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BATTERIES AND BATTERY PACKS: THE HEART OF YOUR ELECTRIC BICYCLE

Views: 142     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-07-06      Origin: Site

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When it comes to electric bicycles, one of the most critical components is the battery pack. It's the main power source, and without it, your electric bike won't be electric anymore. The right battery pack can make or break your electric bike experience, and that's why it's essential to understand how they work and what to look for.

A good Lithium battery pack can cost as much - and often even more - than the rest of your electric bike kit. However, choosing the right pack for the job is crucial. It's essential to consider factors such as the range, voltage, and capacity when selecting a battery pack.

Back in the late 90s, when I first started learning about ebikes and related electric bicycle conversion kits, I came across a website offering a Lead Acid battery pack for $150. Scrolling down, I saw a NIMH pack, the holy grail option, at $1200!... Say what?... Nearly 10 times the price for only double the range? That can't be right, can it?

The truth is, the Lead Acid battery pack was affordable, but it was also heavy and had a short lifespan. On the other hand, the NIMH pack was lightweight and had an extended lifespan. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each battery pack type before making a decision.

In conclusion, it's crucial to pick the right battery pack for your electric bike. Don't just go with the cheapest option; consider the factors that matter most to you, such as range, weight, and lifespan. With the right battery pack, you can enjoy a smooth and satisfying ride on your electric bicycle.

electric bike

The Big Question: How do you get the most battery for your hard earned money?

Electric bicycles are becoming increasingly popular as more people recognize the benefits of eco-friendly transportation. One of the most critical components of an electric bicycle is the battery pack. It is the main power source, and without it, your electric bike won't be electric anymore. Therefore, it is essential to choose the right battery pack that meets your needs.

When it comes to selecting a battery pack, a good Lithium battery pack can cost as much - and often even more - than the rest of your electric bike kit. However, choosing the right pack for the job is crucial. It's essential to consider factors such as range, voltage, and capacity when selecting a battery pack.

In the late 90s, when electric bicycles were less common than they are today, a Lead Acid battery pack was a popular option. It was affordable, but it was also heavy and had a short lifespan. Nowadays, Lithium-ion batteries are the preferred choice due to their lightweight and extended lifespan. However, it is still essential to weigh the pros and cons of each battery pack type before making a decision.

To get the most out of your battery pack, it is crucial to understand the basics regarding battery packs. You need to determine what you need and what you can afford. The last thing you want is to be far from home and suddenly lose power! Going out for a ride with confidence, knowing that you will have a great time and then getting back home without any stress is the ultimate goal and will result in you wanting to do it over and over again.

In conclusion, when choosing a battery pack for your electric bike, don't just go with the cheapest option. Consider the factors that matter most to you, such as range, weight, and lifespan. With the right battery pack, you can enjoy a smooth and satisfying ride on your electric bicycle. Remember that ebiking can be a way of life for some of us, so equipment failures and getting stranded far from home are not on our list, at any price.

Range, how far can you go on a full charge?

The question of range is a crucial one for anyone considering purchasing an electric bicycle. Range estimates are often a source of frustration for both customers and salespeople alike. Companies want to promote their products in the best light possible, but customers need accurate information to make informed decisions. So, how far can you go on a full charge?

The truth is that you can expect about 20 miles or 32 kilometers from an average 6 to 8-pound lithium battery. This is a universal fact and the most honest statement a company can make. The weight of the battery pack is a critical factor in determining range, and more range with less weight is simply not possible in real life until battery technology improves significantly.

Li-Ion battery weight

Range (mi)

6-8lbs

20mi (32km)

It's essential to get the real weight of the battery pack and base your range estimate on that information. Many people claim that they can go "100 miles on a single charge." However, this is only possible with a 40-pound battery (which is expensive) or if you pedal for 80 miles and then turn on the power for another 20. If a battery pack could deliver 100 miles of no-pedal range on a single charge and weigh less than 10 pounds, gasoline would be much cheaper.

It's important to understand that range estimates can vary depending on the type of electric bicycle you have. On some ebikes equipped with pedal sensors and no throttle at the handlebars, range estimates can be accurate at very low power settings. However, it's important to remember that if you're pedaling, this is not no-pedal range and makes a significant difference.

If your ebike has a handlebar throttle that allows the motor to run without pedaling, power consumption is much greater. It's essential to understand how your ebike works. A 500w kit does not use exactly 500w all the time. If you pedal without using power, your battery remains fully charged until you use it. It's entirely possible to ride a whole day on a charge by using it sparingly. However, most people ride with the throttle pinned at "max," and in this fashion, you can expect 20 miles from a 6 to 8-pound battery in one hour before running out of power on most bikes.

