Weather Impacts EV Charging
15Nov, 23 November 15, 2023
  • By evcharger

Weather actively impacts electric vehicle (EV) charging and battery performance. Both extremely high and low temperatures actively decrease how efficiently an EV’s lithium-ion battery pack charges and the vehicle’s overall driving range. EV drivers must actively plan and make adjustments to account for changing weather conditions when using an EV as a primary vehicle.

This article will examine how heat and cold weather actively influence battery charging times and capacity. It will then provide recommendations that EV drivers can actively implement to optimize their charging routine and battery life in different climates. The goal is to help EV owners continue benefiting from emission-free transportation no matter the seasonal temperatures that actively occur.

What Really Happens to EVs in Freezing Cold Conditions?

Cold weather has a dramatic effect on EV battery performance and charging speeds. Lithium-ion batteries suffer reduced capacity and slower chemical reactions when temperatures drop below freezing. 

Here is a closer look at how the cold impacts EVs and what drivers can do about it.

  1. Cold Weather Reduces Driving Range

One of the biggest effects of cold weather is reduced driving range. EVs can lose 40-60% of their rated range when temperatures are extremely cold. There are a few reasons for this: 

  • Battery capacity drops in the cold due to increased internal resistance. Less energy is available.
  • Cabin heating draws heavily from the battery, using up charge quickly. The battery must be heated by the thermal management system, further reducing range.
  • To maximize range in cold weather, limit cabin heating, dress warmly, and plan shorter trips with frequent charging stops. Using seat and steering wheel heaters instead of blasting the cabin heat also helps conserve battery capacity. 
  1. Charging Slows Down in Cold Temperatures

In addition to the lower range, charging an EV battery takes much longer in freezing cold temperatures. Charge times can increase 2-3 fold when it’s extremely cold out. There are two main factors behind this slowdown: 

  • Chemical reactions within the battery that allow it to charge are slowed by the cold.
  • The battery management system throttles and limits the charging current to protect the battery when it’s cold. This reduces the power transfer rate.

Drivers should account for significantly longer charge times when temperatures are freezing. Plan well ahead for longer charging stops on road trips, and don’t wait for the battery to be nearly empty before charging in cold weather. 

Tips to Minimize Cold Weather Impacts on EVs

Proper maintenance and smart winter driving are key to ensuring your electric vehicle stays in tip-top shape when temperatures take a dip. Here are some top tips for keeping your EV running smoothly through the winter:

  1. Store and Charge in a Garage

Parking your EV in an insulated garage keeps the battery warmer, allowing it to charge faster and more efficiently. It also protects your car from snow, ice, and other winter precipitation when not in use. 

  1. Warm the Battery Before Driving

Most EVs allow you to pre-condition the battery, warming it up before you hit the road. Doing this before unplugging improves range and charging speed. 

  1. Limit Fast Charging in the Cold

DC fast charging works best at moderate temperatures. In extreme cold, slow Level 2 charging is gentler on the battery.

  1. Wipe Away Salt and Grime

Road salt, slush, and winter grime can damage the paint and undercarriage. Wash frequently to wipe away salt and grime.

  1. Check Tire Pressure

Tire pressure drops 1 PSI for every 10°F of temperature drop. Maintain proper inflation to maximize range. 

  1. Use Winter Tires

Install winter tires for maximum cold-weather traction and handling. Store all-season or summer tires. 

  1. Monitor Range and Charge Often

Cold weather range loss can sneak up on you. Frequently check your remaining range, and don’t let the battery get too low before charging up. 

Stay toasty and enjoy electric driving all season long with smart preparation. 

How Hot Temperatures Impact EV Batteries and Charging?

Extreme heat also negatively impacts EVs. Air conditioning and battery cooling systems drain more energy, reducing range by 10-25%. High temperatures accelerate battery degradation over time as well. 

Here are some tips for keeping your electric vehicle running smoothly when the heat is on. 

  1. Hot Weather Reduces Driving Range

Range suffers in extreme heat for a few reasons. Air conditioning systems work harder to cool the cabin, using more battery power. The battery’s own cooling systems also draw more energy in hot conditions. Testing shows that the range can decrease by 10-25% compared to mild temperatures. 

