Ever wonder if superchargers damage your car battery? You’re not alone, its a concern of many Tesla owners.
Superchargers are fast charging stations that can give you 200 miles’ worth of energy in just 15 minutes.
That’s certainly convenient, especially if you’re taking your EV on a long road trip…but is it safe or will it damage the battery?
Unfortunately, many people have a tendency to under-charge and over-charge their batteries—and that’s what causes damage, not the Supercharger itself.
Why are people worried that the Tesla Supercharger is bad for batteries?
The supercharger is like a firehose of energy. To shorten charging time, Tesla Superchargers have to use higher charging power (namely, 480 volts at 250 amps).
So, the main concern is that either the battery gets “overloaded” or that it overheats.
And when the battery performance is affected, you get less mileage and you may eventually end up replacing it prematurely.
And that’s expensive. Depending on your model and the type of damage, you can spend anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000.
The battery is designed to prevent overcharging
Manufacturers—whether of phones or electronic cars—use a battery management system (BMS) that prevents overcharging.
When BMS detects that the car battery is reaching 100%, it slows down the charging process by lowering the amps that flow into it.
Eventually, the charging rate matches the self-discharging rate, also known as the “Trickle Charge.”
That’s why it’s perfectly safe to leave your EV charged overnight, or to use the Tesla SuperCharger to top up your battery before you go on a road trip.
You can even leave your EV to charge for days at home when you go out of town—your battery won’t break, and your house will not burn down because of a battery fire.
The right batteries prevent overheating
Fast charging can generate more heat, which can damage the battery over time.
However, EV manufacturers have anticipated this, and use liquid cooling batteries and other thermal management systems.
In fact, the only overheating issue ever Tesla had was with its CPUs and screens, not its battery.
But there’s a caveat. While Tesla certainly designed its batteries to work well with the Tesla Superchargers, you don’t get the same level of guarantee when you are using electronic vehicles from other brands.
Other EVs can use the Tesla Supercharger stations, as long as you have an adaptor. But before you plug in, check your car manual to see what kind of batteries you have.
There are some EVs like the Nissan Leaf that still use air-cooling batteries. These will be more prone to overheating during supercharging.
It won’t destroy the battery if you only Supercharge when you really need it, but it’s not advisable to do it every day.
Do’s and Don’ts of Charging Your EV Battery
Tesla Superchargers are powerful and safe to use. What really destroys the battery are bad charging habits.
What charging habits are damaging your car battery?
For example, don’t be the EV owner who either let the battery drain out to almost zero before you charge it up, nor the one who keeps “topping up the battery” to 100% every single day.
Any kind of extreme charging—either too little, or too much—can shorten your battery life.
The risk for battery damage also increases if you tend to swing between extremes. For example, you let the battery drain sometimes, but then you randomly decide to Supercharge it for no real reason.
Then you park the car for a couple of weeks and Supercharge it again even if it’s only dropped to 90%.
But remember, battery life is not cut-and-dried, and there are many factors that can affect durability and performance.
Forgetting to charge a few times, or supercharging it a few times a year for vacations, are unlikely to do long-term, extensive damage. Doing that every day can.
And let’s be frank: some EV car batteries already have a reputation in forums for not meeting the 8-year battery life demanded by federal regulations.
What’s the best way to charge your battery without damaging it?
Tesla and other EV manufacturers recommend maintaining the battery at 30% to 80% each day, especially if you’re just doing short city driving.
You won’t need that much juice to get around anyway, and there are plenty of charging stations in case your battery falls to below 30%.
Only use the Supercharging Stations when 1) you’re hitting the lower limits, like your car is at 30% to 50% and need a quick boost, and 2) when you are going for a long drive and need a full battery for the extra mileage.
Some car models also allow you to set charging limits in the settings, i.e. “Maximum 80%”. This can help program your car so that you never go beyond the manufacturer’s recommended charging limits.
How can you extend EV car battery life?
Aside from staying with n the recommended charging limits, it’s also important to prevent the battery’s exposure to extreme temperatures and moisture.
If it’s a very hot day, park your car under the shade. Make sure your garage or other parking area isn’t humid or damp.
If you are going out of town and leaving the car for long periods of time, make sure it is covered and will not be exposed to the elements.
The myth of overcharging a battery has been around for a long time. A lot of people worry about overcharging their phone or their laptop; it’s not surprising that they think the same thing will happen to their EV.
However, EV manufacturers prioritize safety and performance and design the car battery to prevent overcharging and overheating.
In fact, the batteries of EVs last a lot longer than the batteries of traditional cars that use fuel.
So if an EV battery breaks down, it’s not the SuperCharger that’s the problem—it’s improper charging habits. As long as you follow the car manufacturer’s recommended charging limits, you can maximize battery life.