Understanding EV Charging Cables In The UK

Written by: Pete Luckhurst



Time to read 7 min

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity around the world, including in the United Kingdom. As more people switch to EVs, the need for reliable and efficient charging solutions becomes paramount. A crucial component of EV charging infrastructure is the charging cable. In this article, we will cover the different types of EV charging cables available in the UK, factors to consider when choosing one, the various plug types, safety guidelines, and address frequently asked questions.

Types of EV Charging Cables

When it comes to EV charging cable, there are several options to choose from. The most common types include:

  1. Type 1 cables: These cables are often used with older EV models, primarily from manufacturers in the United States and Japan.
  2. Type 2 cables: Type 2 cables, also known as Mennekes cables, are the standard option for most modern EVs in the UK and Europe.
  3. Rapid Charging cables: Rapid charging cables, such as CHAdeMO and CCS cables, are designed for ultra-fast charging at specific charging stations.

Each type of cable has its own advantages and compatibility requirements, so it's important to choose the right one for your EV model and charging infrastructure.

Aside from the three main types of EV charging cables mentioned above, there are also specialized cables available in the UK market to cater to specific needs. For example, some EV owners may opt for coiled cables that provide flexibility and convenience when charging in tight spaces or when the charging station is located further away from the vehicle.

There are smart charging cables equipped with advanced features like built-in sensors and communication capabilities. These cables can communicate with the EV charging station to optimize charging speed based on factors such as energy demand on the grid and the vehicle's battery capacity. Smart cables are paving the way for more efficient and sustainable charging practices in the EV industry.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an EV Charging Cable

When selecting an EV charging cable, there are several factors you should take into account:

  • Cable length: Consider the distance between your charging point and your EV's charging port to ensure the cable is long enough.
  • Cable thickness: Thicker cables often result in faster charging speeds and better overall performance.
  • Weatherproofing: Opt for cables with robust weatherproofing to ensure they can withstand various outdoor conditions.
  • Amperage rating: Different cables have varying amperage ratings, impacting the charging speed and compatibility with different charging stations.

The above factors can help you to make an informed decision when choosing an EV charging cable that suits your specific needs. Something else to keep in mind when selecting an EV charging cable is the connector type, which we've listed in the section below. It is essential to choose a cable with the appropriate connector that matches your EV's charging port to ensure compatibility and efficient charging.

You may also want to consider durability. Look for cables made from high-quality materials that are resistant to wear and tear, ensuring longevity and reliability. Additionally, some cables come with features like tangle-free designs or reinforced connectors to enhance user convenience and prevent damage during regular use.

Understanding the Different Plug Types for EV Charging Cables

EV charging cables come with different plug types, which determine how they connect to the charging port of your electric vehicle. The most common plug types include:

  1. Type 1 plugs: These plugs feature five pins and are commonly used with older EV models.
  2. Type 2 plugs: Type 2 plugs have seven pins and are the standard for most modern EVs, providing faster charging and additional functionalities.
  3. CHAdeMO plugs: CHAdeMO plugs are specifically designed for rapid charging, ideal for compatible EVs that require high charging speeds.
  4. CCS plugs: Combined Charging System (CCS) plugs integrate both Type 2 and rapid charging capabilities, accommodating a wide range of EVs.

Understanding the different plug types is essential to ensure compatibility between your EV, charging cable, and charging station.

When it comes to Type 1 plugs, they are recognizable by their single-phase charging capability, making them suitable for vehicles that do not require fast charging speeds. Type 2 plugs are known for their three-phase charging capability, allowing for quicker and more efficient charging, which is crucial for modern EVs with larger battery capacities.

For those considering CHAdeMO plugs, it's important to note that they are commonly found in Asian electric vehicles and are favored for their ability to deliver high-power DC charging. Meanwhile, CCS plugs have gained popularity in Europe and North America due to their versatility in supporting both AC and DC charging, offering a comprehensive solution for a wide range of electric vehicles on the market.

