January 3, 2024

The different North American EV charging connector types

EV charging connectors

There are many reasons to consider switching from a gasoline-powered car, to one that’s powered by electricity. Electric vehicles (EVs) are quieter, cost less to operate and produce far fewer total emissions well to wheel. However, not all electric cars and EV charging plugs are created equal. In particular, the EV charging connector or plug type standard varies across geographies and models.


EVs utilize different connectors for AC (alternating current or Level 2) charging and DC (direct current or Level 3) fast charging due to the increased power levels with additional wiring to handle the kilowatts (kW) delivered. AC charging is primarily done at home or at work with a charger that can be hardwired or plugged into a 240 volt electrical outlet, most commonly using a NEMA 14-50 receptacle. Charging speeds for AC Level 2 typically vary from 3 kW to 19.2 kW depending on the electric vehicle needs. DC fast charging utilizes anywhere from 400-1000 volts and up that can provide charging speeds from 50 kW to 360 kW. These chargers allow EV drivers to charge their vehicle to 80% in under 20 minutes.


While there is contention around universal plug technology, there is critical mass from global automakers supporting the Combined Charging System (CCS) in North America with CHAdeMO being phased out. However, that critical mass appears to be shifting as North America transitions to the North American Charging Standard (NACS). With NACS progressing towards standardization by SAE as J3400, all manufacturers are projected to make the move to the Tesla connector.


AC EV plug standards

In North America, most electric vehicle manufacturer use SAE J1772 connectors, also known as the J plug, for both Level 1 (120 volt) and Level 2 (240 volt) AC charging. While Tesla has long used its own proprietary NACS that has compatibility with SAE J1772 and CCS1 Combo by use of adapters, the company opened the standard to other manufacturers in 2022. As of the end of 2023, nearly all major car manufacturers have announced they’ll be adopting SAE J3400 for their vehicles starting in 2025, bringing broader access to charging networks and a single charging connector for both AC and DC charging. EV charging providers are following suit, with many announcing plans to add NACS connector options to their chargers in the future, including Enel X Way.

SAE J1772

J1772 connectorThe SAE J1772 connector is a single-phase AC charging connector common in the majority of EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) available. With charging speeds up to 19.2 kW, these chargers are most commonly found in homes, work facilities or other places of interest where EV owners spend longer periods of time to charge. Many EVs can charge from 0% to 100% overnight or in the span of an average 8 hour work day. While Tesla vehicles don’t utilize the charger natively, the SAE J3400 connector is compatible with the SAE J1772 standard and can charge with a Tesla adapter.

NACS (Level 2)

NACS connectorTeslas and, in 2025, all other EV manufacturers will use the NACS charging standard for Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast charging needs. Similar to the SAE J1772 standard, the standardized NACS connector, referred to as SAE J3400, is designed to provide up to 19.2 kW from 80A of power, though current Tesla models have a max AC charging speed of 11.5 kW. 

DC fast charging EV plug standards

It’s a little more complicated for DC fast charging, which is high speed EV charging typically found in public areas including rest stops and refueling stations, restaurants and entertainment centers. DC fast chargers aren’t available at home as the electricity requirements are usually not available in residential buildings. DC fast charging is necessary for faster turnaround to get back on the road quickly, while home charging primarily occurs overnight when electricity rates are lowest and longer charger sessions are appropriate.


DC fast chargers use anywhere from 400-1000 volts and can recharge an electric vehicle faster than your standard charging unit, in as little as 20 minutes, thus allowing for convenient long distance EV travel, without the concern of running out of juice. Historically CCS Combo, CHAdeMO and NACS chargers have been utilized for DC fast charging, but CCS Combo and NACS will be the primary charging standards as fewer models are produced with CHAdeMO in North America.

Combined Charging System

CCS1 EV Charging Connector type
The CCS connector uses the SAE J1772 charging inlet and adds two more pins below. It “combines” the SAE J1772 connector with the high speed charging pins, which is how it got its name. Currently chargers can be found supporting speeds up to 350 kW and the majority of automakers currently uses the CCS standard in North America, including: Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Volvo, and others. CCS Combo is on its way out, with the above manufacturers agreeing to transition to SAE J3400 in 2025.


CHAdeMOCHAdeMo was developed by the Japanese utility TEPCO. It is the official standard in Japan, and virtually all DC fast chargers in Japan use a CHAdeMO connector. CHAdeMO was long used in North America, but the plug is being phased out and replaced with NACS. The only vehicles in North America that still use the connector are the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. CHAdeMO connectors do not share part of the connector with the SAE J1772 inlet, so they require their own inlet on the car. This necessitates a larger charge port area to accommodate two separate charging sockets.

NACS (Level 3)

CCS1 EV Charging Connector typeTesla uses the same NACS connector for Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast charging. NACS connectors, standardized as SAE J3400, accept all voltage, so there’s no need to have a different connector specifically for DCFC, as the other standards require. The connector is lightweight and features an easily maneuverable design and simple electrical dispensing.

How do I know which connector my electric vehicle uses?

For Level 1 and Level 2 charging, all electric cars currently use SAE J1772 and for DC fast charging, the majority of manufacturers utilize the CCS1 Combo port (with the exception of Japanese manufacturers Mitsubishi and Nissan still utilizing the CHAdeMO standard). However, all manufacturers will move to the Tesla SAE J3400 port in 2025.


While this may cause uncertainty in what EV and charging station to purchase, drivers should fear not. The transition to EVs shouldn’t be delayed as the chargers that power them are evolving to better meet their needs. In June 2023, Enel X Way announced its support for SAE J3400 (NACS) EV charging connectors with plans to provide the option on JuiceBox® chargers in 2024. To better support the transition, EV manufacturers will provide original equipment manufacturer(OEM)-approved charging adapters, making a JuiceBox investment a worthwhile decision. While CharIN, the organization that advocates for the CCS Combo standard, states that 3rd party SAE J3400 to CCS Combo adapters may lack necessary safety features, use of OEM-supplied adapters prior to native SAE J3400 connector application in EVs is a necessary and safe way to aid the transition.


If you are looking to charge your EV on the road, there are smartphone apps like the Enel X Way App ro find publicly available EV charging stations that specify plug type and pricing. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our customer support team, they’ll be happy to answer any electric vehicle charging questions you may have.

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