Maximize Your Electric Car’s Range in Cold Weather
Driving during the winter can pose challenges for any driver. But if you have an electric car, there are some additional factors to consider — especially when it comes to the battery. The cold may affect your electric car’s range — and the last thing you want is to be stranded with a dead battery.
Here’s what to know about your electric car and how to maximize your battery’s range during the winter months.
Why Is the Range Reduced in Cold Weather?
The cold temperatures slow down your electric car battery’s chemistry, according to Car and Driver. That slowdown means the battery pack has less energy to move the electric car, effectively shortening the driving range. Additionally, cold batteries take longer to charge and do not hold the power as well, according to Energy.gov.
In a study of electric car batteries in different climates, researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory found the lower the temperature, the longer it took to charge the battery. For example, when the temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit, it took about 30 minutes to charge the battery to 80 percent capacity. But at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it only charged 51 percent in half an hour. Under the coldest conditions, the Idaho National Laboratory said, charging took about three times longer than it did at warmer temperatures.
Another big factor that may affect your electric car is the heater. Using the heater in the cabin, especially in electric cars, uses more energy from the battery than is needed in more modest temperatures, according to Energy.gov.
How Do You Get More Range?
Here are a few suggestions for maximizing the range in your electric car’s battery.
Use Seat Warmers Instead of Cabin Heater
According to Energy.gov, heated accessories such as seat warmers and heated steering wheels use less energy than the cabin heater, because the cabin heater heats the entire inside of your electric car. Using these accessories can help minimize the need for that while still keeping you warm.
Preheat Your Car While It’s Still Plugged In
Warming up your battery and cabin while the car is plugged in allows your car to use electricity from the grid, rather than from the battery itself, Energy.gov says. The Idaho National Laboratory suggests that charging your car in a warm garage may also help avoid the inconvenient effects cold weather has on charging your battery.
FuelEconomy.gov suggests checking your electric car’s owners manual for the best ways to maximize fuel economy, driving range and battery life. Energy.gov recommends keeping your tires properly inflated, and FuelEconomy.gov advises using your car’s economy mode.
You’ll also want to avoid hard braking whenever possible, says FuelEconomy.gov. Electric cars have a regenerative braking system, which converts your car’s momentum to electrical power and returns it to the car, according to U.S. News and World Report. Hard braking causes the car to use its conventional friction brakes, which do not return energy to the vehicle.
Avoid Extra Weight on Your Car
According to Energy.gov, extra weight — such as snow or ice — requires your battery to work harder, affecting the range. So be sure to clear off any ice and snow from your vehicle before driving. It can also help to avoid carrying heavy cargo on the roof of your vehicle.
Now that you have some tips for maximizing your electric car’s range, you’re more prepared for safe winter travels.