Do You Need A Special Plug For An Electric Car? 


Charging your car may be something that you aren’t used to but that is one of the new realities you have to accept with electric cars. Electric car plugs can be different depending on what make your electric car is. Not only that but even what part of the world you live in can determine what plug type your electric car will use. Plug types can even differ between fast-speed chargers and regular slower chargers. That can be a lot to handle and maybe even a little nerve-racking if you are new to electric cars and aren’t exactly sure what your car will need.

Do you need a special plug for an electric car? No, almost all electric cars come with a standard Type 1 plug but there are exceptions. Electric cars will come standard with the plug type that is most commonly used in your region. Charging adapters are also plentiful online, so investing in several of the other most common types used in your region of the world is a good idea. 

You may wonder why electric cars can’t just be simple and every single one come with the same plug type, well sadly the world doesn’t seem to think like that. Just as your phone or other electronics need adapters from time to time to plug into different things there are a variety of electric car plugs that are used by different manufacturers and companies for different reasons. This may just seem like extra stress when getting an electric car for the first time, but it may not be as complicated as you think. 

Do You Need A Special Plug For An Electric Car?

Generally, you shouldn’t have to purchase a separate special plug for your electric vehicle. Everything that you need to charge the vehicle should be provided for you. At the very least, you should have a basic setup where you could plug it in at home or to a generic charging station near your home.

For the most part, all of the cords that attach to the plugs of electric chargers are the same with the exception of some chords that are used for high-speed charging so the only thing you should have to worry about when in need of a different plug type is an adapter. There are cars that even come with an adapter included, like Teslas, which most of the time come with a J plug adapter included. 

Some adapters are going to be cheaper than others because there is a greater need for some than there is for others. For example, one adapter that is commonly used is the Tesla to J plug adapter. These adapters allow non-Tesla vehicles to use Tesla chargers. These adapters a widely used and cost around $160. Other adapters that aren’t as common will cost you more, some even costing upwards of $750. 

What Are The Different Types Of Plugs For Electric Cars?

Different electric vehicle plugs handle different types of electrical current and different amounts of voltage and amperage. Electric vehicles have different rates at which they can convert AC electricity to DC electricity that the car can use, so make sure that you are aware of this. Don’t buy a plug that is able to have a much higher amperage than your car can handle. 

This can also help you save money because if your car can only convert at a rate of 7 amps then it wouldn’t do you any good to buy an expensive cord that can handle 20 amps. It could be much easier to buy a cheaper one that can handle 10 amps without a problem. 

These plugs are used for regular speed charging or, Level 1 charger, and then there are plugs that are used for higher speeds of charging like Level 2 or Level 3 charging. The plugs that are used for Level 2 and Level 3 charging usually have more connector points which allow for more wires and give more electrical current that can be pushed through the plug and into the car. 

Being used in the world right now there are 5 types of standard chargers, and 6 if you want to include the type of plug Tesla uses with its supercharging network. Two of these types of plugs are used for AC charging; another 2 are used for charging when using DC. One of these types of plugs can be used for both AC and DC charging. Not all types of chargers are used in every part of the world, different parts of the world use different types of plugs as the “standard”. 

3 pin and Type 1 plugs are used for AC charging. Another common name for Type 1 plugs is J-plugs. Type 2 plugs give you the liberty of using AC or DC charging. CHAdeMO, yes that is the actual name of a type of plug, is used for DC charging. The CHAdeMO was developed in Japan and is mainly used in Japanese make electric vehicles like Honda, Kia, and Nissans. The last type that is used is the CCS or Combined Charging System. 

The CCS charger looks very similar to the Type 1 or Type 2 charger depending on if it is a CCS Type 1 charger or if it is a CCS Type 2 charger. The shape of the plug is very similar but the CCS chargers have an added part that provides a few more connecting points. CCS chargers are common plug types for vehicles both in America and the UK because for the most part you are able to still use regular Type 1 or Type 2 plugs. With this plug shape, you can essentially use two different plug types with vehicles that have this. 

Type 1 plugs are pretty standard in America and Asia but rarely found in Europe. Type 1 plugs have the capacity to charge up to a speed of 7.4 kW but the exact speed at which they will charge depends on the electrical grid you are on and the rate at which your electric car can convert AC to DC. Type 1 plugs can most commonly be found on level 1 chargers. Level 2 or higher chargers usually have CCS plugs since the CCS plugs were specifically designed for faster charging. 

Do Other Brands Use The Same Plug As Teslas?

Tesla first began working on its electric cars. At the time there wasn’t any standard electric car plug. For this reason, Tesla founder and CEO, Elon Musk, said Tesla designed its own electric car plug charger. Tesla uses a unique shaped plug head. This plug was made by Tesla in the early 2000s. Since then, a standard electric car plug has been created but Tesla has already made thousands of vehicles with the Tesla plug shape, and to switch over to the standard would cost Tesla a lot of money and create a big hassle for current Tesla owners.

This uniqueness even extends to Tesla charging stations in general. Tesla superchargers are for the moment only available to use for Tesla owners. Tesla does have plans to extend the charging stations to other electric cars but is still developing its superchargers to work with other vehicles. Adapters from Tesla plug to other plug types can be by Teslas to use non-Tesla chargers but can also be used to allow non-Tesla vehicles to use Tesla chargers.

