How to Store an E-bike Battery

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E-bikes make riding more fun, because you can do more with less effort.

E-bike batteries drive the motor that adds more power to your pedals and makes it easier for you to ride faster than you can on a conventional bike. And you still get to avoid traffic, because despite the motor you are still eligible to use bike paths on an e-bike.

Closeup of the batter on a Tower bike

The health of your battery has a lot of impact on your bike’s performance and your range while you’re out riding.

Because the cost of replacement cells is so high—probably higher than it is for a laptop or smartphone—you need it to last. This makes proper care essential. Part of this is knowing how to store the cell when you won’t be using it for a while. Below are a few of our storage tips.

Best ways to store an e-bike battery

Ensure your lithium ion battery is always charged

You can’t use your e-bike or its battery without charging it. However, the way you charge it greatly affects its lifespan. Before you enjoy your first ride after buying your bike, ensure it is fully charged.

Never wait until your battery is dead before you recharge it. Keep it alive. If you wait until it’s empty before you recharge, its holding capacity will be reduced. That’s why it’s recommended that you keep the cell almost fully charged, even if you’re going for a short ride.

To ensure a long battery life, don’t use just any charger—use your battery’s original charger. Every charger has a unique input and output capacity. Using the wrong charger can also be dangerous, and in some cases carries a risk of explosions or fire.

Keep your battery clean and dry

It’s crucial to keep batteries clean and dry if you want to keep them in optimal condition. I know that cleaning a battery doesn’t sound like something essential, but it is a necessary process that you need to consider.

You might not know how to clean it—and we’ll get to that in a moment—but there are a few things you can do to ensure it doesn’t get dirty. For instance, you can store your bike in a clean, dry place. This storage could be your garage or some enclosed space outside your home. These clean and dry spaces are also the best places for charging your battery.

Ebike on a kickstand outside a garage door
You take great pains to keep your bike clean and dry. Do the same for the battery.

How to clean an e-bike battery

Most batteries are water-resistant so they won’t die during a heavy downpour. However, you need to clean them if they get dirty or wet.

Always remove the battery from the bike before you begin your cleaning process.

The cleaning should be occasional, and should not involve the use of a water jet. Cleaning with a water jet is likely to interfere with electronic components.

Instead, use a can of compressed air like you use to clean your computer keyboard. If you don’t have one, a cotton swab with a dab of 90-per-cent rubbing alcohol is useful for cleaning the terminals and switches.

If you’re really stuck, a damp rag will do. But make sure it’s sufficiently squeezed out so that any water you apply to the battery will evaporate shortly after cleaning.

Keep cells in a cool environment

Keeping a fully charged or almost fully charged cell in direct sunlight or hot weather can significantly reduce its lifespan. You need to find a cool space where you can leave the it after you’ve charged it. High-temperature areas such as a hot water closet, sunroom, or conservatory should be avoided at all costs.

Small enclosed areas are also not recommended because batteries need ventilated surroundings.

Any extreme temperatures will affect the battery temperature and, by extension, its performance and range. If you’re forced to ride in very hot or very cold temperatures, remove your power pack immediately after riding and store it at a more moderate temperature until your next ride.

Plan for long-term storage of your e-bike

Are you planning to store your battery for an extended period of time? If the answer is yes, then there are a few things you need to consider. To begin with, ensure your battery is not fully charged when you want to store it for a couple of weeks or months. Keep the charge level at about 60 per cent. This is the ideal charge for prolonging its life.

You also need to check it every month. If its charge level drops to 20 per cent or lower, you should recharge it to its ideal percentage.

If you need to transport your bike during a move or something, don’t leave the battery on the bike. Batteries don’t like being dropped.

How to prepare your battery for the winter season

When it’s very cold in winter, your battery won’t have the same range that it does in other seasons. It will run for fewer hours. The best riding environment for an e-bike battery is about 80 F or 25 C, which is why some people feel their bikes are a bit faster during the summer.

When battery temperature drops, battery capacity also drops. For instance, when temperatures drop to zero during winter, battery capacity drops to about 70 per cent of normal capacity.

To prepare your bicycle for winter, ensure you charge it at least two times every month. Never go out with the bike if the battery has less than 25 per cent of its charge. Increase the charging period if you have to. You can keep charging it for two to three more hours after it has shown the green light. However, don’t keep going for many hours as that can damage the battery.

Never open your battery

Let’s be honest. You have no reason to open your battery. Even if you examine its contents, there is little you can do to repair it. Moreover, opening lithium batteries can be extremely dangerous. Whenever lithium comes into contact with oxygen, it becomes extremely flammable and explosive. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

If you suspect your battery capacity is lost or the cell is faulty, you should seek out professional testing and repair services.

Battery care FAQ

What are some factors that can shorten the lifespan of my battery?

  • Storage in areas with high temperatures of 30 C or higher.
  • Heavy-duty use
  • Storing when it’s in a discharged or fully charged state
  • Parking electric bikes in direct sunlight in hot weather

How long might it take to charge?

At room temperature, most cells will charge from empty to fill in two to six hours. However, the duration will vary depending on the size of the battery. Large batteries have more capacity, and thus take more time to charge.

When is the best time to charge?

You shouldn’t wait until your battery is at zero before recharging it. Aim to ensure your battery is at 40 per cent or more at all times. You can charge it whenever it’s below 20 per cent, but don’t go all the way to 100 per cent. That’s because both extremes of a charging cycle can stress the battery.

What are the ideal conditions in which to charge?

Manufacturers recommend charging lithium ion batteries between 41 F to 113 F (5 C to 45 C). While being stored, e-bike batteries lose about five per cent of their charge every month. That’s why a nearly full charge is the best way to an electric bike battery.

Featured image: Ivan Radic | Creative Commons

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