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Preserve Your EV Battery: Tips for Winter Travel

Ensure a worry-free holiday EV journey in freezing temperatures with these tips to preserve your EV's battery.

Maria Guerra, Senior Editor-Battery Technology

December 19, 2023

3 Min Read
EV batteries under cold temperatures
Freezing temperatures challenge drivers in winter.Paolo Graziosi/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

As the holiday season approaches, many of us are gearing up for festive travels to visit friends and family. If you're an electric vehicle (EV) owner planning to navigate the wintry roads during this time, the challenges of freezing temperatures may be a concern.

In colder temperatures, chemical and physical reactions within the battery operate slower, reducing overall battery performance and potentially decreasing power availability.

Maintaining the health and performance of your EV battery becomes crucial, ensuring a smooth and efficient journey. In this context, let's explore some essential tips and practices to help preserve your EV battery in cold weather, providing a reliable and enjoyable holiday travel experience.

Precondition the battery

Many electric vehicles have a pre-conditioning feature that lets you warm up the battery while the car is still plugged in. This can be activated through the vehicle's app or settings. Preconditioning helps bring the battery to an optimal temperature before you start driving.

Park indoors when possible

If possible, park your EV in a garage to shield it from extreme cold temperatures. This can help maintain a more moderate temperature for the battery.

Invest in a battery blanket or heater

Some EVs come with battery thermal management systems, but if your vehicle doesn't have one, consider using a battery blanket or heater designed for EVs. These devices can help keep the battery warm when it's not in use.

Related:Antifreeze Electrolyte Enables All-Weather EV Battery

Limit high-drain activities

Minimize high-drain activities like rapid acceleration and high-speed driving, and refrain from excessively using the cabin heater, as these actions can impose extra stress on the battery. Cabin heaters, essential for maintaining warmth, typically draw energy from the high-voltage battery, diminishing the available capacity for driving.

Reduce regenerative braking

Your battery management system may limit the use of regenerative braking if the battery is too cold since a cold battery cannot charge as fast as a warm one. Besides, some EVs may experience loss of traction during regenerative braking in snowy or icy conditions.

Plan efficient routes

Plan your routes to minimize energy consumption. Avoid unnecessary detours and use highways sparingly, as high speeds can reduce range.

Be mindful of charging practices

Charging an EV in cold weather may take longer, so plan accordingly. Charging at a slightly higher state of charge (SOC) can also help, as the battery may lose charge more quickly in cold conditions. Keeping an EV's charge above 20% is recommended to maintain its battery health.

Monitor battery health

Keep an eye on your EV's battery health through the vehicle's monitoring system or app. If you notice any significant degradation, consult the manufacturer or a qualified service center. Always consider your vehicle's owner's manual for specific recommendations and guidelines for your EV model, as different manufacturers may have detailed instructions for cold weather operations. You may also consult tips for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles (EVs) by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Whether through preconditioning, battery blankets, or battery heaters, EV owners have viable solutions to counter the effects of low temperatures on battery performance. The optimal choice depends on individual considerations such as budget constraints, frequency of cold-weather driving, and the specific EV model. By carefully assessing these factors, drivers can implement effective strategies to ensure their EV operates optimally in chilly conditions, enhancing battery efficiency and overall driving experience.

About the Author(s)

Maria Guerra

Senior Editor-Battery Technology, Informa Markets Engineering

Battery Technology Senior Editor Maria L. Guerra is an electrical engineer with a background in Oil & Gas consulting and experience as a Power/Analog Editor for Electronic Design.  Maria graduated from NYU Tandon School of Engineering with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE). She combines her technical expertise with her knack for writing. 

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