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Charging Electric Cars in the Rain

February 26, 2024

Charging Your EV in the Rain – Staying Powered Up Through Wet Weather

If you drive an electric vehicle, you’ve probably wondered at some point whether rain, snow or other wet conditions could impact charging your EV. With memories of safety lessons about not mixing electricity and water, it’s natural to have some concerns. But luckily, you can put those worries aside – today’s EVs and charging equipment are designed to be completely waterproof and safe in even the worst weather.

While you should still take reasonable precautions for storms and floods, the truth is that a little rain or snow isn’t going to stop your EV in its tracks.

Read on to learn why you can confidently charge in the rain, plus tips for keeping your EV powered up in wet weather.

The Waterproof Technology Behind EV Charging

The first electric cars date back to the 19th century, but modern EVs have really taken off in the last decade. With millions now on the roads globally, automakers have engineered them to perform seamlessly in all conditions. Rain, sleet or snow won’t slow down an EV.

That’s thanks to rigorous waterproofing built into every aspect of an EV’s design. Automakers follow stringent regulations for safety and performance set by organizations like the Society of Automotive Engineers and the International Electrotechnical Commission. EVs undergo extensive testing to earn certifications like the Ingress Protection (IP) rating. This confirms how well the vehicle withstands intrusion from dust, rain or other particles.

Charging Electric Car in Rain

IP ratings have two numbers – the first indicates resistance to solids like dirt or dust on a 1-6 scale. The second is for resistance to liquids, rated 1-9. Most EVs score IP67 or IP66, meaning they’re virtually impervious to dust and protected from immersion in water.

The same waterproofing applies to EV charging ports, cables and public charging stations. Their enclosures are specially sealed to lock out moisture, with connectors that securely attach for safe charging. If any water did get in, sensors immediately interrupt the flow of electricity as a backup precaution.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Charging Guidelines

Your EV’s manual will outline recommendations for charging safely in all conditions. Following these guidelines is important whether you’re charging at home or using a public station. Key steps include:

  • Only use charging cables provided by your EV’s manufacturer. Aftermarket or mixed parts risk compatibility issues.
  • When charging outdoors, make sure cords aren’t left coiled on the ground where they can sit in water. Hang or mount them above ground level when not in use.
  • Don’t try to charge if the equipment is already wet or submerged in water. Dry it completely first for safety.
  • Check that outlet covers and charging port doors close securely to keep the elements out. Clean debris like snow or dirt buildup.
  • Avoid charging during electrical storms, as a lightning strike could potentially impact equipment despite waterproofing.

Your EV’s manual will also note the charging capacity in wet conditions. While water won’t disrupt charging, some EVs may lower the amperage accepted if the system detects very wet plugs or connectors. Just be aware this could extend charge times slightly.

Charging Safely at Home

Home charging makes up over 80% of all EV charging sessions, according to the US Department of Energy. That’s good news, since your home likely offers the most control over protecting your EV from the elements.

If you have a garage, you can completely avoid charging in rain or snow. For drier climates, a carport still provides cover for occasional showers. Parking underground in a condo garage is another great rain-free option.

Charging outdoors? An EV charging station mounted on your home’s exterior wall or on a pedestal in the driveway offers solid protection. NEMA enclosure ratings indicate durability – look for Type 3R or 4X stations made of weather-resistant materials like galvanized steel. Type 4X enclosures are mostly used for oceanfront locations but provide maximum water protection.

Stations should have weatherproof charge ports with attached lids or flip covers to seal moisture out of the outlet. Avoid plugging in if the port is already wet – wipe it dry first. Also be sure your EV’s charge port door closes snugly.

Public Charging in the Rain

Part of what makes EVs so convenient is being able to top up your battery on the go at public charging ports around town. But what about when the weather takes a turn? Rest assured that public charging stations are just as waterproof as home stations.

Public stations have the advantage of being professionally installed for maximum safety. Look for stations bearing the UL certification label – this means they meet safety guidelines from Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product testing organization.

The charger enclosure will be NEMA rated for weather protection, usually Type 3R or 4X. Key things to look for include:

  • Tight-fitting charger port lids that close securely
  • Ports/outlets angled downwards to avoid water pooling
  • Overhead covers to protect the station from direct overhead rain

Before using the station, check that the equipment is dry with no standing water. Avoid touching wet handles or plugs. As always, follow your EV manual’s charging instructions regarding public stations.

Hitting the Road in Wet Weather

Once your EV’s battery is topped up, it’s just as safe to drive it in the rain as any gasoline-powered vehicle. The waterproofing that protects the electrical system from the charging process also keeps your EV rolling through stormy conditions.

EVs undergo testing for wet braking, traction, handling and splash resistance on wet proving ground tracks. However, you should still take the same wet weather precautions as with a regular car:

  • Slow down and increase following distance to account for longer braking times on wet pavement
  • Turn off cruise control in heavy rain since it could hydroplane
  • Turn on headlights even during daytime rain for better visibility
  • Avoid underpasses or low areas that can flood quickly during storms
  • Don’t attempt to drive through standing water – it only takes a few inches to stall out your EV

As long as you follow common sense precautions for heavy rain, you can rely on your EV to get you through shower and thunderstorms safely. Just park it in your garage once you get home where you can keep it dry and fully charged for the next wet weather adventure.

Debunking Myths Around Wet Weather Charging

Given most people’s ingrained fear of mixing electricity and water, some misconceptions still linger about EV charging in wet conditions. Let’s clear up the main myths:

Myth: Charging cords and ports aren’t designed to get wet.

Fact: All components are engineered to locking out moisture completely from live electricity.

Myth: Public charging stations aren’t as safe as home chargers in rain.

Fact: They must meet the same stringent regulations and are professionally installed.

Myth: You need a rain cover for your EV charge port.

Fact: Charge ports are already sealed shut – an extra cover is unnecessary unless you park outside 24/7.

Myth: Charging takes longer in rain or snow.

Fact: It may take slightly longer if the system detects moisture, but a wet plug is very rare with port covers.

Myth: You can electrocute yourself if you touch a wet EV or cord.

Fact: Multiple safety shutoffs prevent any current flowing when wet.

The bottom line? While you shouldn’t intentionally get EV charging equipment wet, a little rain or snow isn’t going to harm you, your car or its ability to recharge. Following basic precautions for storms will keep you rolling from sunny days to rainy days and everything in between.

Key Takeaways on Charging in Wet Weather

  • It’s perfectly safe to charge your EV in rain, snow or other wet conditions thanks to waterproofing built into the system.
  • Cables, charge ports and public charging stations are all designed to be weatherproof and meet strict safety standards.
  • Use the manufacturer’s provided cord and follow charging guidelines to ensure proper operation.
  • At home, charging inside a garage provides the most protection, but outdoor stations are made for all weather.
  • On the road, opt for public stations with NEMA 3R/4X ratings and UL certification for maximum safety.
  • Driving an EV in the rain is just as safe as a regular car – just take some extra care with stopping distances.
  • Don’t believe the myth that rain or snow will electrocute you or damage your EV. Waterproof safeguards prevent any issues.

With the right gear and some common sense, rain and shine won’t slow down your next-generation electric vehicle. Stay powered up in any forecast with the peace of mind that wet weather charging poses no risks.

 

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