Do All Electric Cars Use the Same Charger?

People's interest in electric cars has spread like wildfire in recent years. But with newcomers to any scene, there is often a learning curve to contend with. One of the more common questions we hear is "Do all electric cars use the same chargers?" The answer depends on your interpretation of what a charger actually is. If you're talking about the station that gives you the electricity to charge your vehicle, then, yes, in most cases, most electric cars will use the same chargers. But in reality, the deciding factor that determines whether a vehicle can use a given charger is the plug that's on the end of the charge cord and the outlet on the electric vehicle itself.

With this in mind, we're going to discuss the different types of EV chargers, plugs and other factors that can affect charger compatibility.

Am I Ready for an EV?

  • EV ownership works best if you can charge at home (240V outlet) This typically means a 240V home installation, or other places your car is parked for several hours each day. Don't expect a regular household outlet (120V) to suffice.
  • Adding a home charging system is estimated to cost $1,616 in
    This is an estimate for your area. Using your address and the answers you provide, Treehouse can provide a more accurate price.
  • Edmunds is partnering with Treehouse, an independent provider of home EV installation services. Learn more Edmunds customers receive a 10% installation discount and 4% smart charger discount. Discount excludes permit, hosted inspection, and load management devices. Valid for 30 days.
Need to install a charger at home?

Types of electric car chargers

There are three types of charging stations that all electric cars can use, from slow to fast: Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging or Level 3. Each has its own form of plugs and power ratings, which we'll detail here.

Level 1 charging: Uses the standard 120-volt outlet in your home. It is the most convenient since just about everyone has an outlet somewhere, but it also provides the slowest charging rate. Level 1 charging is best suited for plug-in hybrids such as the Toyota RAV4 Prime, which have smaller batteries and can be easily charged overnight. It is less useful for all-electric vehicles with larger batteries, like a Tesla Model Y, which can take days to charge if the battery is low.

Level 2 charging: Level 2 charging uses a 240-volt outlet — similar to the ones used for an electric (not gas) dryer — and represents the fastest way to charge at home, as anything greater can only be found in industrial or commercial settings. While there are multiple 240-volt outlet types, only a couple are suitable for EV charging (either a NEMA 6-50 or a NEMA 14-50). You'll likely need an electrician to verify if you have the proper outlet in your home and to check if your home can accommodate the extra draw in power. You can also find these stations in public places like shopping centers or near hotels.

DC fast charging (Level 3): Is called DC (direct current) because with this method of charging, the power goes directly to the battery rather than flowing through the vehicle's onboard charger. These chargers are much larger and require significantly more power to operate. As such, these stations are not for home use. A DC fast-charging station’s charge rate is typically listed in kilowatts (kW). Level 3 stations will generally range from 25 kW on the lower end to upward of 350 kW on the high end. Similar to public Level 2 chargers, you can find DC fast chargers at office parks, shopping centers or dedicated charging stations. Tesla's Supercharger network is also considered a DC fast charger.

Take a look at our "How Long Does It Take to Charge an Electric Car?" article for more detailed information about what to expect when hooking up an EV to these different charger types.

Search EV tax credits and rebates in your area
See Electric Vehicle Rebates

Charging port and plug types

Old EVs such as the original RAV4 EV and General Motors EV1 used a Magne Charge inductive charge paddle, but it is no longer in use today. Keep reading for our rundown on everything else.

J1772 Type 1

You'll find the SAE J1772 Type 1 plug in older EVs and plug-in hybrids in North America.

You'll find the SAE J1772 Type 1 plug in older EVs and plug-in hybrids in North America.

You'll find the SAE J1772 Type 1 plug in older EVs and plug-in hybrids in North America.

You'll find the SAE J1772 Type 1 plug in older EVs and plug-in hybrids in North America.

