As we have discussed before, ‘range anxiety’ is one of the most common barriers for adoption of electric vehicles. EVs do not currently have the technology to travel as far on a single charge as traditionally fuelled alternatives can travel on a full tank. As such, naturally, many consumers are concerned that they will run out of charge while away from home and find themselves in a rather sticky situation.
But wait, how many times have you driven enough in one day that you have used a full tank of petrol?
For most drivers, this is a very rare occurrence and on average Britons will use this much fuel in one day on just 3 occasions per year.
The average driver in the UK will travel between 30 and 40 miles per day and most fill up their tank once a fortnight. You wouldn’t dream of filling up your car’s tank every day to keep it topped up, so why apply the same logic to your EV?
With may EVs on the market having ranges of 150 miles or more, it is conceivable that your EV could last up to 5 days without needing charged. Thus, home charging twice a week would be enough for most drivers in the UK.
That said, this is another reason why we advocate the adoption of EVs even if you do not have access to home charging facilities. With the availability of public fast and rapid chargers in many town centres, workplaces and commercial sites, most drivers will have plenty of opportunities to charge their vehicles throughout the week without ever needing to plug in at home.
Protecting your Battery at Home
Batteries in EVs naturally degrade over time and can lose up to 2% of their capacity each year depending on factors such as driving style, temperature and charging habits. The lithium-ion cells in the battery packs of most modern electric cars should not be kept at a full state of charge or a very low state of charge for long periods of time.
It is regularly said that EV batteries should not be allowed to exceed 80% charge and many public chargers will stop when the battery reaches this level. However, the 80% applies more specifically to Tesla batteries which have slightly different technology to others and tend to be rapid charged more often. We will discuss specific Tesla advice in next week’s blog.
That said, all EV manufacturers will reserve battery space at the bottom and the top. They will automatically give you between 10% and 90% to use, the rest is there to protect the battery from under- and over-charging.
For many EV users, this can be confusing and so the manufacturers recalibrate the gauge to show usable range as 0–100% for your convenience. So, when you fill up your EV to “100%”, it will more likely be 80-90% of the actual battery.
Moreover, many car manufacturers will have built in timers for charging. For example, the BMW i3 allows the user to select a time that they will be using the EV each morning. The vehicle will then calculate the charge time required such that it fully finishes charging just before you are ready to leave.
The official line from BMW is “Always Be Charging”. However, this is on the assumption that the vehicle will calculate when charging is required, and it is better to be plugged in to allow it to make the decision for you.
Protecting your Battery in Public
It may seem like rapid EV charging is the obvious solution for your vehicle. No need to install an EV charger at home and the ability to achieve a full charge in around 30 minutes while out and about. However, over-reliance on rapid charging is the most common cause of battery degradation in EVs.
Fast DC charging is an extraordinary solution to the problem of charging time but almost no car on the market today is built to take that kind of input. That said, some future models like the 2022 Hummer EV will be able to handle it.
Most cars can easily handle up to 50kW, which is still much more than the average home charging setup. To either meet or exceed this regularly will put stress on the inner workings of the battery. Therefore, slower home charging allows you to retain range while the battery maintains its power and output capability over time.
While regular home charging can create battery loss of 2% per year, regular rapid charging can result in 3-4% loss per year. This may seem negligible, but it can be the difference between your battery lasting the whole time you own your EV or having to change batteries sooner than expected. Moreover, battery life can also have an impact on the residual value of the EV if you sell it on.
Benefits to Daily EV Charging
The obvious benefit to charging your EV every day is to make sure that you always have enough charge in the vehicle.
Additionally, using your home charging as much as possible, avoids reliance on public charging. This means fewer lengthy pit-stops on longer journeys and less money spent on public rapid chargers.
Moreover, as we have said already, reliance on rapid charging is more likely to deteriorate your battery than excessive home-charging.
In short, charging your EV everyday is not likely to cause damage to your EV, even in the long term. Provided you do not try to overcharge, and you take advantage of the intelligent technology in the vehicle, optimal charging to avoid damage is likely to be achieved each time.
If charging your vehicle every night gives you peace of mind, then please do what is right for you.
Just remember though, if you miss one night of charging, it is not the end of the world. Your car will likely have more than enough charge for you to go about your day as normal until you can plug in again.
If you are an EV owner or prospective owner and would like to know more about life with an electric vehicle, please get in touch. A member of our technical team would be happy to answer any questions that you have.