Is DC Fast Charging Bad for Your EV Battery? | EN Plus

Will DC Fast Charging Reduce Your EV’s Battery Life?

Last Updated: 20/06/2024

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Will DC Fast Charging Reduce Your EV’s Battery Life?

Electric vehicles (EVs) have surged in popularity, bringing with them advancements in charging technology. DC fast charging, in particular, has garnered a lot of attention due to its ability to rapidly power EVs. However, this convenience also raises concerns regarding its potential effects on battery health, sparking ongoing debates among both users and industry experts.

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What is DC Fast Charging?

First off, let’s break down what DC fast charging is.

Fast charging, also referred to as Level 3 charging, is a type of electric vehicle (EV) charging that allows for rapid charging of an EV battery. This is made possible through the use of direct current (DC) rather than alternating current (AC) used in Level 1 and Level 2 charging. DC fast charging stations usually provide high-power charging rates, which can vary depending on the station and the EV model.

Unlike Level 2 AC charging, which takes several hours to fully charge an EV battery, DC fast charging can charge an EV battery up to 80% in as little as 30 minutes. This makes it a convenient option for long-distance travel or when a quick charge is needed.

AC EV charging vs DC fast charging

Is DC Fast Charging Bad for Your EV’s Battery?

Building on our understanding of DC fast charging, let’s examine a relevant case study.

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) conducted a study on two pairs of Nissan Leafs that were driven and charged twice a day. One pair was charged using Level 2 AC chargers at 240 volts, similar to those found in private homes, while the other pair was charged with direct current at a Level 3 station. Both pairs traveled the same distance along the same route for a year and were tested under the same conditions. The climate control systems were set to the same temperature, and all four cars were driven by the same team of drivers. The battery capacity of the cars was tested at 10,000-mile intervals.

After driving all four test cars for 50,000 miles, the pair that was solely charged using fast chargers lost 27 percent of their original capacity, while the pair that used AC charging lost 23 percent of their initial battery capacity. These numbers represent a difference of only 3 miles in range without recharging, given that the Nissan Leaf had an average range of 73 miles.

However, it is important to remember that battery technology continues to improve. It’s hard to say whether the results of all this testing hold true against the wonderful innovation coming out of the electric car companies.

So, Should You Use DC Fast Charger for Your Electric Car?

For the majority of EV owners, fast charging their EV battery on a regular basis is not harmful. As long as your EV has active battery cooling, which is now commonly included in many EV models, it will not negatively impact the long-term health of your car’s battery.

On the other hand, public chargers are operated by third-party companies that aim to make a profit, which often results in higher charging costs. Therefor, it’s advisable to reserve fast charging for long-distance travel or emergencies, while for everyday charging needs, we can charge our electric cars at home using residential charging stations.

EN Plus DC fast charging for electric vehicles

How to Maintain EV Battery Health

Maintaining optimal battery health is a crucial concern for both electric vehicle (EV) owners and automakers alike. For owners, a healthy battery ensures maximum performance and longevity of their vehicle, while for manufacturers, it’s essential for guaranteeing customer satisfaction and leading the charge towards sustainable transportation solutions. Let’s explore what EV owners and automakers can do to preserve battery health of electric vehicles.

1. Charge at moderate rates

For electric vehicle owners, charging your EV’s battery to its maximum capacity on a regular basis can accelerate battery aging. To extend battery life, aim to keep the state of charge (SoC) between 20% and 80%. Some EVs have “optimized charging” options that automatically regulate charging levels to improve battery longevity.

2. Avoid extreme temperatures

High temperatures can cause battery deterioration, so it’s important to keep your EV out of hot environments. Park in garages or shady areas whenever possible, and pre-condition the battery before charging in cold climates to improve charging efficiency.

3. Maintain regular charging

If you’re not using your EV for an extended period of time, it’s recommended to keep it plugged in and maintain a modest SoC. This helps ensure the battery stays within an ideal working range and balances cell voltages for long-term battery health.

4. Automakers’ Responsibility: Enhance Thermal Management Systems

Advancements in thermal management systems are critical in mitigating the effects of fast charging on battery health. Automakers utilize various systems to regulate battery temperature and prevent heat buildup, which can be detrimental over time. For example, some vehicles, like many of Tesla’s models, employ liquid coolant systems to maintain optimal battery temperatures during rapid charging sessions. In contrast, older models like the Nissan Leaf use passive air cooling, which is less effective and being phased out in newer designs such as the Nissan Ariya’s liquid-cooled system. Tesla’s approach has proven effective, with their batteries retaining over 90% of their capacity even after 200,000 miles, showcasing the importance of sophisticated thermal management in extending battery lifespan.

charging electric cars without damaging the battery

Conclusion

In conclusion, maintaining EV battery health is a shared responsibility that requires both automakers and vehicle owners to adopt specific practices. Owners should manage their charging routines and avoid extreme temperatures, while automakers must continue to innovate and improve thermal management systems. Together, these actions enhance the performance and lifespan of electric vehicles, supporting the transition to sustainable transportation.

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