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coming up in a few months, I'm going to be spending a few days in fairbanks, AK with some friends. we've done this trip for a few years but this time i have a new 2017 volt. we'll be at a cabin so there will be no charger available. historically the temperature has approached -20 overnight. do i need to be worried/make other plans?
 

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Are there outlets for engine block heaters?
 

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coming up in a few months, I'm going to be spending a few days in fairbanks, AK with some friends. we've done this trip for a few years but this time i have a new 2017 volt. we'll be at a cabin so there will be no charger available. historically the temperature has approached -20 overnight. do i need to be worried/make other plans?
Your Volt will be fine. Just be sure to have a full tank of gas. At -20F the Volt's gas engine will start immediately when you start your Volt. You will not be able to charge your Volt's traction battery until the battery temperature reaches the minimum temperature for charging. Your Volt also has a conventional 12V battery under the rear hatch storage floor. The 12V battery can be affected by the cold, you may want to bring a jump starter pack with you in case you need to jump start your Volt's 12V battery. At the cabin does it even make sense to lock the car? If not then it would easier to open the hood and access the jump starting terminals in the event your Volt needs a jump start due to the cold if your Volt was unlocked, no need to fumble in the cold with inserting the Volt's mechanical key in the keyhole underneath the door handle of driver's door.

Here is a Gen 1 starting at -45F: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qjZb4DSnDc

Here is a Gen 2 starting at -23F: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo1Umb4K3vk
 

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The battery is pretty well insulated, so you should be fine. When you start the car you will likely get a message saying "engine running due to temperature". This is normal behavior and will help warm the battery as well since the battery thermal maintenance will operate either when charging, which doesn't look like it's an option, or when the vehicle is on and operating either with the ICE or on battery power.

As long as the car isn't cold soaked for days or weeks at a time without being operated, it should function completely normally. I would only be worried if you were planning on more than a week without plugging in or operating the car.
 

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coming up in a few months, I'm going to be spending a few days in fairbanks, AK with some friends. we've done this trip for a few years but this time i have a new 2017 volt. we'll be at a cabin so there will be no charger available. historically the temperature has approached -20 overnight. do i need to be worried/make other plans?
Alaska is supposed to be above average temperature for the OND time frame...:)
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=1
and the JFM time frame as well...
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=4
 

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The battery is pretty well insulated, so you should be fine. When you start the car you will likely get a message saying "engine running due to temperature". This is normal behavior and will help warm the battery as well since the battery thermal maintenance will operate either when charging, which doesn't look like it's an option, or when the vehicle is on and operating either with the ICE or on battery power.

As long as the car isn't cold soaked for days or weeks at a time without being operated, it should function completely normally. I would only be worried if you were planning on more than a week without plugging in or operating the car.
should i/can i leave the car in "on" mode overnight so it can maintain the temperature of the battery using the ICE? how much gas would that end up using?
what do you mean "cold soaked"? we'll be without power (other than that provided by my volt, lol) for three days.

I can't believe there's no outlets for block heaters.
it's a dry cabin 40 miles out of town, there's no electricity at all and no cell service either :) we're roughing it!


Alaska is supposed to be above average temperature for the OND time frame...:)
(i can't post urls yet)
and the JFM time frame as well...
it'll actually be in march, but that is a super cool site, thanks!
 

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I can't believe nobody has suggested this yet, how about you leave home with a full charge and run in HOLD mode until you get to your destination in Alaska. That way, the car will have a full battery for conditioning the battery while it is off and when you come home, use up whatever charge is left.
 

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I can't believe nobody has suggested this yet, how about you leave home with a full charge and run in HOLD mode until you get to your destination in Alaska. That way, the car will have a full battery for conditioning the battery while it is off and when you come home, use up whatever charge is left.
The Volt will only attempt to maintain the temperature of the high voltage traction battery between 40F and 60F when the Volt is plugged in. This will do nothing to condition the 12V battery so the 12V battery might end up freezing in extreme cold, not be able to start up the Volt. If you leave the Volt parked, powered on, the Volt will automatically shut off in 2.5 hours to prevent the possibility of the gas engine starting up unintentionally. When parked inside a garage this could cause a dangerous build up of carbon monoxide.
 

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The Volt will only attempt to maintain the temperature of the high voltage traction battery between 40F and 60F when the Volt is plugged in. This will do nothing to condition the 12V battery so the 12V battery might end up freezing in extreme cold, not be able to start up the Volt. If you leave the Volt parked, powered on, the Volt will automatically shut off in 2.5 hours to prevent the possibility of the gas engine starting up unintentionally. When parked inside a garage this could cause a dangerous build up of carbon monoxide.
To circumvent this, there are a number of ways; easiest I know of is to use a large elastic or clip to hold the gear selector button in, (as if you're about to pull the stick out of park), and the car doesn't turn off bc it thinks you're in there holding the stick.
This trick worked for my 2012 Volt, I don't know if it'll work for your 2017.

The HV battery is very well insulated so it'll prolly be fine, but the 12v one in the back of the car may be more exposed.

Saving charge for when you park overnight with it left on is a good safe bet IMO.