To maximize driving range when it’s hot out, limit the use of AC, rely on vent and fan settings instead when possible, and plan shorter trips with more frequent charging stops. Tinted windows also help keep the cabin cooler and reduce AC power draw. 

  1. Heat Speeds Up Battery Degradation

Excessive heat accelerates the degradation of lithium-ion batteries over time. High temperatures put a strain on the battery components through increased chemical reactions and expansion/contraction. This wears the battery down faster than normal operating temps. Maintaining the battery between 20-80% charge as much as possible when it’s hot out helps reduce degradation. Parking in the shade and using reflective shields also helps keep the battery cooler. 

Tips for Hot Weather Charging

High temperatures bring their own unique challenges for EV owners in hot regions. Use these tips to keep your electric vehicle running efficiently and safely in the heat: 

  1. Park in Shaded Areas.

Park your EV in covered garages or under trees and carports to prevent excessive solar heating. Use sun shades if no shade is available.

  1. Charge During Cooler Hours

Avoid peak heat when charging. Charge overnight or early morning when temperatures are lower.

  1. Pre-Condition the Battery

Remotely cool the battery down to optimal temperatures before driving to reduce strain. Limit 

  1. DC Fast Charging

Prolonged fast charging adds heat. Use slower Level 2 chargers whenever possible in hot weather.

  1. Wipe Away Dust Regularly

Dust buildup can affect the battery and brakes. Wash frequently at a touchless car wash.

  1. Check Tire Pressure Monthly

Tire pressure increases in heat. Maintain proper inflation to maximize range. 

  1. Monitor Range and Charge Often

Heat drains range faster. Check your remaining range regularly and charge more frequently. With smart preparation and charging habits, your EV can handle the hottest weather while keeping its cool. Stay charged up and enjoy electric driving year-round.

With smart practices, EV owners can overcome hot weather challenges. Being prepared goes a long way toward ensuring an electrifying driving experience year-round.

Top Tips for Road Tripping in an EV Through Extreme Temperatures

Road trips in an electric vehicle require a bit more planning and preparation than in a gas car when temperatures swing to extremes. Here are some top tips for a successful EV road trip regardless of the weather: 

  • Plan Your Route Carefully.

Carefully map out your route in advance, choosing charging stops at optimal intervals based on weather and range. Apps like PlugShare can help. 

  • Adjust for Reduced Range

Account for 15-60% lower range in cold weather and 10-25% less in heat. Plan more frequent, shorter driving segments. 

  • Use Level 2 Chargers

For shorter charging stops, Level 2 chargers are easiest on the battery. Limit DC fast charging in temperature extremes. 

  • Prepare for Slower Charging

Expect charging stops to take 2-3 times longer in bitter cold. Add extra time for charging delays. 

  • Pre-Condition the Battery

If possible, warm the battery in cold weather or cool it in heat before setting out to optimize range and charging. 

  • Dress for the Weather

Dress warmly in cold weather to limit battery drain from excessive cabin heating. Wear breathable clothes in the heat.

  • Monitor the Battery Temperature

Use the car’s app to keep an eye on battery temperature. Take a break if it gets too hot or cold. With careful planning and preparation, EV road trips can be epic adventures in any kind of weather. Stay charged up and enjoy the open road!

Apps to Help Plan Cold & Hot Weather EV Trips

Planning cold and hot weather EV trips requires special consideration to ensure you make it to your destination. There are a few helpful apps, such as:

  1. Plugshare: 

PlugShare helps drivers locate public chargers along planned routes. It displays user reviews about reliability and estimates charging speed based on temperature.

  1. Electrify America:

This app generates trip routes using their fast-charging network. By accounting for temperature effects, it recommends optimal stops to guide long-distance travel.

  1. ChargePoint:

ChargePoint lets you check station availability and status. The app clearly shows whether chargers are in use or experiencing issues so you can find a working unit.

Conclusion

With a little extra planning, electric vehicle owners can experience the benefits of EV driving no matter the weather. While heat and cold can definitely stress a battery, the technology has come a long way. As long as you charge smart and take basic precautions, you’ll be all set to handle whatever the seasons throw at you. The battery management systems these days do a great job of keeping the cells healthy through temperature swings. If you stay informed on best practices for hot and cold weather EV charging, you can maximize driving range and battery life.