Mode 2 charging involves the use of a cable with integrated shock protection against AC and DC currents through a built-in control box. It uses a non-dedicated, standard domestic (3-pin) socket where the charging rate and protection is regulated using the cable’s built-in control box.
Mode 2 charging cables are known as Portable Chargers, Slow/Trickle Charge cables or ‘Granny’ cables.
Where using a standard household socket means that the maximum charge is up to 13A, the charger will offer a choice between a lower 6A or 10A to protect your domestic electrical system.
These are great for use with Plug-in Hybrid vehicles where the battery capacity is smaller and overall charge times much quicker or where there is no rush in charging the car.
As the charge rate is slow and likely to be active for prolonged periods, many owners reserve its usage to emergencies, using only when access to faster Mode 3 or Mode 4 charging is unavailable.
Mode 3 charging is taken from a fixed, dedicated circuit installation such as a wall box with control electronics built in. This might be a purpose-built installation at home or in a public location.
The control box used in Mode 3 charging requires professional installation. You can choose to have a tethered (hard-wired cable) attached to the box or buy a socketed charging cable. The latter can be used wherever there’s a suitable charging station.
The maximum charge rate is determined by what charging station, vehicle and cable used.
Most homes have a 16A (3.6kWh) or 32A (7.2kWh) using a single phase supply.
Public charging stations and some industries have a 3-phase electricity supply. When used with a suitably rated cable the rate of charge will increase with an improved output of 16A (11kWh) or 32A (22kWh).
To achieve the maximum rate of charge all three charging elements need to allow for this rate. For instance, to charge at a rate of 32A, you require a 32A Charge Point, a 32A-rated EV cable and a 32A-rated on-board charger on your electric vehicle. If one of the three elements in play is 16A-rated, your maximum charge rate will similarly be 16A.
Mode 4 charging can be either AC or DC, with AC ‘Rapid’ chargers rated at 43kWh and DC starting from 50kWh upwards. Though Mode 4 charging depends on vehicle compatibility, the vast majority of full electric vehicles support ‘Rapid’ charge.
Mode 4 charging will charge most electric vehicles to 80% capacity in 30-60 minutes before reducing charge for the remaining amount (thus protecting the battery).
Rapid AC chargers use a tethered Type 2 connector (so no extra cable is necessary) while the much more common Rapid DC chargers are fitted with a CCS, CHAdeMO or Tesla Type 2 connector.