Every ebike user’s worst nightmare is running out of battery part way through a journey with nowhere or no time to charge it up. At the same time, everyone wants to get the maximum capacity out of their bike and find the most efficient way to be able to travel faster and further than ever before. For this reason, battery life and recharging time are key concerns.
So, is buying a second battery or investing in a larger battery pack the only way to guarantee a long-lasting unit that can go the distance, or are there other options out there?
There are many ways in which you can seek to get the most out of your battery. Here, we will take a look at some of the most popular options along with their effectiveness and drawbacks.
For those who just want to charge up their battery quickly, high-amp chargers may seem like the simple solution, allowing you to charge quickly and efficiently.
Many ebikes users choose to invest in a high amperage charger so that they can charge up fast when they’re in a rush. When it comes to figuring out how quickly a specific charger will be able to charge your battery pack, you can simply divide the ampere hour (Ah) of your battery by the amperage of the charger. For example, a 10-Ah battery will take approximately two hours to charge fully if using a 5A charger.
However, whilst high-amp chargers will indeed do the job, what effect do they have on the lifespan of your battery pack?
Drawbacks of High Amp Chargers
Unfortunately, high-amp chargers come with the significant drawback of damaging your battery.
The dangers of charging up your battery too fast are all too real, with consequences of shortening your battery’s overall lifespan and even in some more extreme cases posing a fire hazard. The heat that comes with fast charging is highly damaging for lithium batteries, so if you feel your battery getting hot to the touch when charging then it’s likely that you’re overworking it.
When it comes to using high-amp chargers it is also important to be aware that some ebike batteries come with an inbuilt management system designed to protect them from wear. These may serve to slow down the charge when your battery reaches a certain percentage, regardless of your charger’s amperage. In some cases, this will result in the battery refusing charge from anything too high – usually the maximum figure is 7 amps. For this reason, it is important to check your battery’s limitations, otherwise you may just be wasting your money on that high-amp charger.
Generally speaking, the larger your battery size, the more capable it is of handling fast charging at a high amperage.
Smart Chargers – The Perfect Compromise?
Nevertheless, it is true that you sometimes just need a fast boost of power, come what may. For these circumstances, it’s recommendable to have an advanced smart charger on hand.
Smart chargers come equipped with an adjustable setting so that you can charge slow when you have the time, but amp it up when you’re in a rush. These are the best solution for those seeking a quick fix and usually allow you to fluctuate between 3 to 5 amps.
Smart chargers also allow you to preset your charge amount so that they stop charging when your battery reaches a certain percentage. This serves to increase battery life.
When possible, you should allow your battery to charge on a low amperage for a minimum of 4 hours in order to preserve its longevity.
How to Maintain Charge
Another option in order to maximise the efficiency of your battery is to use techniques which will save charge. These will minimise the amount of recharging needed, allowing your battery a well-needed break from the mains electricity. Here are some of the best ways in which you can maintain battery charge:
Riding Mode: Ebikes generally come with a range of options when it comes to pedal-assisted travel. Monitoring your riding mode is one of the top ways that you can get the most out of each charge. If you’re traveling on a flat, smooth road, why not turn down the pedal-assist for a while, or even turn it off? By using pedal-assist only when needed, you can significantly increase the amount of travel you get per charge. Furthermore, by increasing your pedal power or cadence, you can give your motor the helping hand it needs to work at maximum efficiency.
Regular Use: When batteries are left idle for too long, the cells can degrade at a rapid rate. For this reason, using your ebike often is one of the best ways to ensure a long-lasting and functional battery.
Suspension: Your bike’s suspension is there for a reason. It acts to reduce the impact of bumps in the road, allowing your bike to travel with ease, so it’s best to avoid putting it on lock. Avoiding bumps in the road where possible is another way to reduce the energy expended by your bike.
Avoid Resistance: Resistance comes in many forms when you’re riding and it saps your battery life. One form is wind resistance, which you can reduce by wearing tight clothing, a streamlined helmet and by keeping a tucked-in posture as you travel. You can also minimise wind resistance by travelling at a slower pace. Another form of resistance is friction on your gears. By cleaning and oiling your drivetrain regularly, you can combat friction and increase your bike’s power.
Reduce Weight: A heavy load on your ebike makes for greater strain on your motor and battery. For this reason, it is preferable to take as little as possible with you when riding in order to reduce the overall load on your bike.
Tyre Pressure: The tyre pressure of your bike has a significant impact on its ability to function with ease. If you’re using it on smooth, flat roads, then high tyre pressures can help you to get less resistance, allowing your bike to travel further with less effort. On the flipside, if you’re venturing off-road, high tyre pressure can actually result in loss of traction. For this reason, very high tyre pressures are not recommended for rough rides with lots of hill climbs.
Look After Your Battery: Taking good care of your battery is another key way to ensure optimum performance. There are many methods by which to do this, so we’ll give it its own section below.
How to Prolong Battery Life
There are many ways in which you can help to maximise your battery’s overall lifespan and at the same time increase its performance, even as it ages. Here are some top tips on how to prolong your battery’s life:
Buy High Quality: One of the first ways you can seek to own a battery with high durability is to buy an ebike with a high-quality, brand name battery pack. Knock-off cells almost always fail more quickly than their authentic counterparts.
Minimise Charging: Another way to prolong your battery’s overall lifespan is to only charge it when necessary. Charging your battery in between every ride is not usually essential and could actually be damaging it. Try to only charge your battery when it really needs it, and don’t leave it charging for days on end as this can wear it out. Having said this, it is unwise to let your battery reach 0% too often as this can reduce its lifespan significantly, so it is best to opt for partial charges where possible.
Monitor Aging: Over time, all lithium batteries age, meaning a reduction in their maximum voltage and amp hours. There are various devices on the market which can be used to monitor both the voltage and amp hour ratings of your battery, so that you can always pick a charging device and charge time that is healthy for your pack.
Store Correctly: Another way that you can increase the working lifespan of your battery pack is to store it correctly. It is best kept in a cool place, as heat can degrade the battery cells. It must also be kept somewhere that is safe from fire, as lithium batteries are highly flammable. Furthermore, it should be stored only part-charged and should be charged up a little every few months. Leaving your battery in storage when it is either fully charged or empty can be highly damaging and can even make it dangerous to recharge when you begin to use it again.
What to Look for in a Battery and Charger
When it comes to selecting your battery and charger there are a number of things which should be taken into consideration:
Battery Size: First of all, you should select the largest battery possible within your budget and your bike’s carrying capabilities. Larger batteries are more capable of handling high-amp chargers, whilst at the same time providing you with enough power that you won’t need to charge them too regularly.
Mix It Up: If you are dead set on going for fast charging, then opt for a smart charger or buy both a fast and a slow charger so that you can give your battery a break when you’re not in a rush to be anywhere.
Err on the Side of Caution: If you prefer not to take risks and can’t afford to replace your battery too often, then it may be best to err on the side of caution, and simply opt for a low amp charger of 3A or less.
By purchasing a bike with a high-quality battery, choosing your charger carefully, caring for your battery properly and riding your ebike to allow for greatest efficiency, you can guarantee that you get the best out of your battery life.