In North America, modern electric cars began to use a plug standard created by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), called the SAE J1772 Type 1, often called a "J-plug" for short. It looks like a round plug with five circular holes. The J1772 can accommodate Levels 1 and 2 charging with the same plug that goes into the vehicle. However, the plug that goes into the wall would differ, depending on Level 1 or 2 charging. Europe uses the International Electrotechnical Commission IEC 62196 Type 2 connector, also called the Mennekes connector. It is shaped differently than the J1772 but handles the same forms of charging. You'll find the J1772 on most plug-in hybrids or some of the early modern EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The maximum power delivery of a J1772 outlet is 1.44 kW at 120 volts and up to 19.2 kW at 240 volts.

CHAdeMo

The CHAdeMO plug on the left is for DC fast charging and to the right of it is a covered J1772 plug. CHAdeMo is an older standard used on only a couple of vehicles.

The CHAdeMO plug on the left is for DC fast charging and to the right of it is a covered J1772 plug. CHAdeMo is an older standard used on only a couple of vehicles.

The CHAdeMO plug on the left is for DC fast charging and to the right of it is a covered J1772 plug. CHAdeMo is an older standard used on only a couple of vehicles.

The CHAdeMO plug on the left is for DC fast charging and to the right of it is a covered J1772 plug. CHAdeMo is an older standard used on only a couple of vehicles.

The CHAdeMo standard was developed by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and a number of Japanese automakers for the purpose of providing DC charging to an EV or PHEV. At the time of it being launched, CHAdeMo was the only way to fast charge a vehicle. Its larger, round socket required a different plug, often sitting adjacent to the J1772.

CHAdeMo debuted on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and made its way to the Nissan Leaf and the short-lived Honda Fit EV. The CHAdeMo cable can deliver a maximum power output of up to 400 kW.

However, soon after the launch of CHAdeMo, the Combined Charging System (CCS) was introduced and adopted by seven automakers. After that, several European automotive organizations endorsed CCS and then CHAdeMo suddenly became less relevant. At this time, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV are the only vehicles still using CHAdeMo.

Combined Charging System (CCS Type 1)

The CCS Type 1 is the most common plug used on modern EVs. It combines the J1772 and DC charger compatibility into one standardized connector.

The CCS Type 1 is the most common plug used on modern EVs. It combines the J1772 and DC charger compatibility into one standardized connector.

The CCS Type 1 is the most common plug used on modern EVs. It combines the J1772 and DC charger compatibility into one standardized connector.

The CCS Type 1 is the most common plug used on modern EVs. It combines the J1772 and DC charger compatibility into one standardized connector.

The CCS Type 1 and 2 plug standards were developed by the SAE and European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) to solve the problem posed by CHAdeMO and other connectors and create one plug to charge them all. In reality, there are two variations. CCS Type 1 is used in North America and features a J1772 on top with a standardized two-pin DC plug underneath it. In Europe, this plug becomes the CCS Type 2. It includes the Mennekes connector at the top instead of the J1772, and it uses the same DC plug underneath.

Other names for this plug include the CCS Combo 1 or SAE J1772 combo connector. The top portion of the CCS plug can be used for Level 1 and 2 charging with a J1772 connector. Most EVs have a plastic piece that covers the lower section. When a DC fast charge is needed or a station uses a CCS connector, the driver would remove the plastic cover and utilize the whole plug. CCS has a maximum power delivery of 350 kW.

For a while, it seemed as though the CCS standard would be the dominant plug type, as nearly every automaker began to adopt it. But this is about to change in the coming years because of Tesla's charging standard and network of Superchargers.

Tesla North American Charging Standard (NACS)

Tesla's NACS connector is used for all the automaker's vehicles except for the original Tesla Roadster. It is not compatible with non-Teslas unless a special adapter is used.

Tesla's NACS connector is used for all the automaker's vehicles except for the original Tesla Roadster. It is not compatible with non-Teslas unless a special adapter is used.

Tesla's NACS connector is used for all the automaker's vehicles except for the original Tesla Roadster. It is not compatible with non-Teslas unless a special adapter is used.

