How Do Electric Cars Make Heat (For Heating Passengers)?

Have you recently purchased an electric car and wondered how it heats passengers? Or are you considering switching to electric and want to know how it will keep you and your passengers warm on colder days?

Or maybe you are just curious about how electric cars work and make heat? Whatever your reason might be, you have come to the right place!

We all want to know more about the products we buy and how they work; our cars are no exception. Not only does it help us better understand how they operate, but it helps us identify when there is a problem and take them in for repairs before they become a bigger problem. After all, none of us want to be hit with hefty repair bills, do we? 

But how do we find out how electric cars make heat for heating passengers? Electric cars are still a relatively new development, meaning not all of us fully understand how they work. It makes finding the information you need challenging and often leaves you stressed with a headache. 

Well, no more! Today we are here with all the answers you will need! So keep reading to discover how electric cars make heat for heating passengers and become electric car experts. 

How Do Electric Cars Make Heat?

Let’s get straight into it! Electric cars make heat in a very different way from gasoline cars. The engine exhaust heat is re-used in a regular gasoline car to provide warm air for the heater. Electric vehicles don’t have that option and need to get their heat elsewhere. 

How they do this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. But typically, conventional air-conditioning systems are used. These require an electrical heater and work similarly to AC units in regular cars.

The electrical heater and other components will generate heat and distribute it across the car, keeping you and your passengers warm. But the downside to this is that the use of the heater relates to the car’s power consumption.

What does that mean for you? It means that your electric car will need to be charged more often. The battery will be depleted faster, and you will get less driving range than if you didn’t run the heater.

While EV manufacturers are working on ways around this, speak to the dealership or manufacturer before purchasing an electric car. Ask them what heating system the car uses and how much electricity it takes. This can help you see how much it will impact your driving time and make an informed decision. 

But is there an alternative to conventional air conditioning systems?

Nissan’s Cabin Heater 

You might have heard about the Nissan Leaf, but if you haven’t, it’s quickly becoming a favorite for those seeking an affordable electric car. Nissan’s Leaf is the first mass-produced vehicle in the world to use a heat-pump cabin heater instead of conventional heaters. 

The heat pump works slightly differently than conventional air-conditioning and can be a fantastic way to avoid energy depletion while driving and heating the car. It heats the cabin using the difference in temperature between a refrigerant and the outside air. What does this do? It allows you to heat the car cabin with less power than other methods and keep you warm. 

When in use, the external capacitor absorbs heat from the atmosphere outside the vehicle. The heat from the outside air is transferred to the cabin, using only the power of the consumption pump. That means far less energy is being used, taking any pressure off your battery and allowing you to drive for longer. 

It’s considered a more efficient way to heat your car with the heat exchange running on lower power consumption than conventional air conditioning systems. You set the temperature, and the pump gets to work heating and cooling as you see fit. You can also easily switch between the cooler and heater by adjusting the compression rotation to accommodate. 

When heating the vehicle for yourself and your passengers, the heat should kick in fairly quickly, meaning you aren’t left shivering at the steering wheel. There is also the option to add heated seats and a steering wheel to your Nissan Leaf, which should help the car feel warmer than before. We would recommend looking into this if you live in a colder climate.

It will make driving more enjoyable for you, especially in the mornings and evenings when it can be the coldest. Speak to your dealership about these options, as they can provide accurate pricing and additional recommendations where needed. 

What About Other Electric Cars?

Other electric cars, like Teslas, use a resistive heating element that helps warm the cabin and heat yourself and your passengers.

How it works is similar to electric space heaters or heated seats and is designed to solve range issues and provide a warmer car in colder climates. On paper, the system seems almost 100% efficient, converting all of its energy into heat, but it reduces the mileage owners see from their vehicles. 

Since then, Tesla has been working on and has started using its heat pump that works similarly to Nissan’s pump. It can produce 3kW of thermal energy for every 1kW used, increasing its efficiency and allowing you to enjoy a far better range. 

Owners also noted that they were warmer in colder climates too. As heating electric cars in colder climates have been an ongoing issue, it’s fantastic to see a method that could bring an end to the dilemma! 

Final Word

Heating electric cars, especially in colder climates, has been an issue where we have seen owners either left feeling cold or with reduced mileage. But the heat pumps used by Nissan and now Tesla look set to change that! They offer a more efficient way to heat your car and its passengers and will likely be the future for all electric cars. 

Other brands have also started to use them. But before purchasing your electric car, we recommend speaking to your dealership about the heating system used to help you buy the most efficient electric vehicle on the market. 

In addition to speaking to your vehicle dealership, be aware of the cold weather effects on an EV and how they handle the snow if you experience harsh winters.