The Model Y’s heat pump is 300% more efficient than Tesla’s resistive heating system. The slight upgrade Tesla has introduced to its SUV crossover has many advantages, including the fact that a heat pump may increase the range of the Model Y in cold weather.
YouTube channel DÆrik recently stripped their newly delivered Model Y to show viewers the heat pump. The Model Y’s heat pump was placed in the front trunk or frunk of the vehicle. The heat pump provides and circulates heat throughout the cabin and can also be used to warm up the car’s batteries.
YouTuber Andy Slye took the time to explain the Model Y’s heat pump and why it was an advantage for Tesla vehicles. Heat pumps are an excellent solution to the reduced ranged all-electric vehicles face during cold weather. In his video, Slye further explained that cold weather for electric cars can result in less range because the battery is providing electricity to heat the car as well.
Tesla has previously used a resistive heating system to convert electricity into heat. All of the power used to warm up a vehicle is converted into heat, meaning Tesla’s resistive heating system is 100% efficient. However, the energy used to produce heat comes from Tesla’s car battery, which is why the range can significantly decrease during cold weather.
Meanwhile, a heat pump moves heat rather than generates it, meaning it takes less energy to warm up a vehicle. A heat pump is basically an air conditioner with a reverse valve. In an air conditioner, refrigerant is used to trap the heat and move outside. With a reverse valve, a heat pump can push the warm air inside.
Slye stated that a heat pump can "generate" a 2-3 kW heat equivalent from 1kW of energy, resulting in a 300% efficiency. However, there are still downsides to a heat pump. For instance, heat pumps do not work well in extremely cold temperatures--although this is improving as more research is being done on heat pump efficiency.
The heat pump Tesla placed in its all-electric SUV crossover was first discovered in the Model Y owner’s manual. “Model Y uses a heat pump to maximize efficiency; therefore, your air conditioning compressor and external fan may run and make noise even when the outside temperature is cold, and your vehicle is heating or supercharging,” the manual said.
As both DÆrik and Slye noted, Tesla isn’t the first EV automaker to introduce a heat pump to its vehicles. The Nissan Leaf actually uses a heat pump. According to Green Car Reports, an electric vehicle can lose up to 40% of its range.
With a heat pump, Tesla may have increased the range of the Model Y. DÆrik suggested that Tesla may have decided to place a heat pump in the Model S as well. A heat pump in the Model S may account for the increase in range it recently received, and will receive in its upcoming iterations, such as the Plaid variants.
Featured Image Credit: DÆrik/YouTube