Electric bikes use rechargeable batteries to provide the power they need to travel. Some of the most common batteries used include nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion polymer, sealed lead-acid, and nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Like any other battery, electric bike batteries need to be replaced after being used for a specific period of time.
Their lifespan depends on the type of usage. Once they are no longer dependable, it’s best to replace them with a new battery. Changing your battery allows you to continue receiving great service from your bike with minimal issues.
When to change your electric bike battery
When you should consider electric battery replacement:
1. End of lifecycle
A typical electric bike battery lasts between 3 and 5 years.
This depends on how well you take care of it throughout its life. For example, your battery will last longer if you keep it in a dry place and away from temperature fluctuations. If your battery becomes less efficient with age, you are required to replace it.
2. Physical damage
Physical damage may be as a result of road bumps and vibration experienced during long trips.
This may displace the battery, cause cables to short, or damage the battery casing. It may also cause terminals to get into contact with conductive surfaces, leading to fire and heating. Replace your battery immediately you notice serious physical damage.
3. Failure to charge
When your battery fails to charge, your bike will stop running.
Any other electricals that you may have such as lights will also stop functioning. This may be due to a dead battery. A dead battery cannot receive any charge, let alone hold it. Since charging failure can be caused by a number of reasons, it’s best to have a qualified professional take a look at the battery. He/she will perform differential diagnosis to determine the problem. If the battery is entirely dead, you’ll need to replace it.
4. Reduced range/terrible battery life
One of the most common complaints by electric bike riders is the short battery life offered by their bikes.
Some batteries tend to have a limited life and may need to be replaced when they can no longer provide a range that meets the user’s needs. If you find yourself constantly checking and monitoring your battery in fear of running out of juice, you need to buy a new battery that offers better range.
5. Swollen battery
Swelling in batteries occurs due to incomplete chemical reactions that result in the creation of a gas.
The gas fills the battery and causes it to swell. Additionally, a battery can swell if its internal layers fail to properly separate chemicals and components. Leaving your bike to operate with a swollen battery can cause serious harm. Replace your battery immediately it starts to swell.
6. Hot battery
There are several reasons why your electric bike battery may become hot or heat up. It could be due to an external short circuit.
If you store your battery near other metallic items, the items may act as a bridge between the negative and positive poles of the battery. Batteries can also swell due to internal shock.
This could be cause by a sudden fall. The battery generates high current which results in high temperatures. Replace your battery once it starts to heat up.
Batteries that contain sulfuric acid release hydrogen gas.
The gas then mixes with other elements around the battery leading to corrosion of battery terminals. Overcharging and undercharging could also lead to battery corrosion. You may need to thoroughly clean off the rust using a toothbrush and baking-soda solution. If this doesn’t work, your battery may have outlived its purpose and may need to be changed.
8. Bad smell
A battery may smell due to overcharging, freezing, or internal shorting.
This is often characterized by an unpleasant rotten egg smell. It’s a common occurrence for batteries that use a mixture of water and sulfuric acid. If not checked, the sulfuric acid could damage other parts of your electric bike. It sometimes produces smoke in severe cases.
Factors to consider when changing your electric bike battery
Electric bike batteries are available as either nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion polymer, sealed lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Knowing what type of battery your electric bike runs on helps to determine the right replacement option for it. It’s important that you go for the same type of battery. Consult your owner’s manual to determine what type of battery your e-bike runs on.
Battery group size
The group size of a battery refers to the height, length and width of the battery.
Batteries come in different sizes. You want a battery that fits into your electric bike easily and perfectly. Consult your owner’s manual to find out what group size your battery belongs to.
Electric batteries have their capacities indicated either in amp hours or watt hours.
To make it easy to compare several options, use the formula “v*ah = watt hrs (voltage multiplied by amps hours equals watt hours). This puts the battery capacities in the same unit for better comparison. The battery capacity will determine how much range you get.
Age of battery
When purchasing your replacement battery, check the date it was manufactured.
Go for a battery that was produced not more than 6 months ago. Such batteries are considered to be fresh and new. They are also less likely to cause any problems during use.
Most electric bikes are powered by batteries obtained from specific brands.
It would be best to go for the same brand when looking for a replacement. If you would like to go for another brand, remember to stick to the requirements and specifications indicated in your owner’s manual.