In conclusion, when considering an electric bicycle, it's crucial to take range estimates into account. While companies may want to promote their products in the best light possible, it's important to base your decision on accurate information. It's important to understand the weight of the battery pack and how it affects range estimates. The range of an electric bicycle can be affected by the type of bike you have as well as how you use it. By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and enjoy a smooth and satisfying ride on your electric bicycle.

ebike battery


What is a Battery Pack?

A battery pack is a collection of smaller battery cells stacked together in a specific way to deliver the required power that your ebike system needs to function properly. It is important to choose the right pack for your application. A battery pack is not just a simple collection of batteries, but rather a complex system that requires careful consideration when selecting one.

Volts and Amps:

Voltage is what pushes the flow of electric energy (speed), while amps are a measure of force. Typically, higher voltage electric bikes go faster, while higher amps require thicker gauge wires and/or more powerful and larger battery packs. The combination of volts and amps equal watts. When choosing a battery pack, it is essential to consider the volts and amps required for your ebike system.

Now, let's dive into the details. All batteries and battery packs come with fine print that lists important details. Look for information such as:

lVolts

This describes how fast electrons move. More voltage means more speed! Voltage is a measure of the electrical potential difference between two points in an electric circuit. The higher the voltage, the more energy is available to push electrons through the circuit.

lAmps

This is like the width of a road. More lanes mean more cars can pass at the same time. Amps, on the other hand, measure the rate at which electric current flows through a circuit. The higher the amps, the greater the flow of current.

lWatts

This is the combination of volts and amps (volts x amps = watts). Watts are a measure of the rate at which energy is transferred. The higher the watts, the more energy is being transferred in a given amount of time.

lAmp Hours

This should always be listed and is typically measured in 10 to 20 amp hours (abbreviated "Ah"). It is a measure of how many fixed amps a battery can sustain for 1 hour (C rate). Alternatively, it can be double the amps for half the time or half the amps for two hours, etc. When selecting a battery pack, it is crucial to consider the amp hours required for your ebike system.

lWatt Hours

This is a much more accurate way of determining the amount of usable energy in a given battery pack (abbreviated Wh). When available, this is the number to look for! You can also use it to translate the energy into how many watts can be delivered continuously for 1 hour. For instance, a 500wh battery can deliver 500 watts for 1 hour or 1000w for 30 minutes, or 250w for 2 hours, etc. Most ebikes do not use power at an exact level continuously, so this does not directly translate to ride time. However, it quickly shows how a larger battery with more energy (capacity) can deliver lower power levels for longer periods of time and go further on a charge.

Battery energy (Watt Hours)

Load

Run Time (hours)

500 wh

250w

2 hours

500 wh

500w

1 hour

500 wh

1000w

30 minutes

A word of caution: some vendors are prone to exaggerating the truth and "over-promising" when it comes to range expectations. Before you buy, be sure to do some research, ask the right questions, and buy from a vendor who provides range estimates based on your weight, bike, intended use, and intended input.

lAh vs Wh: 

Understanding the difference between these two can be confusing, but it's crucial. While Amp Hours (Ah) may seem important, it's meaningless without considering the voltage. Watt Hours (Wh) is far more important because it takes into account both the voltage and the Amp Hours, and determines how far you can go on a full charge. However, it's important to note that not all packs are labeled and/or constructed the same way, so it's crucial to be careful and pay close attention.

lWh Example: 

36v 10ah = 360wh and 48v 10ah = 480wh

Here's a helpful tip: if you have a bike that can run on both 36v and 48v, you'll go faster on 48v when you run at full throttle. However, the faster you go, the more energy you need!

So, having an extra 120wh with a 48v battery compared to a 36v pack will not always give you more range if you go faster than the 36v bike would be going at full throttle. But who can resist going faster? Otherwise, the more Wh you have on the bike, the more range you can expect from it.

What does all this mean for you? With just a bit of knowledge, you can make better informed buying decisions, put together the proper kit pieces, and ride happily ever after without running out of power or buying more than you need!

ebike battery pack

Size, weight and shape, three considerations when deliberating which electric bike battery to acquire.

It ought to accommodate well, not be excessively heavy, and should enhance the aesthetics of your bike post-installation. It's unlikely you'll encounter a pack that ticks all these boxes to perfection, but some attributes are crucial while others can be compromised upon.

