European EV Road Trip Part 2: AC Charging Cables

This post was written from the perspective of a Welshman travelling from Wales in the United Kingdom to mainland Europe. 

Following on from my previous post in this series European EV Road Trip Part 1: RFID, Apps and Planning, this post will cover what EV charging cables and accessories we've used while travelling around Europe in an EV.

The first part of the post will cover what cables I would recommend for a normal EV car travelling in Europe, while the 2nd part of the post will cover the charging setup I use in our e-NV200 EV self-converted camper van

European EV Charging Cables (AC)

The Short version (TLDR): No, special cables required! 

Just use the normal (Type-2) EV charging cable that came with your EV, that will work on all public AC  charging stations in Europe. DC Rapid charging doesn't require any cables since the cables are attached to the rapid charging unit. 

EV Charging Station in Hungary

The Long version:

Public Charging

You may read online that a Type-3 charging cable is required in France, this is not true any more. France has joined the rest of Europe in adopting the normal Type-2 (IEC 62196-2) standard. I have seen a couple of older public charging stations in France that still have Type-3 sockets, but these units also always have a Type-2 socket. Don't waste money buying a Type-3 cable. If you really want a Type-3 cable I have a new an unused one I would like to sell! 

Type-3 cable no longer required in France

Domestic Sockets

If staying with friends / relatives / accommodation where you think you may be able to use a domestic socket to charge it's a good idea to have an adaptor to use a portable EV charger (granny cable). 

Do not use a travel adaptor. Regular travel adaptors are not designed for sustained high current and many don't have an earth pin so won't work at all for EV charging. 

Don't use a regular travel adaptor

The best solution is to use a wired adaptor to convert a euro schuko socket to a UK three-pin plug, then use your standard granny cable:

Euro plug > UK 3-pin socket adaptor from ToughLeads

These adaptors can be purchased from ToughLeads, I would recommend the Schuko/French (CEE 7/7* universal plug this works in all European countries, apart from Switzerland. I've personally used a CEE 7/7 plug to charge from domestic sockets in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy without any issues. 

*CEE 7/7 plug was developed to work with Type-E sockets (France, Belgium) and Type-F (Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy ), it has grounding clips on both sides (to work with Type F sockets) and a female contact (to accept the grounding pin of the type E socket).

Switzerland is the outlier which requires a slightly different Type J socket.  

If you're competent wiring plugs/sockets then making your own adaptor using a CEE 7/7 plug, IP66 3-pin socket and a length of 3-core 2.5mm Ho7 flex is an option. Be sure to use ferrules to properly terminate the multi strand cable and a socket tester to test the adaptor. 

European Campsite EV Charging 

Charging an EV from a campsite on the continent can be slightly more involved than in the UK. 

Campsites in the UK have blue 'commando' CEE sockets on 16A RCBO. Campsites in mainline Europe have a mixture of blue 'commando' CEE sockets and domestic euro plug schuko, often fused at a lower current, 6A is not uncommon on French campsites! 

A standard portable EV charging cable (granny cable) draws 10A and is usually non-adjustable. Some EV's have a way to adjust the charging current in the car but most don't. All EVs can charge as low as 6A but an adjustable EV charging cable is required. I use an OpenEVSE, several other adjustable portable EV chargers are available e.g juice-booster. 

Even if a campsite hookup is fused to 16A it's still a good idea to only draw as low current as possible and avoid charging at peak times to avoid any issues. Often campsite hookup wiring is suboptimal and assumes most users will draw nowhere close to 16A for prolonged periods. 

'suboptimal' campsite hookup In Hungary

My e-NV200 EV Campervan Charging Setup

Here's a video of my OpenEVSE based charging setup: