How do Electric Cars do in Hot Weather

The weather can adversely affect the performance of your EV, especially in the sweltering summers.

Extreme temperatures will slash the total range of your electric car. It will also affect the time it takes to charge the car. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the impact of the weather on electric cars.

The Impact of Heat on EV Performance

Electric car batteries are indeed more advanced than regular batteries. However, they have to conform to the laws of physics. There is an aura of mystery to electric car batteries.

Did you know EVs perform better in extreme heat than in extreme cold? This is because excessively low temperatures reduce the capacity of EV batteries.

Cold temperatures slow chemical reactions. The battery may feel slightly sluggish in winter despite a full charge.

With that said, hot weather is just as bad for electric vehicles. In some cases, it could be worse.

Excessive heat reduces the car’s overall range and does more damage in the long run. The effect or heat is worse if you turn the air conditioner on.

The high heat creates chemical reactions that produce gas and various byproducts. This leads to the deterioration of the battery and its ability to charge.

The gases can expand and breach battery cell casings. You may sometimes notice ‘spicy pillows.’ It’s a term used to describe bloated batteries that are on the verge of failure.

In the worst-case scenarios, this can lead to battery explosions. However, most EV battery management systems have advanced warning systems that alert drivers.

Excessive temperatures can lead to electric motor failure. The battery’s total charge cycles are reduced because of the temperature.

Finally, heat can also affect motor performance. Excessive heat will increase motor winding resistance (Rmt).

The temperature can also cause the battery to lose its charge faster. This is why keeping electric cars in a shady area is recommended.

EV owners are advised to park their electric cars in their garages. This will shield the car from the penetrative rays of the sun.

EV batteries are very sensitive to temperature changes. As they get hotter, their charge plummets at a rapid pace.

Moreover, starting the car is much harder when the temperature is high. Both these factors will affect the time it takes to charge the car.

The best strategy for electric cars is to park them under shade. Besides affecting charge, the heat can also adversely affect battery components.

The Ideal Temperature Range for Electric Cars

Most experts agree that the ideal operating temperature for EVs is about 21.5 °C. This is the ideal temperature at which EVs can cover their promised range.

Temperatures higher or below the optimal temperature will result in a loss of range. Every small increase in temperature will adversely impact the range.

Things start to get really bad when the car’s internal temperature reaches 45 °C. At this temperature, the battery is extremely prone to wear and tear.

The shelf life of battery cells starts to dwindle. Driving in these conditions will test the limits of the battery.

As mentioned earlier, the effect gets worse if the driver turns the AC. The air conditioner will further drain the battery.

As more parts of the country see rising temperatures, heat will become a concern.

What Are EV Makers Doing to Minimize the Impact of Heat?

EV makers are pouring billions into R&D to minimize the impact of heat. This is reflected in the design of batteries.

New batteries, such as the ones with prismatic and cylindrical designs can deal with heat. Their design allows them to keep the heat within the cell from rising

They are also deploying additional technologies to keep the car at a cool temperature. Tesla, in particular, is leading the world in controlling temperatures.

Their EVs are equipped with data tracking that regularly monitors the battery’s temperature. The technology also monitors the temperatures of charging stations and the ambient temperature.

The car alert systems instruct drivers when and where to top the car for recharging. These alert messages are strategically sent to minimize overheating when on the road.

This is a great way of keeping drivers informed about the conditions of their batteries. Today’s EVs have the technology to monitor the battery’s changes on the go constantly.

EV makers have also implemented new technology to cool down the batteries. BMW, for one, has an ingenious idea to position the battery in the trunk.

This is in stark contrast to other EVs that place the battery in the engine. Doing so isolates the battery from the engine’s heat.

The only downside is that it requires expensive engineering and materials. But the result is a superior climate-controlled environment.

Another method is to pump liquid coolant throughout the engine to prevent overheating.

Porsche Taycan has a sophisticated solution for its battery. They automatically cool or heat the battery on the move. This ensures that the battery stays within the optimum temperature.

However, all experts agree that the best solution is to park the car under the shade. Or better yet, park the EV in a climate-controlled environment. An indoor garage is better than parking the EV outside.

How to Protect Electric Cars from Hot Weather

Extreme heat can have a detrimental impact on EVs. However, you can take certain steps to protect your EV.            

Park the Car Under the Shade

We’ve mentioned this twice already, but this advice needs to be reiterated. Parking your EV under shade is the best way to protect it from the heat.

The high temperatures will adversely impact the battery’s chemistry. This is very similar to what you find on your phone.

Another strategy is to buy sunshades for the windscreen. This will deflect part of the heat from the sun.

You should avoid rapidly charging the car at a station without shelter from the heat. The accelerated charging combined with extreme heat will devastate the battery.

If you must charge your EV, opt for slow charging. Use a standard 7kW unit to charge the car. And don’t forget to keep the car out of the sun. It is also recommended to install a home charger for your garage.

