Electric Cars in Hot Weather - What You Need to Know
One of the main concerns of electric vehicle enthusiasts is the detrimental effect of cold weather on EV batteries.
EVs use lithium-ion batteries that are known for their remarkable ability to store energy and extensive lifespan.
However, put them in below-freezing temperatures and they start acting up.
The cold temperature causes them to get sluggish, hold less charge and drain faster.
So, if you live in Alaska or that big chunk of ice called Canada, your EV might get lesser battery performance than another EV in, say, bright and sunny Florida.
You might think that EVs are better suited in places with hot climates to maintain the ideal operating temperature of an EV battery pack.
You can't be any more wrong.
Extreme heat is just as bad as extreme cold.
Here's how hot weather affects your electric vehicles.
What to know about electric vehicles in hot weather
Electric vehicles have an average range of around 217 miles on a single charge, which is still less than an average internal combustion engine vehicle with 300 miles of range.
Tesla Model S, for example, has around 405 miles of range.
In comparison, a sedan from Mercedes-Benz can travel 469 miles on a full tank.
Real-world data show that the EV range decreases by 17% at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, with the air conditioning on.
Tesla has previously denied such claims and mentioned that consumer reports from real Model S customers suggest that range loss in Tesla EVs is just 1%.
Range loss will have a significant impact on EV drivers' driving habits.
First, the shorter range means they have to gauge how far they'll travel before charging up.
Second, frequent charging will increase the overall cost of owning an EV.
While it's a given that your EV's battery will deteriorate over time, exposure to too much heat can speed up battery degradation.
Studies suggest that EV battery packs can last up to 20 years, way beyond the 8-year warranty that car manufacturers offer.
However, higher temperatures can cause reduced lifespan leading to a premature battery replacement.
Additionally, high temperatures can also impact the performance of the battery, reducing the range of the car and increasing the time it takes to charge.
Frequent rapid charging has also been found as a culprit in the depletion of battery capacity.
Fast charging produces high temperatures that put too much stress on the batteries.
To maximize battery life and performance in hot weather, it is important to take steps to keep the battery cool.
This can be done by parking the car in a shaded area, using a sunshade to block direct sunlight, avoiding leaving the car parked in direct sunlight for extended periods, and minimizing the usage of fast chargers.
Some electric cars already come equipped with battery cooling systems that help regulate the battery's temperature.
Hot temperatures can significantly impact the safety of electric vehicle (EV) tires. There are several factors that contribute to reduced tire safety in hot weather, including:
Tire pressure: High temperatures can cause the air inside the tire to expand, leading to increased tire pressure. This can result in overinflated tires, leading to reduced handling and braking performance and an increased risk of blowouts.
Treadwear: High temperatures can also accelerate the wear and tear on the tires, particularly in areas with high levels of dust and sand. This can lead to reduced tread depth, resulting in reduced traction and an increased risk of hydroplaning.
Tire aging: Exposure to high temperatures and UV radiation can also accelerate the aging of the tire, leading to cracking and other forms of damage that can compromise the tire’s safety.
Keep your vehicle charged at mid-range
Charging your EV battery to the midpoint, or around 50% to 60% of its total capacity, can help to reduce the impact of high temperatures and other factors that can degrade the battery over time.
There are several benefits to keeping your EV battery charged at mid-range, including:
Reduced battery degradation: Keeping the battery charged at mid-range means lesser exposure to extreme temperatures. This can reduce battery degradation and extend its lifespan and performance.
Faster charging times: Charging your EV battery from mid-range to full can be faster than charging it from a low state of charge to full. This is because the battery chemistry is optimized to charge more quickly at mid-range.
More frequent charging: By keeping the battery charged at mid-range, you're allowing it to stay within a more optimal range of charge and avoid the stress of deep discharge cycles.
Reduced range anxiety: Charging at mid-range can help reduce the risk of running out of charge on longer trips. This can alleviate range anxiety and make it easier to plan your trips without worrying about the need for frequent charging stops.
