Electric vehicles have significantly gained momentum in the last few years. With the need for cleaner alternatives to traditional internal combustion engines, EVs have emerged as a beacon of sustainability. However, these electric vehicles are not immune to extreme weather conditions.
While the technologies have advanced, driving your EV in cold weather or high temperatures can cause a loss of performance and efficiency in battery and charging. So, how to combat this issue?
In this article, we will explore how extreme weather conditions can affect the performance and efficiency of EV batteries and chargers and provide tips to mitigate these effects.
How extreme weather conditions can affect Electric Vehicles batteries?
Extreme Weather conditions like hot or cold weather can affect your electric vehicle’s range and charging. That’s because batteries used in EVs are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and temperature changes like extreme cold or hot weather can affect their efficiency.
Although the effect of cold weather on electric cars is temporary, and your EV performance will rebound when the temperature returns to normal (between 20°C to 45°C), chemical reactions in batteries occur faster at high temperatures. It can shorten your EV battery lifespan, requiring frequent replacement of batteries.
However, most EVs now come with a built-in heating and cooling system that helps to deal with temperature fluctuations. For instance, if you own a Tesla, you most likely not notice temperature effects on the dashboard range.
Why does cold weather affect EV battery’s performance and efficiency?
Electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries because of their longevity and high energy density. These batteries have a cathode, an anode, and a liquid catalyst that enable charged atoms to flow. But when the extreme cold arrives, this liquid catalyst inside EV batteries thickens. It slows down the chemical reaction and releases less energy, affecting the performance of the Electric Vehicles in cold weather.
Moreover, cold weather also requires you to run cabin heaters. While the gas-powered uses the waste heat released when the engine runs, EVs use the same batteries to heat the car interiors as used for propelling the vehicle. It quickly depletes the EV batteries in winter, affecting its range. This loss can be around 30% or more, eventually affecting EV’s efficiency and performance.
How does hot weather affect EV battery’s performance?
Similar to the effect of cold weather on EV range, hot weather also affects your EV battery. With the temperature rise, the chemical reactions within the battery also accelerate. It includes both the one that generates power and the unwanted reactions that cause degradation in the battery.
Therefore, when you charge your EV at a high temperature, it increases the operating temperature of the battery over the optimal range, speeds up the aging process, and shortens the battery lifespan.
Moreover, the thermal management system and air conditioning during extreme heat consume battery power, negatively affecting its range and performance.
How do extreme weather conditions affect EV charging efficiency?
Extreme weather conditions can significantly affect your EV charging efficiency. When you plug in the EV, it generates heat during charging. So when the outside weather gets warm, it worsens the temperature rise and eventually causes thermal management issues.
Similarly, EV charging in cold weather takes longer than in warm or moderate temperatures. That’s because chemical reactions in battery cells slow down during low temperatures, taking more time for EV batteries to charge completely.
That’s why manufacturers now use thermal management systems in EVs that help you maintain optimal temperatures during fluctuations in weather conditions.
How can you mitigate the effects of extreme weather conditions on EVs?
Although most EV comes with thermal management systems that enable you to maintain optimal temperature with your vehicle, there are few ways to mitigate extreme weather conditions.
For Cold Weather Conditions
- Precondition your EV
One of the easiest ways to mitigate the cold weather impact on electric cars is by keeping them warm. Most EVs offer the feature of using your phone to turn on the heat a few minutes before using your electric vehicle. It will warm your EV and precondition its battery, extending your EV range.
- Warm up your EV during charging
If you have a charging setup at home, it’s better to warm up your EV for 20-30 minutes during charging, saving your EV battery for driving.
- Charge EV more frequently.
Charging your EV in winter takes a longer time. It’s better to plan your charging frequently and keep your EV battery in the 20% to 80% range. For instance, you can top up your EV when you park near a store with a charging setup.
- Consider using a heat pump
If you live in a city with chilly conditions, heat pumps are a nice add-on that can help you keep the EV warm and preserve range. This new technology uses heat from the outside, compresses it and uses this warm air to heat the cabin and battery.
For Hot Weather Conditions:
- Park at Shady places
Try to keep your EV away from direct sun exposure during hot weather by parking it in the garage or covering it with a sunshade or cover.
- Pre-cool your EV
Before charging your EV, let it cool down or use a slow charging speed.
- Off-peak Charging
Charging your EV during cooler temperatures of the day, such as early morning or late evening, will enhance EV charging efficiency.
- Monitoring EV level of charge
When your EV battery is low, it can heat up quickly. So, monitoring charge levels and maintaining adequate charging during hot conditions can ensure optimum EV range.
As electric vehicles are becoming a significant part of the automobile industry, it is crucial to understand the hot and cold weather impact on EV range. We hope all the points above will help you make informed decisions during extreme climate conditions.