With the Hummer EV making waves in the pickup and SUV community for its range of impressive features and serving as the GMC flagship of its electric vehicle market, people are asking lots of questions about what features the Hummer EV will have. Does the Hummer EV have a heat pump?
The Hummer EV has a heat pump, just like all of GM’s ultium-powered vehicles, allowing it to eek out a little bit of extra range. Heat pump uses the heat generated from the battery to heat the cabin instead of a resistive heater that uses an electric heater pulling precious kW’s from the battery that is necessary for pushing the car farther down the road instead.
With electric vehicles moving away from resistive heaters, it’s not surprising that GMC’s new Hummer EV features a heat pump to increase its range. Here’s everything you need to know about the Hummer EV heat pump and why it makes an already excellent vehicle just a little bit better.
What Does a Heat Pump Do?
A heat pump is a method, or a way that is used to produce heat to heat up a car or space around it that uses existing wasted heat of something already generating it (in this case, the battery), to heat something else – the cabin.
To understand the function of a heat pump, you must first recognize two concerns native to electric vehicles. First, the interior of the car should be warm to keep the passengers comfortable, and second, electric vehicles lose energy when the weather is colder.
Heaters in general are designed to address this issue by either generating or converting heat to warm up the cabin. There are two common types of heaters: resistive heaters and heat pumps.
How Do Resistive Heaters Work?
Most early electric cars relied on resistive heaters, which is fairly simple in concept: high resistance electric wiring allows the passage of electricity, thereby increasing friction and creating heat.
In an electric vehicle, the energy to power this circuit is provided by the battery, which, as you might imagine, reduces the range of the vehicle as a whole. Read our article about How Far Can An Electric Truck Go On One Charge?
Not only do EVs suffer from reduced performance in colder weather, but you’re also much more likely to be relying on the resistive heater to keep you warm, thereby taking resources in the form of energy away from the battery.
With that being said, since resistive heaters produce their own warmth, they can fire up as soon as the car is turned on. You don’t need to wait for the battery to generate enough heat to warm the cabin like you do with a heat pump.
How Do Heating Pumps Work?
Generally considered a better option, heating pumps work quite simply by moving the heat generated by the battery to warm up the cabin.
When the battery powering the car generates heat, that heat can be dispersed by the heating pump system. Since the heat pump does not have to take energy from the battery to generate heat, it’s more efficient than a resistive heater.
The CON of heat pumps is that you have to wait for the battery to heat up for you to start getting heat in the cabin. The nice thing though is that it usually takes just a couple minutes for it to warm up, not like combustable engines that can take 10 to 15 minutes to warm up.
The PRO of the electric Hummer is that you can start the heater to defrost the windows and warm up the car from your home with a click of a button while having breakfast. Just like we start the normal car 15 minutes earlier to let it warm up, you can do the same with the Hummer.
Why Does a Heat Pump Matter?
Being warm inside the car is part of the comforts that owning a modern vehicle provides for you. (Read an article we wrote earlier about the comforts of the Hummer EV for more on that). This warmth is generated by a heater in a car that uses electricity or the engine heat that is routed into the cabin.
A battery pack when operating in an electric vehicle pumps out a good deal of heat, and rather than wasting that heat, it might as well go to use warming the cabin.
This energy saving principle benefits electric vehicles in one simple way: improving range. In fact, compared to resistive heaters, a heat pump can improve the range of a car by up to 10%.
That’s no small amount when it comes to the hummer EV, contributing to its impressive 300-mile range. A heat pump is also useful in other ways. It can precondition the battery in extremely cold weather and even power some of the basic functions of the electric vehicle.
Of course, this technology isn’t unique to GM—Tesla has been using heat pumps for several years—but it’s a good indicator for the future, since all ultium-powered cars manufactured by GM are going to feature this simple, yet productive technology.
Read this: Pros and Cons of Electric Trucks
Drawbacks to Consider
The only real issue with a heat pump is that it takes a little bit of time to warm up. Remember, a heat pump only disperses some of the energy produced by the battery for the purpose of warming up the cabin.
As such, a resistive heater is quicker on the jump since it isn’t dependent on the battery. This effect won’t be as noticeable in warmer weather, but if you’re facing extreme cold, then those extra few minutes might be pretty chilly before the pump kicks in.
Is the Hummer EV Suitable for All Weather Conditions?
The Hummer EV is an ideal off-road adventure drive and has a lot of great features designed to keep the interior comfortable and the exterior safe. If you love camping, hiking, or trail riding, then this is definitely the pick for you.
Specialized features like the Crabwalk and Extract Mode allow the GMC Hummer EV to get out of tight spots on the trail, and with a large infotainment center screen console and driver’s display, you can enjoy your own music or podcasts anytime, anywhere.
When it is warmer outside, you can open up the Infinity Roof with removable glass panels to let the warmth in, and when it’s colder, you can rely on this vehicle’s expert systems and construction to keep you warm.
Testing and Certification
The Hummer EV has been tested in the ACE Wind Tunnel at consistent -40 degrees Celsius temperatures and highway wind-speeds.
Naturally, this ensures that the GM engineers have plenty of time to assess problems with the vehicle in terms of safety and comfort in the cabin, and testing at ACE’s world-class research facility allows for consistent, repeatable testing.
In particular, concerns with the propulsion system, power seats, tailgates, wind whistles, and cabin comfort are all considered in light of the facility’s findings, and from both a software and hardware engineering standpoint, you can rest assured that the Hummer EV will be comfortable and efficient in colder temperatures, despite being an electric vehicle.
It seems to me that the designers should have already thought of this but also maybe they did and decided it was a bad idea, but I think that both the technologies should be put together to provide a better experience. I’ve had this idea a long time ago, which should work for all types of car heaters.
- Initially, an electric heater gets triggered that starts the heating process to provide an instant heat source.
- As the vehicle warms up, then the electric heater can deactivate and switch to the heat pump to save energy.
I know this would add a some additional weight to the car, but when you are dealing with trucks that are $80,000+, and already weigh 7,000 lb., whats another 3 lb.? I would sacrifice some other component if I had to, just to have this option.
The simple addition of a heat pump to the GMC Hummer EV adds as much as 10% to the range of the vehicle, giving it a respectable 300+ mile range. Of course, the heat pump also helps reduce the energy drain on the battery and can even help power some of the basic functions in the electric vehicle.
As such, it’s definitely a good sign for GM’s place in the electric vehicle market to include modern technology solutions to electric vehicle problems.
Valik loves tinkering in the garage and is currently restoring a 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. He also writes about the progress on this blog. When not in the garage, Valik is also a web developer and a blogger. I know, strange, a hand in two completely different worlds. And that is the way he likes to keep it.