How to Charge an Electric Bike
Electric bikes (eBikes) get you where you need to go thanks to modern batteries. Sure, the motor does the work of turning the pedals, but that motor would be a scrap of metal without the battery.
If you want to take great care of your eBike, you need to take great care of your eBike’s battery. Much of that care comes in how you charge your eBike battery.
Let’s learn more about eBike batteries including what makes them so efficient, general care of eBike batteries, and how to charge an electric bike. By charging your eBike the right way you can get hundreds more miles before the battery needs replacement.
Types of eBike Batteries
Lead-Acid – Lead-acid batteries were the industry leader for decades and though they’re still popular in traditional motor vehicles, they’re too heavy and bulky for eBikes. It’s uncommon to see lead-acid batteries used anymore for eBikes.
Lithium-Ion – Lithium ion (LI) batteries were first developed in the 1980s but within the past ten years has become the battery of choice for several applications including eBikes. LI batteries are light, compact, and come with as much juice as traditional lead-acid batteries. Their small size, ease of recharge, and power make LI batteries the perfect match for eBikes.
How to Charge an Electric Bike Battery
Read the Instructions – All eBikes or individual battery packs will come with instructions on the best ways to charge them. Because LI batteries vary across manufacturers, these instructions are your best guide.
Remove the battery from its mount (some models the battery can be left in mount)
Turn the battery pack off (if applicable)
Connect the battery pack to the wall (or car) outlet charger
Check for charge indicators. Most eBike batteries will show a red light for low charge that shifts to green once the battery is full. Your eBike battery should also have secondary indicator lights that the battery pack is charging.
How Long Does It Take to Charge an eBike?
How long it takes to charge an eBike battery depends on several factors including:
- How much charge battery currently holds
- Type of LI battery – aka how much storage capacity
- Type of charger – newer chargers are faster
- Age of battery – Older batteries don’t charge as efficiently
- Temperature – Batteries charge more efficiently in cooler temperatures
Most eBike batteries need 2-6 hours to charge to full capacity, but full capacity might not be what you want on LI batteries. Let’s learn some tips on how to charge your eBike battery for maximum useful life.
Lithium-Ion Battery Charging Tips
Read the Instructions! – Again, the instructions or resources that come with your battery are the number one source for accurate charging information and tips but there are general things to know about charging LI batteries.
LI batteries act differently than traditional lead acid batteries, namely in how to charge it. With traditional batteries you plug the charger in, wait until it reaches 100% charged, then unplug and use the battery.
You can do that for LI batteries, but you’ll quickly decrease its serviceable life if you let the battery drain to zero then charge it up to 100%. Rather than a traditional power cycle, use these LI battery charging tips:
The First Charge – The first charge should be a long one – at least 12 hours. An initial, long charge helps condition the battery to optimal charging conditions
Ongoing Charging – LI batteries do not like to be completely drained. If possible, never ride your battery below 20% before recharging. Most eBike experts agree anywhere from 25 to 50% capacity is the best time to recharge your battery.
Regular Draining – While you shouldn’t make a habit of draining your eBike battery all the way, a complete drain every 30 to 50 charges could help prolong battery life. Your instruction manual will have tips if a regular battery drain is a good idea.
Frequent Use –One of the worst things you can do for a LI battery is let it sit for long periods without charging or use. It’s understandable if your eBike is put away for the winter but you should make a note to put your charger on the eBike battery for a few hours every two to three weeks and go for a short, charged ride if possible. Regular use is one of the best things you can do to keep your LI batteries lasting longer.
Getting Charged About eBikes
Thanks to lithium-ion, eBike batteries are compact and easy to use. For most eBike batteries you only need to follow instructions by switching your battery off and plugging it in for 2-6 hours. Follow the above tips to make your battery last as long as possible and you’ll be fully charged for a great eBike ride.