A common pitfall many ebikers stumble into is the desire for a gargantuan battery, all seems hunky-dory until the mounting conundrum surfaces, worsening when you must lug it up a flight of stairs or hoist it onto a bike rack! Maintain a practical approach and you can evade unnecessary headaches and expenditure, also resulting in the most optimal ride catered to your requirements! After the assembly of hundreds of bikes for a spectrum of individuals, short and tall, large and small... I've discovered that the golden rule for an optimal setup is to have the lightest and most compact battery pack that's up to the task. The allure of possessing a pack with double the required energy, ensuring you never run dry on even your lengthiest venture, might seem tempting, but this could be a miscalculation, too often committed! Initial stride, assess your needs. Most individuals, including me, seldom travel beyond 20 miles at a stretch without a halt (32 km), typically much lesser. I do, however, venture out for multiple rides in a single day, quite frequently! Embarking on a brief errand, then connecting the charger can be expedient and efficient, and after 30 minutes, I can resume my journey with a fully juiced battery if required. The point being highlighted is that an ebike with a small battery pack is lighter, more affordable, vastly more enjoyable to ride, can be recharged promptly and provides all the range you require, albeit not on a single charge. That being said, if your requirements are more pragmatic, like an electric trike hauling a trailer of groceries, offspring, or in my instance a 70 Lb canine, up steep slopes against fierce wind. Well, in that scenario, you don't just require a larger battery, but also a more potent motor, a sturdier bike, heavier, pricier, you comprehend the drift? Nevertheless, if that's what your circumstances demand, larger capacity packs are accessible and capable of accomplishing the more strenuous tasks!

A substantial amount of time, a lightweight ebike suffices for most. On this type of electric bike, on relatively level terrains, with minimal wind (even a gentle breeze can drastically impact energy consumption!), while pedalling leisurely, without working up a sweat, on well-inflated tyres, typical 200 Lb or less rider, anticipate energy consumption rates of 10 wh/km... or 17 wh/mile on average. The actual number could be significantly more or less, contingent on a myriad of factors, but this is a practical starting figure. As an illustration, a 36v 10ah battery pack with 360 wh of capacity. (36 volts times 10 amp hours equals 360 watt hours). This pack, in theory, would offer a range of 36 km, or 22 miles, from a complete 100% charge. Now, before all you tech aficionados ignite my metaphorical effigy for averaging numbers and taking liberties with specifics, I am simplifying for the sake of accessibility, your actual mileage will differ. Very few people have the tools to measure a battery pack's capacity and some vendors may take advantage of this.

Voltage (v)

Capacity (ah)

Energy (watt hours)

Range (mi)

36v

10ah

360 watt hours

22mi (36km)

lVoltage: 

The majority of ebike kits are designed for a specific voltage range. An average 36v ebike requires a battery that can supply power between 42v and 30v. A 36v pack is fully charged and storing maximum energy at 42v, and it should switch off and cease providing power at 30v to prevent irreversible damage. More on the Battery Management System (BMS) later. The commonplace "36v" figure is an average operating voltage or sometimes referred to as nominal voltage.

Electric-Find.com clarifies: "Voltage, Nominal. A nominal value attributed to a circuit or system to conveniently denote its voltage class (e.g., 120/240 volts, 480Y/277 volts, 600 volts). The actual voltage at which a circuit operates can differ from the nominal, within a range that allows satisfactory equipment operation. May 28, 2009."

Certain ebike kits boast a broad operating range, such as 36v or 48v. Therefore, be mindful and make an informed selection. Most ebike kits with displays that show battery charge levels using a series of LED lights can only function at the designated voltage. If in doubt, consult the seller!

Voltage is the driving force behind the motor's peak RPM. When a given motor is provided a certain voltage, it will rotate at a specific speed. Increase the voltage, and it will rotate faster! However, electric motors are engineered to rotate at a particular RPM for a specific application, determined by their design. The crux here is that a 36v bike will travel faster with a 48v battery pack, provided that the electronics interfacing the motor and battery are compatible. While the motor itself is indifferent, the remaining components, such as the controller, throttle, display, etc., do care.

lAmps: 

To select an appropriate battery, you need to understand your ebike's "Controller." This component, found in every single ebike, controls the power flow between the battery and the motor by rapidly pulsing on and off (known as PWM or Pulse Width Modulation). If you're at a standstill and suddenly go full throttle, the controller intervenes, saying "Woah... hold on... Not so fast..." and sets a limit on the number of Amps that can flow to the motor. This is its Maximum Amp rating. Why does this matter when choosing the right battery pack? Because you need a battery powerful enough to deliver those amps without overheating, shutting down, or blowing a fuse.

Typically, a 10ah battery will pair well with a 20 Amp controller or less. If you know some but not all of the specifications, you can do the mathjust make sure you're working with accurate and honest data. Sometimes controllers are rated for "Watts," while others will show "Max Amps," leading to potential confusion. When a controller is rated for Watts, you need to know whether this refers to "Maximum watts" or "Continuous watts" with a higher peak. Your battery must be able to safely handle the "Peak" or "Max" when necessary.

