Does the outside temperature affect an EV’s range?

Does the outside temperature affect an EV’s range?

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by Gill D on December 22, 2021

When it comes to picking which electric vehicle to buy, range is generally the most important factor to consider. The specified range (distance) an EV can travel should primarily be used a guide.

While a vehicle's published range is based on standardised testing on a dynamometer in a test facility, electric vehicles, like gasoline automobiles, perform differently in real-world settings depending on topography, passenger load, speed, driving behaviour, and external temperature. All of these elements have an effect on the vehicle's efficiency and, as a result, its range.

The longer a vehicle's range, the more energy its battery pack can store, however this is influenced by the vehicle's design (weight, shape, size, and so forth.) which determines how efficient the vehicle can be. A far larger battery would be required for a bus to travel as far as a 60kWh sedan. External factors, on the other hand, can have a positive or negative impact on the vehicle's fuel economy on any particular journey. This isn't a problem exclusive to electric vehicles. Regardless of how you fuel your automobile, slamming on the pedal between traffic lights or driving on a cold day results in lower efficiency.

Temperature has an impact on the day-to-day range, owing to auxiliary heating and cooling. The battery's energy not only powers the vehicle, but also the auxiliary systems, including:

  • The cabin of the vehicle is heated and cooled.
  • The battery is heated and cooled.
When you get into your car and the temperature outside is below 20 degrees Celsius, you are more likely to turn on the heat; when the temperature outside is above 22 degrees Celsius, you are more likely to turn on the air conditioning. The energy used to raise the interior temperature to a comfortable house-like temperature comes from the battery, which could have been utilised to move the car.

 

The impact of cold weather on an EV’s range

Cold weather reduces the range of an electric vehicle's battery for a short time. According to studies, the range effects of -6 degrees Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit) weather on many typical EVs showed that temperature alone might reduce range by 10-12 percent, while employing in-vehicle climate control could increase range loss by up to 40%.

Even though cold-related range affects are very transitory, you should charge your battery while it is above freezing. Most automobiles' battery management systems feature some type of temperature regulation that prevents high voltage or quick charging if the battery is too cold. When your car is turned on or plugged in, energy is used to keep the temperature within a safe range. The Nissan Leaf, which only activates thermal regulation when the temperature drops below -20C (-4F), and Tesla, which activates thermal management even if the car is turned off or not plugged in, are the two exceptions to this rule. This temperature regulation safeguards your battery's health, but it may reduce your range.

If in doubt, avoid supercharging when your EV battery is below freezing. Modern electric vehicles have battery management systems that should prevent this type of long-term damage to your battery.

 

The impact of hot weather on an EV’s range

Temperature is known to have a significant impact on the rate at which Li batteries degrade. Temperature impacts the rate and effectiveness of chemical processes inside a battery, which is one of the main reasons it is so important. Faster responses are usually associated with higher temperatures. This means that at greater temperatures, the chemical reactions that cause batteries to degrade happen faster.

The heat degradation mechanism operates differently depending on whether the battery is at rest, charging, or being cycled. Different battery chemistries have different thermal effects. Higher temperatures, on the other hand, will usually result in faster degradation.

During charging, high temperatures can harm batteries. High temperatures increase the effective force of the electric current that transports lithium ions from one node of the battery to the next, putting physical strain on the receiving end and causing damage. The battery node suffers greater stress fractures and damage as the temperature rises. All of these tiny fissures and breaks become secondary reaction surfaces, consuming available lithium and forming compounds that obstruct the free flow of energy.

 

Tips for extending your EV range in extreme temperatures

  1. Use the features that come with your car to heat or cool the human rather than the air. Make use of the heated seats and steering wheel if you have them. Heating the cabin air uses 3000-5000 watts, which is inefficient compared to heating your seat and steering wheel (about 75 watts), which uses conduction to transfer heat to your body. You can stay warm without turning on the cabin heater if you use these increasingly frequent features. However, in extremely cold circumstances, reducing cabin heating can only get you so far, and your battery thermal management system will still waste energy.

  2. Prepare your vehicle by pre-conditioning it. Warm up before a long travel in the same way you would before an exercise session. If it's too hot, take a break. When you turn on your car's heaters while it's still plugged in, you'll reduce the auxiliary load by warming (or cooling) your car before it sets out on its journey. Take advantage of the guilt-free pre-conditioning offered by electric vehicles. If you have the option, park in a climate-controlled garage to achieve a similar effect.

  3. On extremely chilly or hot days, keep your vehicle plugged in. In addition to the advantages of preconditioning before a trip, automakers recommend that vehicles be plugged in when not in use on extremely hot or cold days. (Note that this is not the same as actively charging, which should be avoided in adverse weather, especially heat.) When a car is plugged in, the internal system can maintain battery temperature regulation, which helps to extend the battery's life.

 

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