Tesla's NACS connector is used for all the automaker's vehicles except for the original Tesla Roadster. It is not compatible with non-Teslas unless a special adapter is used.

With the debut of the Tesla Model S, the company eschewed the industry standard plugs and developed its own. The Tesla North American Charging Standard (NACS) is the smallest EV plug and features a squarish oval connector with five holes. The advantage of Tesla's NACS is that it can accommodate all forms of charging in one plug. The CCS plug does the same now, but Tesla was the first to do it at scale.

Every model in Tesla's lineup, except for the original Roadster, uses the NACS connector. As such, all charge stations in Tesla's Supercharger network use this connector. Notably, in Europe, the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y come with a CCS Type 2 power outlet. The Model S and Model X still use the NACS but will include an adapter to ensure CCS Type 2 compatibility in Europe. As of this article's publication, Tesla's NACS standard currently has a maximum power delivery upward of 250 kW. It is possible for Tesla vehicles to use J1772, CHAdeMO or CCS Type 1 connectors provided the owner has purchased the appropriate adapter.

In late 2022, Tesla announced that it would open its plug standard for charging network operators and other automakers. And in 2023, like dominos falling, one automaker after another began to announce support for Tesla's NACS standard. So far, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Polestar, Rivian and Volvo have rallied around the NACS, with Volkswagen having discussions to also adopt it and Hyundai considering it as well. Starting in spring 2024, electric vehicles from these companies will be able to charge at most of Tesla's Superchargers provided they have the necessary adapter. The first new vehicles from each of these manufacturers to feature built-in NACS chargers will debut in 2025. Due to the engineering complexities of changing a power port, there will likely be some overlap between EV models currently available with CCS in the coming years. You're likely to see the change in vehicles receiving a midcycle refresh or on all-new models. Given the significant market share of these brands, the defections to Tesla's NACS standard mean that in just a few years, the vast majority of new electric vehicles will be able to charge at Tesla's Superchargers.

Other non-Tesla vehicles with a CCS Type 1 plug can charge at certain Supercharger stations outfitted with a Magic Dock adapter. EV owners with CHAdeMO and J1772 plugs will not be able to use the Magic Dock at this time. Owners will need to download and create an account in the Tesla app, then visit a designated Tesla Supercharger. Non-Tesla owners will pay higher charging rates than Tesla customers unless they spring for a monthly membership that puts the cost on par with Tesla vehicles. There are only a handful of compatible stations at this time, but the company plans to open more in the near future. The federal government announced in 2022 that Tesla would begin production of new Supercharger equipment later this year to allow non-Tesla EVs in North America to use Tesla Superchargers. And going forward, Tesla must make its Superchargers compatible with CCS plugs in order to qualify for government subsidies.

Other factors that affect charger compatibility

The biggest factor is making sure your electric car's outlet is compatible with the connector at the charge station. There are adapters available that allow EVs to plug into different types of connectors, which opens the doors to more chargers. Besides that, it is important to note that even though your EV is compatible with most charge stations, it does not mean that all of them will benefit you the same. Every EV has a maximum charge rate, which is important to know when selecting a charging station. The 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV, for example, has a maximum charge rate of 55 kW. If you showed up at a 350-kW charge station, the higher speeds of that station would be wasted because your car is limited to 55 kW. Meanwhile, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 would be able to take full advantage of the 350 kW since its charge rate can accommodate the higher energy rate.

Edmunds says

If you're purchasing a new EV today, keep in mind that we're in a transition period of different plug standards. Many owners of EVs using CCS connectors will have access to Tesla's wider network, but they'll need to have an adapter on hand at all times. Still, there's a good chance that you won't have to worry too much about compatibility issues. Between the widespread adoption of the CCS standard and the growing number of automakers adopting Tesla's NACS, it has leveled the playing field for most electric car owners and increased the potential number of charge stations. There should be adapters available in the near future to solve any compatibility issues between the two dominant standards.

Electric vehicle stories

See all car news