Do Electric Cars Stop Charging When Full? (Answered)

Electric vehicles have made car ownership easier over the last decade.

However, they create some questions and uncertainties. To get the best experience, we must all learn about the dos and don’ts with EVs.

Let’s talk about their batteries, how they work and what they need.

Here’s the answer to whether electric cars stop charging when full:

Most electric vehicles on the road today can’t get fully charged. They are designed to prevent their batteries from getting fully charged or discharged. However, not all electric cars may have this mechanism.

Can You Leave Electric Cars Plugged in Always?

First, you’d only need to plug your car always if you use a level-1 charger. Level-2 or level-3 chargers get the job done more quickly.

With that being said, it isn’t a great idea to always have your car plugged in. At some point, it’s best to let it have a break from charging.

That’s not to say you should allow your battery to run down. Rather, it’s ideal to find a perfect balance between using and charging your electric vehicle.

Avoid plugging it for extremely long periods at a time by ensuring you don’t let it go too low. At the same time, you should make sure you don’t break one charging session into several sessions.

This sounds tricky, but as always, try to find the sweet spot in between.

Can You Leave a Car in the Charger Overnight?

Most drivers love the option of charging their EVs overnight. It is also a cool way of casually getting your car charged. However, before considering it, you should know how it works.

The best way to charge your EV overnight is with a level-1 charger. The idea is that your EV should not get filled up even though you charge it overnight.

That’s why a level-1 charger is best for getting this done. It is the slowest electric vehicle charger type and can use all night to charge an EV. However, this depends a lot on the total mile range of your EV.

A level-1 charger can add about 2 to 5 miles of driving range per hour. So, with a 100-mile range vehicle, you can charge your car overnight and it still wouldn’t be full. Of course, there are variations in charging speed, so it’s best to know how long yours takes.

Is It OK to Always Charge Electric Cars to 100%?

There are many theories on charging electric vehicles. However, one thing is certain; you shouldn’t always charge your car until it gets to 100%.

In fact, you should rarely allow it to get full. Good thing your car would resist a full charge, anyway. We’d explain more about this phenomenon later on.

Fully charging your car battery always is a good way to degrade it faster. Most electric car batteries last at least 8 years before they become partially or totally degraded. These days, they even have longer lifespans.

Allowing your car to undergo several charging cycles could make your battery degrade within a shorter timeframe. A charging cycle is a process whereby a battery goes from 0 to 100% or from 100 to 0%. As you’d guess, this process should occur as rarely as possible.

Since frequent charging cycles contribute to overall degradation, it’s best to avoid them. Most electric automakers prevent their batteries from fully charging or being used until they’re empty. However, even with this technology, ensure you avoid excessive charging.

Unless you’re going on a long trip on a lonely road, you don’t always need to fill up your battery. There are better ways of charging your EV as we’d explain in a moment.

Is It Better to Only Charge Electric Cars to 80-90%?

Based on reports, the best practice is to always have your battery within the range of 20 to 80%. This helps reduce the number of charging cycles the car would have to go through over several years.

Every time your car battery runs down completely or gets charged to its maximum capacity, you go through a cycle. While these cycles may give impressive battery performance temporarily, they hurt overall battery health.

Note that there are only so many cycles a battery can handle before it becomes extremely degraded. That’s why the effects are always more clear in the long run.

However, as we pointed out earlier, most EVs today have systems that prevent such cycles from happening. Still, these systems aren’t perfect and it’s best to do your part in caring for your car.

Is There Such a Thing as Overcharging?

Overcharging isn’t much of a thing today as electric cars are now protected against total discharge and overcharge.

Most EV systems do this by slowing down the charging process as the battery gets almost full. This helps to make the battery more efficient and extend its lifespan. Apparently, constantly charging to maximum capacity isn’t great for any EV.

So, with a modern electric car, you rarely have to worry about overcharging it.

However, that’s not to say the system is completely untouchable. Although it’ll prevent your car from overcharging, it doesn’t do much to regulate the charging cycles.

Recall that a charging cycle occurs when a battery discharges or recharges from the maximum to the minimum and vice versa. Although modern systems prevent cars from charging completely, they still reach a very high level before charging halts.

So, even though you can’t overcharge them, they’re still susceptible to unhealthy cycles. This implies that you shouldn’t rely entirely on the battery management system. You’d still have to observe best practices while charging your car.

Related: 3 Electric Cars You Can Charge At 350kw (With Prices)

What Is the Best Way To Preserve the Batteries?

Most batteries are designed to last very long, however, not all of them do. These are best practices for maintaining your battery.

First, you want to make sure your battery is always between 20 and 80% on a regular day. That’s not to say it should never go out of this range. However, it’s the ideal battery range for a healthy battery.

As strange as it sounds, level-1 chargers are better for battery longevity than DC fast chargers. We know it’s tempting to use fast chargers at stations to top up in less than 30 minutes. However, to reduce battery degradation, you’d have to cut down your usage of level-3 chargers.

Although the resulting degradation isn’t massive, it’s quite significant if you measure it over a long time, say 12 years. So, you should always think of how your battery will affect the resale value of your car in the future.

Also, if you’re going to park your car for an extended period, ensure its battery isn’t too low. At the same time, before storing your EV, ensure it isn’t full either. The idea is to leave the battery fairly charged, somewhere in the middle, say 45 to 60%.

You’d also want to make sure that your EV is parked safely where it is unaffected by hot weather. Such weather hurts battery lifespan.

Related: 8 Places To Charge Your Electric Car 100% Free

How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Really Last?

Most EV batteries would last at least 10 years. Industry estimates place their lifespans as “ranging from 10 to 20 years”. However, no rule states that “all EV batteries must last over 10 years”.

Also, as you probably know, this doesn’t exactly mean 20 years of optimal performance. Car batteries will degrade steadily over this period, not suddenly.

During this period, your maintenance practices would determine just how long it’ll last. Still, all batteries will degrade eventually and maintenance can only prolong the inevitable. The idea is to get the most out of your battery over a lengthy period.

Many top-notch electric vehicles only lose less than 1% of their total battery capacity in the first year. However, it isn’t uncommon to lose up to 2.3 or even 4% of the range in the first year.

Some automakers usually give a warranty period of at least 8 years or 100,000 miles. So, it’s safe to say that all batteries should last at least that long. It’s also noteworthy that different automakers have different yardsticks for determining battery depletion.

Most warranties for EV batteries have a stipulated percentage of the vehicle that’s guaranteed. For example; they may guarantee you 60% of the original battery life after 100,000 miles.

Only under the rarest conditions do batteries become totally depleted and some warranties only cover such cases. So be sure to read all the terms and conditions. There are usually pages of them. It’s best to know exactly what your manufacturer covers.

Related: Do Electric Cars Come With Chargers? (Explained)

Final Thoughts

Electric cars are a great substitute for gasoline-powered vehicles. They run cleaner, require less maintenance, and are cheaper to own. However, their batteries are a major reason most people are skeptical about owning them.

Their batteries are also quite expensive, that’s why it’s common practice to measure EV longevity by battery lifespan. It’s also why there’s a strong emphasis on maintenance and preservation.

So, it may take a while for everyone to get used to them. However, all indications show that EVs will take over the automobile space in the years to come. Like gas-powered vehicles, understanding how to maintain them would help with longevity.


Electric Car Battery Life: Everything You Need to Know | Car and Driver

How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last | CARFAX

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