The world of Electric Vehicle charging can be daunting and confusing to newcomers, filled with jargon and technical data. Here at EV Wired we understand the difficulty in navigating this information while searching for the right EV charging cable for your vehicle. 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 a non-dedicated, standard domestic (3-pin) socket. Mode 2 charging cables are also known by 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 due to the integrated control box design.

The maximum charge rate of a standard household socket is up to 13A, but EVSE chargers can also offer a choice between 6A or 10A. As the charge rate of a Mode 2 Domestic EVSE is likely to be active for prolonged periods, many owners reserve its usage for when access to faster Mode 3 or Mode 4 charging is unavailable. However, Mode 2 chargers are a good option for Plug-in Hybrid vehicles (rather than full electric vehicles) as the battery capacity is smaller and therefore charges faster.

Mode 3 or ‘Fast’ Charging

Mode 3 or ‘fast’ charging refers to a dedicated installed charger (eg. a wallbox) such as a purpose-built installation at home, in a public location, or commercial property. The control box used in Mode 3 charging is more expensive, 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, which can be used throughout the UK and overseas - wherever there’s access to a suitable charging station. Some Mode 3 charge points are free to use, whereas others offer subscription, or pre-payment services.

The maximum charge rate offered by Mode 3 charging is determined by various factors including the charge point power rating. Most households run on a single phase supply, which will be either 16A (3.6kWh) or 32A (7.2kWh).

3-phase electricity supplies mostly apply to public, commercial, or industrial units - where a higher electricity supply is available. When available and used with a suitably rated cable, a 3-phase electricity supply can provide an improved output of 16A (11kWh) or 32A (22kWh). The majority of ‘Fast’ charge cables are either rated 16A or 32A 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. In order to achieve the maximum charging rate of 32A, you will require a 32A Charge Point, a 32A-rated EV cable and a 32A-rated on-board electric vehicle charger. If one of these three elements is 16A-rated, your maximum charge rate will be reduced to 16A.

Mode 4 or ‘Rapid’ Charge

Mode 4 (or ‘Rapid’) charging comes in either AC or DC. AC ‘Rapid’ chargers are rated at 43kWh, wheras DC chargers start from 50kWh upwards. Mode 4 charging depends on the vehicle's compatibility, and the majority of electric vehicles support ‘Rapid’ charging. Tesla Superchargers are Rapid DC which means they are capable of charging up to 120kW, which is particularly useful for a battery with a large capacity.

As a result of the large power supply that Mode 4 charging requires, these charge stations have tethered cables. Rapid charge points can generally be found on popular routes or where long-stay parking is common, such as at service stations, hospitals, and retail parks.

Mode 4 / Rapid charging will charge most electric vehicles to 80% capacity in around 30-60 minutes, before reducing the charge rate (thus protecting the battery).

Rapid AC chargers use a tethered Type 2 connector, whereas Rapid DC chargers are fitted with a CCS, CHAdeMO or Tesla Type 2 connector.