Wondering what to look for in electric bike batteries? It all starts with size compatibility – the battery should fit your ebike to properly work. You can then review voltage, amps, and wattage once you’ve determined compatibility.
You also need to consider the range when choosing an electric bike battery. Experts suggest a storage capacity of at least ten amp-hours for a decent range. The battery should also deliver sufficient voltage and power to help the bike go uphill.
This guide will discuss what to look for in electric bike batteries in Michigan.
The Basics of Electric Bike Batteries
It is a good idea to brush up on your understanding of the basic terminologies.
- Voltage (V)
- Amperes (Amps)
- Ampere per hour (Ah)
- Watts (W)
- Watts per hour (Wh)
Simply put, voltage refers to the electric potential of your ebike battery. A higher voltage can mean more speed. Another term for voltage is volts.
The pressure from the power source propels electrons through a circuit. This flow enables them to do work. The standard electric bike battery in today’s ebikes is 36V.
With that said, you could pair a 36V ebike with a 48V battery. The ebike would go faster (provided that the motor and battery are compatible). Using a different ebike battery in Michigan may not impact the motor.
However, the rest of your ebike’s electronics, such as the controller and display may malfunction. This is why it’s important to refer to your ebike’s manual before swapping the battery.
An ampere measures the rate of electron flow. A good analogy for amperes is the size of a pipe with water flowing. More amperes means a larger pie with water flowing at a higher rate.
The amount of energy in a battery is referred to as its capacity. It is the most important feature of a battery. The capacity of a battery is measured in ampere-hour (Ah).
Amp-hours is a measure of how many amps a battery can deliver in one hour. So a 12Ah battery can discharge 12A for one hour. The standard ebike battery is a 10-amp hour battery. This battery usually allows a range of 20 to 40 miles on a single charge.
It is hard to quantify exactly how far an ebike battery will take you. This is because range depends on several factors, such as weight.
A watt is used to measure electric power. The higher the watts, the more power you have at your disposal. Watt (or power) can be calculated by multiplying current with voltage.
A watt-hour is a unit to measure the capacity of a battery. It is a measure of total power production in a certain period. It may be easy to confuse Wh with W. However, a key difference is that W is power production at a single instance.
Here are a few miscellaneous terms worth knowing.
BMS or battery monitoring system is an important tool that increases the life of batteries. It is an ‘intelligent’ battery component that monitors health and charge rates. Think of the BMS as the brain of the battery that monitors safety and performance. BMS is usually used on lithium-ion batteries.
Energy density refers to how much energy a battery can hold for a certain volume. It is possible for two ebike batteries of identical size to hold different energy levels.
A high-energy-density bike can hold more energy at a smaller overall weight. This is crucial for performance, range, safety, and ride quality.
Lithium-ion batteries are usually more energy-dense compared to other alternatives such as lead-acid batteries.
Types of Electric Bike Batteries
There are four primary types of electric bike batteries available. These are:
- Nickel-metal Hydride
Lead-acid batteries were invented in the 19th century and have undergone countless innovations. These batteries are also known for being much more affordable. The power output of lead-acid batteries is low, and they also weigh a lot.
Lead-acid batteries tend to have a smaller capacity compared to other battery types. They aren’t usually used for ebike batteries because of their weight. They are primarily used in forklifts, scissor lifts, and golf carts. You could use lead-acid batteries in your ebike, but they would weigh you down.
These batteries are rechargeable and can last a long time. They offer more capacity compared to lead-acid batteries. Moreover, nickle-cadmium batteries offer more load performance than lead-acid batteries.
Now for the drawbacks. These batteries have a very high self-discharge rate. In fact, they can lose as much as 60% in a 24-hour period. The high self-discharge rate and low power density make them a poor choice for ebikes.
It is also worth noting that nickel-cadmium batteries are expensive. Worse still is the fact that cadmium is a toxic pollutant.
Manufacturers are discontinuing the production of nickel-cadmium batteries because of the environmental and safety repercussions. These batteries may only be used as a last resort.
Nickle-metal hydride batteries offer more capacity than lead-acid batteries. All things equal, they can hold 45% more charge compared to nickel-cadmium batteries. However, they lack severely in the longevity department and are too unstable.
They are a good improvement over nickel-cadmium but are too expensive. The self-discharge rate is an improvement over nickel-cadmium, but not ideal for ebikes. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are fading from the market because of better alternatives such as lithium-ion.
Lithium-ion batteries have changed how we interact with electronics and the portability of computers. They are the default battery in almost all applications – including smartphones and bikes.
Lithium-ion batteries have the largest market share of ebikes at up to 90%. They have a higher power output compared to other batteries.
Moreover, lithium-ion batteries can last for much longer and are incredibly durable. Use this table to understand the differences between Li-ion and lead-acid batteries.
|Type of Battery||Weight (ah)||Capacity (lbs)||Range (km)|
Lithium-ion batteries can be divided into three different types that will be discussed below.
