Can you charge an EV in the rain? Is it safe?

When it comes to the safety of electric cars and trucks, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether bad weather makes it unsafe to charge an electric vehicle. Now, if you still have a dry and comfortable garage with a dedicated charging outlet at your disposal, this may never have crossed your mind.

  • There is no such thing as a dumb car safety question.

  • Many people think that plugging in an electric car can be dangerous when it is raining.

  • Don’t worry, electric vehicles and charging stations are built to withstand inclement weather.

  • Some of the only things more waterproof than an electric car include submersibles, buoys, or other similar ocean equipment.

For anyone who has been surprised by bad weather as the battery reading approaches zero – and the only option is to use an outdoor charging station – the rain and recharge dilemma has a way to come. suddenly in the foreground of your mind. This is all the more true as electric vehicles are more and more accepted and as public charging stations become an integral part of daily driving.

Also see: California aims to end sales of new gasoline cars by 2035

To answer this question once and for all, we spoke to Jonathon Ratliff, Nissan NSANY,
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Senior North America Director for Zero Emission Technology Development. Based at Nissan’s Technology Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Ratliff has been dedicated to zero-emission vehicles since taking up his current position in 2012. Along with the Leaf hatchback, Nissan itself was one of the first automakers to to offer an affordable electric vehicle to the general public on the market. To date, Nissan has sold over 400,000 Leaves worldwide.

Okay, is it safe to charge your EV outside when it’s raining?

Jonathon Ratliff says this is a question he has heard “countless times” as he has spent years working on zero emission vehicles. “Absolutely, it’s safe to charge in almost any weather condition,” he said in a neutral tone. That’s because EVs are purposely designed to withstand rain and water intrusion, not to mention the pesky dust particles that could wreak havoc on an electrical system.

Ratliff says that an electric car or truck, like the Nissan Leaf, has an “IP rating of 67”. OK, minus the engineers reading this story, we realize we’ve totally lost the crowd at this point. Read on, the explanation is simple and straightforward.

This numbering system is known as the Intrusion Protection Index, and it applies to a large number of items used in everyday life. This can include the smartphone in your pocket, wall outlets, kitchen appliances and, yes, even the electric car parked in your garage or driveway.

Read: What is better? Comparison of Tesla Model S and Model 3

The first of the two numbers relates to small foreign objects, such as dust particles or dirt. The second number (7 in this IP 67 rating) concerns protection against water and liquids. Ratliff explains that the rating scale ranges from 1 to 6 for dust / solid object protection, with 6 being the best protection. In terms of liquids, the scale goes from 1 to 8, again the higher the number corresponding to the better protection. So what is better than an electric car when it comes to water intrusion?

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Ratliff says an IP rating of 8 for water intrusion is reserved for highly specialized items. “A rating of 8 would be submersible and oceanic equipment… something underwater for a long, long time. Buoys are usually what you get in a rating of 8. “With that in mind, Ratliff comes up with a simple formula for how waterproof the high-voltage components of an electric vehicle are using this IP rating.

Using the Nissan Leaf as an example, Ratliff says that the IP 67 rating is equivalent to “submerging any component of our vehicle in water at 1 meter for 30 minutes… this applies to electrical components”. This means the battery and electric motors are designed to withstand this level of time and depth of immersion. In other words, the rating far exceeds anything you might encounter when you plug your EV into a charging station in the rain.

Ratliff offers additional peace of mind when it comes to concerns about inadvertent access to electrical parts and the interaction between a charger and a vehicle. “There’s no physical way for customers to touch certain components… we have a lot of different sensor technologies that can sense insulation, or any basic change within our tight tolerances, that’s when that all high voltage components turn off. “

Ratliff says it could include someone tinkering with an electric car or accidentally disconnecting vital cables and cords. This also relates to the way an EV shuts down after an accident, to make sure there is no electrical discharge.

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When it comes to charging stations, Ratliff explains that level 2 chargers usually come with an IP 44 rating. This provides protection against solid objects, such as dirt and dust, that are larger in size. to 1 millimeter. It also protects against splashing water, such as rain coming in all directions. Ratliff says creating an IP 67 compliant charging station would simply be “over-engineering” and not necessary. “With the level 2 load… the device acts like a big safety switch,” says Ratliff. “When you plug in the car, it starts communicating with the device. It takes measurements to determine that everything is safe and only then will it begin the flow of energy. “

So even if something goes wrong, the car and the charging socket will recognize the problem before something more serious happens. And for those times when you experience brain drain versus battery drain, your EV is here to take over. Want to try driving with an EV plugged in? Forget that.

“The vehicle will recognize that a charger is connected to it and will not exit the fleet with the device connected to it,” says Ratliff. In other words, unlike gas powered cars and trucks which will allow you to zoom in with a fuel hose connected to the tank, your EV is smart enough that it won’t let you make the same embarrassing and extremely dangerous mistake. This is true, rain or shine.

Read more : How to test a used car

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