The technology

Charging an electric car can be confusing. The different connectors, compatibility and rates of charge can make it seem like a complex job.

To help, we have pulled together some information that we hope allows you to navigate this fast changing area.


Charging cables are either tethered or untethered. Tethered cables are permanently attached at one end to a power outlet, the other end being free to attach to a vehicle’s inlet socket. Untethered cabled are standalone cables that need to be attached at both ends; the power outlet and the vehicle inlet socket.

Tethered cables at are mostly seen at public charging stations where each station will typically have two tethered cables available, each cable having a different connector suitable for different vehicle inlet sockets.

Untethered cables are supplied by the manufacturer and kept in the vehicle’s boot for use at charging station / points where no tethered cable is supplied. These cables can come in different lengths and, if supplied be the manufacturer, will have the correct connector for the vehicle inlet socket.


The connectors for these cables will depend on the vehicle’s charging capacity and manufacturer’s choice of design. As the electric vehicle market grew, different manufactures came up with different solutions to charging, which resulted in an array of connector types. Recently there has been a coming together of connector design which has started to give some much-needed clarity.

There are six main electric charging cable connector configurations:

A list of six different electric car charging connectors with their respective speeds of charging
Charging rates are discussed separately and can be found in the following section ‘Charging rates’. However, there are essentially three ranges of charge rate, i.e. Slow, Fast, Rapid which are dependent on the vehicle and charging supply characteristics.

Useful links

Zap Map - Connectors Speeds  

Spirit Energy - Understanding charging 

RAC - Why is charging so complicated?