Skip to main content

Cold Weather Driving With A Tesla: Essential Tips For Charging

Winter is coming, with warm clothes, movie nights and a blanket at home, Christmas lights and decoration and inevitably, the cold on the road and lots of snow in some areas. Having an electric car is not a problem at all to having a good driving experience during these months though, even in the coldest northern countries; on the contrary: an electric vehicle works down to around -40ºF, even in colder conditions than a diesel, which usually has a limit of around -13ºF.


However, it is worth following a series of tips at this time of year in order to optimize the charging process of an e-battery. First, a brief explanation: this is how the battery of an electric car is protected from the cold: it basically increases the internal resistance of the battery cells, which in turn slows down the electrochemical process that takes place during the charging time. In addition, the wear of the cells is greater with the cold.

For this reason manufacturers reduce charging speeds in sub-zero temperatures to protect the battery. Another measure they take to mitigate the effect of the cold is to use a battery management system that keeps it in an ideal temperature range, even at night when the car is not in use. To this we must add that, at low temperatures, energy consumption increases due to heating and therefore, the actual range of the vehicle decreases.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

For the driver, all of this translates into less overall range, more energy loss when idling or parking, and a slower charging process, at least until the battery has reached the right temperature. For this reason, Juice Technology, one of the leading multinationals in the design and marketing of charging solutions for electric cars, points out 7 tips that the e-driver must take care of in order to optimize the charge of the vehicle's battery during the winter:

1- Charge the vehicle when you get home, that is, when the battery is still warm: the charging process is slower the colder the battery is, or, in other words, a hot battery absorbs electricity faster than a cold one. Therefore, if you charge as soon as you get home, when the battery has not yet cooled down, it will take less time to charge at full power.

Tesla Model X, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

2- If you have the option, charge the car overnight: keep in mind that if the night has been very cold (especially if the car is parked outside), you will need more energy until the battery reaches the right temperature. That is why it is a good option to program the charge with your vehicle comfortably with AC during the night if you have a charging device at home or in your building garage. This way the battery will maintain a good temperature and you will reduce the range loss.

3- Before leaving, take advantage of the energy from your charging station: preheat the vehicle while it is connected to the charging station, since this way it will draw energy directly from the network through the charging station, and not directly from the battery.

4- Plan the departure time and along with it, the charging: this way the car will be fully charged just when you start driving, preventing the battery from cooling down and needing additional energy until it reaches the right temperature.

5- Plan your route, including the necessary stopovers for charging: before a car stops due to battery depletion, the system will have already given several warnings, and the maximum speed will also have been restricted. But, in order to avoid any surprises, it is good to plan the route in advance, especially on long trips.

6- Use seat heating while driving; this way you will invest less energy than using the central heating system, especially if you travel alone.

7- If your vehicle offers the feature, precondition the battery before charging through the Supercharger. At the moment only Tesla, Porsche (the Taycan model) and Daimler (the EQ series) allow preheating the batteries before DC charging, so that this charge is as fast as possible.

By following these simple tips, e-drivers can optimize their charging time during the winter and have the best experience with their Tesla models (and in fact, with any other electric car).

Source: Juice Technology

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.