Plug types, charging cables and modes. Anyone wanting to charge is initially confronted with many new terms. It seems complicated, but it’s not. We explain the different charging modes, what these are good for and which plugs are required.

According to German standards, electric vehicles can be charged in four different modes. The decisive differences relate to charging power, plug locking and communication between the charging mode and the vehicle.

Charging mode 1:

In charging mode 1, an electric car is charged either at a Schuko or a CEE socket. A Schuko socket is a European household socket and a CEE socket is a common connection for heavy current. In charging mode 1, charging takes place at 3.7kW with AC and type 1 or type 2 plugs can be used. Plug locking is not possible in this charging mode. The plug can simply be removed.
The lack of plug locking as well as the lack of communication between the vehicle and the power connection can lead to safety-related issues in various situations (e.g. no protection against overloading or theft of the charging cable). For these reasons, charging mode 1 has been further developed.

Charging mode 2:

Charging mode 2 provides greater safety. In this case, the means of communication between the vehicle and the charger is integrated into the cable. This prevents overloads and other dangers. The vehicle can be charged using AC at a power of up to 22 kW. Otherwise, charging mode 2 does not differ from charging mode 1. Here too, Schuko or CEE sockets can be connected to the electric car by plug types 1 and 2 but not locked.

Charging mode 3:

Charging mode 3 is the current standard. It is very different from modes 1 and 2. The plug types are the same (type 1 and type 2 plugs), but they are not connected to CEE or Schuko sockets, but to charging stations. The plugs can also be locked during charging to prevent unintentional or unauthorised unplugging. The alternating current is fed in with a maximum charging power of 44 kW.

Charging mode 4

In charging mode 4, electric cars charge with direct current and thus considerably faster compared to alternating current. This is why mode 4 is also called the rapid charging mode. The charging power is 170kW, four times that of charging mode 3. Combo2/CCS, CHAdeMO, Type 2 or Tesla plugs are suitable. In charging mode 4, the plugs are also locked and communication between the vehicle and the charger takes place via the cable.

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