For instance, if you're stationary and suddenly open the throttle to maximum, the Controller jumps in, limiting the number of Amps that can flow into the motora parameter known as the Maximum Amp rating. This information is critical when selecting the appropriate battery pack because you need a battery that can efficiently provide these Amps without risks such as overheating, shutting down, or blowing a fuse.

Typically, a 10ah (amp-hour) battery pairs well with a Controller rated at 20 Amps or less. If you only know some specifications and not all, you can do the calculationsjust ensure you're working with reliable and correct data. There can be confusion as some Controllers are rated for "Watts," while others display "Max Amps". When a Controller is rated in Watts, it's essential to know whether this refers to "Maximum watts" or "Continuous watts" that can peak higher. Your battery should be capable of safely managing the "Peak" or "Max" wattage when necessary.

lBMS and Chargers: 

Key components for the maintenance and longevity of your battery pack. Lithium batteries are both light and durable, but they need to be used within their specified limits to ensure a long lifespan. This is where a BMS, or Battery Monitoring System, comes into play. The BMS sits between the actual battery and the power wires, monitoring the voltages of all the cells and typically the Amps flowing as well. If any limits are reached, the BMS intervenes by safely cutting off the power. In an ideal situation, the BMS will just monitor and not intervene, but if you do exhaust all the available energy, it will shut down the system and prevent any damage to the battery cells.

The same concept applies to chargers; the BMS allows the charger to function as long as all the cells are in harmony and within their limits. A high-quality charger is vital and often overlooked. I've seen excellent battery packs ruined by poor quality chargers. Therefore, investing in a good charger can significantly extend the life and performance of your battery pack.

electric bike battery pack

Mounting your battery pack on your ebike can indeed be a challenge.

Ideal locations for placement don't always align with the most convenient ones. Depending on your bike type and riding style, placing the battery inside the frame and between the wheels is ideal for optimal weight distribution and ride comfort. However, putting it on a rear rack or in saddle bags is easier and more convenient, although it can adversely affect handling (and aesthetics, though that's subjective). This is where the battery pack's shape and weight become important!

Battery packs housed in aluminum cases with mounting brackets simplify the mounting process on your ebike and offer added protection against impacts. However, they also add to the cost, weight, and bulkiness of your ebike. On the other hand, a battery pack with simple shrink wrap is less expensive, but it requires careful mounting to avoid crushing the delicate cells or damaging them due to vibration while riding. Remember, it's not a question of if your bike will tip over and hit the ground, but when. So, ensuring your battery pack is securely and safely mounted is essential.

How to take care of your electric bike battery?

Taking care of your electric bike battery is crucial for maximizing its lifespan and ensuring efficient performance. Here are some tips on how to properly care for your ebike battery:

1. Charge Properly: Even though most batteries come with a Battery Management System (BMS) that ensures power is shut down safely, it's always best to avoid fully depleting your battery. Whenever possible, charge your battery fully before you set off on a trip.

2. Manage Your Energy Consumption: If you know that your trip is going to stretch the limits of your battery's range, consider pedaling harder to conserve energy.

3. Temperature Awareness: Avoid charging a frozen battery pack. Instead, move it to a warmer location and allow it time to warm up. Using your battery pack in cold weather is fine, but expect a drop in performance and range.

4. Opportunity Charging: If your trip is a long one and you take a break, take the opportunity to plug in your charger and grab some power. Even if it doesn't fully charge, it can still extend your range.

5. Legal Shipping: Understand that shipping regulations for battery packs are stringent due to the large amount of energy they can contain. Ensure that your vendor is reputable and provides legal shipping, often denoted as "UN Certified."

6. Understand Energy Density: This is a measure of how much energy a battery can hold for a specified volume. With technological advancements, smaller batteries can now hold more energy. For example, modern 18650 cells can hold about 3500mah, providing three times the range of batteries from a decade ago.

7. Choose Your Battery Type Wisely: While lead-acid batteries may be cheaper initially, a lithium battery can offer better value over time. For example, a 6lb lithium battery can provide the same performance as a 30lb lead-acid battery of equal voltage.

Remember, it's not just about maintaining the longevity of your battery, but also about enhancing the performance of your ebike and ensuring a smoother ride!

ebike kit

In Conclusion

As you can see, there's a lot to consider when diving deep into the world of lithium battery packs designed for electric bikes. Your primary concern as a purchaser should be learning how to care for your battery pack properly. Conduct thorough research and purchase from a reputable vendor who legally ships a UN Certified pack. Most importantly, ensure that you buy the battery pack that best fits your e-bike riding needs! By doing so, you can maximize the performance and longevity of your e-bike and enjoy your rides to the fullest.


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