How Long Can an Electric Car Sit Without Charging? Tips for Long-Term Parking


how-long-can-an-electric-car-sit-without-charging

Having an electric car is a great way to take part in doing what is best for the environment, but for those owners who work from home or don’t make many trips, it’s important to know that the car is ready when you need it. How long can you let your electric car sit without charging?

An electric car can sit for months without charging if the battery power is at about 50%, and it is not being exposed to temperatures above 100 degrees F during that time. Leaving the battery power too high or low while parked will damage the battery cells causing them to wear out sooner.

As you can see, an electric car can last a while in your garage while vacationing or on a work trip. Continue reading to learn how to safely leave your electric car sitting for long periods of time.

How Long Can an Electric Car Sit Without Charging?

Sometimes, driving is simply not necessary, but it is still important to take care of your vehicle. Making sure the battery is properly charged and knowing what percentages are best for your battery to stay at for extended amounts of time is crucial. So, how long can an electric car sit without charging? 

An electric car can sit for months without charging. This can only be achieved if the battery is charged to an appropriate percentage which is typically around 50% for most electric cars.

You may think that charging the car to 100% would be best if it is just going to be sitting around for a while, but it is not. When the batteries for electric cars are fully charged for long periods of time, the battery cells actually start to become damaged.

This is also the case if you keep the battery at a low percentage for a long time. It is recommended to not leave the car sitting with a battery percentage lower than 20%. 

It is also important to consider what kind of weather your electric car will be in if it has to be sitting in the garage for a while. When batteries are exposed to very high temperatures, the battery’s total capacity begins to deplete, and this problem cannot be fixed.

So, if you do not have a garage and you live in a pretty warm climate, it is best to store your electric car in the shade, out of the sun.  While sometimes it is unavoidable to leave your car sitting, it is important to drive it, if you can, because batteries in all types of car, even electric cars, tend to degrade faster when not being used. 

What is too hot for a parked electric car?

Manufacturers recommend keeping your battery below 110 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent damage. I recommend targeting 100 degrees or less while parked so even in hot climates, parking in the shade will be adequate.

If the car is parked in the sun, the combination of the blacktop and the unrelenting sun can easily heat the stagnant air under your car to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Video on My Electric Car Parked for 57-Days Without Charging

I put my 2017 Nissan Leaf to the test when I went for a longer-than-expected trip. The car sat for 57-days without charging. I left it at almost 100% charged. See if the EV started up and what the charge was after the long sit. Then click Subscribe as this new channel needs some love!

Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked?

If you are going to leave your electric car sitting, then it is helpful to know if it will be ready for you to drive it in case you do not have the time for a charge. So, do electric cars lose charge when parked?

Electric cars do lose charge when parked. This is mostly minimal, and you can even change a few settings on your car to minimize the loss of battery power even more.

You may be wondering how your electric car is losing battery power if it is not doing anything. The reason it is losing battery power even though it is not moving is that the batteries are powering other systems in the car, constantly.

Here are some of the settings you can change in your electric car to conserve more battery power while it is sitting:

  • Power Save: Even though the setting may not be called “Power Save,” most electric cars have a feature similar to this. It may be called “Energy Saving” or something along those lines. By activating this setting, you will minimize the amount of power your car uses while it is not in use. 
  • Preset Features: Some electric cars will come with features that are already turned on for your convenience. These settings could cause your car to warm up or cool down on the inside depending on what the weather is like, just to make things comfortable for you, but it really is unnecessary if you are on vacation and will not be driving for a few weeks. Be sure to deactivate these features to make sure you are saving the battery power for your car as much as possible.
  • Deep Sleep: Some electric cars come with features that will recognize when the car is not being used. Once this has been realized, the car will reserve energy rather than using it on unnecessary systems. Check the user manual to see if your car comes with these features.

Another great way to make sure the loss of battery power stays at a minimum while it is sitting is to make sure it is not charged to 100% or lower than 20%.

What Happens if an Electric Car Runs out of Charge?

Since we now know that it can really damage your car battery to leave it charged to 100% for long periods of time, what happens if an electric car runs completely out of charge?

When an electric car runs out of charge, it will stop working, just like any other thing that uses batteries. The only thing you need to do is find a charging station to plug it in and be sure to not let the battery run out very often, or ever.

If you come home to a dead battery, hopefully, you can plug it in at home to recharge. If you do not have access to a charging point, then you will need to call a flatbed tow truck to take it away. Do not tow an electric car by the wheels as that may damage the motor.

Allowing the battery to completely deplete will damage the battery cells causing the battery to wear out sooner, meaning you will have to replace it much sooner. This means having to spend more money on something that could have been avoided. 

Should I Charge My Electric Car Every Night?

As mentioned earlier, taking proper care of your electric car battery is very important. So, should you charge your electric car every night?

The answer to this really depends on how much driving is done daily and what the battery percentage is when you get home.

For someone who drives from home to work then back home every day with a fairly normal commute, it is likely that their car will not need to be charged every single night. As long as the battery percentage is close to 50%, then it does not need to be charged.

On the other hand, for a person that drives all day every single day, their car will likely need to be charged every night. Again, it really all depends on what the battery percentage is like when you get home.

If you have been driving all day and plan to the next day and the battery percentage is at 50%, then the car will need to be charged to avoid running the battery completely out of charge the next day. 

Always keep in mind that allowing the battery to lose all of its charge is very bad for the battery and should always be avoided, if possible. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, taking care of the battery in your electric car is critical for keeping your car in great shape for a long time. Knowing how often and what percentage to keep your battery charged at is very important.

When an electric car is sitting, it can remain charged for months so long as the charge is around 50% and the car is kept out of hot weather. When the battery is charged to 100% or less than 20% while sitting, the battery cells can get damaged.

Always be sure to monitor the charge for your car even if you have no plans to drive it!

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Jordan Fromholz

I'm an electric car owner, enthusiast, and founder of the Plugin Report. As a Chemical Engineer with over 14-years in the energy industry, I've made my passions be renewable energy, batteries, and electric cars. My family lives on Maui where we drive our 2017 Nissan Leaf and share everything there is to know about electric cars.

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