For those who have never owned an electric car, one of the hardest things to fully understand is what life is like when you charge your car. People are familiar with what has been the standard for many years. If you were to go on a long drive or a road trip, you can just drive. When your gas light comes on, you know it is time to stop at the next gas station for a few minutes to fill up. Electric cars are a fairly different experience.
If you have ever considered buying an electric car, you may have wondered what you can do while your car is charging at a charging station. Do you need to wander around nearby stores? Can you sit inside your car while you wait? It is actually fine for you to sit inside of your car while it is charging. There are some medical conditions, like having a pacemaker, that may make you an exception to this rule though. If you do use your car while charging, it will take much longer to complete the charge.
When electric cars first came out, there were very limited charging locations. As such, when you stopped to charge your car, you were usually charging it to 100% so that you can for sure make it to the next charging station. As a result, you would be stopped for 1-2 hours each stop. As the electric car charging infrastructure grows, there are significantly more charging locations available. Now, most people only partially charge their electric cars. Your charging speed slows down the higher the charge level gets. You can charge most cars from 20%-50% in 20-30 minutes. This article will teach you the do’s and the don’ts while charging your car.
Why It Is Safe To Sit In The Car While Charging
The risk of sitting in an electric car is just as low as sitting in a normal car while filling up with gas. Electric cars are designed to be safe for the users. As such, the car is designed to safely pass the high voltage levels and high amounts of current to the battery. You do not have to worry about being electrocuted, as the cars are incredibly safe.
Sitting inside the car is also a way to utilize the air conditioning on an especially hot day or the heating during a very cold day. This can help keep you feeling comfortable while you are waiting around. This has some negative effects of its own that we will talk about later.
Instances When It Is Not Safe To Sit In The Car While Charging (i.e., If You Have A Pacemaker)
If you take a close look at your user manual for your electric car, you will find a big warning for certain individuals. This is particularly for those who have medical electric devices such as pacemakers. There are serious safety concerns involved with being in the car while it is charging if you have one of these devices installed.
The main reason for this is that electric car charging is very high voltage and very high current. As such, it can produce some level of EMF or electromagnetic fields. This is basically electricity that can leave the charging circuit and affect other nearby circuits. One of the critical components is it can affect is your pacemaker. The EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) can affect the operation of your pacemaker which could result in the need for an emergency medical procedure or even death. While studies show that EMF levels high enough to affect a pacemaker would be extremely rare, they are not entirely impossible.
Almost any electric car manufacturer offers the same recommendations for people with pacemakers. That you do not stay inside the vehicle while it is charging. They also advise these individuals not to go into the car, even for a short time while the car is charging (for example to grab something or to put something inside). They also generally advise that you do not open the rear hatch to grab anything while the car is charging. While more research is being done on these things, these guidelines could change with time. Currently, the methodology is just to be safe.
Can The Car Be Running While Charging?
If you are charging somewhere that is very hot or somewhere that is very cold, you may wonder if you can charge your car while it is on so that you can utilize either the heat or the ac. You might also want to listen to the radio while you wait. Can you actually turn the car on while it is charging?
You can have the car on while it is charging, much like how you can still use your phone while it is charging. If you want to listen to the radio, or even watch a show on your phone but have the audio come through the car speakers, you can do that. You also can turn on the AC or heating while you sit. This is a big contrast to filling up a gas car. To reduce the risk of a fire or explosion, it is always recommended that the car engine be turned off. In an electric car, that does not really matter.
There are some things to keep in mind if you do plan to leave your car on while it is charging. If we go back to our phone comparison, you can use your phone while it is charging but it will take much longer to charge. That is because you are using that charge at the same time that you are charging. As long as you are using less power than you are bringing in, you will continue to charge.
Electric cars are the same way. Using any accessories or anything else will decrease the speed at which your car charges. The more things that you use, the more drastic the effect. If you are planning on blasting the air conditioning and also listening to music and using cooled seats, you may find that your car does not progress much. So, if you do want to use any accessories while charging, remember that it will have an effect on your charge time.
It is also important to remember that there is a difference between the car being on and the car being able to be driven while charging. While you can turn on your car to utilize the different features, generally your car will not let you move it while it is charging. Before the car moves, it will check to see if a charger is connected and notify you that you are still plugged in. This is to prevent you from trying to drive away while you are still connected to the charger and damaging either your car or the charger.
Things To Not Do While The Car Is Charging
So, what exactly should you not do while charging your car? First off, as we previously mentioned, if you have a pacemaker, you should not be doing anything while the car is charging. While the chance of something going wrong is very low, but it is not worth risking your life. Go somewhere else while your car is charging and make sure that you remove anything that you might need before you start charging your car.
Second, if you are wanting your car to charge quickly, do not turn the car on. While it is convenient to sit in your own car while it is charging, like using air conditioning and heating, it will use a decent amount of power. If you want a quick charge, this added luxury will only frustrate you. If there is a store, restaurant, or something else nearby, you will save yourself a lot of time by just letting the car charge without you using up the power as it comes in.
The very last thing that you will want to make sure that you do not do, is to let your car sit for an extended period of time after it has been done charging. While this will not damage the car or the battery, it is very frustrating for other electric car owners. Many places still have limited charging station availability. As such, you can end up with big lines for the charging stations. Sitting there unnecessary makes everyone else wait longer than they have to. Most charging stations will also charge you for every minute that you sit there once your car has finished charging.