“Does my Nissan Leaf have a 6.6 kW charger?” I see this asked a lot. This article is to provide more information on the Nissan Leaf 6.6 kW charger.
There are other questions too:
- “Should my Leaf have a 6.6 kW charger?”
- “Do I need a 6.6 kW charger for my Leaf?”
What is a charger?
On electric vehicles, the charger is a means of using mains AC (alternating current) electricity to charge the traction battery on the vehicle. The batteries need DC (direct current) electricity for charging.
In the case of the Leaf, rapid charging via the CHAdeMO port gives DC.
When we plug the car in at home or at destination charge points, we are essentially plugging the car into the mains, meaning we are giving it 240 v AC electricity. This can’t be plugged directly into the battery, so we need something in between to convert the mains AC electricity into DC electricity that can be used to charge the battery. This is the charger!
Nissan Leaf 3.3 or 6.6?
The ZE0 Nissan Leaf was available with 2 different chargers. The difference relates to the power they can supply to charge the battery. The more power, the faster the battery charges. The question is often put in terms of 3.3 vs 6.6 but as we’ll see later on, the chargers are actually rated as 3.6 or 6.6 kVA. Note the kVA rating refers to the maximum power going into the charger, not coming out.
One of the best explanations I’ve found for the difference between kVA and kW is this video.
On the Leaf dashboard, the 2 charging speeds / powers are referred to as 3 kW and 6 kW. I don’t know if this is an accurate representation of the power coming out of the chargers, or just rounded down for simplicity. I suspect the latter!
Why is this important?
I’ll give you an example from my own experience. Let’s say you generally charge your car at home, overnight, making use of one of the cheap overnight electricity tariffs like Octopus Go. Octopus Go gives 4 hours of cheap electricity, between 00:30 and 04:30.
The 6.6 kVA charger would enable you to make much better use of this time limited period of cheap electricity than the 3.6. It could make the difference between being able to complete a charge on the cheap rate versus having to complete the charge using much more expensive electricity.
Have a look at the picture below, which is the dashboard of a Leaf with a 6.6 kVA charger. From the times shown on the screen, we can see that it wouldn’t be able to complete the charge within the 4 hours of cheap electricity if it had the 3 kW charger, as this would take 5 hours. BUT as it has the 6 kW charger, it will be able to charge entirely on cheap electricity in 2.5 hours.
Another example might be a situation where you need to top up the battery at a destination charger during your working day or a day out. Here, the higher capacity charger could mean your Leaf is topped up and ready to go when you come back to it, rather than having to waste time waiting for the charge to complete before setting off.
As a final point in this section, it’s worth noting that the charger specification makes no difference to the CHAdeMO rapid charging speed.
Can you use the Nissan Leaf 6.6 Charger?
I’m not questioning your capabilities here! I’m questioning the electricity supplies you’ll be using. In the last section I said that a Leaf equipped with the 6.6 kVA charger would be able to charge in half the time of a Leaf with the 3.6 kVA charger. This will only be true if the electricity supply is up to the job and can deliver the full power required by the higher capacity charger.
There’s no point having the 6.6 kVA charger if you’ll only be charging using a slow charging cable with a standard 13A mains plug (sometimes known as the granny charger). These cannot supply enough power to take advantage of the faster charging rate. You’ll need a charge point rated at 7 kW to take advantage of the faster charging.
There are also plenty of destination chargers that cannot supply enough power to take advantage of the Leaf’s faster 6.6 kVA charger.
Which charger does my Nissan Leaf have?
I’ve seen a number of situations where a Nissan Leaf has been advertised as having the 6.6 kVA charger, where actually it does not. Here’s how to tell the difference. As with many things in life there is an easy way and a hard(er) way!
Look at the dashboard
This is the easy way. Look at the dashboard and cycle through the display. If the car has a 6.6 kW charger, there should be 2 charge times displayed. If it only has the 3.6 charger, just one charge time will be shown.
Look at the charger
This is the harder method, which will be made easier by having small hands and a mobile phone.
With the vehicle switched off, open the bonnet and look down the side of the charger / inverter / motor stack.
You’re looking for a white sticker on the side of the charger. It’s best to take a picture of it with a mobile phone camera (with the flash on), rather than trying to look at it directly.
The sticker will look like this:
The sticker shows the kVA rating of the charger. Apologies the photos aren’t the best quality, but if you’ve tried to take some yourself, you’ll know why!
I hope that has helped clarify the Nissan Leaf 6.6 or 3.6 (or 3.3) charger situation for you. It can be very useful to have the higher capacity charger in some situations, but if you’ll only ever be charging at home using a 3.6 kW charging point or the mains plug charging cable supplied with the car, there is no point in having the 6.6 kVA charger.
Cars with the 3.6 kVA charger can be upgraded to the 6.6 kVA charger if you really want to get involved!