Tesla creating its own charger gives Tesla the chance to make a lot more money because they have their own charging stations. If anyone doesn’t have Tesla but wants to use their charger, they would have to buy an adapter for the Tesla connector shape. If Tesla sells adapters for Tesla vehicles too, this would be another source of income for the company. This just adds to the list of things that electric car owners need to spend money on. 

Negatively, it makes it inconvenient for Tesla owners if they want to use other types of chargers besides Tesla’s charging network. However, Teslas do come standard with a J1772 adapter which is the most standard type of connector so you don’t have to worry about that, but if you would want to use a level 2 charger or level 3 charger you are going to have to buy an adapter for that. This also deters non-Tesla vehicle owners from using the Tesla charging stations but doesn’t make it impossible since adapters are an option. 

Does Every Car Have Only One Type Of Plug It Accepts?

There are many electric car manufacturers that are creating their cars to be able to use two different types of plug types. However, there are still many electric cars that only accept one type of plug. Sadly, there isn’t an electric car that just has the ability to accept all types of plug types. Even if you have an electric car that can only accept one type of plug you don’t have to get too worried. There is a wide range of adapters that are made so no matter what type of plug your electric car has you should be able to find an adapter for pretty much any charger you use.

When a car has a CCS2 or a CCS1 charging plug it can then use the corresponding Type 1 or Type 2 plugs. This is how some cars are able to use two different plug types. Many car manufacturers like Ford and Chevy are using this model. The main difference is that Type 1 is used for regular speed charging while the CCS1 allows for more connections and is used for fast charging. There is also the Type 2 plug and CCS2 which are used mainly in Europe and act just like the Type 1 and CCS1 plugs respectively. 

In the future is possible that car manufacturers could install multiple types of plugs but the most likely situation is that adapters will just have to continue to have to be used. Adding multiple chargers is just seen as an unneeded addition to the production of electric vehicles. Now that standard plugs have begun to be established the need for multiple plugs in the future will hopefully decrease. 

Will All Electric Car Plugs Someday Be Universal?

It is hard to tell if all plugs for electric vehicles will eventually be universal. If I were to make my best-educated guess though I would say no, it will probably never happen. Look at the example of regular electrical outlets or phone plugs. Different countries and different parts of the world use differently shaped electrical outlets. Companies like Apple and Samsung use differently shaped plugs for their electronics. 

Creating one universal plug would require some major collaboration between all of the electric vehicle companies which is very unlikely because there always seems to be someone who wants to be different than the crowd. A universal plug would also require wiring and connectors that can effectively charge at low and high wattage rates and be able to handle AC and DC electricity. It is hard to create a one-size-fits-all plug that meets the demands of every single electric car manufacturer out there. 

Even though we still might be waiting on an internationally standard plug, different electric car markets are moving towards having a standard with each other. As I will talk about later in the article different parts of the world use different types of plugs. Europe, Asia, and North America have all kind of made their “standard” plug even though there might be some variation. For example, in North America almost all car companies, there are some exceptions, of course, have determined to use the CCS1 plug as the standard plug on their vehicles. 

Can I Use A Regular Home Extension Cord To Charge My Car?

Depending on your electric car using a regular home extension cord may be an option but this isn’t the case for every electric car out there. Even if you were to just use a regular extension cord to charge your car when you are home, you will definitely need an adapter for whatever plug type your car is to be able to actually plug it into your car and charge it.

Some heavy-duty extension chords are able to handle around 30 amps of electricity which is enough to handle the load of level 1 charging. Level 1 charging usually puts out between 12 and 16 amps of electricity. You need to be very careful with this because many extension chords are not rated to handle this high of amperage. This can be very dangerous, using electric chords that can’t handle the amperage of electricity that will be put into your electric car can cause electrical fires. 

Chords that are specifically used for charging electric cars are designed to handle large loads of electricity. The coating on electrical charging chords also provides more insulation and protection than the coating on regular extension chords does. Using chords and plugs that were specifically designed for the purpose of charging electrical vehicles will provide the best protection against electric fires. 

The best option for charging your electric car at home is going to be installing an at-home charger. Many different companies make electric home chargers so there are plenty of options to choose from. These at-home chargers can be installed right into your garage and are fairly easy to install. Most at-home electric car chargers range in price from $250 to $600 for a level 1 charger and if you want it to be installed by an electrician to make sure it is done right, it should only be a couple of hundred bucks.

This money that you spend to install an at-home charger can be quickly returned as it is most often cheaper to charge your electric vehicle at home than it would be to charge an electric vehicle at a charging station. There are even discounts on electricity in some places when charging is done at night or during hours when electricity isn’t used as much. With these savings, you can quickly earn back the money you spent on the installation by saving on not having to pay for commercial charging stations. 

Installing an at-home charger can be a big benefit if at home is where you are primarily charging your vehicle which I think is the case for most people. Electric car chargers at home can help better regulate the electricity going into your vehicle and can actually help protect your car’s battery from surges. Having an electric car charger is also nice because it allows you to have a plug specifically for your car attached to the charger and ready to go without having to worry about an adapter.

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