The reserve capacity of a battery determines how long it can last at a particular current draw.
A battery with a specification of ‘RC @ 30A = 150 minutes’ means that at 80°F, the battery supplies 30 amps of current for 150 minutes. The usable voltage normally considered for this measurement is 10.5 volts. Remember that the higher the current drawn, the lower the battery capacity will be.
The style of your battery will determine how easy it will be to replace it.
Generic-style batteries that can be mounted to the bike’s frame can be easily replaced. There are several replacement options available in the market. If you have a brand-specific battery that comes in a unique style, it may cost you a lot more to get it replaced.
There is a large pool of battery manufacturers in the market today.
Some of them offer very affordable battery options that seem like a great financial deal. Carry out some adequate research to determine if the product meets your expectations. Some manufacturers use low-quality material to produce cheap and unreliable batteries.
How to change your electric bike battery
The process of changing an electric bike battery will vary from bike to bike.
This is because e-bikes are designed and built differently. What works for a certain brand will not necessarily work for another.
However, here is a typical process of changing a battery on an e-bike:
- Unlock the battery kit. This could be done through a key or by unscrewing the bolts that hold the battery compartment together.
- Unplug any wires that might be connected to the battery.
- If the battery is held in place by clamps, loosen the clamps to release it.
- Use your hand to support the battery as you carefully remove it from your bike.
- Install the new battery and bolt it into place.
- Ensure that all the clamps and anything else that was holding the old battery is safely reinstalled.
- Reconnect all the wires and safely close the battery kit.
Benefits of changing your electric bike battery
Here are some of the benefits you’ll get with a fresh new battery:
A new battery provides more power to your electric bike.
This is because it ignites the plug better and transmits electricity faster than an old battery. Most people will always notice a sudden improvement after installing a new battery.
Better plug ignition
With a new battery, you get improved spark timing and better supply of power throughout the bike.
This means that you will never experience any power delays as it sometimes is the case with old batteries.
Stable electricity supply
A new battery is less likely to experience minor issues that inhibit the smooth flow of electric current.
Take for instance corrosion, internal shorting, and external shock. Unlike old batteries, new batteries are less susceptible to such problems.
Eases worry of sudden failure
You’re less likely to be worried about battery failure when using a new battery.
One of the most important things to have while riding your e-bike is some peace of mind. Unlike old batteries, new batteries are less likely to leave you stranded or inconvenienced.
Buying a battery from an authorized shop means that you get to benefit from a warranty.
Warranties promote quality and reliability. The longer the warranty, the higher the quality of the product bought. With a new battery, you get assurance that if it gets defective, the supplier will offer a solution for the defect.
Upgrade to the latest technology
Battery manufacturers are continuously working to improve the performance of all types of batteries.
For example, engineers are trying to build batteries that take less time to charge and provide power for longer periods. Replacing your battery means that you get to benefit from such innovations whenever they are available.
Factors that influence the life of a battery
When it comes to batteries a lot of factors influence their lifetime usage:
Batteries have capacity ratings based on a specific ambient operating temperature.
Any variation can alter the expected life and performance of the battery. A general rule of thumb to remember is a 15°F increase in temperature from the normal 77°F lowers the expected life of a battery by 50 percent.
Accessories plugged in
The performance and life of your electric bike battery is heavily influenced by the type of usage its put to.
If you subject it to heavy usage, such as having many accessories plugged in, you shorten its lifespan. The battery gets drained quickly which means you have to charge it often.
Vibration from rough roads
Vibrations that arise from acceleration inertia and rough roads have a serious effect on the electrical and mechanical performance of an electric bike battery.
They cause fatigue and may lead to a short circuit where small metallic parts get into contact with other battery parts.
If you only ride your e-bike for very short trips, the battery may never get fully charged.
This could wear it out quickly. It may also lead to unexpected damages. Short and fast trips have been known to accelerate the deterioration of batteries.
Age of battery
A typical electric bike battery lasts between 3 and 5 years before becoming significantly unreliable.
Sometimes, it may not last longer than 2 years. If you start experiencing battery issues after 2 or 3 years of usage, your battery may be coming to the end of its lifecycle.
The ability of a battery to deliver and store power decreases slowly over time.
This is due to its chemical composition. Even with proper maintenance and usage, you still have to replace your battery after a certain period of use.