EV Charging

CCS Charger – Everything You Need to Know

CCS Charger – Everything You Need to Know
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We briefly touched on CCS chargers in our overview of EV charging connector types back in August. Please check this article out if you haven’t done so already, and even if you have feel free to give it another read!

CCS stands for “Combined Charging System,” which utilizes a traditional J-plug or Mennekes plug in conjunction with two additional Direct Current (DC) high-speed charging pins. These additional DC connections allow for the facilitation of DC fast charging. Clear as mud? While you don’t necessarily need to understand the science behind the technology, we will try and clear things up a bit for you. Here is everything you need to know about the CCS charger.

It Depends on Where You Live

All-electric vehicle (EV) drivers utilize the CCS charging system primarily in Europe and the United States. China uses the GB/T charging system and Japan uses the CHAdeMo charging system. For an excellent overview of the CHAdeMo charging system written by an extremely handsome and modest individual, please click here. Type 1 and Combo 1 CCS chargers are found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Korea and Taiwan. Type 2 and Combo 2 CCS chargers are mostly found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South Africa, India, and Australia.

What is a CCS plug?

This handy graphic stolen from the fine folks at thedriven.io does a great job of explaining:

Image result for ccs plug

As you can see, a CCS 1 charger is simply a J-plug (or Type 1) with two additional pins underneath. A CCS 2 charger is just a standard Mennekes charger (or Type 2) with two additional pins. Seems simple enough, right?

CCS charging also uses PLC (Power Line Communication) to initiate and subsequently control charging. This is the same system used by power grids for communication. Using this system allows the car being charged to operate as a “smart appliance,” or device that can optimize energy use depending on the best time of day to do so. Smart appliances can also communicate with other nearby appliances that are connected to the electrical grid in order to optimize energy use at the community level. According to this report by Hunker.com, smart appliances and smart electrical grid technology could potentially save the U.S. $70 billion over the next 20 years if implemented. Sounds great, but I’m a little weary of smart machines. Hasn’t anyone else seen the Terminator?!

What Is the Difference Between CCS and CHAdeMO?

Aside from the obvious physical differences, there are additional mechanical and electrical differences between CCS and CHAdeMO. Back in August, Green Car Reports put out an excellent article on these differences, with an overview of where the different systems are mainly used and why. I would encourage you to read this writing by clicking here. Among the observations made were that CHAdeMO charging stations outnumber CCS chargers in the U.S. by about 250. Tesla’s Supercharger lags behind both types but Elon and Co. have been making an aggressive push to raise their numbers.

The various Nissan Leafs (or is it Leaves) are the only cars in the U.S. that are still on the market to primarily use the CHAdeMo standard.  Seeing as the Leaf is the best-selling EV both worldwide and in the United States, it stands to reason that there would be more CHAdeMO chargers than CCS chargers out there. What the future holds is anyone’s guess however.

Which Cars Support CSS Charging?

For anyone interested, it should come as no shock that not all vehicles are equipped to use a CSS charger. Different vehicles manufacturers have created and promoted their preferred methods of charging. As of the date of this writing, the only cars that come off of the line ready to accept a charge from a CSS charger are made by BMW, Ford, Kia, Hyundai, Renault, Volkswagen, and Jaguar. The best selling EV in the United States that is compatible with CSS charging is the BMW i3. Vehicles from Nissan and Mitsubishi are NOT equipped to receive juice from a CSS charger. Neither company offer an adapter to facilitate this either. Too bad, so sad for me and my Leaf.

Can Tesla Use a CCS Charger?

It depends on which model you own. If you have a Model S or Model X, the answer yes, but…you’re going to need an adapter. For now, Tesla has not introduced an adapter for the Model 3 yet, at least not in the United States. The fact that Tesla has released a CHAdeMO adapter for the Model 3 in North America and a CSS adapter for the Model 3 in European markets is a good sign however. A CSS adapter for our Model 3s on this side of the pond can’t be too far behind.

The Future of CSS Charging

Despite the fact that CHAdeMO chargers currently outnumber CSS chargers in the United States, all indications are that this trend may not last. As users posting to this thread on the mynissanleaf forum lament, CHAdeMO has major disadvantages when compared to CSS. CHAdeMO chargers are primarily concentrated in urban areas and usually only have one or two plugs per station. Users also complain that CHAdeMO chargers are often out of service or are otherwise unavailable when needed. I have never used a CHAdeMO charger to charge my vehicle, but this is a bit distressing.

A few companies have entered into the mobile charging business. Check out this portable CSS charging station from evseadapters.com. If you’ve got four grand burning a hole in your pocket, why not? This portable charging station from designwerk.com will charge up to 22kW, which is waaaaay faster than the level-1 charger I use. The fact that the company goes out of its way to market it to companies with fleets and event planners tells me one thing: I can’t afford it!

Any of our readers use CCS chargers on the regular? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so? Will CSS charging ever overtake CHAdeMO as the preferred charging system in the United States? Please leave us a comment below and share any and all thoughts you may have on the subject.

Source | Images: Wikipedia.com and thedriven.io

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Neil Brooks
Neil Brooks is an electric vehicle owner and lover currently based in the greater Washington D.C. area. Neil is a fan of all things electric and may be the only person in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to own both an electric leaf blower and an electric chainsaw. When he's not busy blogging about the latest on electric technology he enjoys grilling, rock climbing, and taking naps in his hammock.