Can You Warm Up Your Electric Vehicle in Cold Winter Weather?

Warming up your car in the winter has been a staple for those living in cold climates for a long time. With remote start engines, it’s become even easier to ensure you’ll be climbing into a well-heated vehicle when you’re ready to leave home. However, we’ve recently been told that warming your car in the winter could be a poor decision. For a number of reasons, an idling car is bad for the environment, among other things. What about an electric vehicle? They’re becoming more common with rising gas prices and declining EV prices. Can you warm up your electric vehicle in the cold winter weather?

You should warm up your electric vehicle

Can you warm up your electric vehicle in the cold winter weather? The Tesla Model 3 range might suffer in the cold.
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

Although allowing your conventional vehicle to heat up might be a bad idea, electric vehicles are different. According to Cars.com, preheating your electric or plug-in hybrid car while it’s connected to grid power is recommended. Especially with a limited range, this can be beneficial. The primary reason is that heating up the vehicle using “wall” power will preserve the battery capacity while driving. Like ICE cars, electric models also have to heat up while driving, including the cabin. This takes more energy than once it’s finished heating, so doing it while plugged in prevents wasting any battery power.

Gasoline and diesel vehicles are different and don’t require electricity for heat. Using electricity to heat the car requires much more power. So much so that Cars.com says equipping your home with a 240-volt Level 2 charging station is necessary if it’s within budget. The publication says standard 120 volts isn’t enough during the winter because the cold will deplete a charge more quickly. Level 2 charging charges your EV faster and provides more power for preheating in the cold without losing precious driving range.

How should I warm up my electric car in the cold winter weather?

Front angle view of yellow 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, one of the cheapest SUVs that's great for snow driving
2023 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru

It might be confusing for new electric vehicle owners to figure out warming up their vehicles. Does idling your EV allow the heat to turn on? What about just plugging it in for the night? According to Get Jerry, electric vehicles can be switched on like a light bulb. However, the cars still function their best when warmed up enough. The main reason to start the EV earlier than you’re planning to leave is to let the battery warm up before driving. It can take a bit longer (and require more juice) to warm the vehicle and battery while moving.

Additionally, the expert recommends avoiding accelerating exceptionally quickly when first driving a cold EV. When it’s still waking up, it might not be capable of its normal power, which is the same as a conventional vehicle. Just like an ICE vehicle, an EV warms up faster while driving, but it will lose battery power. Warming it up while it’s still charging is the best way to go.

Electric vehicle in the cold winter weather

Related

Warming Up Your Car in the Winter Before Driving Might Be a Bad Idea, According to Consumer Reports

In conclusion, you can warm up your electric vehicle in cold winter weather. Unlike gas-powered cars, experts recommend warming up your EV. Instead of harming the environment and causing other damage, an EV performs better to warm up for a few minutes. Additionally, the cold weather could deplete a battery more quickly, so doing so before leaving the charger is recommended. This way, by the time you’re ready to leave, the electric vehicle is at full power, has a warm cabin, and doesn’t lose a mile of driving range.