LiPo is the defacto choice for most ebike manufacturers and has the largest market share. They are cheaper to produce with reliable performance. LiPo batteries utilize organic electrolytes or colloidal polymers.
They are more reliable and stable than other batteries because there is no excess electrolyte. Besides stability, LiPo batteries offer other advantages such as quick charging and higher capacity.
Moreover, LiPo batteries also provide higher bursts of power in a short period. This is extremely useful for propelling electric bikes at greater speeds and at an incline.
Another advantage of LiPo batteries is that manufacturers can customize the battery’s shape.
Lithium-cobalt batteries are prized for their high energy density. They are also known for being stable and high performance. The benefit of LCO batteries is being able to release energy in a small volume. This enables their use in smaller applications such as smartphones and laptops.
However, their safety profile leaves a lot to be desired. Manufacturers have to take extra precautions to safely use the battery. But this can drive up the costs of the ebike. This is why it is better to use alternatives like LiPo batteries.
It is also worth noting that cobalt is a rare metal and is very expensive. As a result, LCO batteries can be very expensive.
Lithium Manganese batteries are a more recent concept that improves upon Li-ion batteries. Their characteristics are useful to manufacturers because of their low costs and safety profile. Moreover, they don’t generate nearly as much pollution as conventional alternatives.
Lithium Manganese batteries are primarily being used to manufacture smartphones and other electronic devices. A very small number of ebikes are currently using Lithium Manganese batteries.
However, the battery may not be very stable and can easily decompose. This is why manufacturers need to use it in combination with other materials.
This depends on your particular situation. If you convert a bicycle into an ebike, we recommend using LiPo batteries.
However, if you are replacing your battery, consider finding a compatible option. This usually means finding a battery with the exact same specifications and materials.
Did your ebike previously use a lead-acid battery? Then consider replacing it with a lead-acid battery. Of course, you could use a Lithium-ion battery just as easily – but will it fit? More importantly, is the battery compatible with onboard electronics?
As mentioned earlier, the ebike motor doesn’t complain as long as it’s getting power. But your electronics may not be able to function if you change the battery type.
Consider how the Battery is Mounted
The three most commonly used mounting positions for ebikes are rear rack, frame-mounted, and frame-integrated.
Rear-rack-mounted batteries are only ideal for lighter applications. However, packing too much weight on the ebike will disrupt handling. Rear-rack mounted batteries are often found in more affordable bikes and are aimed at budget-conscious consumers.
Downtube mounted batteries are commonly used in the market. However, they can be difficult to get on and off the ebike. This is why manufacturers are switching over to frame-mounted batteries for superior handling of ebikes.
Frame-integrated batteries are ideal because it helps with uniform weight distributions. It keeps the overall weight properly distributed and low.
So which option should you choose?
You may not have much of a choice in this regard. It’s not possible to change the frame of the ebike itself. Of course, you could change the frame – but that would require a significant overhaul. This would be a time-intensive and expensive investment that may not be worth it.
So if your ebike battery was rear-rack mounted, then the replacement should be rear-rack mounted. However, consider using a frame-integrated mount if you are converting a bicycle to an ebike.
If you have the right tools, you can change the mount type of the batteries. It would require technical expertise and tools but would be a fun DIY project.
As a rule of thumb, the higher the battery’s capacity, the better. A higher capacity is also better for your ebike’s longevity because of fewer charge cycles.
Higher capacity means that you can travel for longer durations and at greater distances. Most performance-oriented ebikes tend to use ebike batteries with greater capacities.
As mentioned earlier, battery capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh). The standard capacity for ebike batteries is in the range 400-500Wh.
You can opt for a smaller capacity if you don’t need the ebike commuting. A smaller capacity may be used if the overall weight of the ebike is low. You’d be surprised to learn what an efficiently designed lightweight can do with low-cap batteries.
If you must use a low-capacity ebike, then consider using a folding ebike. They are designed to have a low weight for greater portability.
But are you planning to travel for longer durations on your ebike? Then consider using a longer capacity ebike. Manufacturers are now pairing ebikes with dual battery systems for superior capacities. A dual battery system can provide enough juice to ride all day at high settings.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when choosing an ebike battery. This is because there is more to batteries than just power. You have to consider various features, such as size, weight, and specs. For example, would the ebike battery even fit? And if it fits, would it connect to the motor? Would the ebike battery work with the electronics?
These are all things you should consider when looking for ebike batteries. Always do your research and if needed, get in touch with a knowledgeable expert. Did this article help you on your quest? Let us know your thoughts by sending us your comments!
You may like the following electric bike articles:
- How Long Does an Electric Bike Battery Last?
- Can I Overcharge An E-Bike Battery?
- How Do You Charge an Electric Bike
- How Much Does an Electric Bike Battery Cost?
- Can You Use An Electric Bike Without A Battery?
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric bikes caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my e-bike. Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric bikes. Check out more.