What is CHAdeMO charging for electric cars?

Jesse Crosse

19 Sep 2023

If you’re new to EVs, the different types of connector can be daunting, but when you’re on a longer journey and relying on the fastest type of public chargers, it’s no more complicated than choosing the type of pump you want to use at a filling station.

Other than the proprietary Tesla Supercharger charging network, rapid and ultra-rapid chargers in the UK are equipped with just two types of connector, CHAdeMO or CCS. Rapid chargers bump your range up quickly at 50kW and in the main, ultra-rapid chargers charge compatible cars at up to 150kW.

CHAdeMO charging is capable of handling charge rates of over 400kW although in the UK, most are rated at 50kW. The exceptions are Gridserve’s new Electric Highway dual chargers where CHAdeMO connection is available at 50kW on its medium speed rapid chargers and 100kW on its high power chargers. How fast your car will charge though, depends on the maximum charge speed the car is designed to take.

CHAdeMO is used mainly by Nissan, Lexus and Mitsubishi

What does CHAdeMO do? 

It’s a type of connector specifically designed for charging using high power direct current, so it’s not something you will find on a wall charger you might have at home. The EV’s battery is DC so that means the high power electrical current from the charger can be streamed straight into the battery without the need for an on-board charger to convert from AC to DC.

CHAdeMO was one of the first types of connector and was the brainchild of Japanese industry and car manufacturers back in the early Noughties, so it’s well tried and tested. For that reason it’s mostly found on Japanese cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius Plug-In hybrid, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Lexus UX 300e. Its sometimes possible for an electric vehicle not equipped with a CHAdeMO port to use one with an adapter and the Tesla Model S and Model X are examples.

Like its competitor CCS, CHAdeMO is an intelligent connection technology so it talks to the car to make sure both the charger and the car are properly connected and happy, before it starts delivering the high voltage DC current. For that reason, even if it’s pouring with rain, the only thing you have to worry about is getting wet.

Incidentally, according to the CHAdeMO organisation which invented it, the whacky name is derived from a Japanese phrase “o CHA deMO ikaga desuka.” That loosely translates to “fancy a cuppa” as a nod to the fact that a rapid charge takes about the same time as drinking one.

CHAdeMO v CCS - which is better?

Inevitably, when there are competing technologies one tends to become favoured over another and that’s true of CHAdeMO and CCS. The difference between CHAdeMO and CCS is that CHAdeMO is for DC rapid charging only, so there will be a second connection on the car to take a slow AC charger. These work at 3kW from a domestic plug, or about the same as an electric kettle, up to 7kW from a wall charger or at most, 22kW from an industrial AC charger.

CCS stands for Combined Charging System so the same connection on the car can be used to connect both a slow AC charger or a rapid or ultra-rapid DC charger. Because it’s a more integrated solution, manufacturers have gravitated towards CCS and virtually all new UK EVs are using it, including the new Nissan Ariya. Tesla has even adopted it on the Model 3 in preference to its proprietary Supercharger connector.

CHAdeMO's main benefit is around its compatibility with V2G and V2H systems, as it allows much more flow of power than an AC-based Type 2 connector. However the DC-based two way chargers are expensive and AC is expected to become the standard in Europe.

Most rapid chargers will have both CCS and CHAdeMO connectors

What does a CHAdeMO connector look like? 

If using any of the latest rapid or ultra-rapid public chargepoints, look for the bright blue handgrip when you arrive at the charger. Different types of connectors are also represented in apps like Zapmap and elsewhere by graphic symbols which look like the connector when viewed end on. In the case of CHAdeMO, the symbol is a larger circle encompassing four smaller circles.

The symbol for a CCS connector is quite different, with a large circle sitting atop a lozenge shape. When searching for a place to charge using Zapmap on your phone, the app uses the symbols in its list of chargers at each site making it easy to see at a glance which connections are available or whether they are in use or out of service.

Go for the blue if you're wanting a CHdeMO charge

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