What is the ideal charging level? What happens when the weather is very hot or very cold? Here are some tips to make charging easier, faster and more efficient, while extending the life of the battery.
Charging an electric car is extremely simple: just plug the connector into the socket and… that’s it! With a few tricks, then, you can extend battery life and reduce charging times. Let's see which ones.
Electric vehicle batteries provide increasingly long range, but the way the car is used and expecially how it is charged can have a significant impact on its lifetime. "ŠKODA and other Volkswagen Group brands guarantee a minimum battery capacity of 70% for at least eight years or 160,000 kilometers," explains David Pekárek, ŠKODA battery expert. "But we know that batteries actually reach those levels of use in much better conditions when using the car in a certain way".
80% is better than 100%
For example, it is not good to leave the car unused for long periods with a fully charged or, conversely, fully discharged battery. A good rule to follow? Keep the battery between 10 percent and 80 percent of its capacity. "It is best to charge the car to 100% only before a long journey, and in this case the ideal would be to set the departure time in the infotainment system and set off as soon as possible after reaching 100%", Pekárek resumes. The function that allows you to stop charging the battery when the level reaches 80% of capacity and the one that allows you to schedule charging, help keep the battery in the ideal range.
How is it best to deal with longer journeys? In these cases, it is better to schedule multiple stops and take advantage of fast charging while keeping in the target range, rather than fully charging the battery. The reason for this is also technical, related to the charging curve: once 80% of the battery capacity is reached, the charging process slows down significantly - an aspect that can be perceived particularly when using fast charging stations.
Direct or alternating current
Further advice comes from Michal Hora, a specialist in ŠKODA high-voltage charging systems, who recommends using direct current charging in case of long-distance travel or only when absolutely necessary. In fact, AC charging puts less strain on the battery and is therefore the preferred option for everyday use, especially if you have the opportunity to take advantage of a home or business charging station.
Batteries and cold temperatures: how is it best to proceed? If you find yourself having to recharge when it is very cold and you have to go on a long trip, then it is best to recharge the battery to 100% by setting not only the departure time but also the interior preheating. In this way, the interior will be preheated using electricity from the grid and not from the vehicle. For the same reason, when traveling long distances, during the journey it is recommended to take advantage of fast charging - the battery will already be at an optimal temperature and therefore the process will be more time-efficient.
Warming and cooling
Preheating the interior, or cooling it in summer and when the car is still connected to the charging station, wallbox or more generally to the socket, extends the range: less energy is needed to maintain the set temperature than to reach it. And it is also certainly more comfortable for passengers, who will find ideal conditions as soon as they get on board. "In extreme temperatures, you always have to take into account that charging might be slightly slower than in normal situations. The first step involves adjusting the temperature: in winter the battery needs to be heated, in summer it needs to be cooled", continues Michal Hora. At room temperature, operation is ideal, and ŠKODA electric cars manage battery cooling or heating in complete autonomy.
Always safe charging
To charge an electric car as efficiently as possible at home, experts recommend getting a wallbox that uses alternating current with power of up to 11 kW. "It is the simplest and most practical solution and in the future it will also be possible to connectit to the house's energy management system and link it to the generation of electricity using solar panels", explains Hora, who then points out that charging is safe in any weather conditions, even during a storm, as long as basic safety instructions are followed.
"The charging system is separate from the car body and it is grounded while charging; the connector is waterproof, so it can be used outdoors even in the rain", Hora continues. The charging process can be easily monitored via a mobile app.
The present and the future
If the occupants decide to stay in the car during charging, they can use all the conveniences: from the infotainment system to listen to music or radio, to charging phones or tablets - the energy demand for these operations is minimal and does not impact the process.
"In my personal experience, driving an electric car is very comfortable and more cost-effective than driving a car with an internal combustion engine, and maintenance is also less complicated. I have been getting behind the wheel of my electric ŠKODA every day for two years now and I wouldn't go back to a car with an internal combustion engine," Hora says.
Although the practical experience is already good, the goal is to continue to constantly improve: next-generation electric cars should allow faster charging options, be more affordable, and have a longer battery life.
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