How to choose an EV charging cable

A lot of electric cars come with a charging cable, but you might want to buy a spare or one with a different plug. So, here are our tips for selecting the best out there...

BMW i3s charging cable

While you don’t need your own electric car charging cable to use the vast majority of public electric vehicle (EV) charge points, you will need it at some, and you’ll also use your own cable with a wallbox EV charger or a domestic power source. 

Most new EVs come with at least one charging cable, but not all do, and some car makers charge extra for the cable, so it’s worth checking this up front. 

Most people will find it useful to have two different types of charging cable: one with a Type 2 or 1 connector for use with a wallbox charger, and the other with a three-pin plug that can be used with a domestic plug socket. 

Fiat 500 electric charging

Even if your car comes with both types of cable, you may also want to buy an extra one so you can have one at home and one at the office, or have a spare to leave at a relative’s house for occasional use. 

When will you need an extra EV charging cable? 

It’s worth having a spare EV charging cable for a number of reasons. You may have a home charger that has a tethered lead - that is a cable that’s permanently attached to the wallbox - so it’ll be handy to have a lead to keep in the boot of your car so you can charge away from home. 

You may also find it more practical to have a charger with a long lead to use at home or work so it can be stretched around other vehicles or obstacles. Aftermarket charging cables come in a range of lengths up to 20 metres. 

Indra home EV charger

It’s also possible to buy EV charging cables with brightly coloured leads, which could be useful if you’re using it across a walkway or in a dimly lit location.   

Which EV charging cable do I need? 

This depends mainly on the type of charging socket that’s fitted to your car. While most new EVs have a Type 2 socket, some, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander and first-generation Nissan Leaf, have a Type 1 socket, which is smaller and has less pins inside than a Type 2. 

It’s important to note that while Type 2 charger leads can be used with both 7.4kW and 22kW chargers, Type 1 cables can only be used with the slower 7.4kW units. 

What EV charging cable is best? 

The first thing to consider is if you’ll be charging with a single phase or three phase power source. Most homes only have a single phase power supply, but many office buildings have a three-phase supply. 

For EV charging, the difference between these is how quickly you’ll be able to charge your car - single phase is the slowest option, and three-phase, as the name suggests will enable you to charge your car three times faster. 

If you’re able to use a three phase supply, even only sometimes, it’s worth getting a higher rated charger. You can use a three phase unit on a single phase supply, so it may be worth getting the higher rated charger for use in the future. 

Myenergi zappi

While you can use a three-pin charger to recharge your EV, this is the slowest option, and if you don’t have an outdoor socket it could be dangerous. So if you are able to have a wallbox charger fitted, it’s better to use the Type 1 or 2 charger that’s compatible with it. 

What’s the difference between a 16 amp and a 32 amp charger? 

If you have a 32 amp power supply you’ll be able to charge your car up twice as fast as you can with a 16 amp supply. Many home charging units have a 32 amp supply, but the ability to have this will depend on the overall amount of power coming into your home from the grid and how much spare capacity you have. You can use a 32 amp charger with a 16 amp supply, so it may be worth opting for one, even if you only get to make full use of it occasionally. 

Volvo XC40 Recharge charging

To show the differences in charging times of various power sources and charging speeds, we’ve looked at how long it would take to replenish the batteries in a Volvo XC40 Recharge from zero to 100%. 

Charging method Charging time
3-pin plug 34 hours
3.6kW charger 21 hours
7kW charger 11 hours
22kW charger 7 hours

What features should I look for in an EV charger? 

Buy a recognised brand that has the make and model name on it along with the relevant safety rating numbers on both the connectors, control box and plug. It’s also important to buy a charger from a reputable supplier because there are many sub-standard products on sale. Find out what happened when we safety tested three EV charging leads we’d bought from online marketplaces.

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Read more: Best home chargers >>

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