Simple Electric Car Charging Tips
When a gasoline-powered car needs fuel, you just stop at a gas station and fill it up. But electric cars bring some new considerations. Naturally, you want to take proper care of your electric car batteries and make sure your battery’s life span is a long one.
A new electric car with a range of 250 miles might, after a decade or more, lose some of its range depending on how well you take care of it. Battery degradation doesn’t happen all at once, but over time during ownership. On average, today's electric car batteries might lose about one or two percent of their range per year. New electric car batteries are designed for durability and will outlast the usable life of a vehicle.
We are all accustomed to using lithium-ion batteries in our cell phones and laptops, and many of the charging tips that pertain to them work just as well for your electric car batteries! All lithium-ion batteries experience some level of degradation over time – and losses of capacity can impact your driving range. Luckily, there are ways to get the most out of electric mobility with these tips.
Driving slower will conserve energy used from your battery. The faster you drive, the quicker you’ll run down your charge. Over time, taking your time and keeping off the accelerator will increase battery life.
Don’t Charge to the Max
With lithium-ion batteries, it’s best to charge to around 80% rather than to a full charge. In fact, most electric cars let you set a “target charge” of whatever level you desire. Consult your owner’s manual on how to find the optimal level of charge.
When you’re setting out on a long trip and want the maximum range possible, set the target charge to 100 percent. On the other hand, if you have plans to be out of town and your electric car will just be sitting in the garage, leave your car plugged in but set the target charge lower while you’re away.
When parking on a hot day, find a shady spot as electric car batteries hate extreme heat! This will prevent your battery from overheating and thereby reducing your charge.
Plan Your Route
If you’re taking a road trip and will be driving beyond your battery capacity, search ahead of time for available charge stations. To locate these stations nationwide, you can check out our GreenCars Charging Station Map to find one along your driving route. Or you can use your vehicle’s on-board navigation system. Planning stops on your route using the navigation system has an additional advantage, in that the car can automatically pre-condition the battery to charge at the fastest rate possible.
Precondition To Save Time and Money
Electric car batteries work best under optimum conditions, especially when it comes to charging. Temperature is the main influence. Not only does a battery deliver its maximum performance at a certain temperature, but it’ll also charge fastest at a certain temperature – somewhere between 60- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. When connected to a Level 3 DC fast charger, a battery at its optimum temperature will quickly reach its maximum charging speed and maintain it for longer than if it’s too cold (or too hot).
Depending on which electric vehicle you drive, using battery “preconditioning” ensures the fastest charge times, letting you get on your way sooner. The best way to do this is by programming the charger as a destination in the navigation system. Your car, knowing you’ll be charging soon, will heat or cool the battery to accept the fastest charge automatically.
Limit Quick Charging
Using quick charge on your EV battery is a great way to get a charge fast, but every time you use quick charge it takes a little life away from the battery, especially in extremely cold conditions. Reducing quick charging will add battery life in the long run.
One thing worth noting, a nearly empty battery will charge faster than a nearly-full one – you’ll notice charging speed tail off as you start to fill the battery up – so plan to drive longer distances between fast-charging stops and pre-condition the battery before each stop to save the most time. Because most public charging stations charge your credit card based on how much time you’re plugged in; pre-conditioning can save you money as well as time.
Make sure that you don’t let your electric car’s battery deplete completely, as that can reduce overall battery life. We recommend charging when the battery dips below the 30 percent mark.
Time Your Charge
Most people plug their electric cars in at night so it can charge while they sleep. This is an ideal time to charge, but you need to make sure it isn’t on the charger for too long. If your charger has a timer, set it to shut off at least an hour or two before you plan to leave your house in the morning.
Many EVs let you control charge timing with a mobile app or through the infotainment system and will even let you schedule your normal departure times – letting you pre-set the cabin temperature, seat and steering wheel heaters, and other energy-sapping devices – to be active before you depart. This improves your range as the car is already at the desired temperature when you set off, meaning the heater or air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.
A new generation of lithium-ion electric car batteries are on the horizon that could last millions of miles. A new technology called solid-state batteries are reported to offer enormous capacity, giving a driving range of over 1,000 miles per charge and recharging times of just five minutes.
In the meantime, battery degradation in today's battery electric cars is really nothing to concern yourself with if you follow our few simple pointers. Battery degradation is a very slow process, and you will likely sell or trade your EV in long before loss of battery function becomes a problem.