Use Electric Car Preconditioning

Preconditioning is a brilliant feature of EVs. It is useful on both hot summer days and winter days.,

Preconditioning is when you pre-cool the car’s cabin before starting your journey. This will keep you more comfortable and maximize the car’s driving range.

You won’t be depleting the car’s battery to charge the cabin. The energy comes from the wall.

You can activate preconditioning from the car’s smartphone app or media system. Preconditioning can be scheduled based on your departure times.

The car will automatically cool the interior to the optimal temperature. All you have to do is get in the car and drive to your destination.

The best part is that it has no impact on your driving journey. You get to drive your car with a full battery.

Another advantage is that the car’s windows will be clear of ice and mist. This is especially a problem in the winter. You won’t waste time clearing and defrosting the ice.

Note that preconditioning won’t add more miles but will preserve your predicted range.

Pro tip: You can activate preconditioning in Teslas by using the following instructions:

Open the Teslas App

  • Go into Settings
  • Go into “Vehicle”
  • Toggle “Smart Preconditioning”

Pros of Preconditioning

  • Doesn’t deplete the battery
  • Keeps you at a cool temperature
  • Increase EV range

Cons of Preconditioning

It would help if you created a schedule for preconditioning your battery. Having to plan ahead may be inconvenient to some people.

Never Charge Your EV Above 80%

This may sound counterproductive, but there is merit in never fully charging your EV.

EV batteries share the same chemistry as laptops and smartphones. Manufacturers of these devices advise against overcharging their devices.

This is because the battery gets very hot when it achieves 100%. Combine this with high ambient temperatures and you risk battery degradation.

Charging your battery to 100% can accelerate the cell’s degradation. It’s when the lithium battery cells lose their ability to charge at the advertised rate.

This is why you should only charge your EV up to 80%. Fully charging the car if you plan a long journey is okay.

However, don’t make this a habit if you want to keep your EV healthy. If you pass by a supercharger, you won’t have to charge the car fully.

Most EVs feature sophisticated technology that limits your charge. You should activate them when you plug the car in overnight.

Use ECO-Mode

Most electric cars feature an eco-mode setting designed to increase the car’s efficiency. The feature limits the amount of power to electronic systems and acceleration.

Since the car will use more energy in excessive heat, ECO mode saves total range. This means you will have to spend less time at charging stations to charge batteries.

ECO mode will restrict some of the car’s functions, but it will conserve the battery. You won’t have to stop on those long summer drives.

You can also take advantage of regenerative braking to recoup energy. This is a great alternative if you don’t want to use ECO mode.

Avoid Driving when the Sun is at its Highest

If possible, don’t drive during the hours when the sun is at its highest. You can conserve energy by driving during the cooler parts of the day.

In most cases, the hours from 12 PM to 4 PM are the hottest. Try to avoid driving during these hours.

Cars use more battery power during extreme temperatures. You’ll get more out of your EV range if you can drive during cooler temperatures.

Maintain Optimum Tire Pressure

It’s no secret that electric vehicles are much heavier than ICE models. This is because of their massive battery packs.

This means that you must monitor the car’s tire pressure more often. Tire pressure is a major concern in the heat. Underinflated tires can lower the car’s efficiency.

In the worst-case scenario, they may threaten the passengers’ safety. It is strongly advised to buy a pressure gauge for the tires.

This way, you can regularly check the pressure of your tires regularly. Do this once a month, especially before long journeys. You can also check your tire pressure at most fuel stations for a small fee.

Charge the Battery Slowly at Night

A great strategy is to charge the battery slowly at night. This is a safer and cost-effective compared to charging under the hot sun. Charging slowly results in less heat and a healthier battery.

In fact, you should avoid using supercharges at hot times of the day. If possible, try to get a Level 2 Home charger for your car.

Pro tip: The best time to charge EVs is from 11 PM to 7 AM. This is when energy demand is at its lowest and electricity is cheaper.

A Word on Gasoline Vehicles

Electric vehicles get a lot of flak for being sensitive to temperature changes. It is among the main issues that critics use to argue against EVs.

However, in defense of EVs, gasoline cars are not very different. The heat affects ICE cars but to a lesser extent.

To minimize any evaporation, fuel providers mix additives with gasoline. This adversely affects the fuel economy since the fuel mixture is less combustible.

The extreme temperatures create more resistance between the car’s components and its fluids. Tires get stiffer, liquids get thicker, and the car generates more heat.

 The Impact of Heat on Electric Cars
The Impact of Heat on Electric Cars

Wrapping Up

So there you have it, the impact of hot weather on electric cars in California. Extreme heat can affect the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries. The optimum temperature of EVs is somewhere around  21.5 °C. Temperatures higher than 40 °C can spell trouble for your car. We recommend using the above strategies to keep your car safe from the heat.

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