Owning a Tesla in Texas is great. With Tesla Headquarters and Elon himself moving to Texas, we can expect a big push for investment in Tesla charging infrastructure and other EV initiatives coming right around the corner. However, one challenge that many Texans are running into is how to maintain effective charging practices during extreme weather fluctuations. Whether it’s the sweltering summers or the frigid cold desert winters, Texas is known to experience some serious temperature swings.
The big challenge here is that the lithium-ion batteries that power your Tesla tend to perform great in normal weather conditions, but do encounter some challenges when it comes to charging in extreme heat or near freezing temperatures. To combat these challenges, we’ve gathered multiple sources of research around considerations when charging lithium-ion batteries in these extreme weather conditions. We will also look to provide some tips and tricks that support best charging practices in these weather conditions.
Charging in Winter Conditions
Now that we’re in the midst of the holiday season and enjoying that cold weather, you may be noticing that your Tesla is taking a bit longer to charge, and exhibiting a shorter range after charging for the same amount of time, so what’s going on? Well, when you are attempting to charge your Tesla in extreme cold (somewhere near freezing temperatures), the on-board charging and monitoring systems will prohibit your Tesla battery from accepting a charge to prevent serious damage. Lithium-Ion batteries are built with an internal ionizing liquid that conducts electricity and supports the charging process. If this liquid happens to freeze or reach near freezing temperatures, the applied electrical current can severely damage or permanently kill the li-ion battery. So what are some ways to improve your charging strategy in extreme cold weather?
Tips for Charging in Extreme Cold
- When you charge in extreme cold, your Tesla is going to use some of the energy drawn from your charger to warm the battery prior to charging. This means that charging times will be extended, or the same allotted charging time will result in a lower state of charge. Factor this in by scheduling earlier charging times.
- If you are charging your Tesla overnight in extreme cold, leave your Tesla plugged in. Your Tesla will monitor battery temperature and ensure the battery doesn’t reach near freezing temperatures.
If you’d like to read up on some additional charging considerations for charging in the winter, check out our article: Tesla Extreme Weather Considerations - How To Optimize Your Tesla Driving For Winter Months
Charging in Summer Conditions
On the other hand, we all know that Texas also has some extremely hot summers. It may seem like a distant memory at this point, but only 6 months ago we were experiencing some record hot summers in Texas. So, as we dive into the new year, which will soon become the summer of 2021, let's dig into some best practices for charging your Tesla in those hot Texas summers.
First and foremost, the most important consideration is to understand that your Tesla is going to automatically run your AC while charging if it reaches temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This precautionary feature is intended to help keep your Tesla battery cool while charging in extremely hot conditions.
The challenge here, is that it will take longer to charge your Tesla while the AC runs to help cool your Tesla cabin and battery, since your AC is consuming energy to cool down your Tesla. In some cases, Tesla users actually report experiencing challenges charging their Tesla to a target capacity when charging in extreme heat. Worse yet, by attempting to charge your Tesla to a target capacity while running your AC you may end up just cycling the battery imposing unnecessary strain on your Tesla battery.
Tips For Charging In Extreme Heat
- Simple considerations, such as parking your Tesla in a parking garage or under a tree, can dramatically reduce the temperature of your Tesla’s cabin and battery and help improve charging efficiency.
- Utilize preconditioning, a feature that can cool your car before you enter it and get it ready for you to drive. If you would like to check out an easy way to set up preconditioning, there is an application that can help you. Optiwatt is a free app that allows you to schedule your charging for the cheapest price, as well as being able to help you precondition your car for any trip you may take.
- Consider dropping the target charge capacity to a lower, more achievable state of charge such as 60%, rather than 90% if your driving needs allow for it.
Hopefully by this point you’re ready for charging in any condition. Heading for a ski vacation in New Mexico? Well, now you’re ready to charge in that freezing cold weather. Check out our other articles on Tesla charging strategies if you’d like to learn more. For our comprehensive guide to charging your Tesla check out The Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing your Tesla’s Battery Efficiency and Battery Life.