Do Electric Cars Have Backup Batteries? (We Checked)

No one likes getting stuck by the side of the road and you’re still likely to run out of battery power in your EV at some point.

We’ve done some research into this and looked at the options with backup batteries.

Before diving in, let’s start by answering this crucial question.

Read also: Electric cars with long battery warranty.

Do electric cars have extra batteries for backup power?

Electric cars do not come with extra batteries for you to switch out in case you run out of battery power on the road. The primary reason is that these big batteries are really expensive and they also require lots of natural resources, so it’s not feasible to produce an extra set for each electric car.

An EV uses a large traction battery pack to power the motor. Then you will find a second battery.

This is usually a 12-volt lead-acid battery. There is a possibility that it will be 24-volt in the future.

That said, this second battery is usually a smaller lithium-ion unit. It powers your EV’s ancillary features, such as wipers, headlights, radio, and so on.

In other states, some drivers have realized that it’s possible to use their EVs to power their houses. For instance, they may use the backup power of their cars to light their homes after experiencing a weather-related power failure.

Batteries differ from one EV to another. For instance, your car may have an electric battery that powers the motor and a 12-volt lead-acid battery for the radio.

There are EVs that come with backup power. For example, the F-150 Lightning pickup truck has a “Ford Intelligent Backup Power” that can last you for three days.

f-150-lightning

The best part is using the Ford Lightning battery as a home generator. Thanks to its enhanced Pro Power On Board that has 9.6 kW.

Can you buy extra backup batteries for your electric cars?

Yes and no. Here is why: We don’t think buying back the battery is smart. After all, your main battery should last you for years.

As long as you recharge it sufficiently, there wouldn’t be a need for another battery.

Keep this in mind: Batteries for EVs don’t come cheap.

Expect to pay anything between $2500 to $20,000. As of 2020, the average price was around $135-$140 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery capacity.

If your battery is within its manufacturer warranty, typically eight years and 100,000 miles, you’ll get a replacement battery at no extra cost.

Some electric cars can even power your house (bi-directional charging)

Some electric cars have batteries and charging that are constructed so you can actually use your electric car to power your house.

That’s a very interesting concept that we cover in the article linked to above.

Can you replace a dead car battery on the road?

EV batteries are usually much bigger than the batteries used by gas-powered vehicles. These are battery packs with capacities ranging from around 40 to 65 kilowatt-hours.

So, replacing them on the side of the road would be difficult.

Fortunately, if your battery dies, you don’t have to replace it on the side of the road. Instead, call roadside assistance.

When calling roadside assistance, remind them to bring a flatbed. Why? Because if you have an EV, it is better to carry it on a flatbed than tow it.

In 2020, Blink introduced a portable EV charger. Interestingly, this charger doesn’t require installation and can charge up to one mile per minute.

Stop worrying about the possibility of your EV stopping in the middle of nowhere. That is not likely to happen.

Most EVs offer many warnings before your battery dies completely. So it would help if you did the following:

  • Always check your speedometer.
    Most EVs will flash a red light to warn you that your battery is about to run out.
  • As your battery keeps running low, your EV will suggest charging points.
    Visit one of them and charge your battery there.
  • If your battery is dead, there is still an option to service it.
    The individual cells of your battery can be replaced with new ones. But after a few years, you may need to replace your battery with a new one.

Can a jump-start give you more range?

While it is possible to jump-start an EV, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind.

  • First, you can only jump-start the main battery of your EV. Not the secondary battery, which is usually responsible for powering your radio, wipers, etc.
  • Secondly, you need to be able to locate your battery. Most ordinary drivers often find trouble locating the position of their battery. Once you discover it, you’ll jump-start it the same way you do to a regular gasoline car.
  • Thirdly, you need to ensure that the vehicle that will be jump-starting you can jump-start. Most hybrids and EVs can’t jump-start other cars.
  • Check a driver’s handbook to confirm that the car you want to use can jump-start.
  • If you own a BMW, avoid jump-starting it. Instead, call roadside assistance, and they will come and help you. Jump-starting a Beemer may damage some crucial components.

Jump-starting can only be the best option if your car uses a smaller battery.

For instance, a 12V battery that can’t transfer power to the larger lithium-ion battery that powers an electric car’s wheels.

How can you bring backup power to electric cars?

Backup power is critical for EVs. Hence, many automakers decided to build EVs with backup power.

But as a car owner, can you bring backup power to your car?

The short answer to that question is yes.

All you need is a bidirectional charger. These chargers are readily available from retail shops. Furthermore, ensure that your car is compatible with V2H.

Fortunately, most recent VW EVs have bi-directional charging, which means power can flow in and out of their batteries. The 2022 Nissan Leaf is another EV with bi-directional charging.

Meanwhile, Ford Lightning has a requisite component that enables bi-directional charging work in a house. Now, that’s “leapfrogging” competitors.

Do the following to increase the lifespan of your battery:

  1. Use heating and air conditioning sparingly. When you overuse aircon and heater in your EV, that may impact the energy efficiency of your car.
  2. Pay attention to eco-features. Most EVs come with eco-driving features that can increase the driving range.
  3. Avoid overcharging your battery. Like your cellphone battery, your EV battery will degrade faster if you charge it frequently.

Experts recommend keeping your battery charged between 20% and 80% of the onscreen capacity.

4. Use a timer when charging. After charging, allow your battery to cool down for 40 minutes.

5. Use the preconditioning mode. Most EVs have a preconditioning mode that allows you to heat or cool the cabin remotely.

You can activate this feature when the EV is still connected to the power grid.

6. Park your EV in a garage. This is the best way to protect your battery from freezing.

7. Avoid parking in the direct sun. Instead, park it in the shade to prevent the sun from damaging your battery.

Final Thoughts

EVs are the future. So it’s essential to know how to take care of these cars. And that starts by understanding the batteries they use.

Avoid jump-starting other vehicles unless you’re 150% sure this won’t put your car at risk.

While at it, don’t let range anxiety push you to overcharge your battery. Your car will not likely run out of battery power before reaching the next charging station.

If your battery is about to run out, you will know immediately. Besides, there are many charging stations around for you to use.

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