Alan Cook, Director at Foremost Electronics explores the evolving ­landscape of electric vehicle charging connectors and how these devices are being advanced to fit the market as electric vehicles grow in adoption

The UK emissions targets set in 2008 are having a major influence on the adoption of Electric Vehicles here in the UK and the rest of Europe.

The long awaited charging infrastructure is now gathering pace and several major manufacturers of charging stations are busy producing units to keep up with demand for new installations, in addition their R&D departments are developing new ­products to launch into the market place to meet the needs of the next generation of electric vehicles.

To meet the demands of the current and future aftermarket, companies such as Ecar Connectors are offering complete ranges of Sockets/inlets, plugs and cable assemblies to meet the stringent J1772 (type1) and IEC62196 (type 2) approvals.

With the variation in standards there has been some confusion for the potential customer wishing to ­purchase an electric vehicle – one of the many reasons behind the slow adoption and uncertainty surrounding the electric car market.

Just to clarify in general terms. J1772 (type 1) is generally the adopted system in Japan and the USA whilst the IEC62196 (type 2) is the European standard. So for those that purchase a Japanese or American car it will have a type 1 socket/inlet on the car whilst the European cars will have the Type 2 socket/inlet. The charging posts in UK and Europe generally have the type 2 socket/outlet.

Therefore the charging lead requirement for a Nissan leaf or Vauxhall Ampera when using a street charge station in the UK will be a Type 1 to type 2 lead at 16 or 32amp with a 3 or 5 metre cable in orange or black. In some cases the car may be supplied with what is commonly called a ‘granny lead’. A type 1 plug with a three-pin plug, on the other end for charging from your house.

This takes a long time to charge as you are only drawing around 10amps from your 13amp domestic socket so a typical charge time could be up to eight hours. This is perfectly acceptable until you venture to a street charging station where there is no three pin plug and you don’t have eight hours to spare.

Overcoming issues simply

To overcome these issues a solution is available. The Type 1 to Type 2 charge lead can be used at street charge stations and will deliver a quicker charge as you can draw up to 32amps and reduce your charge period. At home you could install a wall mounted charge unit, wired by an electrician into your 30 amp supply.

The Type 1 to Type 2 lead can then be used at home and on the street giving you total flexibility to charge where you like.

Meeting with market approval

The CE & UL approved J1772 (type 1) Plug has an ergonomic pistol style grip incorporating the locking latch, rated at IP54 with 10,000 mating cycles life. It has current from 16 to 63amp single phase with colour and curly cable options. It is also available in a variety of permutations, plug only for end user termination, single plug tethered or as an adaptor plug to plug lead. An attached dust cap provides addition protection when not mated.

The CE & TUV approved 62196 (type 2) plug has similar options and spec to above, but with the addition of three phase cable for faster charging capabilities. Locking is via the socket/inlet rather than on the plug. One area of change that has recently taken place is the contact gender on the 62196 (type2) vehicle socket/inlet and plug.

The original design had female ­contacts in the socket/inlet used on the car, this meant that the charging plug had male contacts. This change brings items into line with traditional IEC ­legislation. The change in gender has solved the issue so now the socket/inlet used on vehicles have male contacts and the plug has changed to have female contacts. The sockets/outlets used on the charging stations use the original female contacts and the plug still has the original male contacts.

An adaptor lead 62196 (type 2) male to 62196 (type 2) female, part number DSIEC2b-2eEV32P-3 or 5c is now available to resolve any issues that will arise with the previous orientation.

The CE, TUV and UL approved Sockets/inlets/outlets, depending on your terminology and application, are available with an array of options. Again split into two main types. Type 1 (J1772) and Type 2 (62196) at 16 to 63amp, single and three phase.

Hinged lids, no cable, with or without locking, female or male gender pins are just some of the many selections to be made when specifying these parts. One new part, that will be of most interest to charging station equipment manufacturers, is the Type 2 Female contact locking outlet with manual lock release. This feature, using either a pull wire or lever, is used in the event of a power failure on the charging station to release any mated plug.

Ecar Connectors has invested in a one stop online webshop to make it easy for engineering developers and end users to access supply of plugs, sockets and adaptor lead assemblies.

Ecar Connectors