Riding Your Ebike In The Winter: Cold Weather Tips Battery Care
During the winter season, an e-bike is a great way to avoid congested roads – but it requires proper maintenance.
Failure to adequately care for your battery during this time can result in significantly decreased performance and reduced longevity of your bike. To ensure enjoyment on cold days outdoors. as well as reliable service for years ahead. get into the habit of regularly inspecting, cleaning and maintaining all parts with quality tools resources specific to electric bicycles!
The following are cold weather tips to assist you with the maintenance of the battery and bike when riding your e-bike in the winter.
How to Care for the Battery During Winter
The battery is one of the most delicate components of your electric bike. It needs a great deal of care and attention, especially in the cold and freezing winter weather. Failure to do this risks rendering your battery obsolete.
There are several ways to maintain your battery and keep it from suffering the aforementioned fate. You can prevent this by ensuring the battery operates in the ideal temperature conditions. For instance, before charging your battery, make sure its temperature is above freezing point to avoid damaging the cells.
Cold weather can significantly affect electric bike batteries, reducing their range. To reduce the power drop in cold climates, make sure to store your e-bike indoors when not in use.
For optimal performance it may also be beneficial to preheat a battery before charging. however this should be done gradually and never with an external heater as that could cause damage!
Preparing Your Battery for Long-term Storage
To ensure optimal performance of your e-bike, it should be stored at 75% power before setting into extended storage.
As an alternative to keeping the bike in a heated environment such as a garage or basement, you can alternatively detach the battery and store it indoors for safekeeping during its dormant period. Be sure to check in periodically not only on the charge level but also conditions outside if stowing away outdoors. even under shelter!
Clean Your Electric Bike
To maintain your e-bike in the winter months consider cleaning it regularly. The roads are bound to get dirtier than usual during the winter months because of the sand, gravel, and magnesium salt used to keep them safe for driving.
Picture credits: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=FjGR2gXHgKg
Make a point of wiping down your electric bike with a damp piece of cloth constantly. Use a bike-specific lubricant to maintain the chain and follow the appropriate guidelines to keep rust and grit buildup at bay.
What is in an Ebike Battery?
Throughout this article, I’ll generally be referencing Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery chemistry. Almost all modern electric bikes use this current standard battery type for its high energy density.
There are a few different chemistries of the Lithium-ion battery used in modern ebikes, which include: Lithium Nickel Cobalt Manganese (Li-NCM), Lithium Manganese Cobalt (LiMnCO2), Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium (LiNiCoAlO2), and Lithium Polymer (usually Cobalt chemistry).
Within each electric bike battery, there are a number of smaller individual battery cells – usually in the 18650 format. This cell is slightly bigger than an ‘AA’ battery and carries a 1.5v charge, with a capacity range of 3200-3500 mAh capacity.
These smaller cells get tied together in series and parallel and combine to form the larger electric bike battery. Depending on the voltage (36V, 48V, 72V typical) and capacity (400 Wh to 1000 Wh) the arrangement and number of these cells vary. One example is the Bosch power packs contain 40-50 individual cells in them.
- Monitoring the battery for hazardous conditions like high/low temperature, charge imbalance between cells, etc.
- If an unsafe condition arises the BMS can cut power from charging or delivering a charge to avoid battery failure
- Monitors the state of charge, and state of health (capacity) of the battery
All about ideal charging conditions
Ideal charging conditions involve cool temperatures and slow charging. Manufacturers typically recommend charging an electric bike battery between 41°F to 113°F (5°C to 45°C).
What if I charge a lithium-ion battery below 32°F (0°C)?
Charging a lithium battery at low temperatures is definitely not recommended. Why? I think this information from Battery University says it best:
“[when charging consumer-grade lithium-ion batteries]… plating of metallic lithium can occur on the anode during a sub-freezing charge. This is permanent and cannot be removed with cycling. Batteries with lithium plating are more vulnerable to failure if exposed to vibration or other stressful conditions.”
So basically, you can permanently damage your battery, and increase the risk of the battery failing prematurely. Not something you should take lightly, especially with such an expensive replacement cost.
Charging in High Temperatures?
Generally, electric bike batteries should not be charged above 113°F (45°C). Many chargers prohibit charging above 122°F (50°C) and require the battery or ambient temperature to be lower than that to work.
Ideal Discharging Conditions
What does temperature do to battery capacity?
There’s no ideal day to go and ride an electric bike, most spring, summer and fall days would be good enough for me. But for Ideal discharging conditions, the ideal temperature for your ebike battery to be used is around room temperature 68°F (20°C) or slightly lower.
When looking at the science and data behind temperature and battery capacity, warmer temperatures will have a positive effect on your battery’s capacity, so you could get more run time from an ebike battery with all things being equal – except temperature.
