EV Charging Cable: 1-phase or 3-phase

Jan 11, 2023

1-Phase vs 3-Phase Charging: Main Differences

Last updated: Jan 13, 2023

Single-phase and three-phase charging are often mentioned together with the charging power. But where is exactly the connection? And why knowing the charging rate of your car and wallbox isn't enough? We’ll explain it in this blog post.

1-Phase vs 3-Phase Charging Process 

What’s happening during charging? Electricity flows from the power grid through the charger and into your electric car. And here, we come to the main distinction between the phases.

  • 1-phase charging: Power flows through a single conductor (wire). Max charging power - 7.4 kW (In some countries, single-phase charging is only permitted or possible at lower charging power.
  • 3-phase charging: Power flows through three conductors (wires). Max charging power - 11 or 22 kW. 

As you see, speed is the main difference. When it comes to maximum charging power, three-phase chargers are a top choice. They can potentially charge your electric vehicle several  times faster than one-phase chargers, making them ideal for those who need to get back on the road as quickly as possible. 

Electric Vehicles with a Single-Phase vs Three-Phase On-Board Charger

Every electric vehicle has a predefined number of phases for charging, and so does every AC charging station. 

Examples of electric cars with a single-phase on-board charger: Opel Corsa-e*, Mazda MX-30

* Opel Corsa-e in the basic configuration

Examples of electric cars with a three-phase on-board charger: Audi e-tron, Renault Zoe, Tesla Model X, BMW i3. 

Ideally, you should use a charging station with the same number of phases as your vehicle has. But it’s not always the case. So what happens if you’ve got one of the following combinations? 

  • 1-phase wallbox - 3-phase electric car
  • 3-phase wallbox - 1-phase electric car 

Your car will charge with one phase in any of these cases. The weakest link of the charging chain defines the max speed.

Here, for example, you can see how it works with our go-e Chargers:

 

go-e Charger 11kW

go-e Charger 22kW

Remark

Single-phase charging car

1.4 kW - 3.7 kW

1.4 kW - 7.4 kW

Country-specific limitations need to be observed

Two-phase charging car

2.8 kW - 7.4 kW

2.8 kW - 14.8 kW

Two-phase connection of charger not possible

Three-phase charging car

4.2 kW - 11 kW

4.2 kW - 22 kW

go-eCharger switches through the power that is available at the connection

Note: A few electric vehicles on the market, including the VW e-Golf and Škoda Enyaq iV 50, can be charged via 2 phases. If you want to enjoy the max charging power with them, you need a three-phase charger. Two-phase chargers simply do not exist. 

What Role Does Your Power Grid Play? 

You’ve got a powerful three-phase wallbox, and your vehicle can charge with three phases. The perfect combo. Wait, one more thing can be a limiting factor - power grid capacity. When you are at home, you only have a limited amount of energy that you can call on once at a time. If the limit is exceeded, the whole house may black out. 

The electricity meter in your house will allow you to find out how many phases are available for charging. 

  • If the meter says 220 / 230V, this means you can have only a single-phase connection. 
  • If you see 3×220 / 230V, 380 / 400V, or 380V, you can use all three phases.

Smart home chargers offer load balancing features to prevent blackouts. This means that the charger uses only a safe amount of energy.

The Charging Cable for Single vs Three-Phase Charging

The cable you use for charging can limit your charging power as well. If you’ve read our cable buyer’s guide, you know that there are several types of them. 

Type 1 charging cables are suitable for single-phase charging only. 

EV Charging Cable Typ 1 Plug: 1-phase

Meanwhile, you need to watch out when choosing a type 2 cable. You can either read how many phases it supports in its instructions or take a look at its plug (the end that goes into the car socket). If it supports three phases, all of its 7 pin holes have the same filling. If only one phase is available, two lower pins look like they are empty. 

Type 2 EV Charging Cable: 3-Phase
Type 2 EV Charging Cable: 1-Phase

Note: In addition to supporting 3-phase charging, a 3-phase cable can also be used for single-phase charging.

Summary

Even though there are several links in the charging chain, the main factor in your decision-making should be your electric car, of course. Find out how many phases it supports and choose a suitable wallbox and charging cable. If the power grid in your home does not allow you to reach the maximum charging power (e.g., your house has old electrics), upgrading it might be the solution.


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