Hybrid and Electric Cars... Heat and AC?
My first car was a 1974 4-door Chevy Nova and the heater vents would melt a bic pen. Neither here nor there, but a friend asked me about hybrid heat and AC, and I know you're all a bunch of vehicle nuts with more than a few owners too:
Lets start with a pure electric car... how does the AC work? If it's a compressor, how much does it impact operational hours?
Now... how does the heater work? 100% battery operated would seem like the heater would be a giant toaster, which is hugely inefficient. I suppose you could use the heat that the batteries generate as they discharge, but that seems inefficient or ineffectual... or at the very least I would think you wouldn't want to have batteries that got hot enough to heat the cabin.
Which brings us to the consideration of the hybrid vehicle. My guess would be that the gasoline engine also runs the AC, which doesn't impact the range/mileage nearly as much because the engine duty is not directly related to the operation of the vehicle... e.g. when running the AC compressor you're not charging as much, but does it really work that way, and how does that affect the mileage? What is the effect on a 50mpg Prius when the air is on? Do you lose the same single digit mpg you might from a gasser, or is it more like 20mpg?
To round it out, how is heat handled in the hybrids? Does the motor put off as much extra heat as traditional engine?
Lastly I know there are a handful of Prius owners and at least one fully electric on the board, what is the real world experience with how the heat and air conditioning work and affect mileage?