Volt Battery Charging in extreme cold weather
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Thread: Volt Battery Charging in extreme cold weather

  1. #1
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    Default Volt Battery Charging in extreme cold weather

    I was just talking to someone who is driving one of the test a plug-in Priuses. He has had it about a week. Apparently he was adivsed that if the temperature was below zero not to charge the battery and if the temp was -20F do not drive the vehicle at all. Why? Is this bad for the battery or the car? Being in Maine we can get temps well below zero in the winter. With the thermal management system in the Volt, is this a concern? I was surprised to hear this.

  2. #2
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    They held up release of the 2011 models last November to do last minute testing in Fairbanks, AK. I don't recall they had any issues with the extreme low temps. The Volt also turns on the ICE when temps go below 26deg F to provide heating.
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  3. #3
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    The more I read about charging issues other cars have that are related to battery longevity, crippled winter range, lack of thermal management, etc., the more brilliant the Volt's engineering looks.
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  5. #4
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    @ VoltinME,

    This actually came from a previous post:

    If the Battery Too Cold, Plug In to Warm message is displayed on the Driver Information Center of the 2011 Volt, the vehicle will not start until the high voltage battery is warmed up. This condition usually occurs on vehicles that have been parked for a prolonged period of time in extremely cold temperatures (approximately -14F or -25C) When the vehicle is subjected to cold temperatures for an extended length of time, the electrolyte in the high voltage battery cells starts to freeze. Once this occurs, current cannot pass through the battery for any reason, such as starting the gasoline engine or powering the battery internal heater. It is a physical limitation much the same as diesel fuel gelling at very cold temperatures and making the vehicle impossible to start. If this condition occurs, plug in the vehicle to allow the charging system to warm the high voltage battery, and then the vehicle can be started. Without a charger to provide power from somewhere besides the high voltage battery, the contactors cannot be closed and the vehicle cannot be started. The Volt does not have a conventional 12V starter and needs the high voltage battery to supply voltage to the electric motor to start the gasoline engine.

    The best tip for when you live in area that can get that cold, keep the Volt plugged in when possible, even when fully charged, to keep the battery temperature ready for the next drive.
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  6. #5
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    Trevor is the same true of extended periods at high temp (100F+), will the battery temp management eventually run the battery into a discharge state.
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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by VoltinME View Post
    With the thermal management system in the Volt, is this a concern? I was surprised to hear this.
    Closely related threads:
    Volt-Engine-Operation-in-Cold-Ambient-Temperatures
    http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread....t-Temperatures

    Why-battery-performance-degrades-in-cold-weather-Chemistry-101
    http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread....-Chemistry-101

  8. #7
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    It seems that everytime this question is asked, the general consensus is that if the Volt is going to be stationary near an outlet for an extended amount of time, there is benefit in plugging it in regardless of the battery SOC.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steverino View Post
    The more I read about charging issues other cars have that are related to battery longevity, crippled winter range, lack of thermal management, etc., the more brilliant the Volt's engineering looks.
    Totally agree. I am pretty confident that the Volt is the best EV in cold Ottawa winters. The fact it also has a dual heating is cool too (i.e., can heat cabin on electricity only but is also smart enough to redirect heat from generator to cabin when running in CS mode). Trust me you have (and I will have soon!) the most advanced vehicle on the planet!
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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevrolet Customer Svc View Post
    @ VoltinME,

    This actually came from a previous post:

    If the Battery Too Cold, Plug In to Warm message is displayed on the Driver Information Center of the 2011 Volt, the vehicle will not start until the high voltage battery is warmed up. This condition usually occurs on vehicles that have been parked for a prolonged period of time in extremely cold temperatures (approximately -14F or -25C)
    ==========================

    The only question that leaves is exactly what is "a prolonged period of time"? That is kind of vague.....

    If I go to work at 7:30 AM and it is below zero outside, and maybe have to work late until 6:30 PM, is 11 hours considered "prolonged"?

    Or are we talking about days or weeks? That term can mean different things to different people.

    And I don't have a way to plug in at work, so this could be important!

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Jim I; 08-12-2011 at 05:19 PM.

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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim I View Post
    The only question that leaves is exactly what is "an prolonged period of time"? That is kind of vague.....

    If I go to work at 7:30 AM and it is below zero outside, and maybe have to work late until 6:30 PM, is 11 hours considered "extended"?

    Or are we talking about days or weeks? That term can mean different things to different people.

    And I don't have a way to plug in at work, so this could be important!

    Thanks.
    I think this depends a little bit on how cold it is outside. The Volt's battery is well insulatd, and will stay warm for many hours, if not days, under almost all reasonable circumstances, even in Canada! If it's -50 F, then heat will transfer out of the battery pack faster. Then those "many hours, if not days" could turn into just a few hours. That's because conductive heat transfer rate is proportional to temperature difference. (q = U * A * deltaT) Make sense?

    If you are only worried about a normal workday, you should be fine. I can't imagine the battery losing that much heat that quickly. Plus, if you get really worried, just remote start your Volt at lunch time, to warm it up.

    P.S. Try to keep your Volt away from wind if the temperature is really really cold, because wind will add a small bit of convective heat transfer.

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