I have camped overnight in mine in the mountains here, not as cold as your trip though, and over 5 hours, even with the heater on, the ICE only came on 3 times for around 90 seconds each, using about 300ml fuel. (Whatever the conversion is)

Good luck, let us know how you go, make some videos
 

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lf fuel is not an issue , let the car on , and with and inverter and some extension cable you can have power inside the cabin ..Volt warm and electricity inside !!!.
 

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The Volt will only attempt to maintain the temperature of the high voltage traction battery between 40F and 60F when the Volt is plugged in.
I thought the thermal management system would keep the battery temp within a certain range (not too hot/not too cold) even if NOT plugged in as long as there was sufficient charge left? Don't people in Arizona and New Mexico leave their Volts out in the blazing heat unplugged in parking lots yet their batteries are fine?
 

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lf fuel is not an issue , let the car on , and with and inverter and some extension cable you can have power inside the cabin ..Volt warm and electricity inside !!!.
that could be nice, to have some electricity in the cabin for like a lamp or something.
 

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I use a Cobra inverter 1500 watts ,connected to the 12v battery, enough for tv, some lights and large refrigerator. A full gas tank will last like a full week. Not enough juice for high resistance items like heaters , irons, or A.C....probably not need it in Alaska in winter time . LOL
 

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I thought the thermal management system would keep the battery temp within a certain range (not too hot/not too cold) even if NOT plugged in as long as there was sufficient charge left? Don't people in Arizona and New Mexico leave their Volts out in the blazing heat unplugged in parking lots yet their batteries are fine?
The batteries are fine due to the excellent insulation that GM incorporated into the battery pack. An afternoon in the sun on an AZ summer day, or in the dead of winter in Alaska is fine and the battery will get cold or hot depending on ambient temp, but suffer no damage. Here in central CA, summer temps are definitely close to AZ summers (110+). Having a black Volt, it definitely attracts some heat and without covered parking or garage it gets plenty of it and I have no problems with my battery and know by using the mygreenvolt app that the battery never shows any cooling when not plugged in, even with a full battery.

psiphre; If your only subjecting the volt to extreme cold for 3 days you'll be fine and don't really need to take any additional precautions to protect the HV battery. Your originally quoted temp of -20 is night time correct? What about daytime temps? I only mention cold soaking thinking that the temp the Volt would be subjected to would be several consecutive days at temps lower than freezing (-20f) and never getting warmer. This can have an effect on the battery if done long term or frequently without allowing the thermal management system to operate either through a wall outlet or operating the car. If however you plan to drive during those 3 days, the thermal management system will operate to bring the HV battery temp up. If nothing else, just turning the car on for 30 minutes should be enough to circulate some heat into the battery. Bottom line, don't overthink it too much. GM tested these cars in nearly all imaginable conditions, literally from Death Valley to Alaska and exposed them to very harsh conditions for far more than 3 days.
 

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They did a cold soak overnight when testing and the battery stayed reasonably warm. To be on the safe side you could bring an extension cord. Failing that, bring a portable battery starter. The Volt will use the engine at the temperatures you're talking about, so the issue should be whether the car will start. Basically not that different than what you'd do with an ICE.

Cold actually preserves battery cells. It's heat that kills them.
 

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Temperatures below -40 might freeze the electrolyte and ruin the battery. It should take a few days for the battery to cold soak down to ambient, so it should be OK even if temperatures drop that low at night.

I would park the car in the sun, facing south to get as much heat as possible. I would also start it once per day long enough to warm up the engine and battery, just to be extra cautious.

GSP
 

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Based on my experience with gen1, at -20F you'll probably have about 9-10h after parking at operating temp for the battery to cool to the first stage of restricted use (-10C) where the battery is nearly locked out.
See my signature for more detail.

I would start the car every 12h or so and let it warm up the battery back to operating temp. You don't have to actually drive, just leave it parked for 30mins or so (leave the HVAC off to conserve fuel). If you have OBD you can check the actual temp, otherwise you're just guessing when it's ok to shut off again.

Apparently it will not start at all when it hits -20C or so (the fabled "plug in to warm" message).
So I wouldn't be leaving it for a week at that temp to find out.
 

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Just to confirm, even if it gets too cold for the Volt to use the high voltage battery the Volt will still be able to be started and the Volt will run on the gas engine until the battery has been sufficiently heated. Then, once the battery has reached minimum temperature for EV mode driving, the Volt will run normally as it does in low temperatures with the gas engine cycling on and off; the gas engine running due to low temperature to provide cabin heat. When the Volt's battery is depleted the Volt will switch to CS mode and continue to power the wheels using the gas engine. That is an important point for anyone who is considering driving 40 miles outside of Fairbanks to a cabin with no electricity, possibly no cell phone service.
 

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I don't care what car/truck I take: if I'm going to a place that cold with no electricity, along with a lot of cold weather survival gear I'm not leaving without a portable battery jump starter that will stay inside.

No electricity. No cell service. What would happen if you took your non-Volt and the battery froze?

To me this isn't a question about how will the Volt do (I suspect it will do better, as the 12v is in the trunk and better insulated) but a "how do I ensure safety in the event of a 12v failure at cold temp."

I also liked the idea of hold mode to keep a full charge on the battery when you reach your destination. I have no idea how the Volt will use that energy with the car off and the battery that cold, but the spare battery provides options in the event you need power (get an inverter before you go!)


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