Electric Car Heating System: How Does an Electric Car Heat the Interior?

Electric cars are the transport vehicles of the future. They contribute to reducing global GHG emissions and play a pivotal role in decreasing the dependency on non-renewable energy sources.

The internal heating system of an electric car may be the same as a gas-powered car; however, a heater depletes an electric vehicle’s energy reserves quickly.

Continue reading to learn how an electric car heating system heats the vehicle’s interior. Moreover, the article also highlights the tips to reduce the need for an EV’s internal heating during cold winters.

Electric Car Heating System: How Does an Electric Car Heat the Interior?

Although the built-in car heating system’s purpose in an electric car may be the same as a gas one, both cars produce heat energy for the cabin heater differently.

Traditional gas-powered vehicles reuse the heat produced by the engine during combustion to create warm air for the heater.

On the other hand, electric cars cannot create heated air this way. Instead, these vehicles must rely on different mechanisms to heat the car’s interior.

How Does an Electric car Heat up Its Interior
Red electric sedan in the middle of a forest in a snowy weather

What Are the Downsides of Using an Electric Car’s Built-in Heater During Winters?

Generally, an electric car’s battery can create less energy than a gas car’s fossil fuel combustion. This is because the electric battery is its only way of generating energy.

That energy is mainly used to allow for mobility and speed. Hence, the range of an electric car is less than a gas-powered car.

During extreme winters and snowy seasons, it is extremely hard for passengers to go for a drive without an internal heating system.

Although all-electric cars do come with cabin heaters, these heaters amplify the battery’s usage.

As a result, the following happens:

  • The battery’s stored electric charge is reduced and the total range of the EV drops. This range drop means that the electric car will not be able to cover longer distances on a single charge.
  • The electric vehicle will have to be charged more frequently.
  • The total running costs of an electric car will increase due to frequent recharging.
  • The overall charge storing capacity and total lifespan of the battery will decrease. This happens because every time a battery is recharged after being fully depleted, its capacity reduces.
  • The reduced range causes EV passengers to suffer from range anxiety. Range anxiety is the fear of getting stranded due to an EV running out of battery.
  • Electric car owners might have to shift to other non-electrical sources of transport to reduce their traveling costs for the season. As a result, their carbon footprint increases.

Electric Car Brands with Advanced Interior Heating Systems

Different electric car brands may have different built-in systems to create cabin heat; however, generally, most EVs use the same system.

Usually, an electric car has a built-electric heater that works the same way as an air conditioner. The electrical heater generates heated air that helps keep the insides of the car warm.

Some advanced EV brands such as Tesla, Audi, and Nissan have spent more effort to design highly energy-efficient electric car heaters that protect the car’s range.

Nissan’s Electric Car Heating System

Nissan has been designing highly energy-efficient electric cars for many years – and they are far more affordable than a Tesla EV.

The Nissan Leaf is not only one of the brand’s most-produced electric vehicles but also uses fantastic cabin heating technology.

The heat pump, used by Tesla and Audi as well, was originally designed and introduced by Nissan.

Its purpose is to protect the EV’s battery range and be more energy-efficient than traditional electric car heaters.

How Does it Work?

The Nissan heat pump uses the temperature gradient between the outside cold air and refrigerant. These temperature differences allow the EV to use lesser power to heat the cabin air.

The electric car has a conventional heater that converts electrical energy into heat energy. When the outside air’s heat moves into the electric car’s cabin space, the heat pump takes its thermal energy and, like an AC, compresses it. Then it releases the heated air inside the cabin.

Only a little energy is used in the process. Consequently, this mechanism helps take the pressure off the electric car’s battery, improving the range.

Nissan’s heat pump system is considered a highly efficient way of heating the car’s interior than other conventional methods.

The Nissan EV owner has to set the temperature, and the heat pump automatically starts working.

Benefits of Using the Heat Pump for Heating the Interior

Traditional gas cars or electric vehicle brands that do not have a heat pump usually need 15 to 20 minutes before their cabin space starts feeling a little cozy.

However, this time delay is significantly shortened with a heat pump.The heat pump is 100% efficient and can heat the air for cabin heating within seconds.

Most electric vehicles come with an internet mobile application that allows consumers to heat their EVs remotely. As a result, EV owners can enter a cozy, fully heated electric vehicle. 

Consumers who try to warm up their gas-powered cars by leaving them on outside their houses often put themselves at risk of having their cars stolen.

Since insurance does not offer any help when a car gets stolen because it was started and left alone, the car owner suffers a huge loss.

