Since 2020, gas prices have skyrocketed and pollution concerns have increased. For this reason, electric vehicles have become increasingly popular. The argument that electric vehicles are cleaner and more efficient than petrol vehicles is supported by some, but there are still some misconceptions.
Some are hesitant to make the switch to electric vehicles because of these false beliefs. One of the biggest myths is that EVs don’t work very well in hot weather – it’s time to debunk that myth and explore how warm weather affects your EV.
Active Cooling vs Passive Cooling System in EVs
In order for EV battery packs to perform optimally, they must be kept at a certain temperature. The idea of EV batteries burning in 90 degree weather is a horrifying thought for many potential buyers. There is truth in this, although it is not quite correct.
In the past, many EV models did not use active thermal management for the batteries. Passive cooling technology was more common. This was done by directing incoming air over and under the battery pack to prevent overheating. The technique didn’t work very well, as batteries overheated and started to fail.
A lawsuit filed in 2012 by Leaf owners in Arizona and California alleged that Nissan failed to accurately represent the Leaf’s actual range in its advertisements. This was due to the premature aging of the battery packs due to hot climates and passive cooling methods.
As EV technology has improved, many brands have switched to active cooling technology. This prevents the battery from prematurely aging due to overheating, whether the vehicle is parked or on the road. Prior to fast charging, some active cooling systems allow the battery to warm up and then cool down, speeding up the charging process.
Using liquid-cooled battery packs keeps batteries cool no matter how hot it gets. It is important to keep your EV charged so that the AC power source can be used to cool the battery as intended. Learning valuable tips for caring for your EV’s battery can save you money along the way.
What is the Battery Thermal Management System (BTMS)?
Normal operation of an EV battery will naturally produce heat. This can also be exacerbated by outside temperatures. To maintain the optimum temperature of the battery, the BTMS is required. The optimum performance temperature is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Without BTMS, battery performance deteriorates at 30 degrees Celsius. The most common effects are reduced range and acceleration. At 40 degrees Celsius, the battery can suffer serious and irreparable damage. At higher temperatures above 80 degrees Celsius, thermal runaway can occur, which can ignite your battery.
When you consider how much it costs to replace a Tesla battery, it’s clear why proper battery temperatures must be maintained.
The advantages of BTMS are:
- Cooling the battery in hot weather to prevent thermal runaway and battery degradation
- Heating the battery pack if the temperature gets too low
- Battery insulation from outside temperatures prevents rapid temperature changes in the battery pack.
- Ventilate the battery pack from harmful gases produced during normal use
Common technologies for thermal battery management systems include:
- Air cooling
- Liquid cooling and/or directional cooling
- Phase change material
- Thermal-electric module
- Heatpipe module
The battery thermal management system is used to improve the safety, performance and life of the battery. When your EV is plugged in, the heat management system activates and begins to regulate the temperature of the battery pack.
Is fast charging your EV dangerous in hot weather?
Based on batteries in previous EVs, there’s also a belief that fast charging your EV in hot weather can damage the battery pack. Without the necessary active cooling technology, the battery would heat up without any way to properly cool itself. So shortening the battery pack life.
EVs today, apart from the second-generation Nissan Leaf, do not suffer from this problem due to liquid-cooled batteries and active thermal management. Keeping your EV cooling system in good working order will keep your battery pack healthy.
Does AC affect EV range in hot weather?
In an EV, everything you use is powered by the battery pack. So it’s no surprise that the more power you use will affect the range of the EV, because the power has to come from somewhere. The fact is, the energy used to power your AC, heater, or radio is minuscule compared to propelling your vehicle. The loss of range will therefore be very small.
This is not exclusive to EVs, as internal combustion engine (ICE) cars will also experience a small decrease in range as the AC is powered by the gasoline engine. When EVs had shorter ranges in the past, this was a problem. Now that the EV range is dramatically higher, the loss of range caused by the AC is barely noticed. A helpful tip is to run a pre-conditioning cycle while plugged in to pre-cool the cabin before your trip, reducing the workload of the air conditioner and saving you energy.
Will your EV overheat in hot weather?
Sitting in traffic on a hot sunny day in a combustion engine car is not the best way to spend your time. If your car overheats, you ruin the whole day. Many people think that electric cars overheat more than (ICE) cars, but is this the case?
An EV in traffic on a hot, sunny day will not overheat the vehicle.
There have been a few occasions where EVs caught fire along the way. On closer examination, these cases were not only related to the outside temperature. Many incidents were related to an EV battery leak, in addition to a hot day. One such case involved a Tesla involved in a crash where its battery pack was punctured. A few weeks later, the vehicle caught fire on a hot day while in a junkyard.
EVs are suitable for any temperature with proper care
As we can see, there are many myths about EVs underperforming in hot weather. While it is true that EV battery packs will experience heat, the heat produced is effectively managed by the vehicle’s battery thermal management system. With the right battery management system, your EV can regulate its own temperature and prevent the battery from deteriorating.