Can You Overcharge an Electric Car? Can You Charge Them Overnight?

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Electric cars have really made their mark on the car industry, if you are interested in purchasing an electric car you may be wondering whether you can overcharge them?

No, you cannot overcharge an electric car battery because the battery management system will stop charging at a pre-set limit. However, charging your car too frequently isn’t good for the battery’s long term health. Frequent users should establish a daily charging routine whereas occasional users should charge when the battery drops below 50%.

In the rest of this guide, I’ll explain more about the batteries in electric vehicles and provide some best practices for maintaining battery health.

Can You Overcharge an Electric Car?

No, it’s not possible to overcharge an electric car battery by leaving it plugged in for too long. This is because the battery management system will kick in and stop charging once the car reaches the specified limit.

For some electric cars, the limit will be 100%, however, some vehicles have a lower limit such as Tesla which is set to 90% by default. Elon Musk claims that this is so that users can reap the benefits of regenerative braking which charges the battery using the energy produced during braking (source).

However, electric vehicle owners should be cautious about charging an electric car too frequently. As with other devices that use lithium-ion batteries, you shouldn’t worry about keeping the vehicle topped up to 100% by charging it after each use.

Instead, manufacturers recommended maintaining a regular everyday charging routine that prevent the battery from getting too low (source). Most people will do this overnight, so opting for an electricity plan that provides lower costs at night is also a good tip.

Can You Leave an Electric Car Charging Overnight?

Yes, you can leave your electric vehicle plugged in overnight to charge. It is best to use a low-voltage charger as part of your everyday routine and limit your usage of fast charging where possible (source).

At home car chargers seem to release electricity slowly and the usual home car chargers are not as rapid as the electric chargers that are supplied at service stations and supermarkets.

Is It Bad to Leave Your Electric Car Plugged In?

Although it is not possible to overcharge and electric car, you should still unplug it after charging as there is no need to leave it plugged in (source).

If you are planning to go away on holiday or leave the car idle for a long period of time, you should not leave it plugged in. In fact, leaving the car at between 20-50% charge is better than fully charging it before you go away (source).

Is It OK To Charge Your Electric Car Every Day?

Yes, it’s okay to charge your electric car every day, especially if you have a long commute.

However, you don’t have to charge it every day if you use it less frequently. Electric cars are best left with around 45-50% charge when not using them (source) so allowing the battery to drop to this level is fine.

However, don’t allow the battery to completely empty as this is not good for it’s long term health.

Are Electric Cars Cheaper to Run than Petrol or Diesel?

Yes, it’s cheaper to run an electric car because the cost of electricity is much cheaper than petrol or diesel.

The consumer group Which, suggests that an electric car will cost between £500-£830 per year based on travelling 9,000 miles (source). The average new petrol vehicle in the UK has a fuel consumption of 49.2mpg (source) which would cost in the region of £1,200 per year and the average new diesel vehicle has a consumption of 55.4mpg which would cost around £1,000 per year for the same milage.

However, if you have a very efficient engine, such as a Peugeot 208 1.5 BlueHDi which can achieve 73.6mpg in a diesel engine (source), it can be competitive with an electric vehicle in terms of annual cost at around £800 for 9,000 miles.

But, as electric vehicles become more efficient, the gap will only widen.

Related Questions

Do Electric Cars Charge While Driving?

No, unfortunately, electric cars do not charge themselves whilst driving, however, many do have regenerative braking which turns braking energy into electricity so you may consider this to be something similar.

Cars that charge themselves whilst driving are known as self charging hybrids. These will usually have a fuel engine as well as an electric engine and use dynamic induction charging to keep the battery topped up.

What Happens If Your Electric Car Runs Out of Battery?

If an electric car is about to run out of battery, it will give you a warning well before the car is completely low. If you run an electric car until the battery is completely empty the power will shut off and the car will come to a stop, much the same as when a fuel-powered car runs out of fuel.

Can Electric Cars Catch Fire While Charging?

If you are going to charge an electric car, you need to make sure you use a charging socket that is specifically designed to be charged by electric cars. If you attempt to use a regular household socket, there is an increased risk that a fire will occur. It is important to not take any risks whilst charging an electric car as you should only charge electrical items in the way that it has been intended, to avoid any accidents or even fatalities.