With gas prices on the rise, consumers are turning towards electric vehicles more often than ever. However, purchasing a new electric vehicle can be quite intimidating! There are an endless abundance of new charging standards and charge rates. This brings forth one of the most common questions we receive at Saturn Heating, Cooling, and Electrical: Do all EVs use the same plug?
Are all EV chargers the same?
No, there are different types of EV chargers out there. However, this answer is not quite that simple! There are various levels of EV chargers ranging from level 1-3. The higher the number, the faster the theoretical charge rate. Level 1 chargers generally consist of the standard 120-volt wall outlet that are common among homes in the US. These provide the slowest charge times but can still accomplish a full charge in an overnight period for vehicles with smaller capacity batteries. Level 2 chargers typically utilize 240-volt AC current. These chargers are significantly faster and more useful for vehicles with high-capacity batteries, charging to full capacity overnight. However, these styles of chargers will not utilize the standard 120-volt three prong outlet that most of our electronics use.
Level 3 DC chargers, or fast chargers are among a different category of EV chargers. These use direct current instead of the usual AC found in your home outlets. The level 3 charging level can charge from almost 0% to about 80% in as little as 20 minutes time! They are the fastest EV charging standard, however not all level 3 chargers are equal. Some level 3 chargers can take upwards of 4 hours for a charge, which is not a significant amount faster than Level 2 AC charging. Level 3 chargers require additional pins for the typical North American J1772 plug to function correctly. Tesla DC fast charging will use the same connection regardless of using a Level 1-2 or a Level 3 charger.
What plug do EVs use?
The question of whether all EVs use the same plug does not have a very straightforward answer! While the majority of new EVs use the same plug, there are others that conform to an old standard. The J1772 plug is the standard EV charging plug in North America for the future. J1772 unfortunately does not allow for DC fast charging, so the SAE has developed the CCS system. This essentially combines 2 DC charge pins onto the J1772 plug, allowing for level 3 fast charging to happen. Essentially every new EV sold (with Tesla as the exception), will conform to the J1772 CCS standard.
Nissan EV owners will note that they do not have a J1772 CCS plug, but simply a standard J1772 with an additional charging port. Why is that the case? Nissan Leaf’s (as well as a number of older EVs) use a different DC charging standard known as CHAdeMO. While this won’t affect your charging at home, as they use the industry standard plug for AC charging, while you are on the go this can cause a bit of a headache if the fast-charging station does not allow for CHAdeMO standard charging. If you are in the market for next generation Nissan EVs you will not have this issue! Going forward the majority of automakers will be standardizing to the J1772 CCS plug to make life as an EV owner a little bit easier.
Tesla is an exception to these rules, so what if I own one? Tesla has not produced any vehicles with the North American standard plug thus far. Tesla prefers to use their own proprietary plug that functions best with Tesla home chargers, or their own superchargers. However, Tesla owners are not completely left out from using EV chargers that are not Tesla plug compliant! Using an adapter that Tesla themselves sells, any Tesla owner can use a J1772 plug with absolutely no issues! Tesla has even started to produce and sell a home charger designed for the J1772 standard.
What does this mean for me?
Luckily for EV owners, the industry has converted into 2 major plug types. These plug styles are Tesla plugs, and the plug for every other manufacturer (J1772). Your friends at Saturn Heating, Cooling, and Electrical are here to help! We will work with you on determining what the best charger is for your home and vehicle. Whether it is a new Tesla, or a new Chevy EV we are equipped to handle them all with our EV charging station certification from the state of Illinois.