Although warmer temperatures will increase a batteries’ capacity, prolonged exposure will also reduce the cycle life of your battery – so a bit of a double-edged sword.
Battery capacity is severely reduced when temperatures start to get close to or below 32°F (0°C). The condition is temporary, to a point, and once the battery temperature gets back to more normal range its capacity will also return.
Tips for How to Keep Electric Bike Battery Warm in Winter
We think you should go for an e-bike ride at least once every two weeks, especially if you live somewhere with a cold winter. Alternatively, keeping your e-bike in the “running” position can help you keep it fit.
Here are some expert tips for keeping your e-bike battery warm this winter. Following these will make sure you cycle without any issues whenever the mood strikes. Have a look below:
Use a Battery Cover
One of the easiest ways to keep an e-bike battery warm in winter is by using a battery cover. Also, it functions in the same way that a wetsuit does when diving in the ocean.
The cover’s insulating properties keep the battery warm and the damaging elements at bay. Using a battery cover and keeping it inside will allow you to get a lot more miles out of your e-bike’s battery.
DIY Insulation and Heating
An insulated case could keep a battery warm during transit or storage. Protecting electronics from moisture and sub-freezing temps with foam or other materials is a good idea. Batteries should also be stored in an environment free of dampness, as this can cause them to short out or corrode.
Given the remote risk of combustion that comes with all Li-ion batteries, keeping them in specially designed fire-proof bags can be another helpful safety measure. But it usually depends on the length of storage.
Also, wrapping your battery in a cloth or towel can act as emergency DIY insulation. It is a great idea if you ever find yourself stuck in cold conditions. Make sure it’s safely packaged before you head out.
Store Battery and E-Bike Indoors
Keep your e-bike battery toasty and ready to go all winter long by storing it away from the cold. You can preserve and extend the battery’s capacity and lifespan by storing it in a chamber where the temperature is not somewhere around freezing.
The gel inside the battery will harden if you leave it outside, which will postpone your next day’s trip. According to experts, the outdoors is a terrible place to leave your e-bike or its battery in the cold.
Keep your battery in a warm place, ideally between 50 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (10-25 degrees Celsius). It is the optimal range for maintaining your batteries’ health and readiness for a sudden ride.
Extra Steps for Keeping E-Bike Battery in Good Condition in Winter
Here are some extra steps to take for your beloved e-bike, in case the above ones are not sufficient:
Charge the Battery Before the Ride
If you own an e-bike and live somewhere too cold to ride in the winter, you should maintain the battery charging between 50 and 80 percent. Also, don’t forget to store at a temperature of 10 to 20 degrees Celsius.
To get your battery down to about 75%, you can either charge it to 100% and then take a short trip, or you can just charge it until it reaches that level. over, every three months, give the battery a test and a 75% recharge if it needs that.
Avoid the Battery Drain Completely
By maintaining a full charge, you can keep the battery from being over-discharged and ultimately dead. There must be an optimal ambient temperature and range for charging to occur without damaging the energy storage system of your e-bike.
Therefore, we recommend waiting until the battery has cooled to optimal temperature before charging it. Avoid draining the battery to zero. Instead, recharge it whenever the percentage drops below 10%.
Now that you have all the basic principles for taking care of your.bike’s battery, let’s recall the cliff notes.
First thing first, you should always keep your e-bike battery in a warm area. Secondly, protect it with a battery cover, and ride your bike less often during the winter. This will ensure that it continues to function even if it is left out in the cold weather all day.
over, it is crucial to insulate or heat your e-bike’s battery during the winter, especially if you want to use it all year long. All you need to do is keep the battery out of the cold, away from moisture, and in an optimum environment. In other words, it’s as simple as counting to three.
Your e-bike’s battery will last longer if you perform routine maintenance on it. For example, charging it regularly, avoiding short circuits, avoiding extreme temperatures, and storing it in a cool, dry location when not in use.
Keep in mind that your e-bike battery may not work as well in the winter due to the colder weather and bad road conditions. But at the same time, with some proper care and upkeep, your e-bike battery can last all year long!
Lithium battery performance in cold temperatures
Many Optibike riders like to ride in cold weather, and some experience reduced battery performance as a result. Here is an explanation why, and what can be done about it.
The capacity of Lithium Ion batteries will decrease with colder temperatures. As the capacity decreases, the bike will run for shorter times and enter Safe Mode earlier. Run times can be extended on colder batteries by running in ECO Mode. If the battery is stored in a warm room and then ridden in colder temperatures, the battery capacity will be higher as the battery will warm itself during the ride.
Capacity Decreases at Colder Temperatures
The capacity of Lithium Ion batteries will decrease as the temperature of the battery decreases. The maximum run time is achieved at temperatures of 25C (normal room temperature). At 0C (32F) the capacity of the battery will be only 80% of the battery at 25C. At a temperature of.20C, battery capacity will be decreased to 60% of a room temperature battery. See chart below.
