With millions of electric cars on the roads, sometimes it is hard to understand the difference between charging stations, standards, and plugs, as well as to see their advantages. We’ve prepared this overview with pictures and tables for new electric vehicle drivers, those who are getting into EVs, or planning to switch to one.

There are two charging standards: AC (alternating current, also called “destination charging”), and DC (direct current). You should remember these two main points:

  • AC power comes from the grid, i.e., your domestic socket.
  • DC power is stored in batteries.

Depending on the charger type, the current will either get converted from alternating (AC) to direct (DC) using the EV’s onboard charger and then fill the EV battery. Or the battery will simply be refilled by the direct current at the DC charging station without involving an onboard charger.

The main features of AC and DC charging are the following.

AC charging

Flow: Bring your own cable - drive up - plug in - walk away.

Connector types: Type 1, Type 2.

Charging power: 7 kW (1-phase) to 22 kW (3-phase).

Charging cable (required): Type 1 - Type 2 or Type 2 - Type 2 (as the charging point has the Type 2 socket anyway).

Charging process: grid - AC charger - EV’s onboard charger - car battery.

AC is typical for public charging stations or home chargers. The charging speed is defined by both the charging point power and onboard charger (OC) capacity.

In simple terms, an EV battery charging power does not exceed an OC capacity. Since the OC capacity has defined limits in this case, even if the charging point power is higher than an OC capacity, your EV will not charge faster (see the picture below).

Although AC charging supports up to 22 kW of charging power, electric vehicles with 7kW batteries are the most common.

Most popular EV models with AC connectors

DC charging

Flow: Charging cable tethered to the charger - plug in - stay with/near the car while charging - leave immediately.

Connector types: CHAdeMO, CCS.

Charging power: 50 kW (most existing DC chargers) to 400 kW (maximum that standard supports so far).

Charging cable: not required (tethered to the charger).

Charging process: grid - DC charger - car battery (bypassing an onboard charger).

The 50 kW fast (rapid) chargers are the most common, but 150 and 300 kW are also being installed.

In DC chargers, the charging speed is defined by both the charging point power and EV's charging socket capacity.

Most popular EV models with DC connectors


  • The Tesla Model S and X have a modified Type 2 socket that can accept either AC or DC.
  • DC is also provided by Tesla’s Supercharger standard, which is compatible with Tesla only and delivers up to 120 kW of power.
  • Using CHAdeMO adapter, the Model S and X can charge on a universal fast charger at up to 43 kW, and the CCS adaptor allows these cars to charge at up to 120 kW on a universal fast charger.
  • The Tesla Model 3 comes equipped standard with a CCS adapter that is compatible with universal fast chargers. Tesla has also added the CCS adapter to Superchargers, which supports up to 250 kW of charging power.

Charging protocols

AC and DC chargers also have different plug locking protocols.

In DC chargers, the plugs are tethered to the charger, while in AC chargers the plugs are locked by the car while charging (thus preventing cable theft). In most cases, the drivers should use their own charging cable unless the charging location provides them with one.


You can find the nearest available AC and DC chargers in the GO TO-U App and book a charging time slot to avoid queues at the charging spot.

Most fast chargers can provide charging on AC and DC simultaneously. Some new EV drivers get confused with the CCS-equipped vehicles.

Let’s say that the EV has a CCS connector. When a driver sees the Type 2 plug at the charger (which fits the upper part of CCS), he might want to charge using this plug, but doing so would be incorrect. In this case, the Type 2 plug will only provide AC charging, which would most likely be limited by an onboard charger. So, using the CCS connector that provides DC charging and bypasses the limitation of the onboard charger would be much more effective.

Just because there’s a Type 2 plug on a fast charger doesn’t mean it will fast charge your car via Type 2!

To select the correct charger and connector type for your EV, use filters on the map in the GO TO-U App.

To find the appropriate home charger for your EV or to get professional advice on AC and DC chargers for your business, view the Shop section on our website.


Sources: insideevs.com, evbox.com

Feb 19, 2021
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