Do Electric Cars Need a Radiator & Cooling System? Answered!

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Radiators are very important for ICE cars; the radiator is used to cool down the car’s components like the engine and the battery. The car generates heat due to fuel combustion and the moving parts in the car; therefore, they need to be cooled down to protect from damage.

Although electric cars don’t have the same engine as ICE cars and don’t depend on fuel, they can also heat up. 

Do Electric Cars Need a Radiator & Cooling System?

Yes, electric cars do need a radiator and a cooling system because the batteries and other parts in the car need to be cooled down like the converters and motor; however, electric cars can use other ways to cool their components, for example, water pumps can be used to cool the battery’s pack. 

Water pumps can cool down the battery by rotating several pumps around the battery and passing a cooling liquid in the pumps; when the battery temperature rises, the cooling liquid absorbs the heat from the battery. 

In addition to keeping the battery and engine cool, some other electric cars manufacturers use the cooling systems for other components in the cars, such as: 

  • Inverter
  • DC/AC Converter
  • Controlling Electronics

What Radiator Type Electric Cars Use?

The radiator used in electric cars is different from the one used in the ICE cars; the ordinary radiator is replaced by a component called a heat exchanger in electric cars, which is found around the car’s batteries. The ICE cars have an internal combustion engine. 

Meanwhile, electric cars don’t have this type of engine. Instead, electric cars have electric motors powered by the electric energy produced from the batteries. Ninety percent of the energy produced by the batteries is used by the car, which means that the efficiency of electric cars is 90 percent

This means the car has a low amount of energy wasted as heat energy; in addition, they have few moving parts than the ones in the ICE cars, which results in nearly zero heat generated by the engine. The batteries of electric cars are the main reason for the heat in the cars because during the discharge and charge cycles of the battery, its temperature rises, and if the cycles are fast, that means the heat is generated much more. 

However, the batteries of electric cars don’t heat like the ones in the ICE cars, but they also have some problems because of the heating up. The batteries in electric cars face a problem because they rely on the potential difference between their poles; the negative and the positive poles. The battery’s voltage is formed from this potential difference, and in electric batteries, the voltage is very high. 

Therefore, the potential difference has to be always high, but when the battery’s temperature rises, the electrons get excited and move in the battery, which results in the potential difference being decreased; therefore, the battery’s efficiency is negatively affected. 

What is The Optimal Temperature for Electric Cars Batteries?

The temperature of electric car batteries should be between 20 to 40 degrees Celsius (68 to 104 Fahrenheit). Therefore, the manufacturers always recommend parking the car in shades to protect it from heating up. In addition, the battery cells should always have the same temperature because when they have different temperatures, they discharge and charge on different cycles, which decreases the battery’s efficiency. Overheating in some cases could lead to fire hazards if it reaches extreme levels. 

When the batteries suffer from overheating, their range is reduced; the best temperature for electric cars’ batteries is around 70 Fahrenheit, which equals 21.1 Celsius degrees; if the overheating problem occurs frequently, the lifespan of the batteries is shortened. 

What Are The Types of Cooling in Electric Cars? 

Air Cooling

The air cooling in electric cars follows the same way of cooling the ICE internal parts; a fan is used to cool the car’s internals; however, the air cooling is not efficient enough. The old models of electric and ICE cars use the air cooling method, which can cause overheating in some cars because it’s inefficient; the air cooling relays on the surrounding environment.

For example, if you are driving at high speed or the weather is windy, the air cooling system will cool down the car components, meanwhile, if you are driving at a low speed or the weather is hot, and there is no wind, the air cooling system will fail to cool the car down, and it will overheat.

Liquid Cooling

Most electric cars depend on liquid cooling due to their high heat conductivity and efficiency; many big brands like BMW, Tesla, and jaguar depend on the liquid cooling systems in their electric cars. In addition, they can also add radiators to the car to boost the liquid cooling system; the liquid cooling systems are constructed of pipes that run around the component and a cooling liquid that run through the pipes.

Glycol is the most used cooling liquid amount of most manufacturers; although the liquid cooling systems are very efficient and prevent overheating problems, they can also suffer from some problems like leaking; in addition, the liquid cooling systems need regular maintenance.

In some electric car models, the cooling liquid needs to be replaced after a certain amount of distance driven; meanwhile, in some other models, they can last for the car’s entire life. Unlike the ICE cars, the liquid cooling system is more efficient because it’s only activated by the ECU when the car needs to be cooled down; this increases the battery’s efficiency because the water pumps are powered using electricity.

In addition, the liquid cooling systems are installed in the car’s front next to the grilles of the car; this makes the air released through the grilles after it passes inside the fins of the radiator; in some electric cars models, the ECU decides when to release the air and when not by opening and closing the cover found on the grilles.

Both liquid cooling and air cooling systems can transfer the heat using the fins outside the battery or the motor; this can depend on the manufacturer and the model of the electric car.

Here’s a video that explains liquid cooling systems in electric cars:

Refrigerants

The refrigerant cooling systems are used mostly with AC systems; it cools down the pumped air from the vents of the AC by running through the chilling unit; however, the refrigerants can be used to cool down the batteries in some models. The refrigerants can have only one downside: they use greenhouse gases; the greenhouse gases can be very harmful to the environment; therefore, they can’t be leaked. 

Heat Pumps

The heat pumps are old technology; they are not recently discovered; however, many brands are now changing into heat pumps because they are more efficient than other cooling systems. The heat pump is similar to the heat pump found in the house; they are used to transfer heat from the place where it’s not required to the place it’s needed. 

The heat generated from the batteries while operating is transferred into the car’s cabin to make it warmer during cold weather. The only downside of heat pumps is that they can work in very cold areas at 25 to 30 Fahrenheit, which creates a problem for electric car owners in cold regions. TheThe manufacturers currently are working on a technology that makes the heat pumps work in cold areas. 

Conclusion

Yes, electric cars do need a radiator and a cooling system because the batteries and other parts in the car need to be cooled down like the converters and motor; however, electric cars can use other ways to cool their components, for example, water pumps can be used to cool the battery’s pack. 

Water pumps can cool down the battery by rotating several pumps around the battery and passing a cooling liquid in the pumps; when the battery temperature rises, the cooling liquid absorbs the heat from the battery.

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