Keep the Bike Indoors Prior to Riding for Peak Performance
For best riding results, store the bike in a warm area and then take it outside to ride. If the battery is stored at 25 C and then ridden in air that is 0C, the battery will heat up as it is used and this will prevent it from cooling off, preserving the capacity. The exact amount of cooling of the battery will depend on the outside air and speed the bike is ridden. If the battery is left outside in 0C temperature and then ridden, the capacity will decrease to about 80%.
A Colder Battery Will Enter Safe Mode Sooner
When riding with a cold battery, riders will encounter shorter runs times, and the bike will enter Safe Mode earlier. Safe Mode is entered when the battery reaches a certain lower voltage and over rides the capacity gauge.
If you find the bike going into Safe Mode on colder days, try riding in ECO Mode, which has a lower drain on battery and this will keep the voltage higher and keep the bike form entering Safe Mode. Limiting acceleration and keeping the bike out of Boost Mode will also keep the bike out of Safe Mode.
Safe Mode Indication
Safe Mode has been entered when the Red LED on the headlight begins to flash. The power of the bike is reduced to less than 200 watts. Run Time in Safe Mode will vary from 2-10 minutes. Exact run time will depend on battery temperature and how old the battery is.
If the bike does enter Safe Mode, early in cold riding, it can be reset by turning the bike Power Switch to off, waiting 10 seconds, and then turning bike back on. Then ride the bike in ECO Mode and allow the battery to warm up.
Jim Turner. Inventor and Founder of Optibike
Jim Turner is the Inventor and Founder of Optibike Electric Bikes
Just to clarify what I meant with the sarcastic comment. Nothing personal: “If I wanted to ride a 300W bike and not have a boost I would have bought a Giant twist. You guys need to fix this. ” If I charge my bike in the warm house and ride in the cold morning, it does just fine. Maybe once or twice t hit safe mode. However, charging inside on a regular basis is not convenient. I have charged in the cold (45-50) rode 10 miles on a park-ride commute, and then hit safe mode on the return at 12.5 miles. Even if I charge warm and ride, my bike sits in the cold all day and I catch a safe mode on the way back if RT is 40-45min, and less than 20 miles. I guess my comment is based upon an expectation that a 20ahr battery on an Optibike will give me more than 20 miles in all temps, fast mode. (1hr/mile min) Additionally, with a 22 mile commute (then a charge) for the cost of the bike, I expected top be able to ride FAST mode all the way (with active pedaling), and not have to switch to ECO. I don’t want to ride ECO mode per se at 300W. At that point, my Opti has the power of those other bikes. Still, the drop-to-safe is a nuisance, and that alone is worth a fix, IMO. Thanks for opening up on the issue and informing us all. moral: charge warm, ride long. Dan
Gents- Opti said: The Optibike 850 is spec’d to run for 50 minutes in fast mode, that is the advertised run time stated on the website. Your Optibike runs for 55 minutes, and what exactly is the problem? Not problem with 55 min of run time, just a question about what is happening when the power seems to drop a little? It is not in SAFE mode when that happens. In the summer, I see SAFE mode after 75-80 minutes. Opti said: “If the battery is stored at 25 C and then ridden in air that is 0C, the battery will heat up as it is used and this will prevent it from cooling off, preserving the capacity. ” I am a little unclear about what you need to be fixed, the above quote is a solution. Ok, I see what you are saying is the solution. That does help, but not always. I have charged inside and rode to work at 40-45F and still seen a safe mode after 16 miles/45 min. If the capacity reduces due to the cold, then the LED should sequence to a solid red led more quickly, and then enter safe mode. My bike does not. It can go into safe mode from a blink yellow and occasionally a solid yellow. SHould that be fixed or an accepted surprise? The other unknown question is what constitutes an end-of-charge in your book? Is it going into safe mode? Or the reduced power I mentioned above? Opti said: Yes, the answer to your second question is indeed yes. I appreciate that direct affirmation!
Dan- The Optibike 850 is spec’d to run for 50 minutes in fast mode, that is the advertised run time stated on the website. Your Optibike runs for 55 minutes, and what exactly is the problem? Yes, the answer to your second question is indeed yes. “If the battery is stored at 25 C and then ridden in air that is 0C, the battery will heat up as it is used and this will prevent it from cooling off, preserving the capacity. ” I am a little unclear about what you need to be fixed, the above quote is a solution. Cheers back at ya, Craig
Craig, After about 55 min of fast mode riding in moderate temps, I notice the power drops a bit. Is that programmed, or just the voltage level tailing off toward the end as your graphs suggest? Summary: So the cold lowers the battery voltage AND reduces it’s AHr capacity. When riding in FAST mode and boosting, the low voltage is further reduced, or “droops” during the high current demand, and can drop below a preset (and secret) threshold value, which switched the controls into SAFE mode. Correct? Opti said: If you find the bike going into Safe Mode on colder days, try riding in ECO Mode, which has a lower drain on battery and this will keep the voltage higher and keep the bike form entering Safe Mode. Limiting acceleration and keeping the bike out of Boost Mode will also keep the bike out of Safe Mode. If I wanted to ride a 300W bike and not have a boost I would have bought a Giant twist. You guys need to fix this. I’ll trust the answer to #2 is a YES. Cheers, Dan
Dan- Glad you liked it…this one was for you! Your answers (well, some of them): 1) That is proprietary. Sorry. 2) Also proprietary. 3) There are alot of variables that can go into ride time, such as amount of boost, and temperature. We advertise a 50 minute run time for the 850w MBB in FAST mode. Seems like you are over that, even in cold weather. Looks good to me! Craig Taber Optibike
Craig, Excellent technical stuff … great feedback for owners. Thanks! Some followup questions.when your tech guys get a chance: 1. What is the voltage trip point that caused SAFE mode to be active? 2. Does Opti have plans to modify software to allow temperature compensation, or does the voltage level need to be fixed? 3. During the summer, I ran my Opti fast mode for 101 minutes before I hit Safe Mode. Now, at temps of 5-10C, I can trip into SAFE mode from 40-55minutes. If the capacity is reduced to 80% at 0C, then should I not see 101x.8 = 80 minutes of riding in the cold before safe mode? I am about half of that. Why?
Thermal Battery Jackets Protect Your Electric Bike Battery
Whether headed on a late-season hunt or a relaxing winter ride, it’s important to protect your electric bike battery. Bakcou fat-tire electric bikes are built to handle the elements. One area we want to take an in-depth look at is keeping your bike running optimally during extra cold rides.
Like any machinery, your electric bike is going to be affected by the temperature that it is operating in. It can be crucial to keep the weather in mind when you set out on a winter adventure.Without getting too deep into the finer details of the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries and how they’re affected at different temperatures, it’s necessary to keep in mind that you don’t want to run a cold battery. When you ride at colder temperatures, the temperature of the lithium-ion cells can vary. There could be some cells at a high temperature and some that stay at a lower temp. The battery management system (BMS) sees this variation in temperatures as an internal issue and shuts the electric bike battery off to protect the cells.
Electric Bike Battery Protection
Being an unavoidable issue in colder temperatures and knowing that a large portion of hunting season falls in the winter months, our team at Bakcou knew we had to develop a solution to ensure the cold weather won’t slow our riders down. Enter the Bakcou Thermal Battery Jacket.
The Thermal Battery Jacket is an insulated battery jacket with a heating element that wraps around your battery. Electric bike batteries should maintain a core temperature of 50-75°F for optimal performance. The battery jacket helps keep the battery from malfunctioning at lower temperatures by helping maintain the temperature of the individual lithium-ion cells.
You may be wondering how the Thermal Battery Jacket works. The battery jackets are pretty straightforward, and setup is a breeze. As previously mentioned, the heating element works to maintain the temperature of the internal lithium-ion cells within an optimal range of 50-75°F. Because of the water-repelling fabric, the Thermal Battery Jacket protects your battery in wet conditions.
How to Use Thermal Battery Jackets
To give power to the battery jacket, you can plug it into a small, portable power bank, like the Bakcou Battery Bank, or plug it directly into the USB port on your electric bike battery. We recommend the smaller battery bank to preserve the power level of your bike battery.
For optimal performance, turn the jacket on about 10 minutes before leaving to give the battery time to warm up. The goal of the heating element is to warm up the battery. We don’t recommend powering on the jacket while riding, except for the first few minutes of your ride until the battery reaches an optimal operating temperature. When the outside temperature drops below 50°F, we recommend leaving the Thermal Battery Jacket on the battery in a powered-off state. Remove the battery jacket when the outside temperature rises over 50°F. If spending a day in the field on a cold day, we recommend keeping the battery jacket on the battery with the heating element on the lowest setting.
If you plan on using your Bakcou eBike during the colder winter months, we highly recommend a Thermal Battery Jacket. This small upgrade will protect your electric bike battery and keep you riding all winter long. Thermal battery jackets protect your battery against lower temperatures that can cause a drop in battery efficiency. As a result, protecting your electric bike battery will also help maintain the battery longevity. Bakcou has solved the issue of low-temperature impacts on lithium-ion batteries with our Thermal Battery Jackets.
Before you head out for your winter ride, we recommend checking out How to Ride Your eBike in the Winter. This blog is full of great insights to help you prepare yourself and your bike for a cold winter ride.
Have any other questions regarding the Thermal Battery Jackets? Let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.