There are more electrified cars on the market today than ever before, and more choices means more reasons for you to ditch your gas habit and experience the joy of emissions-free motoring. Or, if you’re not quite ready to go cold-turkey, you can go with a plug-in hybrid, which will give you a taste of that EV lifestyle without saddling you with a case of crippling range anxiety.
While you’re taking on new technology in your car, you might also find it spilling over into your garage and your home. From maximizing your EV range, charging on the road and at home, to bringing your car online and getting it communicating with your smart home, the crossover between car tech and home tech is getting more robust by the day.
Over the next five weeks, we’ll explore the ins-and-outs of electric vehicle ownership and automotive-specific smart home tech through a series of videos. Check back here every Wednesday for the latest installment.
Maximize the range of your electrified car
Whether you go hybrid or full EV, you’re going to want to get the most range out of your batteries.
- EVs or plug-ins don’t like extreme heat or extreme cold. Chances are if you’re uncomfortable outside, they are too, and that means less range. Some cars with advanced thermal management systems, like the latest Tesla Model S for example, might only see range losses of 20% or so when the temperature drops below freezing. On simpler cars like the Nissan Leaf, we’ve seen range estimates go down by upwards of 50% on a cold day.
- Preconditioning is a great way to minimize the impact of cold temperatures. Almost all EVs and most plug-ins have some way of turning on the car’s heating or air conditioning systems remotely, either via a smartphone app or perhaps via a timer set through the car’s dashboard interface. The initial heating or cooling uses a huge amount of electricity, and if you can do that without using any power in the battery that’ll definitely give you a noticeable increase in range.
- Turning up the heat when it’s a little chilly means wasting power in a car that’s just running on electricity. Instead, reach for the heated seats and, if your car has one, the heated steering wheel. Heating you directly is far more efficient and effective than blowing hot air around.
- Any car uses the most energy when speeding up and wastes energy when slowing down. The solution is to maintain a steady speed, but even tiny adjustments to the throttle can have a noticeable impact on range. Whenever it’s safe to do so, set the cruise and let the car keep speed on its own.
- Make sure you have the right tires fitted on your car, ideally the ones that the manufacturer recommends. Many EVs and electrified cars have special models with lower rolling resistance. Whatever tires you choose, make sure the pressures are right. All modern cars will tell you if your pressures are dangerously low, but you might not get an alert if they’re only off by a few PSI. Make a habit of checking regularly.
Install an L2 charger at home
The L1 charger included with many EV or hybrid cars is the path of (yes) least resistance for charging at home. To ensure you start each day with a full battery, consider adding an L2 charger to your garage or to the exterior of your home.
- An L1 charger will work on standard residential 120-volt wiring, although you might need an adapter depending on the outlets you have in your garage. On a 120-volt line, you can expect roughly four miles of range added to your battery per hour. For some electric cars, that could mean days of charging time to replenish an empty battery.
- If your garage has an existing 240-volt line, perhaps from an old dryer, or you’re willing to have an electrician add one, you can install an L2 charger. An L2 charger will charge at a rate of 25 miles of range per hour. That will bring your battery to full within a few hours.
- The L2 charger itself can cost between $500 to $1,000, on top of any additional electrical work, but it’s a worthwhile investment to minimize day-to-day range anxiety.
- Some chargers like the ChargePoint Home Flex in our video can connect to the internet so you can control things like scheduling charging times against your local peak usage hours to save you some money. That’s a useful feature, but some EVs include their own apps with similar features, so don’t pay extra for a connected charger if you don’t need one.
First published Oct. 15.