Is it Dangerous to Charge Your EV in the Rain?

It is a well-known fact that electricity and water do not go well together. Most electronics shouldn’t be put in water and manufacturers constantly caution consumers against using their electronics in or near a wet environment. And for the most part, it’s not that hard to keep your toaster, television, or hairdryer away from water. But what if you are driving an electric vehicle (“EV”) and have to charge in the rain?

Electric vehicles are set to phase out internal combustion vehicles over the next decade or two. Although the technology behind EVs is decades old, the industry is still relatively new, and prospective customers as well as those who are just curious have plenty of questions. If you are thinking of purchasing an EV, the thought of running out of charge on a rainy day may have crossed your mind.

And if you paid attention to your parents and teachers as a child, you’re probably wary of going out into the soaking rain and plugging your electric vehicle into a charger. Maybe you’ll be electrocuted, maybe the car will explode: the possibilities seem endless. However, electric vehicle manufacturers took this into consideration, and consequently, most if not all EVs on the market can indeed be charged in the rain.

According to Jonathan Ratliff, Nissan North America’s senior manager for zero-emission technology development, he has heard this question “many many times” while spending years working on zero-emission vehicles. Because electric vehicles are purposefully engineered to withstand rain and water intrusion as well as dust particles that could wreak havoc on the electric system, he says, “it is safe to charge in nearly any weather condition.”

Like most items used in daily life like smartphones, wall outlets, and kitchen appliances, electric vehicles are subject to an Ingress Protection Rating, usually expressed in two digits. The first digit relates to small objects like dust particles or dirt while the second relates to protection against water and liquids. Ratcliff states that the rating scale for dust/solid object protection extends from 1-6, with 6 being the best protection while the scale for liquids ranges from 1-8, with 8 being the highest protection.

“An IP rating for 8 would be submersible and oceanic equipment, something underwater for a long, long time. Buoys are typically what you get in an 8 rating,” he says. The Nissan Leaf, for instance, has an IP rating of 67 and according to Ratliff, that is equivalent “to submerging any component of our vehicle in water at 1 meter for 30 minutes.” If the EV can withstand this level of submersion for up to thirty minutes, you can be sure it can withstand a little rainfall while it charges. It is no wonder that entities like Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) are in full support of switching to electric vehicles since every possible precaution to keep them safe was taken by manufacturers.

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