Should You Charge An Electric Car To 100%? You May Be Surprised


It is important to remember that electric cars are entirely different from standard internal combustion engines. As such, you almost have to learn an entirely new set of rules and best practices. Getting used to life with an electric car can be a pretty big adjustment. Not that either one is good or bad, but they are both extremely different.

If you have an electric car, you may wonder if you should be charging your car 100% every time or not. Most of the time you should not charge your car to 100% unless you have a specific need for a full charge. Charging to about 80% will help lengthen the life of your battery. Make sure to start charging the car before the charge drops under 20% as this will prevent the battery from feeling strained.

You also must be aware that charging takes longer than filling up a car with gas at the gas station. This also requires a little more preparation and planning. Once you get used to these differences, it really is not bad at all. Even though you may not think so, charging your car to the correct amount, takes some learning. This article will teach you the ins and outs of charging your car to the perfect amount.

Why You Should Not Charge to 100%

Why should you not charge your car to 100%? First off, we need to talk about batteries. Electric cars use Lithium-Ion batteries, just like many other devices. These batteries have an excess amount of stress put on them when they sit at either a full charge or an empty charge. Where they like to be is somewhere in the middle. As such, the general best practice is to charge your car to about 80% of a full charge and to start charging before your car gets below 20% of a full charge.

Doing this will help maximize the life of your battery. The lithium-ion battery on an electric car can be one of the most expensive components of the entire car. Generally, these will last about 10 years if properly taken care of. By frequently letting the car battery get down to 0% and also frequently storing the battery for long periods of time at 100%, you put excess strain on the battery.

It’s important to note that charging your car to 100% sometimes is not going to have any significant affect on your battery’s life. Being in this state for short periods of time is not necessarily bad for the car. What is bad for the battery is leaving the battery at either 0% or 100% for extended periods of time. Also, charging your car to 100% every single night maintains your battery in a fairly high-stress state and will also wear it out over time. If you want to maximize how long your battery lasts, always try to maintain the battery level between 20% and 80% whenever possible.

Ways To Prevent An Electric Car From Charging To 100%

So, how can you prevent your car from charging itself all the way to 100%? Many people prefer to plug in their car in their garage overnight. This allows for you to wake up to a full charge. You do not have to wait around while your car is charging. It only charges when you are just sleeping. If this is what you are trying to do, you may wonder how you could get your car to stop once it reaches 80% or so.

Some electric cars give you the option to select a maximum charge level. That will prevent the car from ever charging past that point. You could select virtually any charge level. That way, if you plug in the car at night and set the maximum charge to 80%, the car will quit charging once it has reached 80% and you do not have to worry about it charging all the way.

For those cars that do not allow you to control the actual charge limit, you may need to come up with a more creative solution. You could make a timer that cuts off power to your car after a certain period of time. You could do this with a relay and some basic programming knowledge. There are also various off-the-shelf items that you can use to perform this same function.

How Much Battery Life You’ll Need On An Average Day (Typical Commute In Cities)

How much battery life is needed for a normal commute day? Would 35% be enough? What about 25%? This entirely depends on your driving routine and your plans for the day. On average, people drive about 37 miles each day. That covers a pretty standard city commute to and from work. For most electric cars, that is only a small fraction of a full charge. If your car had a 300-mile range, that would be just a little over 10% charge. For the average commuter, you are fine to only charge your car every couple of days.

Trying to maintain your battery in that perfect sweet spot of 20%-80% will greatly increase the life of your battery. If you are only driving about the average 30-40 miles a day, you can still easily drive a few days before you drop down to 20%. A standard city commute is where electric cars really excel. If a day ever comes when you know that you are going to need to drive quite a bit more, you can always be sure to charge your car the night before so that it is not an issue for you.

For those who drive quite a bit more on a daily basis, this may not work out as well. Depending on how much you drive every day, you may need to charge your car every single night. If you can manage only charging the car to about 80%, then that will be best for your car. If your daily travels take you even further than that, then you may have no other choice but to charge your car 100% each day.

Pros To Charging To 100%

What are the pros to charging your car to 100%? First off, is that there are times when you need your car to be fully charged. Perhaps your car on a full charge gets about 300 miles. You may be looking at your day tomorrow and realize that your car will drive around 280 miles. In which case, it is best to be safe and have it fully charged. Leaving your car at about 80% might not be enough and you might end up having to stop and wait at a charging station.

Another reason that you might want to charge your car to 100% is if you have a long trip planned for the next day. Let us say for example that you are planning to drive about 750 miles the next day. You know that you will not be able to make the entire drive in a single charge no matter what. By charging your car to 100%, you can make it as far as possible before having to stop to charge. Generally, the longer someone can make it without having to stop, the happier they are about their trip. Charging to 100% is a good way to maximize your time spent on the road and cut back on how much time you spend charging your car.

The other big perk to fully charging your car to 100% is that you are then ready for anything. If an emergency were to pop up and you needed to drive much further than you expected, you could do so. If you spontaneously had an idea to go somewhere or to do something, you would then have the maximum charge available to you. By having a fully charged car, you are ready for the unexpected. With a normal car, if you make some last-minute plans, you can easily just fill up with gas and it does not take more than a few minutes. Unfortunately, driving an electric car requires a little more planning a preparation.

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