This article looks at how long your electric car can remain parked without losing its charge. We explore the factors that influence an electric vehicle’s battery charge when it is not being used and investigate topics such as battery self-discharge, temperature effects, and other electrical draining systems that consume power even when the car is not in use.
By the end of this article, you should have a pretty good understanding of how long you can leave your EV fully charged and be ready to fire it straight up on your return!
How long can an electric vehicle sit without being charged?
How long an electric car can sit without being charged is typically between a couple of weeks to several months without significant loss of charge. This is a fairly broad range and that’s because the actual time taken will vary from car to car depending on the following factors:
- The battery’s state of charge
- The size of the battery
- How old or degraded is the battery
- The temperature outside
- Other systems in the car using power
What factors affect how long an EV can sit without charging?
Let’s explore these factors in more detail.
The size and capacity of an EV battery determine the amount of energy it can store. Vehicles with larger battery packs can typically sit idle for longer periods without charging, when fully charged they have more energy stored in the battery.
State of charge
The obvious point on this list is the initial state of charge.
Leaving a fully charged battery will clearly last longer compared to a partially charged one. However, did you know that it’s important not to leave the battery at 100% state of charge for extended periods? as this can cause the battery to degrade and cause charging problems in the future.
Battery age and health
As batteries age, their capacity and performance gradually decrease (sounds familiar!). Older batteries tend to have reduced capacity and may run out more quickly than newer ones.
The temperature outside
Temperature can significantly affect an EV battery’s discharge rate. Extreme temperatures, particularly high heat, can accelerate battery discharge and contribute to long-term degradation. In contrast, cold temperatures can temporarily decrease battery capacity, leading to reduced range. Storing an EV in a temperature-controlled environment can help maintain the battery’s health and extend the duration it can sit without charging.
Other systems in the car might be using power
Some vehicle systems, such as security features and car infotainment systems, may use power when the car is not in use. You can disable anything you are not using if you plan to keep a vehicle idle for long periods without charging.
Different types of batteries have varying self-discharge rates, which can influence how long an EV can sit without charging. For example, lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in modern EVs, generally have low self-discharge rates compared to older battery chemistries, such as nickel-metal hydride.
How to look after an EV battery when you are not using it
Here are Electric Car Guides’ top tips for maintaining an EV battery when you are not using the car:
- Charge the battery to an optimal level
Before storing your EV, make sure the battery is adequately charged. Different manufacturers may provide specific guidance, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for a state of charge (SoC) between 20% and 70%. This range helps keep the battery running smoothly and reduces self-discharge during storage.
- Avoid 100% full charge
Fully charging can be detrimental to a battery’s health, try not to do this!
- Store in a cool place
Yep, that’s cool as in temperature! High temperatures can damage EV batteries. So try and park it in a shaded area or even better in a garage. Extremely low temperatures can also affect the battery, so avoid the Antarctica tundra if possible. The manufacturer will have a recommended temperature range so make sure you check that out before storing your EV.
- Keep the EV connected to your charger
This way if you plan to store your EV for an extended period, you can top up with a trickle charge to keep the battery at an optimal SoC without overcharging it. Configure this with your EVs smart charger.
- Read the manufacturer’s guidelines
EV manufacturers often provide specific guidelines for storing and maintaining electric vehicles. Be sure to consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer for any recommendations or precautions specific to your EV model.
What is the typical lifespan of an EV battery?
The current school of thought on this is that batteries will last between 10 and 20 years.
The lifespan of EV batteries will vary depending on several factors, including:
- The materials used in the battery
- How you use or drive an EV
- How do you charge the EV (i.e. do you let it fully deplete or charge to 100%? both bad ideas)
- Environmental conditions
Are EV batteries covered by a warranty?
On average, most EV manufacturers provide warranties for their main batteries that cover a certain number of years or mileage. Typically an electric car warranty averages between 5 to 8 years. Electric Car Guide research has found that the best EV battery warranty on offer currently in the UK are provided by Fisker and Lexus, they both offer 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty (whichever comes first).
Can an EV battery be revived if it has died after it’s not been used?
Not very easily, an EV battery that has completely died due to long periods of non-use may be challenging to revive. There are a few first steps to consider when trying to revive it:
- Jump-start the 12-volt battery
If you need to, jump-start the 12-volt EV battery in order to fire up the infotainment system that gives you information about whether or not the EV is charging.
- Allow time for charging
Once you have reconnected the neglected device to a home charging station you must give it some time! It may take several hours or even days for the battery to regain a sufficient charge. Be patient and allow the charging process to continue.
- Check for signs of life
After some time of charging, monitor the charging progress and check for any signs of life in the vehicle. Look for indications such as dashboard lights illuminating or the vehicle’s systems responding.
- Consult professional assistance
So if the above steps don’t result in any progress, it’s advisable to contact the manufacturer’s customer support, a local garage or your EV breakdown cover provider if you have the right level of cover to deal with this issue.
The final word on how long an electric car sit without being charged
We now know that EVs can stay charged when parked for between two weeks to two months and beyond if carefully maintained. However, there are tons of external factors that will influence how long an EV stays charged.
Taking preventative measures, such as using a battery maintainer or trickle charger during extended periods of inactivity, can help maintain the battery charge and ensure the electric vehicle stays charged for longer. Also, make sure you review the guidelines provided by the car manufacturer when it comes to storage and charging.
Implementing best practices can help electric vehicle owners preserve their vehicle’s battery charge during periods of inactivity. As electric vehicle battery tech advances, we will no doubt see improvements in performance and we will see EVs hold their charge even longer when parked and not used.
Ready to dive even deeper...
John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.