Batteries and Cold Weather08 January 2021
Temperature management of an electric battery is not something new, but as the number of electric vehicles on the road increases the difference in range achieved from a battery in the cold weather compared to warm/hot weather is becoming more mainstream.
Batteries in mobile phones, cameras and even electric power-tools produce the same amount of power in cold weather but have a shorter run-time. Extreme sports, landscape and wildlife photographers have stored, placed and positioned their camera batteries in unquestionable areas on the body when the temps drop low to keep them within their working operating-temperature!
Normal car starting batteries also fall foul to cold weather, as they approach the end of their life. All batteries lose a little bit of charge when standing, but with older batteries the electrolyte solution can’t effectively transfer the power needed to start the car when it's cold: hence a flat battery. This is stressed further by the shorter daylight hours and colder/damper conditions when the vehicle is running, not all the charge is going to battery but also towards running the electrical systems, such as wipers, lights and heaters.
But how does cold weather affect electric-vehicle batteries?
The manufacturers have gone to great length in testing vehicles over the years in sub-zero arctic conditions, learning the limits the motors, batteries and how to get the best possible range out of the batteries in all conditions, yet despite this cold and extreme cold weather does reduce the range.
Tesla has released the below Cold Weather Driving Tips, to mitigate some of the range loss and help keep the batteries performing at optimum levels.
“Precondition Before You Drive
Warming your battery before each trip can conserve energy. Preheat your car by activating preconditioning or defrost in the Tesla app.
Precondition: Open the Tesla app and tap 'Climate' > 'Turn On.'
Defrost: Open the Tesla app and select 'Climate' > defrost icon.
To precondition your car around your schedule, simply plug in your vehicle and set your next departure time using the 'Scheduled Departure' feature on your touchscreen. Tap 'Charging' > 'Scheduled Departure' > 'Schedule' > 'Depart At.'
Once your specified time is set, your car prepares itself by determining the best time to start charging to optimize energy costs, battery longevity and ensure charging completes in time for your drive.
Watch for the Snowflake Icon
A blue snowflake icon may appear on your touchscreen if your car battery is too cold to access all of its stored energy. When this icon is displayed you may also notice that battery power and regenerative braking are limited.
Once the battery is warmed, the snowflake will disappear. Charging, driving and preconditioning are all ways to warm your battery quicker.
Conserve Energy on the Road
In the wintertime, reduce energy loss by driving conservatively and limiting energy use in the cabin. This helps with range and efficiency all year-round, but even more so during colder months.
Drive at moderate speeds.
Limit frequent and rapid acceleration.
If possible, lower the cabin temperature setting and use seat heaters for added warmth.
Limit Checking the Tesla App
When you check your car via the Tesla app, your car uses energy to wake itself up from sleep mode. During the winter, it's best to only check the app when necessary so that extra energy can be used on the road.
Route to a Supercharger
Prepare your car for charging by navigating to a Supercharger destination, even if you know your route. When you enter a Supercharger into your navigation, your car will automatically begin to preheat your battery to maximize Supercharging performance.
Above 80-85% charge, your vehicle will also reduce charging speed. For long-distance trips, we recommend starting your fast charging sessions at lower states-of-charge, when the battery is warm.
Stay Plugged In
We recommend leaving your Tesla plugged in as much as possible when it's not in use. This uses the charging system, rather than your battery, to retain heat
Snow and Ice Tips
When you're expecting icy conditions, these tips can help you store and drive your Tesla safely.
Reposition Wipers and Mirrors
If you're expecting snow or ice build-up, place your wipers in service position and deactivate mirror auto-fold to help prevent icing.
Wipers in service position: In all models, tap 'Controls' > 'Service' > 'Wiper Service Mode' > 'On.'
Deactivate mirror auto-fold: In Model S and Model X, tap 'Controls' > 'Vehicle' > 'Mirror Auto-Fold.' In Model 3 and Model Y, tap 'Controls' > 'Quick Controls' > 'Mirrors' > 'Mirror Auto Fold.'
Defrost Snow and Ice
In freezing conditions, use the defrost feature in your Tesla app to melt snow and ice away from important surfaces.
Clear Important Surfaces
Before starting your drive, double-check that important surfaces aren't frozen or covered up.
Frozen door handles: If your door handles are frozen, bump the handle with the end of your fist until the ice is broken.
Frozen mirrors and windows: If your mirrors are frozen, manually open and close your mirrors to restore automatic mirror fold. If your windows are frozen, melt ice with the defrost feature in your Tesla app.
Frozen Autopilot sensors and cameras: For optimal performance, clear autopilot sensors and cameras of snow, ice, mud and dirt. You can also prevent ice build-up by applying a topical solution like Rust-Oleum Never Wet Top Coat to the front fascia of your car. For more information, see 'About Driver Assistance' section of the owner's manual.
Frozen charge port: If your charge port is frozen, activate either preconditioning (on HI) or the defrost feature in your Tesla app. A frozen charge port will allow AC charging at lower rates with a blinking amber indicator.”
Do you have any tips and tricks for extending the range on your electric vehicle? What do you do differently or not do when the weather turns colder? Comment on our social media and we will be sure to share the best ones!