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Can You Plug Your Electric Car Into Any Charger?

For the most part, yes. Well, unless you have a Tesla.

Woman holding DC-CCS EV charger
DG FotoStock/Shutterstock.com
All EVs in North America use the same standard plugs for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. However, things vary slightly for DC fast charging.

Refueling a gasoline-powered vehicle is relatively simple, with a couple of different fuel types, and it only takes a few minutes. However, with everyone making EVs these days, you might wonder if electric car chargers and connectors are universal.

Trying to find the nearest EV charging station and dealing with range anxiety is bad enough, but what about when you finally get to the charger? Thankfully, almost all electric cars in North America use the same types of chargers. Well, except for Tesla. Then, different levels of accepted power, charging speeds, and other factors exist. So, here’s what you need to know.

First, Let’s Talk About Speed (Levels)

EV charging plug types, levels, and speeds
tornadoflight/Shutterstock.com

The easiest way to explain the current system for electric car charging is to talk about speed. And while I won’t get into a ton of details, as each automaker has a different platform or speeds, the overall standard is the same.

First, you have Level 1 charging. This is the standard 110/120 volt AC plug you’ll find in every home throughout North America. This charger plug is extremely slow, offering upwards of 5 miles of range per hour, and one likely came with your car to charge at home or in your garage.

Level 2 chargers are the next step, which many electric car owners get installed at home with the help of an electrician. These use 240 volts, similar to a washer or dryer, and are relatively easy to add to any house. This will charge your car much quicker than Level 1, reaching speeds that deliver from 10-80 miles of range per hour. Give or take, depending on the vehicle. Most public stations are Level 2 and may also offer Level 3 DC speeds.

And finally, we have Level 3, also known as DC Fast Chargers. This type can recharge an EV extremely fast thanks to delivering upwards of 480 volts of DC power. Tesla’s Supercharger network is Level 3 DC fast charging, and many other vehicles can handle these speeds with a CCS charger. DC fast chargers give you miles per minute instead of per hour and can fully recharge an EV battery quickly.

As you’d expect, each of these charging levels uses a different plug. However, most charging stations in North America have combo plugs making things easier for customers.

Different Types of EV Charging Connectors

EV charging port on a car
Kevin McGovern/Shutterstock.com

In North America, almost all EVs use the same connector for Level 1 and Level 2 charging, known as the “J1772” plug. Or the J-plug for short. It’s the round aspect of the charging port in the image above. You don’t have to worry about where you’re stopping for a charge unless that location is specifically a Tesla charging network. Here are the main types:

  • J1772
  • CCS Combo (for DC Fast Charging)
  • CHAdeMO
  • Tesla

Basically, every car has a J-Plug, and almost all charging stations have a connector. You have nothing to worry about. If you want faster Level 3 “DC speeds” while charging your car, nearly every U.S. manufacturer uses the CCS Combo (Combined Charging System) plug.

And because almost every car in North America has the CCS Combo port, you can charge your vehicle from a J-Plug connector or a CCS Combo connector. With the latter being the faster charging method.

Different electric car charging plugs and speeds
Blink Charging

However, there are a few exceptions. For fast charging, Nissan and Mitsubishi use Asia’s popular CHAdeMO plug stateside, but even Nissan switched to CCS to make things easier. So you never have to worry about compatibility with your vehicle.

The other big exception is Tesla. Unfortunately, Tesla uses its own proprietary plug on vehicles and every charging station. However, Tesla provides a J1772 adapter cable with every car it sells. That way, owners can still charge the car anywhere in the United States. Additionally, Tesla recently released a CCS adapter, allowing owners to fast-charge from any CCS station when a Supercharger isn’t available.

Additionally, Tesla is busy testing a new system and “Magic Dock” that will allow any J-Plug and CCS vehicle to use its charging network. It’s available in some regions outside the US, making plugs and charging levels confusion a thing of the past.

So, Do All EVs Use the Same Connector Plug?

charging an electric vehicle
HaveanicedayPhoto/Shutterstock.com

In general, nearly all electric vehicles can use the same standard plug for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. All new North American vehicles support the J1772 standard, and almost every model on the streets or coming soon also has the CCS Combo for DC fast charging.

So, while it sounds confusing at first, it’s really quite simple. Furthermore, with Tesla expanding support to any EV and releasing adapters, plus manufacturers working together to improve the situation for everyone, things will get better over time.

Now that you know all of this, you can rest easy when buying a new electric car. Every EV can charge anywhere in North America with the built-in charging connector or an adapter. The only exception is non-Tesla models trying to use a Tesla location, but that’ll soon change too.

As the EV market expands, the CCS Combo is quickly becoming a global standard. We also see more charging stations appear daily, supporting almost any vehicle you can buy. Then, soon, wireless EV charging could streamline things even further.

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »