The Evolution of Ebike Battery Packs
Ebike battery packs have made tremendous progress over the last few years. There’s no doubt that the evolution of ebike batteries has greatly benefited from the big advances in automobile and other industries that use standard 18650 cells for various power packs. As battery manufacturing technology continues to improve, we can expect to see more efficient and affordable electric bike battery packs on the market.
But the question is: How has ebike battery technology changed? What are the key aspects driving the improvement in ebike battery performance today? Below, we’re going to discuss how electric bike battery packs have changed as well as what the future holds for the industry.
The first commercial e-bikes appeared at the end of the 19th century and used heavy and large lead-acid batteries that have largely been phased out in the ebike industry and replaced by NiCd or Li-ion batteries. As battery technology advanced, the need for innovative, lightweight and quality batteries with denser capacity increased. With the popularity of ebikes, performance changes have always been a point of interest to ebike riders.
Today, modern ebike batteries that come with your standard ebike kit have largely settled on the lithium battery model, but you can expect the technology to continue to improve. Ebikes use a variety of ebike battery packs in the market that vary in terms of quality:
- NiCd ebike batteries – Have more capacity than lead-acid batteries but are expensive and hard to recycle. Last longer, but are also rapidly becoming a thing of the past as an ebike battery choice.
- NiMh ebike batteries – More efficient than Nickel-cadmium batteries and are more expensive. Last longer than NiCd batteries and easier to dispose of the right way. Also becoming a rarity as Li-ion batteries take over the market.
- Li-ion ebike batteries – These are now the standard batteries used in the electric biking industry, capturing over 90% of the ebike market. There are many types of lithium-ion batteries which can make selection quite complicated. The good thing is, Li-ion batteries last quite long and generate more power for their smaller weight than other ebike batteries. The main negative is that they are very expensive and prices are not expected to go down any time soon.
- Lithium-ion polymer ebike batteries – It’s a new ebike battery type that offers quite the same range, weight and pricing as Li-ion batteries, but can be molded into quite some interesting shapes. They don’t contain any liquid, so they’re less vulnerable to damage, abuse, or overcharging. Time will tell when it comes to proving battery life.
- Lithium cobalt ebike batteries – Another variation of Li-ion batteries, with claims of higher energy density than other types of lithium batteries. It offers the optimum power needed for ebikes in a light, yet compact package.
- Lithium manganese ebike batteries – This is also a new lithium battery on the market and is the same technology used in the quite popular Nissan Leaf hybrid car. It’s considered by some as the best of all ebike batteries as it generates more power and lasts longer than other lithium batteries.
Most people who want to switch to electric bikes have one thing in common: concerns about the range of the batteries that come with their ebike kit or new ebike. How far can you really go with today’s ebike battery packs on a full charge? Every ebike conversion kit manufacturer or company, website or even salesperson in the ebike industry will have their own range estimates. There’s no denying that ebike battery range has come a long way over the years.
Despite the advances in battery technology, one thing to keep in mind is, if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Do a simple search online and you’ll find all types of battery range claims. The fact is, most electric bike battery packs today have a range of approximately 20 miles from an average 6-8 lb Lithium-ion battery. While battery manufacturers are trying their best to achieve more range with less weight, we still have a long way to go until battery technology improves significantly. But that is changing as companies like Tesla revolutionize battery tech.
Size, Weight, and Shape
Over the years, ebike battery manufacturers have strived to achieve a balance between size, weight, and shape when it comes to delivering efficient ebike battery packs for customers. These three things are what most ebike riders look at when buying a battery pack. It has to fit easily on the ebike and not be too heavy and also look good once installed on the bike. While it can be hard to find all the ideal factors you would want in a battery park, improvements have been made over the years to make ebike batteries smaller, lightweight and visually appealing.
The key to buying the right ebike battery pack is to get the smallest and lightest possible ebike battery pack that’ll get the job done. You have to determine your needs before choosing a battery pack for your ebike. If you only run a few errands or go for multiple rides a day, a small and lightweight pack would be good. But if you use your electric bike for daily commuting for longer distances or use it to haul groceries or even your kids, a bigger battery, motor and even stronger and heavier bike is a must-have. Check the capacity and power details of batteries.
BMS and Ebike Battery Chargers
Unlike the battery packs used in the past, today’s ebike battery packs come with innovative tech like Battery Monitoring Systems (BMS) that help protect your pack and ensure a long life by regulating the voltage within the batteries. BMS helps keep your batteries running at the specified limits and automatically cuts off power safely to prevent damage to your battery cells. Ebike battery chargers have also improved greatly with fast-charging capabilities now available.
Mounting Battery Packs
Mounting battery packs can be a challenge, especially if you’re building your own DIY bike using an ebike kit. There are convenient mounting options and there are ideal ones. Depending on your riding style and the type of bike you’re riding, mounting your ebike battery pack inside the frame or between the wheels is an ideal option for the best possible ride comfort and weight distribution. Mounting on the rear rack or using saddlebags is usually an easy and convenient option, but can create handling problems or affect bike looks.
Getting the Most Out of Your Ebike Battery
While ebike batteries are designed with efficiency, reliability, safety, and durability in mind, ensuring proper battery care is vital. Even with a BMS that will shut down the battery power safely when needed, it’s recommended that you charge your battery fully and more often to prolong its life. To increase performance and the lifetime of ebike battery packs, you should reduce deep discharge cycles as much as you can. Keep your battery packs exercised when not using your bike like during winter by regularly charging them for at least 30 minutes a week.
The Future of Ebike Batteries
As the quality of the battery production process improves and ebikes become more mainstream, more companies are investing in research and development of more powerful and longer lasting batteries. For many years, 18650-size cells have been the core format for ebike batteries in the market. The future of ebike batteries is set to drastically change with the introduction of the new 21700-size cells that are larger and come with great improvements in capacity, have less weight, produce less heat during charging, offer better performance and prolonged lifetime.
Shop Ebike Conversion Kits at Leeds Electric Bike
Leeds Electric Bike sells a range of ebike kits with 250 Watt and 500 Watt ebike battery packs available in different options for your ebike conversion needs. Want to learn more about our battery capacities, range or mounting options? Contact us today.