Electrify America, one of the largest electric vehicle fast-charging networks in the US, released a set of five top tips related to charging EVs in cold weather, which might be especially important for new EV drivers.
The main issue with fast charging in cold weather is that it may take longer because the lower temperatures affect the vehicle’s battery charging capacity. A cold lithium-ion battery is often unable to charge at its full power. During driving and charging, the battery’s temperature gradually increases, closer to an optimum range, but this process is slow.
One solution is preventing the car from being exposed to extremely cold weather, usually by storing the vehicle in a garage or by using a battery pre-conditioning feature (which allows for manual or automatic battery heating to an optimum range ahead of a charging session).
Park indoors when you can: Consider parking indoors in extreme cold weather. Warmer indoor temperatures can help prevent slower charging speeds and preserve the charge for longer.
Utilize your EV’s cold weather features: Some EVs have a pre-conditioning feature that allows drivers to program or manually warm the battery to more optimal temperatures.
However, battery temperatures and related charging issues are not the only energy-draining culprits. Drivers should also be aware of the vehicle’s cabin temperature and energy consumption associated with heating. This additional energy load of a few kilowatts (or sometimes less, if a vehicle is equipped with a heat pump) also reduces the driving range.
This means that even if the battery temperature is not an issue, EV drivers must remember that in cold weather, they still might have to charge more often and for longer simply because of increased energy consumption and a depleted battery. It’s good to take this into account and have a plan, Electrify America says:
Anticipate longer charging sessions: The vehicle controls the charging speeds, not the charger. When temperatures are low, the EV’s software reduces its charging power.
Temperature changes may impact EV range: Check for overnight drops in temperature, as low temperatures can reduce an EV’s driving range. Some EVs can predict range reductions during extreme temperatures and will adjust the console display.
Plan your charging session: Locate public charging stations ahead of time to avoid finding yourself with shortened range in relation to the nearest charging station.