The most significant distinction between an electric vehicle (EV) and an internal combustion engine (ICE) is how they refill. Although it is reasonably simple to fill up a normal car with gasoline or diesel, EVs demand drivers to adjust their habits. Making the transition to electric vehicles, as anything new, necessitates learning a new way of doing things and jargon.

This might be perplexing for many new electric vehicle drivers. For example, what is the distinction between DC and AC charging? Maybe it’s the difference between the three different levels of electric vehicle charging?

EV Charging Cables And EV Charging Plugs

It’s easy to become disoriented with all these new phrases being flung around, and industry experts and novices alike are embracing technologies and terminology that suit them.

Charging cables and plugs are among the most perplexing topics for EV drivers. Because electric vehicles lack a standardized connector, charging stations, plugs, and cables come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They vary depending on where you are in the world, what vehicle you own, and what type of charging station you plan to use.

Selecting a suitable cable for your charging requirements might be difficult with so many factors, but it doesn’t have to be. Continue reading to learn about the distinctions between EV charging cables and plugs so you can charge with confidence no matter where you go.

What is an electric vehicle charging cable?

Although some charging stations include cables, some need you to carry your own, charging cables are a necessary aspect of charging an electric car. Charging cables are available in four different types or “modes,” each of which is designed for a specific kind of charging. It can be perplexing because the mode does not always correspond to the “level” of charging.

A smartly-dressed professional man wearing sunglasses on his way to plug in his Tesla Model 3 into an EVBox charging station in a parking lot.

Types of electric car cables

Mode 1 charging cables

With a Mode 1 cable, you just use an extension cord and a conventional plug to link an electric car to a standard AC outlet or socket. Consequently, there is no interaction between the car and the charging station, so no extra safety features or shock prevention are available. This form of charging is suitable for light electric mobility such as scooters or e-bikes, but it is not deemed safe for electric vehicles and is therefore forbidden in many countries.                                                             

Mode 2 charging cables

Whenever you buy an electric vehicle, it usually comes with a Mode 2 charging cable. These cables connect to your electric vehicle on one terminal and a regular domestic socket from the other. They also include an In-Cable Control and Protection Device (IC-CPD), which is used for communication and control between the EV and standard wall plug. This charging cable should only be used in an emergency.

Mode 3 charging cables

Mode Three wires are now the most frequent technique to charge an electric vehicle all across the world. A specialized EV charging station, such as those available in companies and offices, houses and residential settings, and public and commercial parking lots, is connected to your car via a Mode 3 charging cable.      

Mode 4 charging cables                                       

Mode 4 charging cables are designed expressly for DC charging, and the power is converted before being sent to the automobile. Whenever you charge an electric vehicle with DC, which is also referred to as fast charging or ultra-quick charging, you can drastically cut charging times.

What is an electric vehicle (EV) charging plug?

A charging plug is a connection that goes into an electric car’s charging socket. Electric vehicle charging plugs and sockets vary based on the car manufacturer, the level of charging, and country they were produced in, much like appliance plugs differ based on the country. The following standards are followed by most countries:

A semi-casual EV driver plugging in his vehicle to a public EVBox charging station in Amsterdam.

EV charging plug types

AC charging plugs

Type 1 charging plug

Type 1 plugs, also known as SAE J1772, are most typically seen in Japanese and North American vehicles. They are single-phase and can provide up to 7.4 kW of power.

Type 2 charging plug

The formal plug standard for the European Union is Type 2 plugs, popularly known as “Mennekes” plugs after the German business that invented them.

DC charging plugs

GB/T plug for charging

China created its own charging system, known as GB/T. The GB/T plug comes in two varieties: one for DC fast charging and the other for AC charging. The single-phase GB/T AC charging plug can offer up to 7.4 kW.

CCS charging plug

In Europe (CCS2) and North America (CCS1), the Combined Charging System, or CCS in short, is the quick charge standard plug. Since it enables both AC and DC charging, it’s termed a combined charging system.


The CCS1 is a more advanced Type 1 AC plug. Apart from Tesla’s Supercharger technology, which has its own connector and can charge at speeds in excess of 350 kW, CCS1 is perhaps the most popular quick charge plug in North America.


The CCS2, on the other hand, is a more advanced Type 2 AC plug with two additional power connections for DC rapid charging. CCS plugs can offer DC power in the range of 50 kW to 350 kW.

CHAdeMO charging plug

Many CHAdeMO charging plugs, which were designed in Japan, allow for fast charging of up to 200 kW and also bidirectional charging. Asia is currently pioneering the production of EVs that work with CHAdeMO connectors.

GB/T charging plug

Up to 237.5 kW can be delivered with the present GB/T DC charging socket. This newer iteration, dubbed ChaoJi, allows for DC charging upwards of 500 kW while maintaining a lightweight and small connector with a snugger fit cable.

Tesla plug-in charger

Tesla runs the world’s largest worldwide rapid charging network, with over 30,000 Superchargers. The Supercharger features its own custom plug that looks like a conventional AC Type 2 socket but is only compatible with Teslas.