The Ultimate EV Charging Cable & Connector Guide
There are many options when it comes to Electric Vehicle Charging Cables. It can be daunting when trying to decide which cable to choose. We’ve broken down the different options to help you decide. If you need any help or have any questions, please get in touch!
⚡️ A charging cable allows you to charge your electric vehicle from any home or public/workplace charger (most of which do not have a tethered cable attached).
⚡️ Pick the correct connector type for your car. Type 2 is the most common, and the European Standard now. Use our Vehicle Selector Tool to check which Type you require.
⚡️ Decide which length and colour you need. Will you be parked close to your charger, or do you need a longer reach?
⚡️ You don’t need to purchase a cable for Rapid DC public chargers as they usually have tethered cables.
Types Of Cables
Most electric vehicles have two sockets, one for AC charging and one for DC charging. For a detailed look at AC and DC Charging, please see our Ultimate EV Charging Guide. Here we explain the connector types for the various charging options. You can also use our handy Vehicle Selector Tool to check which Type of connector(s) your car has.
Slow AC Charging
You can buy a charging cable which connects your car to your home power supply with a traditional 3-pin plug on one end and a Type 1 or 2 plug at the other. They are known as “Granny” chargers, as they charge VERY slowly (approximately 10miles of charge per hour). Some car manufacturers only supply this type of cable, but we’d recommend just keeping it for emergencies.
It is highly recommended to install a dedicated EV charger which is much safer and faster. 3-pin sockets are not designed for extended periods of charging. Also, EVs require communication between the car and charger so require more than the standard 3 pins.
Fast AC Charging
Untethered Fast AC chargers have a socket on the charger, so a charging cable is required to connect between the charger and the car. These can be home, workplace, or public chargers. All untethered fast chargers have a Type 2 socket at the charger end. Depending on your car’s socket type, you should purchase a “Type 1 to Type 2” or “Type 2 to Type 2” cable. Our British-made Smartly charging cables are available in both styles.
In the UK, most electric vehicles are fitted with a Type 1 or Type 2 socket – Type 2 being the standard in recent years. Our handy Vehicle Selector Tool will confirm which type of cable and charger is compatible with your EV/PHEV. More information on each type is below:
Type 1 (or J1772) connectors are the standard in USA and Japan. In the UK, some older EV and PHEV models have this connection. For example, older models of the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Home and public chargers have a type 2 connection so if your car is Type 1, then purchase a Type 1 to Type 2 cable.
The three larger pins are the power and earth wires. The two smaller pins are communication, which allow the charger and car to communicate with each other. For example, what kind of cable is connected (thicker cables allow more current), what the maximum power the car can accept, and to tell the charger to start and stop charging.
Since 2013, Type 2 (also known as IEC 62196 or Mennekes) have been the official connector type in Europe. All UK fast chargers have a Type 2 connection, and the majority of UK EVs and PHEVs have Type 2 connections, so a Type 2 to Type 2 cable is required. Our handy Vehicle Selector Tool will show you and help you choose which type of cable/charger you require.
The five larger pins are the power and earth wires. The two smaller pins are communication, which allow the charger and car to communicate with each other. For example, what kind of cable is connected (thicker cables allow more current), what the maximum power the car can accept, and to tell the charger to start and stop charging.
Rapid DC Charging
CHAdeMO is the original DC charging connector. It is less common than the newer CCS connector. You can still see it on the Nissan Leaf. Charging power is usually around 50kW.
CCS is the new standard for Rapid DC Charging. Charging power can reach 150kW+.
Tesla allows you to use the existing Type 2 socket for Rapid DC Charging at their own Tesla Superchargers which can charge at 150kW+.
16A or 32A Charging Cable?
Most modern car chargers charge at 32A. Some smaller chargers charge at 16A. 32A Charging Cables are compatible with 16A chargers, so it is more cost effective to purchase a 32A cable. Smartly only manufactures 32A cables for this reason.
What length do you need your Charging Cable to be? The answer is dependent on your needs, for example:
⚡️ How close do you park to the charger?
⚡️ Is the cable supplied by your EV manufacturer too short?
⚡️ Is your driveway long and narrow and a longer charging cable would be easier than swapping cars around?
⚡️ Do you want a shorter cable for when you are out and about using Public Car Chargers?
⚡️ Do you have a couple of EVs in the driveway and need a longer cable to reach both?
⚡️ Is it easier or cheaper to install your charger around the side of the house and get a longer charging cable?
Whatever your requirements, we can help. Shorter is easier to store but longer can reach further. Our cables are made to order, so we offer lengths from 3m to 50m. Please contact us if you require a charging cable longer than 20m.
Straight or Coiled?
Straight or coiled is personal preference:
⚡️ Straight cables are easier to handle and store.
⚡️ Coiled Cables at shorter lengths sit off the ground, so potentially stay cleaner.
Charging cables are available in many colours, and it is really a personal preference. Smartly offers cables in two colours, to cater for most tastes – Lime Green and Grey.
⚡️ Lime Green is used to stand out - its high visibility helps when trip-hazard safety is a concern.
⚡️ Grey is more subtle and discreet.
7kW Single-Phase or 22kW Three-Phase Cable?
|Phase||Power||Location||Cable Type||Cable Phase|
|Single-phase||7kW||Most UK household chargers||Type 1 or Type 2 (depending on your car)||Three-phase or Single-phase|
|Three-phase||22kW||Public and workplace chargers||Type 2 only||Three-phase only|
Most UK households have a single-phase (230V) supply, which require a 7kW single-phase charger with a single-phase cable to connect to the car. Public or workplace chargers can have a three-phase 22kW supply. Type 1 cables are only available in single-phase, so if your car has a Type 1 socket it can only accept single-phase. Type 2 cables can be single or three-phase. A 22kW three-phase charging cable is compatible with both a 7kW single-phase supply and a 22kW three-supply. So, if you have a 7kW single-phase home charger, you could use a 22kW three-phase charging cable, which would also be compatible with public 22kW three-phase chargers. It allows you to get the quickest charge time possible when at public chargers and saves buying two cables! It is worth noting that the maximum charge speed is determined by your vehicle’s on-board charger (the charger built into the car). Our Vehicle Selector Tool lets you know your on-board charger speed. For example:
- A PHEV with a 3.5kW on-board charger will only charge at 3.5kW per hour with a 7kW or 22kW charger.
- An EV with an 11kW on-board charger will charge at 7kW per hour from a 7kW single-phase supply but only 11kW per hour from a 22kW three-phase supply.