Paul Holdsworth, Engineer
31 Jan : Updated 16 Nov ● 6 min read
If you’ve bought an electric car for the first time, there’s a good chance that you’re wondering about the optimal way to charge your vehicle to get the most out of its battery.
And commonly, owners wonder whether or not they should charge their EV every night.
While many do leave their electric car to charge every night, this can have negative effects on the battery's range and lifespan and it’s only recommended that you charge when needing to do so, to ensure there’s sufficient range in the vehicle for your next journey.
In this guide, we've laid out a detailed guide with everything you need to know about charging your EV overnight and if you're wondering, should I charge my electric car every night? read on for everything you need to know!
If you're planning to leave your electric car to charge overnight, you may be wondering if there's any risk involved with leaving it plugged in for that long.
However, electric car batteries contain battery management systems that automatically disconnect the battery once it reaches full charge, so there is no risk of it becoming overcharged and causing damage.
Lithium-ion batteries are now the norm in most battery-powered devices and have mostly replaced nickel-based batteries. They're found in electric bikes, mobile phones, solar power storage units and electric cars, as well as many other usages.
As EV battery technology has improved over the last few decades, the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries has increased massively, and so has their ability to store energy durably, for a long period of time. This is the reason for their use in electric vehicles and why they have been so extensively produced.
One downside of lithium-ion battery packs is that they will gradually decay during their lifespan if they're not charged in an optimal way.
How much and how quickly they decay depends on two things: how many charging cycles they go through during their lifespan and how much time the EV battery spends above 80% and below 20% charge.
If you charge your electric car every night, this will increase the number of charging cycles that your car's battery pack goes through, ultimately decreasing its lifespan.
Equally, if your electric vehicle is left on charge all night every night, it will reach its full battery capacity, meaning that it will be spending a lot of time above 80% charge capacity. This will also shorten the lifespan and, over time, will decrease the range of your electric vehicle.
You should always check the car's user manual for advice on the optimal amount of time your batteries should be left on charge.
One of the main reasons that people choose to charge their electric cars overnight is that electricity costs tend to be cheaper at night than during the day, and this is especially the case for those on specialist EV tariffs. This is due to the fact that demand for electricity is generally lower during the night, as fewer people are using the grid.
If you are planning to charge your electric car at night, then it's always best to make sure you check if this will actually be the most affordable option for you, however, this will almost always be most cost-effective than charging during the day.
Another thing to consider is that as electric vehicles grow in popularity, the demand for electricity at night will most likely increase, meaning that the cost of electricity will likely also increase.
A common concern amongst owners when charging their EV is that they will continue to be charged for electricity even once the battery has reached its full capacity, but this is not the case as the battery will contain charge controllers that disconnect the battery once it's fully charged and therefore limit energy consumption.
Another reason that owners of electric vehicles are tempted to charge their cars every night is range anxiety.
This is the common fear that their vehicle will run out of charge during their journey when they are not near a charging station, and it's one of the main reasons that many people are reluctant to make the switch to an electric car.
However, studies have shown that the average driver travels less than 40 miles a day, and all EVs have the battery capacity to cover this distance several times over. For example, a Nissan Leaf can cover 239 miles on a single charge.
As we've covered, it's optimal to try and keep your battery charged to over 20% capacity and under 80% capacity as much as possible to increase its lifespan and prevent it from losing range.
So, if your daily commute is on average, let’s say, 40 to 50 miles, you should only need to charge your vehicle every few days. However, if you're planning to make a long trip that will push the limits of your EV's range, then it makes absolute sense to charge the battery to its full capacity.
In many cases, a simple rule is to think about charging your EV the same way as you would fill up a petrol car’s tank. You wouldn’t fill this up every day unless the tank was running low, but would wait until either your fuel light came on or you knew you had a long journey coming up.
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So, should I charge my electric car every night?
Although it's certainly safe to charge your EV at night, and it can be the most economical option, it's certainly not best to make a habit out of charging it every night unless you need to do so.
Ultimately, it will lead to the battery’s lifespan being shortened and will reduce the range that you can travel on a single charge. Switching to electric is definitely the best choice, and there's no need to worry about the charging process.
If you follow the advice we've laid out in this guide, charging your car shouldn’t be seen any differently to filling your old car with fuel.