Published on October 2nd, 2020 |
by Steve Hanley
October 2nd, 2020 by Steve Hanley
We all know that electricity and water don’t mix. It’s why we have ground fault circuit breakers near our sinks, to prevent us from getting shocked when we have one hand in soapy water when we reach for a light switch with the other. Many of you will remember the scene in Goldfinger when James Bond electrocutes a villain by throwing an electric fan into a bathtub full of water. Shocking!
So it is little wonder that many people are frightened of charging an electric car in the rain or driving it through a puddle. Not to worry, say the folks at AutoTrader. EVs are about as waterproof as submarines. They reached out to Jonathon Ratliff, Nissan North America’s senior manager for zero emission technology development, who told them, “Absolutely, it’s safe to charge in nearly any weather condition.”
It’s all about what engineers call an “ingress protection rating” or IP, which consists of two numbers. The first digit refers to dust particle penetration and goes from 1 to 6 with 6 being the highest rating. The second number refers to water intrusion with 8 being the highest. So any item — a smartphone, a wall outlet, or a kitchen appliance — could have a maximum IP rating of 68. Ratliff says the Nissan LEAF has a rating of 67, making it only slightly less susceptible to water intrusion than a nuclear submarine. Ratliff says it is equivalent “to submerging any component of our vehicle in water at 1 meter for 30 minutes.”
Ratliff adds, “There is no physical way for customers to touch certain components. We have many different sensor technologies that can detect isolation, or any basic change in our strict tolerances. That’s when all the high voltage components turn off.” That could include someone tinkering with an electric car or accidentally disconnecting power cables. It also relates to how an EV shuts itself down after an accident to ensure there is no discharge of electricity.
Not to worry when it comes to charging in the rain, either. Ratliff explains most Level 2 chargers have an IP rating of 44 — enough to handle rain pelting down from any direction. “With Level 2 charging … the device acts as a big safety switch,” he says. “When you plug the car in, it starts communication with the device. It does measurements to determine everything is safe and only then will it begin the flow of energy.”
The takeaway? Charging your EV in the rain or driving it through puddles is completely safe, any rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. So don’t worry. Drive happy.
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