Do Electric Cars Have Radiators?

 A close-up of a temperature gauge needle pointing towards the high-temperature zone on a dial.


In automotive technology, the question, "do electric cars have radiators?", becomes relatable. Since electric vehicle sales quadrupled from 4% in 2020 to 18% in 2022, understanding their thermal management needs is key. Unlike internal combustion engine vehicles, which count on radiators for engine cooling, EVs require cooling for components like batteries, power electronics, and electric motors. So, the approach to cooling in EVs differs from conventional methods. It involves techniques including but not limited to liquid and air cooling systems.


The Role of Radiators in Electric Vehicles

In ICE vehicles, radiators cool the engine while dissipating heat from the coolant. In contrast, when addressing "do electric cars have radiators?", their role in EVs is amended for the different heat generation sources. Radiators in EVs manage the thermal load of components like battery packs and power electronics rather than cooling an engine.


Using Radiators in EVs for Specific Components

Regarding the specific use in EVs, radiators are essential to the cooling systems that manage the temperature of battery packs and power electronics. Unlike vehicle radiators focusing on engine heat, EV radiators uphold prime operating temperatures for these components. For example, the radiator helps cool the power electronics in models like the Tesla Model S. It shows how EV radiators are customized for heat management needs.


  • The efficiency, service life, and cost of battery packs and electric cars are linked. At ideal temperatures, discharge power for starting and acceleration, charge acceptance during regenerative braking, and battery health are best. However, battery life, electric vehicle driveability, and fuel efficiency decrease with temperature. Battery thermal management with radiators is of the utmost importance for electric vehicle batteries.

  • Electric motors are controlled by power electronics that follow EV control system directives to run the electric motor. Thermal impacts may damage power electronic DC-DC converters, inverters, and control circuits. Heat loss from power electronic circuits must be managed with radiators to remove it from the circuit and systems. Glitches may cause control issues, component failures, and vehicle malfunctions.

  • Electric vehicles' wheel movement is motor-driven; hence, motor temperature affects vehicle performance. When loaded, the motor uses more battery power and heats up. Electric cars need motor cooling with radiators for optimal performance.

Battery Temperature Regulation: A Key Focus in EVs

Keeping the battery temperature within a particular range is necessary for EV performance. Batteries work efficiently at temperatures between 20˚C and 40˚C. Exceeding this range can cut battery life and driving range and cause thermal runaways. Therefore, the role of radiators and cooling systems in EVs, in context to the query "do electric cars have radiators?", is not just about averting overheating but validating the reliability of the vehicle's power source.


The Role of Cooling Systems in EV Efficiency and Safety

Unlike internal combustion engines, EVs depend on liquid cooling systems thanks to their better heat transfer abilities. The strategy involves using coolant fluids circulated through channels in or around the heat-generating components. Phase-change materials and air cooling are intermittently employed for less heat-intensive parts. Integrative to these systems, radiators dispel the heat from the coolant to the environment to circumvent overheating.


How Radiators Fit into the Context of EV Cooling Systems

Radiators in EVs impact vehicle efficiency and safety. They expedite heat exchange between the coolant fluid and ambient air. The process keeps the battery's temperature within a nonviolent and efficient range. No air to cool vehicle batteries without a radiator grille can result in substantial issues and costly repairs. Apart from that, this regulation precludes thermal runaway, a hazardous condition causing battery fires. 


Cooling Systems in Electric Vehicles

A lithium-ion battery pack designed for electric vehicles, displayed without its cooling system.


  • Air Cooling Systems: These systems dissipate heat from EV components through convection while utilizing ambient air. Fans or blowers assist it for efficiency. This method is simpler but less effective than liquid cooling in high-load scenarios.

  • Liquid Cooling Systems: These involve a coolant fluid through channels or plates in contact with heat-producing components. While better in heat dissipation, they keep consistent temperatures across battery cells for performance. Liquid cooling is predominant in high-performance EVs owing to its usefulness in exciting conditions.

  • Thermal Management Systems: Progressive setups integrate multiple cooling approaches, including phase-change materials, heat pumps, and thermoelectric elements. They regulate temperatures for driving conditions and ambient temperatures. Plus, they manage the thermal load of high-capacity battery packs.


As mentioned previously, radiators help liquid-cooled and air-cooled systems remove heat. They maintain a steady internal operating temperature while exchanging heat with the atmosphere for vehicle performance. Rapid charging or high-power discharge situations increase the thermal load on the battery and electronics, which requires this balance.


Challenges and Maintenance of Radiators and Cooling Systems

EV cooling systems, mainly those with radiators, face challenges due to batteries and electric motors' thermal management requirements. EVs demand a constant and precise temperature range for elevated battery performance. Overheating is a common issue, which might be exacerbated by high ambient temperatures or rapid charging. It can prompt thermal runaway and battery degradation. Additionally, integrating power electronics and electric motors into a single cooling system presents complexity in keeping uniform temperature distribution.

Every 7,500 miles, regular system checks can preemptively identify issues. Indicators of cooling system problems include fluctuating battery temperature readings, curtailed driving range, or unusual noises from the cooling system. Keep coolant levels and conductivity within manufacturer specifications since high conductivity can cause corrosion and battery damage. Battery cooling fins should be clean of debris for heat dissipation. In cases where liquid cooling is used, checking for leaks and the integrity of hoses and connections is required. Remember, leaks can prompt insufficient cooling and electrical component damage.


The Evolution of Radiators in Modern EVs

The evolution of radiators in current EVs replicates a move towards complex cooling systems, which are essential due to the high heat generation of EV batteries. Initially, simple air cooling was prime, but it proved inadequate for high-performance and long-range EVs. So, manufacturers have shifted to liquid cooling systems with glycol-water mixtures as the cooling medium. It offers better heat dissipation and upholds ideal battery temperatures. 

Recently, there's been a trend towards oil cooling. Non-conductive oils are immersed in battery cells for more efficient heat transfer. While more intricate, this technique confirms better temperature uniformity across the battery pack for performance EVs and heavy-duty electric trucks. Likewise, these unconventional cooling systems are integrated into the vehicle's thermal management to regulate cabin temperature and recuperate waste heat.


T-Global's Innovative Solutions for EV Cooling

T-Global Technology specializes in innovative thermal management solutions for EV battery modules, power electronics, and ADAS. While addressing the query "do electric cars have radiators?", they make heat-management solutions like the TG-A6200 Thermal Pad for batteries and the TG-V833 Phase Change Material for power electronics to maximize performance and lifetime. They also provide TG-T1000T Thermal Tape for ADAS applications and TG-A7000 Thermal Putty for multimedia display panels in EVs, which shows their complete response to EV thermal issues. Contact a Professional Product Consultant Now.


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