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Is DC Fast Charging EV-illy Destroying Your Battery? The Shocking Truth

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July 11, 2023

Although some research suggests that frequent DC fast charging may degrade an electric vehicle’s battery faster than AC charging, the impact on battery health is negligible. On average, DC charging only increases battery deterioration by a mere 0.1 percent.

That being said, taking good care of your battery is crucial, and temperature management is key. This is because lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are sensitive to high temperatures. Fortunately, most modern EVs come equipped with built-in temperature management systems that safeguard the battery, even during fast charging.

Overcoming EV Range Anxiety: The Truth About Battery Longevity and Fast Charging

Electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity, but some drivers are still apprehensive because of range anxiety and battery life concerns.

Some people worry fast charging will damage their batteries, especially since EV manufacturers like Kia and even Tesla encourage consumers not to use fast charging a lot.

Would fast charging affect the health of your battery in any way? This article explains how fast charging works, explores its risks and benefits, and helps you decide if it’s safe and practical. So buckle up and get ready to learn more about EV fast charging and battery longevity!

What is DC Fast Charging?

Before we can determine whether fast charging is safe for your electric vehicle (EV), it’s important to understand what fast charging actually entails. Fast charging, also known as Level 3 or DC charging, refers to the fastest available charging stations that can replenish your EV’s battery in a matter of minutes, rather than hours.

The power output of fast charging stations varies, but DC fast chargers can deliver between seven and 50 times more power than a regular AC charging station, allowing for speedy top-ups when you’re on the go. However, this high power output generates a significant amount of heat, which can put stress on the battery and potentially degrade its longevity.

Read More:EV Charger Overheating

DC Fast Charging on EV

Battery life of electric cars after fast charging

How does fast charging affect EV batteries? 

According to Geotabs’ research from 2020, fast charging more than three times a month increased battery degradation by 0.1 percent over two years.

In a second study, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) charged two Nissan Leafs twice a day for a year, one using regular AC charging, the other DC fast charging.

The pair that was solely charged with fast chargers lost 27 percent of their original capacity after almost 85,000 kilometers, while the pair that was charged with AC charging lost 23 percent.

Compared to AC charging, fast charging decreases battery health more than regular charging, but its impact is still relatively small, especially when you think about real-life conditions being less demanding.

Do you need to fast charge your EV?

It’s convenient to top up on the go with level 3 charging, but in practice, regular AC recharges are probably enough for most people.

Read More: What is a Level 3 charger

EVs can still be fully charged in less than 8 hours, even with level 2 charging, so fast charging probably isn’t something most people do daily.

Since DC fast chargers are bulkier, cost more to install, and need a higher voltage to operate, they’re only available in certain places, and tend to be more expensive to use than AC public chargers.

Fast charging advances

A fast-charging battery has an integrated cooling system, so it can handle the higher power loads from fast charging.

Fast charging isn’t the only thing that matters, but also extreme weather conditions, as your battery will suffer from very cold or very warm temperatures. Your EV’s battery works best between 25°C and 45°C. In low or high temperatures, this system keeps your car working and charging, but it might take longer to charge if the temperature isn’t right.

Best practices for charging in relation to battery health

It’s undeniable that fast charging remains an essential part of the electric mobility landscape and a crucial tool for practical long-distance travel with EVs. And as we have seen above, occasional fast charging won’t harm your battery or decrease its capacity in any significant way.

Still, there are some best practices to consider when fast charging to ensure its impact on your battery will be as small as possible. For one, you should try to avoid fast charging on extremely hot days (See charging ev in hot weather), or if you do, try to do it in the shade to prevent overheating the battery.

Close-up of car driving in the snow.

While you can charge in cold weather without harming the battery, you should expect a slower charging rate and longer charging times as the car’s battery management system (BMS) reduces power to optimize charging and protect the battery.

As a best practice with any Li-ion battery, keeping it between 20 and 80 percent charged is recommended, as extremely low or high states of charge can damage the battery over time. It’s worth charging your EV to 80 percent for day-to-day use and only using a full charge for long-distance trips when it’s necessary.

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