February 21, 2023

Maintaining Battery Health with EV Charging Best Practices


6 Min. Read

Electric vehicles (EVs), whether they are new or used, are typically long-term investments made with the intention of driving and enjoying the car for several years. How you choose to care for and maintain that investment will significantly impact the lifetime cost, experience, and overall value of your vehicle.

One of the most significant expenses in an EV, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the cost of an EV, is the battery. Certain habits can cause battery degradation to occur, which will ultimately decrease its lifespan.

To ensure your vehicle’s battery longevity and receive the most value from your EV long-term, you’ll want to be familiar with EV battery charging best practices.

Take Advantage of EV Battery Charging Best Practices

The following factors comprise essential elements of EV charging best practices that will help optimize your battery’s performance and efficiency, as well as prolong its life. We discuss each of these in more detail below.

  • Slow charging versus fast charging.
  • Minimum and maximum battery charge.
  • Driving habits.
  • Climate conditions.

Slow Charging vs. Fast Charging

EV battery charging best practices are essential to learn and implement, particularly regarding the tradeoffs between fast and slow charging. When it comes to EV charging, there are three levels of charging to consider: Level 1 Charging, Level 2 Charging, and Level 3 Charging, also referred to as DC Fast Charging (DCFC).

  • Level 1 EV charging utilizes a 120V AC outlet and is easily accessible for a majority of drivers, as this type of outlet is a standard outlet in any home, multifamily, or commercial building outfitted with electricity. While this type of outlet is convenient to access at home or on the go, it charges at very slow rates due to the low output in voltage. You can expect a Level 1 charger to take approximately 18-30 hours to charge, depending on the make and model of the electric vehicle.
  • Level 2 EV charging stations are a preferred method of charging for many people as they take between 6-10 hours to fully charge, depending on the make and model of the electric vehicle as well as the EV charger, and can conveniently offer a full charge overnight. These units run on 240V AC power and require a certified electrician to install the appropriate hardware and wiring, as well as make any needed panel upgrades depending on the current available capacity and EV charger needs.
  • Level 3 EV charging stations, or Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC) are a commercial-grade method of charging as they require 480V DC power and are significantly more expensive to purchase and install. Commonly found in grocery stores, malls, and other quick stops, these charges offer high-powered, rapid-charging speeds and boast a full charge often in 30 minutes to 1 hour. They are the only charging method to utilize DC, or direct current, energy. Using DC allows these chargers to directly power the vehicle battery, whereas Levels 1 and Level 2 EV chargers must convert AC to DC within the vehicle, slowing down the charge time of a vehicle. While Level 3 charging stations provide the fastest battery charge, consistent use of Level 3 charging has been shown to increase battery degradation for electric vehicles, thereby reducing the vehicle’s range.

Minimum and Maximum Battery Charge

Lithium-ion batteries work better when they are used and charged in partial cycles, in other words, not completely depleted or fully charged.

Consequently, the best charging practice is to charge the battery at different stages, optimally keeping its level between 20% and 80%. Similarly to how the overuse of fast charging stations can decrease battery life, so can consistently allowing your battery to drain to 0% or continually recharging the battery to 100% when it’s not needed.

One way to keep your battery charging in the optimal range is to utilize a smart panel or smart charger to maintain charging within a certain range. Some EVs may also come with these limits established as a baseline setting for charging capacity. Another benefit to keeping your battery charge at no higher than 80% is that it leaves the capability to generate and store energy through regenerative braking.

Consistently having a fully charged or fully drained battery can affect its life, particularly during long-term storage when the vehicle sits with the battery at extremely high or low levels for extended periods of time. Follow these best practices to avoid the severe battery damage that can occur when your EV is not used for prolonged periods.

Most batteries are designed to last a minimum of 200,000 miles or more, so battery damage or extended use will not always require battery replacement. Depending on the situation and extent of damages, a repair may be possible to bring your battery back to standard working order.

One way to make this less expensive repair choice available is to follow EV charging best practices diligently. In particular, repeatedly leaving your lithium-ion battery at full or zero charges can cause the worst damage, so it’s best to avoid doing so.

Driving Habits

How you drive your EV can also impact its battery life. Rapid acceleration and harsh braking negatively affect your battery. Accelerating slowly and maintaining a consistent speed, as well as easing into stops, maximizes your battery range.

How you charge your EV when driving long distances is another factor affecting battery life. Planning ahead is a good practice. Ideally, trips should minimize the need to fast charge your EV in favor of Level 1 or Level 2 charging to top off your vehicle at 80% or 90%. Combining meal and hotel stops with recharging can provide ample time to replenish your battery, especially if you plan ahead to make the most of your stops.

Climate Conditions

Weather is another significant consideration for optimal charging. Extreme temperatures can substantially impact an EV battery’s life and charging capability. Temperatures below 20°F can decrease your EV battery’s range by up to 41%. Additionally, in extreme heat battery performance is also impacted. Outside temperatures above 95°F can cause your battery to lose up to 17% of its range.

Keeping your vehicle in an enclosed shelter in winter or a covered or shaded parking spot in summer will put less stress on your battery and increase its range and reliability.

Get to Know Your EV battery Inside and Out

One final tip is to check your EV owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations for optimal charging, operating, and repair/replacement instructions.

The manual will provide additional tips and suggestions to address the abovementioned issues. For example, certain vehicles offer a “sleep” mode that places them in an optimal state for storage. It will also tell you where to check for software updates that will increase your battery’s range and information on how the carmaker is working to advance your EV’s range and functionality.

Remember, while technology is on your side, you must give it a helping hand. Following these best practices will keep that part of your vehicle in tip-top shape and ready to meet all your driving needs.

Finding Qualified EV Installation Electricians Near You

While planning for travel is vital, 80% of charging is done at home, generally overnight. Installing a Level 2 charger at home makes this manageable and straightforward and it’s important to work with a reliable, certified electrician who will ensure you have all the information and hardware needed to optimize your charging capabilities and ensure your vehicle is maintained for years to come.

With the largest network of certified electrification experts in North America and over 261,500 EV charging station installations to date, Qmerit can help you determine the best at-home charging setup and guarantee that no shortcuts are taken when it comes to your EV charging installation. As the most trusted electrification installer in America, we’re here to support you in your electrification journey and beyond. Contact Qmerit today!

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network