The widespread use of the electric vehicle has been made possible by lithium-ion batteries of an efficiency that was previously unknown. Such technology has driven the development of these large consumer items (which are a serious investment), but also much smaller everyday household products, such as the USB rechargeable smart batteries developed by companies like Pale Blue Earth. There is no denying that such battery technology has been quite literally revolutionary, fundamentally changing daily life. But with a new energy future comes new challenges.
Given their expected mass roll-out, a lot of these challenges revolve around the electric vehicle itself. There is the question of being able to produce enough batteries to power the millions that will soon fill our roads, specifically as producing large lithium-ion batteries is energy-intensive, expensive, and not the most environmentally friendly of processes. Other challenges exist on a more personal level though.
The Effect of Temperature on Batteries
As anyone who has ever owned a smartphone will know, exposure to cold can make the battery run down quicker than normal. It works the other way too, and excessive heat can also affect a battery’s ability to charge and recharge efficiently. Seeing as all electric cars are powered by essentially the same technology, the question of temperature is as relevant to electric cars as it is to their gas-powered brethren.
Furthermore, because an electric vehicle works entirely on battery power, temperature is perhaps even more of an issue. And, unlike gas-powered vehicles, heat can have as significant an effect as cold. To give some examples, hot weather can cause EV batteries to decline faster than normal, based on a study of over six thousand electric vehicles. And when you turn on the air conditioning in an electric vehicle, you reduce the range of said vehicle by 17%, all because the onboard electric devices in an electric car are drawing on the same source of power as the car itself.
Tips for EV Care in Hot Weather
Cold weather is quite another matter but seeing as electric vehicles seem to be affected by hot weather in ways that will be unfamiliar to anyone used to gas-powered vehicles, some lesser-known car care wisdom might be how to care for your vehicles when the summer comes around. Here are some top tips:
Park Your Car in the Shade
Of course, hot weather will still be affecting your car if you do this, but at least you will be sparing it the baking effects of direct sunlight. You will also avoid stepping into a greenhouse when you come back to collect your car.
Only Charge up to 80%
Given that one of the effects of hot weather is decreased battery performance, you might consider this tip a little counterintuitive – but it isn’t so. Overcharging your battery has adverse effects precisely because it overheats the battery. You don’t want to add this extra stress on top of that already inflicted by the hot weather.
Make Use of Preconditioning
Preconditioning is an excellent feature that is included in most modern electric cars. Because the adverse effects of hot weather will be most acutely felt over long journeys (specifically the decreased range), it makes sense to cool your cabin down before hitting the road. This isn’t practical for short journeys or your commute but remember to do so before the long hauls.
Ultimately, electric cars are designed to be efficient in all weathers and, mostly, they are. But with a little diligence, you can prevent some of the minor drawbacks that comes with driving when the sun’s out.