Moreover, Nissan also offers heated driving wheels and seats to further improve the consumer experience.

Hence, having a Nissan electric car with a built-in heat pump means consumers can enjoy their winters just as much as any other season without worrying about their EV’s range.

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Tesla’s Electric Car Heating System

Tesla is a pioneer of futuristic electric vehicle technology. The company has designed a resistive heating mechanism that allows energy-efficient cabin heating.

How Does it Work?

The concept used by Tesla to create a cabin heating system uses a similar mechanism to heated seats or electric space heaters.

This design is created to be incredibly energy efficient. Tesla owners have positively reviewed the system and appreciate its reduced mileage and increased range.

Tesla has basically designed a heat pump that uses 1 kW of stored energy to produce 3 kiloWatts of heat energy.

As a result, using the heater does not affect the battery usage significantly and the owner is able to travel on their electric car over longer distances without stressing about the range. 

Audi’s Electric Car Heating System

Audi is another electric car brand known for delivering quality, prestige and efficiency.

It uses a carbon dioxide heat pump to utilize the energy that is created as a by-product of the electric vehicle’s internal operations.

Audi has designed its carbon dioxide heat pump to use eco-friendly gas, which is made to flow through the pump at high pressures.

According to Audi, its carbon dioxide heat pump is superior to other EV heat pumps as it uses carbon dioxide as its refrigerant.

How Does it Work?

The overall mechanism of the carbon dioxide heat pump is otherwise similar and hence helps heat up the car’s cabin space quickly.

This helps protect the range, reduces the driver’s range anxiety, and allows consumers to plan long trips during the winter season.

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How Does an Electric Car Heat the Interior
How Does an Electric Car Heat the Interior

How Else Can Passengers Remain Warm in Their Electric Cars During Winters?

Brands like Nissan, Audi, Tesla, etc. have designed internal heating systems that are extremely efficient and range-friendly.

However, all three brands offer expensive electric cars that not all consumers can afford.

Many less-expensive electric cars offer all the luxuries of owning an EV; however, they do not have the most energy-efficient cabin heating systems.

As a result, consumers get discouraged and shift back to gas-powered cars for the winter season when driving without a heater becomes too difficult.

However, this does not always have to be the case. There are many methods that allow passengers to remain heated during the winter season without using the electric car’s heating system.

Bundle Up Properly

Wearing a thick jacket, thermal sweaters, ear muffs, mufflers, woolen socks and warm boots reduces the need for any additional heating, no matter how cold it gets.

Hence, passengers should bundle up properly to reduce the need for additional cabin heating.

For a more comfortable experience, EV passengers should also pack blankets. This becomes a great tip when the weather unexpectedly gets colder during a trip.

Use Hot Water Bottles

Many electric cars have built-in seat warmers that help keep the body of the EV passengers warm.

However, due to the excessive battery usage, it is not advised to use these seat warmers unless absolutely necessary.

Instead, placing hot water bottles on the seats before sitting can help warm up the seats enough for a comfortable trip.

If one is planning a longer trip, they can simply stop at any tea shop and replace the water bottle’s water with boiling water.

Doing so will keep the bottles, the seats, and consequently the passengers warmer for longer periods.

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Pack High Energy Snacks and Warm Foods

Planning a trip during the winter holidays should be exciting and not worrying at all.

If an EV owner is concerned about their car’s internal heating, they should keep insulated bottles of hot soup and high-energy snacks.

Sipping on the hot soup will help keep the passenger’s bodies warm and hence will reduce the need for additional cabin heating.

Moreover, the human body tends to slow down when it has to use its energy reserves for keeping body warm.

Driving in such a condition will be dangerous as the person might feel sleepy and have poorer reflexes.

For such situations, packing high-energy snacks like protein bars, sugar candies, chocolates and dates could help keep the body’s energy levels high.

Plan Trips Accordingly

Wearing the right clothes and eating the right snacks can help keep passengers warm and comfortable without the EV’s heating system.

However, if the weather is expected to be extremely cold, these hacks might not be as efficient.

In such circumstances when a snowstorm or a rapid temperature drop is expected, EV owners without modern heating systems should avoid going out.

If they are already on a trip, they should immediately start looking for shelter.

Final Thoughts

Modern electric car brands use heat pumps to create cabin heating in an efficient way. These systems help protect the EV’s range and allow passengers to cover longer distances.

In situations when an EV owner cannot afford to keep their car heaters on, passengers should wear more clothes, pack hot water bottles, drink soups, or avoid excessive traveling.

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