Myth Buster: Your EV Won't Function in Water

December 22, 2020

Myth 1: You can’t dri­ve an EV in the rain / You can’t get your EV wet

Myth 2: You can’t dri­ve an EV through a puddle

Myth 3: You can’t charge your EV in the rain

Myth BUSTED: EVs are safe to dri­ve through water and hold no threat of elec­tric shock when wet due to bat­tery insu­la­tion. Charg­ing in the rain is safe and holds no threat of short-cir­cuit­ing, sparks, or oth­er dangers.

Even if you don’t know much about elec­tric vehi­cles (EVs), the most impor­tant char­ac­ter­is­tic of this type of vehi­cle is imme­di­ate­ly appar­ent: elec­tric cars are, well, elec­tric. EVs are charged off an out­let through an elec­tric cur­rent. The ener­gy is then stored in a bat­tery some­where in the frame of the car (typ­i­cal­ly on the bot­tom, front, or back of the vehi­cle, depend­ing on the model).

One ques­tion that EV experts are com­mon­ly asked is a vari­a­tion of “Is it safe to use/drive/charge my EV when it is rain­ing or wet?” The short answer is “yes!”

In fact, elec­tric cars pose no threat of elec­tric shock and are not dan­ger­ous to dri­ve in the rain. Like­wise, EVs are safe to dri­ve through water, includ­ing deep pud­dles (though, of course, we would not rec­om­mend try­ing to dri­ve though flood­wa­ters) (Per­ry, 2018.)

The bat­ter­ies and accom­pa­ny­ing elec­tric sys­tems in EVs are iso­lat­ed and equipped with exten­sive safe­ty sys­tems that auto­mat­i­cal­ly shut off pow­er and insu­late the bat­tery packs when a col­li­sion or short cir­cuit is detect­ed (Gra­bi­anows­ki, 2008). It is pret­ty much impos­si­ble, under nor­mal work­ing con­di­tions, for water to come into direct con­tact with the bat­ter­ies them­selves (Gra­bi­anows­ki, 2008). Also, con­sid­er the fact that your cur­rent gas car has an elec­tri­cal sys­tem! Your inter­nal com­bus­tion engine (ICE) vehi­cle includes elec­tri­cal sound sys­tems, elec­tric and dig­i­tal screens, and elec­tric sys­tems to run the lights. These sys­tems do not short out or shock any­one when you are dri­ving in the rain or through a large pud­dle. The same is true for an elec­tric vehicle—in fact, it can be argued that the bat­tery sys­tems in elec­tric vehi­cles are far more insu­lat­ed than the bat­tery pack cur­rent­ly sit­ting under your hood.

Addi­tion­al­ly, EVs have been test­ed in deep water and can safe­ly dri­ve through deep­er waters than ICE vehi­cles can (Gra­bi­anows­ki, 2008; Per­ry 2018). A quick YouTube search will bring up a pletho­ra of videos fea­tur­ing EVs dri­ving through deep waters, “Elec­tric cars are gen­er­al­ly bet­ter than con­ven­tion­al cars when it comes to deal­ing with excess sur­face water. EVs work in a less com­plex way than fos­sil fuel pow­ered cars, mean­ing that some of the tra­di­tion­al risks with tak­ing cars through deep water no longer apply," (Per­ry, 2018). One of the pri­ma­ry ben­e­fits of the EV design is a sim­pler, more effi­cient, less com­plex sys­tem with few­er mov­ing parts. Few­er parts = less oppor­tu­ni­ty for malfunction.

Ok, so you can safe­ly dri­ve in the rain and through pud­dles. But what about charg­ing your car in the rain?

Charg­ing your car requires you to hook up the ener­gy source (charg­er) with your car via an elec­tric cord. Is it safe to charge in the mid­dle of a rain­storm or snow­storm? Again, the short answer is, “yes!”

When you charge your EV, you are not exposed to the direct elec­tri­cal cur­rent. Elec­tric­i­ty will not flow through the charg­ing sta­tion with­out being firm­ly locked into your car’s charge-port. Addi­tion­al­ly, both res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial charg­ing sta­tions are designed to pro­tect you, your vehi­cle, and the charg­ing equip­ment. Elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers want—and need—you to feel and be safe when charg­ing your EV, “pro­tec­tive lay­ers are incor­po­rat­ed into the design of charg­ing sta­tion equip­ment, pre­vent­ing any risk of short-cir­cuit­ing, sparks, and oth­er dan­gers," (Gra­bi­anows­ki, 2008).

In the end, the most shock you’ll get when dri­ving an elec­tric vehi­cle is the sur­prised look on your face when you first feel the accel­er­a­tion of instant torque on the high­way. So buck­le up and go check out an EV near you!

Source 1: Ed Gra­bi­anows­ki "Will I get shocked if I dri­ve an elec­tric car through a big pud­dle?" 18 August 2008.
HowStuffWorks.com. <https://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/vehicles/electric-car-shock.htm>

Source 2: Tris­tan Per­ry "Is Dri­ving an Elec­tric Car Through Flood Water Safe?" 29 Decem­ber 2018.  Green Car Future. <https://www.greencarfuture.com/electric/driving-through-flood-water>

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