Hello and welcome to your daily Charge Smart blog! Today, we will be taking a look at some factors that could affect the life of your EV's battery.
Let's talk about Lithium-ion batteries. I’m pretty sure that every household in the country has at least one device that operates on a battery. These could range from things like your phone and laptop to a stick vacuum or an electric shaver. The process goes like this, you buy a battery powered device, use it for a bit and over time, the battery life reduces. You then get to a point where this becomes a big issue and so you swap it out for a newer device. Sound familiar? Yup, we’ve all felt that pain where your phone had superb battery life initially and then one year later, you can barely get it to last a day. Now, you may be wondering if you’re heavy usage of the phone is to blame for your reduced battery life. Indirectly that may be true, but a new study has found that fast charging and heat are the biggest causes of reduced life. Keeping in mind that heat is usually a result of fast charging.
Above: Have you ever thought about how your charging habits affect your phone's battery?
What does this mean for electric cars then? Remember that electric cars also have lithium-ion batteries just like any other battery powered device, only difference is the number of them. However, there’s other factors that may worry you if you’re an electric car owner. Traditional ICE cars tend to return poorer mileage as the car gets older and the odometer starts to climb. Logic tells you that this should be true for all cars, no matter how they are powered because all cars have moving mechanical parts which experience wear and tear as time goes on. Though we bet that you’ve never stopped to think about this. You just charge up your car everyday and get on with it! And even if you were concerned about your battery life degrading, you wouldn’t exactly know what the source of the problem was. However, there is a new tool for you.
A company called GeoTab created a tool to provide you with results on how various parameters affect the range of your EV. The company analysed the battery health of over 6,000 EVs from a whole range of manufacturers and model years as well. These cars were then assessed against 5 factors. These were- age of battery, performance in high temperatures, operating at high charge levels and low charge levels, operating with a high level of current and how many charge and discharge cycles the battery has been through. The company said that power degradation in EVs is rare but the battery’s ability to store charge decreasing over time is something that is easily noticeable. After rigorous research, they concluded that the two biggest factors which affected the life of EV batteries were the frequent use of high-power DC charging and the temperature of the battery. They also said that the mileage of the battery and the age did not impact the battery’s ability to hold charge in the way that the first two factors did. They also concluded that the average electric car battery will retain 90% of its charge after 6 years and if these rates are maintained, the batteries should easily outlast the car itself.
Above: The Leaf's lack of a battery cooling system means faster degradation
However, there was another bit of interesting information that they discovered through their research. The charge retention will heavily from model to model. The Nissan Leaf for example does not have a battery cooling system which means that the battery will degrade twice as fast as the battery in a Tesla. A good heat management system makes a world of a difference when it comes to preventing rapid battery degradation. They also said that batteries which generally operate in warmer climates will also degrade faster than those in colder climates. Then there’s the factor of DC fast charging which has an even bigger effect on battery degradation. The research found that using a DC fast charger more than 3 times a month for 6 years causes the charge retention to decrease by about 25% compared to a loss of only 10% if DC fast charging was not used at all.
Here are some handy tips t maximise your battery life:
· Avoid keeping your car at full charge and then running it right down to empty every time. The ideal range for use is around 20-80%
· You should try and minimize DC fast charging as much as possible Level 2 should be sufficient for most of your needs.
· Try and avoid parking your EV in places where it’s directly exposed to the sun so shaded carports and garages are preferable.