Can you Charge an Electric Car in the Rain? (Is it safe?)

Perhaps you’re thinking back to your science class, or maybe any warning really, telling you that it’s never a good idea to mix water and electricity. We’ve all heard the horror stories about hair dryers and curling irons falling into bathtubs and the like. We certainly wouldn’t want to suffer the same fate while charging our electric vehicles (EVs), right? 

So, if you’re one of the many people asking, “can you charge an electric car in the rain?“, we’ll help you get to the bottom of that question.

The short answer is; yes, you can charge an electric car in the rain. Although there are many people concerned about potentially electrocuting themselves, electric vehicle engineers have considered this and made adjustments to ensure safety for both the drivers and the electric cars themselves. 

If you’re one of the people concerned about possible electrocution when charging your electric vehicle, you’re certainly not alone. Let’s take a look at why people are under the impression that rain and their electric cars don’t mix. We’ll quell those worries by letting you know what electric car manufacturers are doing to keep you safe.

We can also give you some tips for things that you actually should consider when it comes to charging your car.

It’s Electric: Why Electric Cars are Taking Over the Roads 

The reason we even have to discuss this question is that the global transportation sector is becoming increasingly electrified. You may be shocked (pun intended) to know that by 2030, an anticipated 125 million cars will be on the road. A decade later, by 2040, it’s predicted that more than 50% of new cars will be electric.

Technology has come quite a long way in the world of electric vehicles. Where they were initially something only the uber-affluent could afford (the original Tesla Roadster was $109,000), the price has been consistently dropping. In fact, they are approaching a time where their prices will match, or even beat, internal combustion-powered cars.

The fact that they’re cheaper to operate combined with their dropping prices makes them an attractive alternative for those interested in buying a new car. A big factor leading to the cheaper price tags are the batteries found in EVs.  Several advances have been made, making them not only more affordable but also better for the environment, too.

For many owners of electric cars, sustainability is a driving force for their EV purchase—and for good reason. Electric cars are, for obvious reasons, much cleaner when it comes to air quality and pollution than petrol or diesel cars. Although some of the energy used to power them comes from coal, electric vehicles produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their fuel-powered counterparts, too. In fact, just Tesla vehicles alone have saved more than 3,575,973 tons of CO2 emissions (at the time of writing). As advancements are continuously being made to the grid and more renewable energy is being sourced, the environmental benefits are sure to continue to grow.

Science 101: Electricity and Water Don’t Mix

Okay, so let’s get to the point of this article. Let’s provide some calming reassurance to everyone who’s worried about the possible consequences of charging an electric car in the rain. These fears probably originated in our early teenage years, during the science classes that alerted us to the dangerous combination that is electricity and water.

So, why is it so dangerous to mix water and electricity? Well, water—or rather the dust, salts, and other impurities in water—is highly conductive. This means that these impurities act as stepping stones, allowing electrons to move from one atom to the next. Humans also happen to be good conductors of electricity. This means that if we happen to touch water that is carrying electricity, it’ll be passed to us and we could suffer a shock. Most likely, this would be a fatal shock. No one wants to shorten their life simply by trying to charge their car. Good thing the manufacturers of electric cars know what they’re doing. That’s why we can rest assured that our EVs are designed to be charged, even during a rainstorm.

Designed for Safety—Even in the Rain

There may be a general concern with electric vehicles because of concerns with electric systems in general. Modern electric equipment, including the electrical components of an EV, can become victim of sometimes severe electrical failure problems. Electrical equipment is made up of several different components, meaning that they’re especially prone to damage and resulting problems. However, it’s with some of this knowledge that car companies and their teams of engineers are able to address these issues in the design phase, keeping drivers safe.

Just like other electrical plugs used for things in the home, electric vehicle plugs are different depending on where they’re used. Two common types are SAE J1772 and Type 2, used in the United States and European Union, respectively. These plugs are designed to include multiple levels of shock protection, meaning that they’ll be fully functional and safe—even in wet conditions. In the case of the J1772 plugs, they’re designed so that the connection pins are located interiorly, meaning that they aren’t physically exposed to the exterior.

Not only are the pins of the plugs designed to ensure ultimate safety, but the charging stations are also designed to be weatherproof—and the chargers are too. Before being released to the public, these charging connectors are actually sprayed with a high pressure hose to ensure that they can be approved for release. So, suffice it to say that you can charge your car confidently as it was designed to withstand being charged in any condition—both wet and dry.

More than Rain: Myths About Electric Cars

The idea that it isn’t safe to charge your car in the rain is joined by many other types of misinformation that, once evaluated, are just as ridiculous. Speaking of rain, a recent UK study discovered that more than 10% of UK drivers believed that you couldn’t even drive in the rain!

Here are a few other myths about electric cars:

  • EVs are more expensive to operate. Even with the cost of charging, electric vehicles are cheaper than internal combustion cars. A full charge will get drivers around 160 kilometers and cost about £4 to £10 ($5-$13). Compared with a petrol or diesel car? That number is closer to £13 to £16 ($17-$20.5).
  • EVs aren’t suitable for long journeys. Many who are considering an electric vehicle are put off by their supposedly short range. However, long road trips are actually quite possible—and they’re getting easier every single year. Public charging stations and networks are being developed around the world meaning that you’ll be able to make it further with your electric car. 
  • Driving an EV in the rain will result in electrocution. The same people who thought that electric cars couldn’t be driven in the rain also reported that they’d be too scared to take them through a car wash. Suffice it to say that this is just a myth and exposing your electric vehicle to water won’t result in electrocution. 

Electric Vehicle Charging Tips

Now that we’ve contemplated the absurdity behind some of the common electric vehicle myths, we can now get into things that actually should be considered when you charge your car.

  • Be careful when charging at home. You may be one of the electric car owners thinking of using a domestic extension to charge from your home mains supply. In the UK, 74% have reported doing so—and with leads that aren’t even designed to be used outside! Even worse, you could be considering “daisy-chaining,” or using multiple leads  all plugged into each other to reach your car. Not only does this look messy and present possible tripping hazards, but it’s also an extremely dangerous practice. This messy chain of leads poses the risk of electrical fires and electric shock.
  • Charge during the day. If you purchased your Tesla Model 3 or Nissan LEAF with an aim to reduce your personal carbon footprint, there’s a way you can make your transportation a little more ‘green.’ The charging station is typically powered by mixed sources of energy and if it’s including any renewable energy, it’s best to charge when that power is generated. When it comes to solar energy, it makes perfect sense that charging the day means that your utility mix will have the most renewable energy available. If you’re charging in night, you may be more likely to be sourcing energy from coal-fired power plants.
  • Look into new charging methods. It’s exciting to hear about all of the new innovations that come with electric vehicles. They just keep getting better! And this goes for the charging too. Around the world, new concepts are being developed—lamp-post charging, induction pads, kerbside charging ports, and fast charging hubs. These all allow you to charge quicker, easier, and in more locations. Check with your local council to see what can be found close to you.

Well, there you have it! Now you know that you can indeed charge your electric car in the rain. Car manufacturers have designed these vehicles with your safety in mind. With cost and distance improvements you know the truth about those myths, too. We do hope that you look into charging your EV in ways that are better for the environment and safer at home—even during a rainy day.