Charging Types and Methods

Innovative solutions are becoming increasingly available to make electric mobility mass-market-capable. An important part of this is the charging technology. In this context, the term smart charging is used for charging systems of electric or hybrid vehicles according to standards like ISO 15118 and DIN SPEC 70121.

In this know-how section essential knowledge about types of charging and charging methods is presented.

Vector Solutions for Smart Charging

Vector supports developers of on-board charging ECUs in the vehicle, charging stations and induction charging systems with extensive test systems, hardware and bespoke ECU software. This helps you to develop quickly and cost effectively.

Types of Charging

The charging infrastructure essentially offers three types of charging:

  • Alternating current (AC)
  • Direct current (DC)
  • Inductive charging

The battery in the vehicle is always charged with direct current (DC). This means that the charging systems (charging infrastructure and vehicle electronics) need to be set up differently. An AC/DC converter is needed in the vehicle for AC and inductive charging. In the case of DC charging, this converter is already installed in the charging station, i.e. the charging station is essentially directly connected to the battery. That is why in DC charging the vehicle must always communicate its momentary charging power requirements to the charging station. This means that it is absolutely essential for DC charging systems to be equipped with a communications unit between the vehicle and the charging station. The physical communication medium and details on the message sequence are defined in these national and international standards: ISO 15118, DIN SPEC 70121, SAE J2847/2, GB/T 27930 and CHAdeMO.

Charging Methods


Conductive charging requires a physical connection between the EV’s battery and the charging station.


Wall-mounted compact EVSEs, mostly AC (typically < 22 kW) with one dispenser, in future also DC (typically < 50 kW)



Charging Station

Pedestals or larger EVSEs for public and depot charging, mostly DC (typically > 100 kW)


A pantograph is a movable electrical power receiver that is used on local transportation buses and trucks to build up a temporary DC charging connection (typically > 200 kW). This charging method is to be standardized in ISO 15118-20.

Inverted pantograph

An inverted pantograph is mounted to the charging mast and established a downward connection with contacts on the vehicle roof. This reduces vehicle weight, but on the charging side it’s more complex and there are higher safety risks. This is currently standardized as OppCharge (DC standard for opportunity charging) with > 150 kW. (WIFI mandatory)


Roof-mounted pantograph

The pantograph is mounted to the vehicle roof and makes a connection with a charging mast designed for this purpose. It can work with Power Line Communication (PLC) or WIFI.

Wireless Charging

Wireless Power Transfer (WPT)

Wireless charging today is mostly inductive charging. It uses an electromagnetic field to facilitate the exchange of energy between two objects. Currently efficiencies are more than 90%. Application mostly in passenger cars and few exceptional commercial use cases. This is standardized in ISO 15118-20.

Bidirectional Charging

Bidirectional Power Transfer (BPT)

BPT is an energy feedback from vehicle to home grid or power grid. This operating reserve can balance periods of peak demand and peak supply on the electricity grid with a possible payment in return. This is standardized in ISO 15118-20.

Start a Conversation

Are you interested in the Vector E-Mobility Solutions or do you need more information about smart charging?

Then let's talk!

More Know-How

Electric Vehicle Charging Communication Know-How Chart in DIN A1 format, folded to DIN A4

Order the Vector Electric Vehicle Chart. The clearly structured Poster in DIN A1 format gives you important technical details on Charging Communication. Among other things, the unique poster illustrates the following topics:

  • Electric Charging Use Cases
  • Charging Methods
  • Charging Interfaces
  • Standards and Protocols
Order Your Free Copy

Related Pages

Solutions for E-Mobility

Test systems and ECU software for charging ECUs, charging stations and induction charging systems.

Go to Page

More Smart Charging Know-How

Charging Interfaces

Explanation of the EV and EVSE connector faces for AC and DC charging.

Go To page
Communication Protocols

The communication between the EV and the EVSE is divided into low-level communication, high-level...

Go To page
Charging Standards

Overview of both international and national charging standards, such as IEC 62196, ISO 15118, GB/T...

Go To page