Electric bike riders are totally reliant on the power grid. After a day in the saddle, we plug in and recharge the battery, ready for our next ride. But, sometimes, we can get caught short, and the battery runs out not so close to home. So, in this article, we’ll talk about how to charge an ebike battery without a charger.
Look For A Public Charging Point
Before we go into innovative ways of topping up your battery without a charger, let’s highlight the easy option first.
You may be lucky to ride in an area with public chargers dotted around popular trails and routes. Companies such as Bosch are creating a network of ebike charging points that even extends to mountainous areas. You can expect to see these charging points in the Welsh hills to remote parts of the French Alps, and there’s more popping up throughout the United States as each day passes.
You just have to plug your bike into one of these charging points and eat lunch while you wait. You can even plan your ride based on their locations. More of these ebike charging stations will be cropping up all over the place in the near future, creating more possibilities.
If you’re using an electric bike for your job, as a courier or in the delivery service you might not get as much luck charging publicly because it takes too much time. Instead, you need to forward plan your day and make sure you have enough charge to see your shift through. Charging on your lunch break is a viable option, but long stops in the middle of the day while you’re working just aren’t tenable long term.
Charge Your Ebike From A Car Battery
If you don’t have access to a public charging point, you can use your car battery to top up your ebike battery.
To charge your ebike battery from a car battery, you need to be careful. Running your car battery down can put you in more trouble than having a flat ebike battery. It would be best if your car battery operated at a higher voltage than the one on your bike.
You need an inverter that will convert the power from your car battery into the correct voltage for your ebike battery. A travel charger with enough capacity to hold currents will allow you to get some energy into your ebike battery. This will plug into your car’s cigarette lighter, transferring power to your bike. However, your travel charger needs to be a quality one with PFC (Power Factor Correction). PFC ensures that all the power taken from the car battery goes into the ebike battery.
If you can’t get hold of a standard travel charger, you can still connect your ebike battery to your car battery. But, you’ll need the appropriate connectors. Make sure you connect red and black wires with positive and negative ports, like when jump-starting a car.
This isn’t an emergency solution unless you have already fitted an inverter and a travel charger into your car. But, if you’re nowhere near a power outlet, it is a great way to get back on your bike.
Remember, it’s easy to use if you know what you’re doing. Don’t try to charge your electric bike using your car battery unless you’re comfortable with how a car battery works. You can charge your ebike without a charger, but only if you know how.
Another way you can charge an ebike battery is with solar panels. This is an excellent option for using your ebike on a camping trip. You can let the solar panels soak up the sun and transfer energy into your ebike battery.
The good thing about hooking your ebike battery up to solar panels is that it’s very safe to do. You can even complement it by connecting a car battery to it at the same time to speed up the process.
The easiest way to charge your ebike battery with solar power is with 100 and 200W solar panels. The more panels you have the more solar energy you can capture. You need an inverter and a solar charge controller to connect the solar panels to your battery. However, to ensure you don’t fry your battery, install a fuse on positive cables that link the battery to the inverter and the charge controller.
Charging With A Power Bank
There are some great power banks that you can use to charge your ebike battery. Similar to charging with solar panels and a car battery, power banks are ideal for camping or overnight stays without access to an outlet. They aren’t portable enough to carry on your bike (unless you have a cargo bike), but they are great when you have a base.
For this to work, the power bank has to have a current greater than the wattage pull of the ebike battery. For example, if your ebike battery needs 750W, a 1000W power bank will work fine. But, if you have an exceptionally high-powered ebike, a power bank won’t cut it.
You will also need a travel charger to connect your power bank to your battery. So, again charging from a power bank requires some pre-planning and additional equipment.
Some ebikes have regenerative braking, which is a handy feature for putting power into your battery. The system uses kinetic energy lost when applying the brakes and keeps it in the battery.
Strictly speaking, regenerative braking doesn’t charge your battery, but it does increase your range. If your bike does have regenerative breaking, don’t get into the habit of pulling on the brakes excessively. If you’re cycling in the rain or in wet conditions you could end up hurting yourself. Plus, whatever energy you build up will likely be expended building the speed back up that you lost through braking in the first place.
You can attach a range extender to your ebike. These are power banks that charge ebike batteries when the rider isn’t using electrical assistance. So, if you’re freewheeling or stopped at the side of the road, your range extender will give your battery a little more energy.
However, if you fit a range extender, you may violate your bike’s warranty. You must also ensure that the range extender is compatible with your ebike for it to work. Don’t try to attach a range extender if you don’t already know what you’re doing.
Carry An Extra Battery
The alternative to searching for a way to keep riding is to carry an extra ebike battery.
You need to consider that this will add weight to you and your bike, affecting the range of the battery you’re using. So, you need to work out how much range you need. If the bike is a lot heavier and you don’t have any battery power there is a higher chance of punctures, so just make sure you have a puncture repair kit with you so you’re covered for more eventualities.
It’s a good idea to carry an extra battery with less capacity than the one currently mounted to your bike. This is because smaller ebike batteries are lighter, but they should give you enough range to get home.
Final Thoughts On How To Charge An Ebike Battery Without A Charger
As you can see, there are a few ways to top up your ebike battery on the go. However, it still requires extra equipment and preparation. Many of these solutions are more for moments when you’re not near an electrical outlet but have a base, such as a campsite.
Don’t forget that you can still ride an electric bike with a dead battery. Of course, you’ll have to put in more effort than if you were riding a regular bike due to the extra weight, but you can still reach your destination.