If you don't have access to a charging station, or don't want to use one, you can also opt for a 3-pin plug to Type 2 converter such as the Ring Automotive 3-Pin Plug to Type 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Cable.

Levels vs Types

You may sometimes come across the term level type. It's important to understand the distinction between levels and types of EV charging when referring to charging cables, as they are not the same thing:

  • Levels: Charging levels refer to the power output and charging speed capabilities of a particular charging station. They are categorized into Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 (or rapid charging).
  • Types: EV charging cables are categorized into various types, such as Type 1, Type 2, and rapid charging cables. These determine the physical connection and compatibility with charging stations.

Understanding the difference between levels and types will help you choose the right charging cable and understand what charging speeds your vehicle can handle.

Level 1 charging is the slowest of the three levels, typically providing around 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. This level is commonly used for home charging solutions where the vehicle is parked for an extended period. 

Level 2 charging, on the other hand, offers faster charging speeds, providing approximately 10 to 60 miles of range per hour, making it suitable for both residential and commercial charging stations.

Level 3 charging, also known as DC fast charging or rapid charging, is the quickest option, delivering up to 80% charge in as little as 30 minutes, depending on the vehicle and the station's power output. These stations are commonly found along roads, motorways and in public areas to enable long-distance travel and quick top-ups for electric vehicles on the go.

Safety Guidelines for Using EV Charging Cables

While EV charging cables are generally safe to use, it's crucial to follow specific safety guidelines:

  • Inspect the cable regularly for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Properly store the cable when not in use to prevent tangling or exposure to extreme temperatures.
  • Avoid using extension cords or adapters, as they can compromise safety and charging efficiency.
  • Only connect the cable to a compatible charging station and ensure it is securely connected.
  • If you encounter any issues or suspect a fault with the cable, contact a qualified professional.

By adhering to these safety guidelines, you can mitigate risks and ensure a safe charging experience for your electric vehicle.

It's important to note that EV charging cables come in various lengths and designs to cater to different needs. Some cables are designed for fast charging, while others are more suitable for overnight charging. Understanding the specifications of your electric vehicle and the charging cable can help optimize the charging process and ensure efficiency.

When using EV charging cables in public charging stations, be mindful of the surroundings and other users. Avoid leaving the cable unattended to prevent tripping hazards or unauthorized use. It's also recommended to follow any specific instructions provided by the charging station operator to ensure a seamless and safe charging experience for everyone.


Can I use an EV charging cable in the rain?

Yes, most charging cables are built to withstand rain and other weather conditions. However, it's vital to ensure that the connectors are dry before plugging them into your EV to avoid any potential electrical short circuits.

How long does it take to charge an EV with an EV charging cable?

The charging time depends on various factors, including the EV's battery size, the charging cable's amperage, and the charging station's capabilities. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few hours to several hours for a full charge.

Can I leave my EV charging cable plugged in overnight?

Yes, it is safe to leave your EV charging cable plugged in overnight. Most modern EVs and charging cables have built-in safety features that prevent overcharging once the battery reaches full capacity.

Can I use a Type 2 cable with a Type 1 EV?

It is possible to use an adapter to connect a Type 2 cable to a Type 1 EV, but it may affect charging efficiency and speeds.

Can I charge my EV with a regular power outlet?

Depending on the EV model and charging cable, it may be possible with a product such as the Ring Automotive 3-Pin Plug to Type 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Cable

Understanding EV charging cables is vital for efficient and safe charging of your electric vehicle. By using the information we've provided, you can maximize the convenience and reliability of your EV charging experience. Ready to start shopping? See Maplin's selection of EV chargers below!

About the author

Pete Luckhurst is a Website Manager at Maplin.

After getting an early start in the world of computing with C64 & Amiga computers, Pete now spends much of his spare time in PC VR and dabbling in game development. He also has a strong interest in film, photography and music.

Among other endeavours, he previously worked in a Maplin store, so it was a no-brainer when the opportunity arose to work on the modern incarnation of Maplin online. Besides writing for the blog, Pete works alongside the Maplin team to help keep the online store running smoothly.