EV charging terms you need to know: What are Superchargers, CCS and CHAdeMO?

The Biden administration on Wednesday outlined long-awaited rules for electric charging stations as part of a $7.5 billion federal government program, a bid to jump-start the country’s adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

Here are the terms and acronyms you need to know to understand the booming EV charger market.

Level up

EV chargers are classified in three categories: Level 1, Level 2 and DC fast chargers.

Level 1 chargers use a regular 110-volt outlet, just like standard home plugs, but take a long time to charge a vehicle battery. They are considered a solution for older apartment buildings, allowing residents to drive 30 to 40 miles (50 to 65 km) on an overnight charge.

Level 2 chargers offer higher-power output and use a 240-volt outlet, just like clothes dryers or air conditioners. They are used in residential and commercial settings, such as shopping malls and parking garages, and can top up an EV in about five hours.

DC fast chargers (DCFC) allow for the quickest charge by allowing direct current into the battery without first converting it from alternating current, which Level 1 and 2 chargers use.

DCFC uses a 480-volt outlet and can top up a vehicle in under an hour. They are costly to install and less prevalent than Level 2 chargers, and not all EVs can fast-charge, with throughput limited by hardware and software.

Level 2 chargers cost between $2,000 and $5,000 in parts and labor to install, with hefty subsidies available for residents and businesses to defray costs.

DCFCs are significantly more expensive, requiring more than $100,000 per station in upfront capital.


There are three types of DC fast charging systems — Tesla, SAE Combined Charging System (CCS) and CHAdeMO, which all use different plugs. The new rules require that any companies hoping to tap the $7.5 billion in federal funding must also adopt the CCS standard.

Most EV models entering the market today can charge using the CCS connector, also known as SAE J1772 combo, named after the Society of Automotive Engineers, a standards-setting body.

“CHAdeMO,” an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve,” equivalent to “charge for moving,” was designed by carmakers primarily in Japan.

Image: Blink Charging


Since 2012, Tesla Inc has developed and deployed its own high-speed vehicle charger, called “Supercharger,” which can add up to 322 miles (518 km) of range in just 15 minutes.

Tesla has more than 40,000 of them worldwide, the company said. It has 17,740 fast charging ports in the United States, accounting for 62% of the total DC fast charging ports in the country, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data showed.

Tesla since late 2021 has opened some of its Superchargers to vehicles which use CCS in Europe and Australia.

Tesla also said in November it is allowing other automakers and network operators to use its proprietary charging systems.

The Biden administration said Wednesday Tesla would open its U.S. charging network to EVs made by rivals. Tesla did not respond to requests for confirmation.

The U.S. network

The United States currently has a total of 50,821 public EV charging stations and 130,563 charging ports, DOE data showed. Of those, the vast majority are Level 2 chargers.

Chargers are distributed very unevenly across the country, with California accounting for nearly 30% of the total charging stations in the country.

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