle’s battery by at least 70% in the first half hour. For this reason, this type of system requires a more complex electrical infrastructure than we can afford to install in our homes, which is why we will always find it in shared public spaces.

Well, now we know about the four main types of recharging, but there is one more big question to answer before we can be satisfied with our new dose of technological know-how: the type of connector (plug) we use. So, once again, there are four different types of connectors. Shall we take a look at them?

  1. Schuko connector. This is basically our domestic socket, the one we all have in our homes and which we use to connect from the microwave to our computer. Obviously, and as we can understand given its versatility, it is not the most recommendable type of connection for charging an electric vehicle quickly, as its intensity and power are rather limited. It is the typical connection that can be useful for alternative electric mobility solutions whose battery capacity is limited, such as motorbikes or scooters; although it can also be used for our plug-in hybrid.
  2. Type 1 or Yazaki connector. This is a very common type of connector in Japan (predictable, isn’t it?) and in the United States; although it is not the most common in Europe, where our next protagonist abounds.


Types of electric vehicle charging connector

  1. Type 2 or Mennekes connector. The most common in Europe and the one we usually use in mode 3 electric vehicle charging. This is a type of connector used for vehicles that do not support fast charging above 43 kW.
  2. CCS or Combo 2. This type of connector is very similar to the Mennekes or Type 2, but contains a special feature that makes it suitable for much faster direct current charging; basically to be used in charging mode 4. The Combo 2 uses a small cap with two extra terminals to the Mennekes connector, which many electric vehicles have as standard. This ensures complementary connectivity. This is the standard connector in Europe and is available in various types and performance levels, depending on the service, allowing power ratings of 43 and 50 kW as well as ultra-fast power ratings of up to 350 kW to be connected.
  3. CHAdeMO. A “fossil” in the world of electric vehicle chargers. It was the old fast charger (equivalent tothe Combo 2 or CCS) but of Japanese origin. Basically, we will find this type of charging in non-European markets, as both the Mennekes and CCS connectors have been adopted by all manufacturers in the EU, confining the CHAdeMO to the Japanese market, mainly.

It’s as easy as that. We already know what types of recharging exist and which is the most suitable for our vehicle. But do you know how electric vehicle charging stations work? Don’t worry, you don’t need to read on; you can find out by watching this video, which explains it perfectly in just two minutes. It’s worth it:

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