Charging modes for electric vehicles

Lorenzo Ferrari

Nowadays there are more and more electric vehicles on our roads. However around the world of the electric there is a veil of mystery due to technicalities that first-time users  have to face. Which is why we decided to clarify one of the main aspects of the electric world, the EV charging. The charging takes place by means of a physical connection between vehicle and charging infrastructure. The reference standard for the conductive charging of electric vehicles is IEC 61851-1. It defines 4 charging modes. We will see them in detail below, trying to sort out the clutter around them.


Mode 1


It consists in the direct connection of the electric vehicle to the normal current sockets without special safety systems. Typically mode 1 is used for charging electric bikes and scooters. This charging mode is prohibited in public areas in Italy and it is also subject to restrictions in Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, France and Germany. Furthermore it is not allowed in United States, Israel and England.

modo 1 ricarica auto elettrica dazetechnology modi di ricarica auto elettriche

The rated values for current and voltage shall not exceed 16 A and 250 V in single-phase while 16 A and 480 V in three-phase.


Mode 2


modo 2 ricarica auto elettrica dazetechnology modi di ricarica auto elettriche

This charging mode requires a personal protection against electric shock placed between the standard plug and the electric vehicles. Usually it is installed on the cable and it is called Control Box. Nevertheless mode 2 is prohibited in public areas in Italy. In addiction, it is subject to restrictions also in United States, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Norway.

The rated values for current and voltage shall not exceed 32 A and 250 V in single-phase while 32 A and 480 V in three-phase.


Mode 3


The EV supply equipment is permanently connected to an alternate current supply network, in other words the EV is connected to a charging point that is permanently attached to the power grid. The control and protection functions are installed directly on the charging points, thus freeing the cable from the annoying and uncomfortable Control Box. Currently Mode 3 is the most popular method and it has no restrictions on use.
Normally the recharge of the vehicle in single phase can be found up to 32 A and 250 V in single-phase while up to 32 A and 480 V in three-phase, even if there are no limits imposed by legislation.

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An example of mode 3 is DazeBox and DazePlug, two charging systems developed by DazeTechnology. Although the first is manual and the second automatic both are designed to operate in mode 3.


Mode 4


modo 4 ricarica auto elettrica dazetechnology modi di ricarica auto elettriche

It is the only charging mode that provides direct current. This charging mode requires an external power converter to which your charging cable has to be attached. Usually the charging station is much more voluminous than a simple one, this is due to the presence of a converter that transforms the current from AC into DC before entering the charging cable.

Mode 4 has two standards, one Japanese and one European one called CHAdeMO and CCS Combo respectively. Usually you will find charging stations up to 200A and 400V even if an upper limit is not specified in the legislation.

Although there are 4 well regulated charging modes there are still many steps to be taken in terms of rules and regulations for electric mobility. In addition, the electric vehicle can be considered both as an electrical device and as a simple vehicle. This duality makes standardization of mobility even more complicated and difficult the standardisation of electric mobility. That is why CEI (Italian Electrotechnical Committee) formed a Technical Committee CT 312  “electrical and electronic components and systems for electric vehicles and/or hybrids for electric road traction” in 2010. Efforts are therefore required from all major standardisation bodies to establish comprehensive standards clarifying all the characteristics and technical aspects of electric vehicles. It is easy to suppose that electric mobility has what it takes to change the the paradigm of mobility, however it is difficult to determine how long it will take.

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