If you have finally decided to invest in a modern electric car in the USA, you must understand how an electric car works and how to charge your EV to maximize its usefulness and benefits.
Just as your combustion engine vehicle needs refueling to remain functional, an electric car needs a fully charged lithium-ion battery to generate the energy required for mobility.
However, while undercharging an electric car’s battery will affect its range and usefulness, overcharging may lead to permanent and irreversible battery damage.
Hence, the owner of an electric car must learn how often their electric car needs to be charged and how much they should charge their EV before hitting the road.
How Often Do You Have to Charge an Electric Car?
Ideally, you should charge your EV when the battery percentage reaches 20%. You can also charge your car before it hits this mark, but 20% is generally accepted as the point where you need to charge up.
However, the issue is that most people allow their battery to drain completely before they think of charging it.
While this may not seem problematic to a regular EV driver, someone who knows enough about electric vehicles in the USA will be able to identify the problems in the routine.
According to expert opinions, to maintain the worth, performance, and quality of an electric car, its lithium-ion battery should always be charged between 20 and 80%.
If the owner of the electric car waits for the battery level to drop to 0% before plugging it in, the battery’s lifespan, range, and charge storing capacity will be compromised permanently.
Moreover, apart from charging the electric car to maintain the optimal battery charging level, the number of times the battery has to be charged will also depend on other factors.
Some factors that will determine how often you need to charge your electric vehicle are as follows:
- The chemistry of the electric vehicle’s battery
- The size and wattage of the electric car’s battery
- The size of the electric car
- The range of the electric car’s battery
- The charge storing capacity of the electric car’s battery
- The condition of an electric car’s battery
- The quality of the electric car tires
- The way you drive your car
- The electric car charging routine practiced by the owner
- The most frequently used charging source
- The type of terrain you drive on
Hence, no matter how much the owner of an electric car tries to control its annual battery recharging costs, it will always be influenced by the factors above.
Continue reading to learn how an electric car’s electric engine is designed to work. We’ll also talk about an EV’s battery range and capacity to understand how often the battery needs to be charged.
Moreover, the article also highlights the consequences of under or overcharging an electric car’s battery.
At the end of the article, we’ll highlight bonus tips one can follow to reduce the need to recharge their electric car too often to reduce the average recharging costs.
Let’s get started!
How Is an Electric Car’s Engine Designed to Work?
Although an electric car’s mechanism and technology are designed to be highly futuristic and superior to any previous automobile system, it still shares certain similarities to a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.
Apart from the external similarities, an electric car also has similar needs to a combustion engine vehicle.
Just like a combustion engine car needs to be refueled with the appropriate fossil fuel, an electric car needs to be charged using electricity.
If a combustion engine car runs out of any fossil fuel, it won’t be able to ignite a combustion reaction, which means the pistons won’t move, resulting in no power.
Hence, this car is effectively stationary since there’s no power going to the wheels.
Similarly, if the lithium-ion battery of an electric car is to run out of charge, its motor will not be able to create energy, which means the motor will not be able to power the vehicle’s tires.
Hence, just as a combustion engine vehicle is useless without fossil fuel in its tank, an electric car is of no use if its battery isn’t charged.
Factors That Determine How Often You Need to Charge Your Electric Vehicle
The Chemistry of the Electric Vehicle’s Battery
Unlike a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle, an electric car’s mobility and functionality do not depend on the combustion process.
Instead, all an electric car needs is a chemical battery and an electric motor to help convert the stored chemical energy to kinetic energy.
However, the cell chemistry of your electric car’s battery will play a big role in your EV’s range and your average recharging costs.
Initially, most electric cars came with lead acid or nickel-cobalt batteries. While these batteries were highly durable, their low ranges did not do much to make electric vehicles a mainstream success.
Hence, owners had to recharge their electric cars more frequently, which resulted in high annual running costs.
Fortunately, now a majority of electric cars come equipped with lithium-ion batteries that can store a high amount of electric charge.
As a result, modern electric cars can offer an impressive range, which means you can drive them for a lot longer before you need to top up the battery.
The Size and Wattage of the Electric Car’s Battery
Different electric cars come with different lithium-ion battery packs. For instance, the size of a Tesla Model 3 electric sedan’s battery is 50 kWh, while the size of a Model S luxury electric sedan is 100 kWh.
Since both electric cars are almost similar in size and weight, the Model S can store more charge compared to the Model 3 EV’s smaller battery.
As a result, the Tesla Model S EV will have a higher range, which further means that you will not have to recharge the battery too frequently.
On the other hand, since the Model 3 EV’s battery is much smaller, the electric car will have to be recharged relatively more frequently.
The Size/Weight of the Electric Car
The heavier or bigger an electric car is, the more energy it will require to keep moving.
For instance, although the Tesla Model Y has a massive battery pack, its average range is not incredibly high due to its heavier curb weight.
