Perhaps the most important question that new drivers ask: Do all EVs use the same charger? 

No. The answer is no.

Luckily, Recurrent is here to let you know the basics about charging so you can jump into an EV with confidence and excitement. You may not miss gas stations at all! 


There are different charging plugs for different vehicles, and different charging speeds. It sounds confusing at first, but in practicality, you learn what you need for your car and can ignore everything else. Soon, it will be second nature.

Connector and charging port

AC Charging, aka Level 1 or Level 2

AC charging is what you can expect to do at home or at work. AC charging takes AC current directly from the grid and your car converts it into the DC current that it needs. Since you are using power directly from the grid, a home charger will add whatever electricity you use to your home energy bill. AC chargers come in two speeds.

Easy and Slow: Level 1

Level 1 charging uses a standard, at home, 110-120V outlet, plus the charging cord that comes standard with your EV. However, it can take over 24 hours to refill a battery from a low state of charge. In general, you can add a modest 3-4 miles of range per hour using a level 1 charger. Very low mileage drivers, like people who just use their car for around-town errands, may be able to get by with Level 1 charging. It can also do the trick for PHEV (plug-in hybrid) drivers.

Two common household plugs

The Most Common Charge: Level 2

Level 2 charging is by far the most common type of charging. It is considered “fast,” but should not be confused with “DC Fast Charging” or supercharging. Level 2 charging uses a 220-240V plug, which is what most home washer/dryers use. Homeowners often choose to have a Level 2 charger mounted in their garage or driveway, and many apartments have (or are willing to install!) one. It is recommended that a professional electrician install the hardware. 

Word to the wise: before investing in a Level 2 charger, wait a week or two to see if Level 1 might be enough for you! Some of our drivers regret rushing to get Level 2 charging installed.

The Level 2 hardware itself can often be purchased from a car manufacturer or online from companies such as Enel X, Charge Point, or Blink. Prices are generally a few hundred dollars but almost always under $1000. Many utilities, charger manufacturers and even car companies subsidize or offer rebates on the purchase and installation of this hardware, so it can often be quite cost effective. 

How Fast is Level 2?

Most Level 2 chargers offer around 6-12 kW of power, with cutting-edge, public Level 2 chargers designed to deliver up to 22 kW. With a 6-12 kW charger, some smaller BEVs charge fully in around 5 hours, with some of the larger battery sizes taking 6-10 hours. A PHEV can usually recharge fully in an hour. The exact timing will depend on your EV and the wattage of the charger. 

Plugs: What Type Do I Need?

For most EVs today, there are two sorts of plugs, or connectors, you will need to “plug in” your car:

  • Non-Tesla vehicles come with a J-1772 plug used for AC charging.
  • Tesla has its own, proprietary charging system and network of charging stations, but there are adaptors so Teslas can use the J-1772 when needed. 
A CCS charging port on a Volkswagen ID.4

DC Charging: Level 3 or “DC Fast Charging”

DC Fast charging is a great option when you’re on the go, and the only place you'll find this option is at public chargers. With DC charging, the AC energy from the grid is converted into DC energy before your car gets it. This means that there is less of a bottleneck and you can refill quickly, but it also means a lot more heat and voltage, which can potentially damage your battery after long-term, frequent use.

How Fast?

Most DC Fast Chargers start at 55 kW and can go up as high as 350 kW. However, your car may have its own limit to how fast it can charge - the onboard charger controls the speed of incoming electricity. Many BEVs can fill from 0-80% or 20-80% in 30-45 minutes at a DC Fast Charger. PHEVs generally do not support DC charging.

The new Revel charging station in Brooklyn, New York has many DC fast chargers

What's All This About NACS?

For DC charging, there are two main plug options depending whether you drive Tesla or not. Unsurprisingly, Tesla has its own plug for use with the supercharging network.

Most non-Teslas still use CCS, or Combined Charging System. It combines lower power level 2 chargers (the J1772, on the top) with high speed DC chargers (on the bottom) for a quick charge between 55kW and 350kW. Teslas can also use an adaptor to connect to CCS chargers. 

However, you may have heard a lot of news lately about many EV brands changing to the Tesla standard, also known as NACS, or North American Charging Standard.

Brands such as Ford, GM, Volvo, Rivian, Polestar, and more have committed to using the Tesla standard.

For the next year or so, new cars from these makers will come with an adapter which will allow them to charge at Tesla Superchargers and other, non-Tesla NACS chargers. This access will be in addition to CCS chargers.

Starting around 2025, the hardware one these cars will be updated to have the NACS connector native. Then, they will come with adapters so drivers can use CCS, as well.

DiIfferent plug types for EV charging

The other option that is increasingly rare in the US is CHAdeMO: a charging standard developed by a consortium of carmakers and charging companies. It was developed in Japan and older NiIssans, Toyotas, and Kias can use the plugs. For US production, many of these vehicles are being switched to CCS. Nissan was the major holdout, and as of July 2023, they, too, have committed to the NACS plug.