To keep your EV battery charged at mid-range, you can set the charging limit on your EV charger to stop at a specific state of charge, typically around 50% to 60% of the battery's charge.
You can also use a smart charging system that automatically adjusts the charging level based on your driving habits and needs.
How extreme weather affects an electric car's battery
In cold temperatures, the chemical reactions that produce electricity in the battery cells slow down, reducing the battery's overall performance and range.
Additionally, using the car's heater to warm up the interior can significantly drain the battery, further reducing its range.
In hot weather conditions, the battery can degrade more quickly and reduce its overall lifespan.
Excessive heat can also impact the performance of the battery, reducing the range of the car and increasing the time it takes to charge.
Rapid temperature fluctuations, such as those that occur when driving the car from a cold garage into hot weather, can cause the battery to expand and contract, leading to damage and reduced performance over time.
Why does cold weather reduce electric car range?
Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to temperature changes.
In cold weather, the chemical reactions that produce electricity in the battery slow down, reducing the battery's overall performance and range.
The car's climate control also works harder to warm up the interior and clear the windows, which can significantly drain the battery.
Freezing temperatures cause the tires to become stiff and less efficient, leading to increased rolling resistance.
How do you take good care of an electric car in warm weather?
Keep the battery cool: To keep the battery cool, park the car in a shaded area and use a sunshade to block direct sunlight. Avoid leaving the car parked in direct sunlight for extended periods.
Use air conditioning efficiently: Running the air conditioning in hot weather can significantly drain the battery, so use it sparingly and efficiently. Set the temperature to a comfortable level rather than blasting the air conditioning at maximum power. You can also pre-cool the car before getting in.
Maintain the tires: The temperature of the road surface can lead to increased wear and tear on the tires. Ensure that they are properly inflated and in good condition. You might also want to consider switching to tires designed for hot weather, such as summer tires.
How to Prevent Weather-Related EV Battery Damage
Avoid extreme temperatures: High and low temperatures can cause damage to an EV battery.
Charge the battery properly: Overcharging or undercharging an EV battery can damage it. Keep it between 20% and 80% to prevent damage.
Use heating and air conditioning efficiently: The heating and air conditioning system is a significant drain on an EV battery. Use it efficiently by setting it to a comfortable temperature and turning it off when it is not needed.
Do electric cars perform better or worse in hot weather?
Electric cars can perform worse in hot weather due to the following: battery degradation, too much use of air-conditioning, and tire wear because of hot road surfaces.
Do electric cars overheat like gas-driven cars?
Yes, but the cause can be different. For example, battery overheating or overcharging. The battery could explode and catch fire.
How hot is too hot for an electric car?
This may vary depending on the car's make and model. But in general, it's recommended that electric cars are not exposed to temperatures above 40°C (104°F).
Are Teslas good in hot weather?
Tesla EVs are just like other EVs in hot weather. However, the manufacturer has taken extra steps to minimize the effect of hot climates on their cars, including a battery cooling system and an efficient air-conditioning system.
Does AC drain electric car batteries?
Yes, air-conditioning can significantly drain your EV's battery.
What is the best climate for electric cars?
Moderate temperatures, usually in the range of 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F), are considered the best climate for electric cars.
How do electric cars handle the heat?
EVs have a variety of features and technologies designed to minimize the impact of high temperatures on performance and range. These include a battery cooling system, efficient air-conditioning, better aerodynamics, and thermal management systems.
Lectron is Leading the Charge
Lectron is on a mission to make electric vehicle charging fast, easy and affordable for all EV drivers. We offer a wide selection of convenient and easy-to-use EV charging stations, chargers and adapters. Lectron is pioneering ways of eliminating range anxiety and compatibility issues for both Tesla and J1772 EV drivers by making it easier and more reliable than ever to charge EVs at home and on the road.