Since the motor will have to use more chemical energy to make up for the high kinetic energy needs, the battery will lose charge incredibly quickly, requiring the driver to have to charge the battery more often.
Hence, if you are interested in buying a large seven-seater electric SUV, you must also prepare for the high and frequent battery recharging costs.
However, you should note that even though you end up having to charge more often, this is still cheaper than having to refill a gas-powered car in the USA.
The Condition and Range of the Electric Car’s Battery
The range of an electric car’s battery is the maximum distance the EV can travel on a single charge.
At times, although the size and wattage of an electric car’s battery are high, it cannot deliver the expected traveling range.
This happens when the battery is old, poorly treated, or worn out to the point that its charge-storing capacity is permanently reduced.
When this happens, the battery can no longer store sufficient chemical energy, and hence the motor will be unable to provide the required power to keep the car going.
As a result, the electric car will not make it too far and must be recharged more frequently during a single trip.
The Average Daily Commute
The need to recharge your electric car’s battery will directly depend on your average daily commute.
For instance, if you have to cover a distance of 50 miles each day to get to work and back home again, you will not have to recharge a Tesla Model 3 for 4-5 days.
However, if your average daily commute is around 100 miles, your Tesla Model 3 will need a recharge on the third day.
The Quality of the Electric Car’s Tires
Although the tires of an electric car are not a highly advanced electrical component, they still play a vital role in an electric car’s range.
Not only are the tires of a car responsible for carrying the weight of an EV, but they also need the strength to retain their quality under high speeds and over varying terrains.
If an electric car is driven on old, worn-out, poorly inflated, or sticky tires, this adds a lot of stress to the EV’s battery.
As a result, energy efficiency experiences a sharp decline, and the electric car will not make it too far on a single charge.
Hence, no matter whether you have an EV or an ICE car, it is important that you maintain your tires so that you get the most out of your fuel (or battery) efficiency.
The Way You Drive Your Electric Vehicle
An electric car’s battery usage and need for recharging will go up if the owner drives the car in the following ways:
- Flooring the car unnecessarily
- Constantly accelerating when driving under the speed limit is more advantageous
- If the driver makes a lot of stops during a trip
- If the electric car is deliberately made to drive on inclined slopes, even when there is the option to choose a flatter road.
However, it is important to remember that you will experience a drop in range when you drive an ICE car the same way.
The Charging Routine Practiced by the Car’s Owner
If you follow the practices mentioned below, you run the risk of damaging your EV’s battery well before it’s supposed to start wearing out:
- Using an outsourced EV charger
- Frequently charging at fast DC EV public stations
- Charging the battery to 100%
- Allowing the charge level to drop below 20%
- Exposing the battery to variations in external temperature
- Charging the battery on an unreliable power source
The Consequences of Over or Undercharging an Electric Car’s Battery
Although a majority of modern electric car batteries are designed so that overcharging them is not possible, an older and less-advanced EV battery can sustain a considerable amount of permanent damage when exposed to overcharging.
When such a battery is left plugged into a power source for longer than advised, the excess influx of energy can cause the battery cells to overheat, which will subsequently fry them.
As more battery cells get damaged, the chemical battery’s overall charge-storing capacity permanently goes down.
Since the battery will not be able to retain a high amount of charge, the power produced by the EV’s motor goes down as well.
As a result, the electric car’s range drops, which means you will have to charge it more often.
While charging stations are located all over the USA, you also risk ruining your battery in the long run with frequent recharges.
Bonus Tips: How to Reduce the Need to Recharge the Electric Car’s Battery
- Try to charge your electric car using the level-2 at-home slow charging source as frequently as possible.
- If you have an old or less-advanced electric car, make sure to check the optimal charging duration and unplug your EV as soon as the battery is sufficiently charged to prevent overcharging.
- Try maintaining your electric car’s charging level between 20% and 80%.
- Unless required, refrain from frequently accelerating your electric car, and develop the habit of driving at stable speeds.
- Refrain from carrying excessively heavy luggage in your electric car, especially when traveling long distances on a single charge.
- Make a habit of checking your electric car’s tire quality and air pressure before leaving for a long trip.
- Try to maintain your electric car’s aerodynamics and refrain from carrying bulky cargo on its roof.
- Unless you have no other option, always try to choose flatter and less inclined routes when traveling.
If you have a modern-day electric car, you are already well-protected from rising fossil fuel prices.
Not only can you recharge your electric car for much cheaper, but you can also enjoy a long and competitive range equivalent to that of an ICE car.
However, if you wish to reduce your transportation costs further, you must find ways to decrease your EV’s recharging needs. The best way to do this is to drive your electric car at stable speeds and on smoother surfaces while ensuring that the EV’s tires’ air pressure is perfect.
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- Top Tips to Maximize an Electric Vehicle’s Range
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.