How does air conditioning work in electric cars?

In internal combustion engine vehicles the AC and heatings system work one way but with electric cars is it different? How does air conditioning work in electric cars?

Marlee John · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
In an electric car, instead of the AC and heating systems being powered by an engine, it is now powered by an electric motor.
Tesla states that their HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is designed with a compressor similar to a kitchen refrigerator. The AC system at the front takes power from the Energy Storage System (ESS) located at the back of the vehicle and disperses chilled air through the vents.
Although this is a relatively simplified explanation of how the system works, it is effective. So effective in fact that auto engineers are considering implementing a similar electric system in traditional combustion vehicles to limit the amount of fuel spent on climate control systems.
It is important to note that using AC and heating
features will impact range
in any vehicle, but more noticeably in EVs. The car not only has to use its energy reserve to drive but also to keep the cabin comfortable. While cars are designed so drivers can use these features, try to limit unnecessary, and excessive use.
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Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.

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