The world of Electric Vehicle charging can be daunting and confusing to newcomers, riddled with jargon and technical data as it is! We at EV Wired understand the difficulty in navigating this information in search for the perfect EV charging cable. To remedy this, we have assembled some key information on the topic to help you on your way. Take a look and you’ll be an EV expert in no time.
Mode 2 or ‘Slow’ Charging
Mode 2 (or ‘Slow’ charging) refers to the charging using a non-dedicated, standard domestic (3-pin) socket where the charging rate and protection is regulated using the cable’s built-in control box. Mode 2 charging cables go by various other names, including Portable or Domestic EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), Slow/Trickle Charge cables or ‘Granny’ cables.
Mode 2 charging equipment is generally expensive as a result of the integrated control box design. Where using a standard household socket means that the maximum charge is up to 13A, it is much more usual that the EVSE charger will offer a choice between a lower 6A or 10A to protect your domestic electrical system.
As the charge rate of a Mode 2 Domestic EVSE is slow and likely to be active for prolonged periods, many owners reserve its usage to emergencies, using only when access to faster Mode 3 or Mode 4 charging is unavailable. It is, however, a fair option for use with Plug-in Hybrid vehicles (rather than full electric vehicles) where the battery capacity is smaller and overall charge times much quicker. It is certainly worth bearing in mind the limitations of Mode 2 charging, particularly in light of the much more efficient charging options that are available.
Mode 3 or ‘Fast’ Charging
Mode 3 or ‘fast’ charging is taken from a fixed, dedicated circuit installation (eg a wallbox) with control electronics built in. This might be a purpose-built installation at home or in a public location, such as those manufactured by Polar, Chargermaster or Pod-Point.
The control box used in Mode 3 charging is expensive to purchase and requires professional installation (onto a wall or charging post etc), though there are government grants available to help with the costs, should you choose to go down this route. You will also need to buy the correct charging cable for your electric vehicle, but thankfully this can be used across the country (and beyond!) wherever there’s a suitable charging station. Though there are some charge points that are free to use, others offer subscription or pre-payment services – it’s worth doing your research and finding what’s best for you.
The maximum charge rate offered by Mode 3 charging is determined by several factors.
For starters, there is the charge point power rating to consider. In most households, for instance, this will be available in either 16A (3.6kWh) or 32A (7.2kWh) using a single phase supply. Generally, a 3-phase electricity supply cannot usually be provided to a domestic charge point, and is applicable more to public charging stations or industries with a high electricity supply. When available and used with a suitably rated cable, however, a 3-phase electricity supply can provide an improved output of 16A (11kWh) or 32A (22kWh),
The majority of ‘Fast’ charge cables are either 16A or 32A rated for single-phase use, which may somewhat limit charging options. EV Wired provides a range of options, including 32A rated cables that are suitable for use with both 16A and 32A-rated charge points – a terrific option for drivers whose charging options vary.
In order to achieve the maximum rate of charge, it’s important to bear in mind that all three charging elements need to allow for this rate. For instance, to charge at a rate of 32A, you require a 32A Charge Point, a 32A-rated EV cable and a 32A-rated on-board charger on your electric vehicle. If one of the three elements in play is 16A-rated, your maximum charge rate will similarly be 16A.
Mode 4 or ‘Rapid’ Charge
Mode 4 (or ‘Rapid’) charging can be either AC or DC, with AC ‘Rapid’ chargers rated at 43kWh and DC starting from 50kWh upwards. Though Mode 4 charging depends on vehicle compatibility, the vast majority of full electric vehicles support ‘Rapid’ charge. Tesla Superchargers, for instance, are Rapid DC, capable of charging at around 120kW, which is particularly useful for their batteries’ large capacity.
As a result of the large power supply that Mode 4 charging requires, ‘rapid’ charge stations have charge cables tethered to them, so no extra cable is necessary. Rapid charge points can generally be found near main routes or where longer-term parking is routine, such as service stations, hospitals and car parks etc.
Mode 4 / Rapid charging will charge most electric vehicles to 80% capacity in a matter of 30-60 minutes, before reducing charge for the remaining amount (thus protecting the battery).
Rapid AC chargers use a tethered Type 2 connector, while the much more common Rapid DC chargers are fitted with a CCS, CHAdeMO or Tesla Type 2 connector depending on your specific vehicle.