Why your new electric vehicle should have a heat pump
What is a heat pump and why should I care?
A heat pump is more or less exactly what it sounds like. It’s a pump that takes warm air or liquid from a source and then compresses it to raise the temperature. The elevated temperature air or liquid can then circulate around something you are sitting in, be it a car or your house. It’s basically like the compressor on your refrigerator, but in reverse.
The reason for this is that heat pump heating can help significantly increase the range of your electric car on one charge in cold weather.
Martin Dunne, technical guru from Peugeot Ireland: “Peugeot has opted for what is known as a dual indirect heat pump. Indirectly, because the heat pump heats a water circuit that then flows through the air heater. Double because the system uses a second water circuit. With our household refrigerator it is the other way around, with a refrigerator we take the heat out from the inside and release it to the outside, with a heat pump the heat is taken from the cooling of the battery and drive train and fed into the vehicle interior.
“In addition to the heat pump, we have also installed a 400-volt water heater and a 12-volt air heater in our e-CMP vehicles [such as the e-208 and e-2008]. We would say that the advantage of a heat pump is that we provide between 1.5 and 3 kW of heating energy for 1 kW of electricity consumption. The difference depends on the outside temperature. The ideal outside temperature range for maximum heat pump efficiency is between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius, where our temperature in Ireland is more than 80 percent of the time. “
Does this mean that my electric car has less range in winter?
Partly yes. Any electric car battery will perform less well in very cold conditions because the chemical reaction that takes place in the battery, which actually creates an electrical current, slows down as the temperature drops. So the battery has to work harder, and the cooling and heating circuit that tries to stabilize the temperature of the battery has to work harder as well. All of this leads to an increased load on the battery.
A heat pump really helps with all of this as it can pull excess heat from the electric motor and battery (both of which heat up with use) and distribute that heat into your car’s cabin to warm it up faster and more efficiently in cold winter days.
How much energy can a heat pump save me?
As with everything, this will vary greatly from car to car, but according to Kia, the heat pump heating system in the eNiro electrical crossover consumes around 1.75 kW in operation compared to 5.5 kW in the conventional heating system. That’s a huge saving, especially when you’re trying to push the battery capacity to the limit on a long drive.
Does it also help with the air conditioning?
No not true. The hint is in the name. Thanks to the increasing efficiency of air conditioning systems, an air conditioning system no longer drains your battery half as much as it used to. An example of this is the test recently carried out by the consumer group Which? To see if you could end up in a traffic jam with a dead battery, Which? took a new Volkswagen ID.4 and left it in full swing with the headlights on, infotainment streaming from Spotify, heated seats and air conditioning. Despite all this stress, the VW only lost two percent of its total battery charge in just over an hour.
Heating the cabin, on the other hand, uses significantly more electricity. A back-to-back test in Canada with a Kia eNiro showed that the car had a maximum range of around 310 km with the cabin heater in cold conditions between -6 and +4 degrees Celsius. In contrast, the same car had a calculated range of 434 km in mid-June in summer outside temperatures and with the air conditioning switched on.
So why aren’t there more electric cars with standard heat pumps?
We asked Volkswagen about this because the popular ID.3 and ID.4 models shine with the fact that a heat pump is only available as an expensive option for € 1,142. “The efficiency is particularly noticeable at outside temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. Due to the temperate climate in Ireland – the annual average is between 7 and 19 degrees Celsius – the advantages of a heat pump compared to a colder climate, such as that found in Scandinavia, may not be realized, ”said a VW spokesman.
“The heat pump is available as an option for the ID.3 and ID.4 and is standard for the ID.4 Max and ID.4 GTX Max equipment lines. and we currently have an uptake rate of around two percent in Ireland for this feature. “
Do I even need one?
Yes you do. Okay, so maybe our temperate climate doesn’t really push an EV battery to the top, but it’s still nice to have a toasty warm cabin when you need it and every bit of extra efficiency helps, doesn’t only on long journeys, but also to get as much exercise benefits as possible from every kWh of electricity that is plugged into the battery when charging.