Is it OK to leave an electric car plugged in?


Modern-day EVs are equipped with advanced battery management systems which are designed to prevent battery overcharging. As such, you can leave your EV plugged in while not using it, however charging up to 100% every night is not recommendable.

This means that keeping your car between 50% and 80% of battery charge is optimal for the battery’s long-term health. You should avoid extreme highs and lows such as 0% or 100% because these can increase the wear and tear of the battery.

If you are planning to leave your EV sitting for months on end, it’s better to keep it plugged in. However, if you are only going away for a day or two, you should charge the battery up to 80% and unplug the car. Whatever you do, don’t let your EV sit with an extremely low state of charge.

Although these recommendations are applicable and recommended for most EVs out there, it’s always best to consult with the owner’s manual in order to decide the best course of action. Batteries ought to be maintained, so you should never neglect that if you want a long-lasting battery.

Charging at home

If you can charge your EV overnight, you ought to use a Level 2 charger at all times because a Level 3 fast charger is unnecessary. Even though the charging times associated with Level 3 fast chargers are considerably better, extended use of such chargers does take a toll on the battery’s overall health.

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That being said, a level 2 charger takes 7-9 hours to fully charge up the battery which should be enough. It’s worth mentioning that there is no need to charge your car every night if you are not doing long distances regularly because most EVs should do more than 200 miles with a decent battery percentage.

Tesla recommends charging your EV up to 90% of charge every night. For a spot of context, Tesla says that an unplugged Tesla battery loses around 1% of charge every day depending on the outside and battery temperature.

This means that you can get lots of miles out of the Tesla even when it has been left sitting for months. If all the unnecessary systems like Sentry Mode or fast wake-up are disengaged, Tesla says that ‘’Phantom battery drain’’ should drop to negligible levels.

Charging at public places

If you are primarily charging your car near work or in other public areas, it’s not okay to leave it plugged in after you reach a full state of charge. Many people rely on these charging stations for necessary top-ups, but if someone uses these charging spots as parking, they should be fined and banned from using those charging stations.

It often happens that you drive into a charging station only to see cars sitting there for hours on end. Sometimes these cars are not even EVs, it’s just a regular dude at the Walmart parking lot in a banged-up Nissan Altima wanting to buy cherry pops.

Besides not being able to use a public charger, sometimes the chargers are Level 2 chargers, while other times they are Level 3 fast chargers. If you do intend to charge your car up quickly, you can just make a quick stop, have some coffee, buy some snacks, and your car is going to be 100% in no time.

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 Factors that degrade your battery faster

There are many factors in play that can decide how well a battery stands the test of time. Extreme temperatures are harsh on the battery and can increase wear and tear significantly. Even though you can’t overcharge your battery in most cases, keeping it at a very high or very low capacity can also damage the battery.

Avoid complete battery discharges at all costs as these can be detrimental to your battery. Fast charging should be reserved for only when you need it, this means that an overnight charging session should be done through a Level 2 charger at the very maximum.

You should also avoid going too fast for extended periods, the same story goes for constant hard accelerations because both of these can heat the battery really fast. Whenever you reach 100% state of charge, unplug the car because there is no need for the car to be plugged in.

FAQ Section

How much does it cost to charge up an EV at a charging station?

One kWh of electricity costs around $0.13 and most cars consume about 33 kWh for every 100 miles. If you do the maths, a single mile costs around $0.04 while a regular gasoline car costs about $0.15 per mile. So if you want to charge up your 66 kWh battery, it will cost you $9 for a full state of charge.

It’s worth mentioning that some chargers are completely free, while others can be more than this. These should be your average estimates to determine how much a full state of charge costs. Compared to a combustion car, it does seem cheap.

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Can you push an electric car when it breaks down?

Many people don’t know this, but you should never push an EV when it runs out of electricity or when it breaks down. EVs are equipped with specific traction motors which are designed for regenerative braking duties. This means that they are tasked with recouping lost energy, something these motors cant do if the systems are disengaged.

If you do however push the car, these engines can get damaged, and if you push your car for longer distances, these engines can even be destroyed completely. It’s always best to just call a flatbed, and push the car only when it’s extremely necessary.

Can you charge an EV wirelessly?

While still not on a massive scale, wireless charging is slowly gaining traction because the charging efficiency is steadily improving. However, this technology is not yet there enough to replace regular cable charging, and this should not change for a while longer at least.

Most wireless EV chargers require you to do additional work or get specific sophisticated equipment that makes it wired anyway. Although the idea is tempting, we are yet to see a wireless charger efficient and affordable enough.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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