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Are batteries for electric bicycle universal and interchangeable

Are batteries for electric bicycle universal and interchangeable?

Riding an e-bike fast (and having fun) depends largely on your e-bike battery. Batteries can make or break the experience of electric bicycles. So, what if you need to replace the battery with a new one or the battery runs out (what if you are far away from home)? As long as it looks appropriate, can you put any batteries on the electric bike?

Unfortunately, batteries for electric bicycle are not universal or interchangeable. Electric bicycles require specific types of batteries based on their voltage (V), ampere/capacity (Ah), and other characteristics such as size and weight. For example, you can’t install a 48-volt battery on an electric bicycle designed for a 36-volt electric bicycle.

Regarding e-bike batteries, the biggest mistake you can make is thinking that they are all the same…even if they look similar.

But this is far from the truth! If you want to replace the battery in an electric bicycle, you need to make sure you get the correct size battery. Otherwise, your bicycle will either fail to work or cause serious damage to the battery and motor.

In this article, I will help you figure out how to replace the old battery with a new battery suitable for your electric bike.

Why are electric bicycle batteries not universal?

It is certainly ideal to equip all types of electric bicycles with a universal battery. Wouldn’t it be nice to take an emergency battery wherever they sell electric bike batteries? You don’t have to worry about running out of battery when riding, because you can pick up a new one in a pinch. You can even borrow the battery of another electric bicycle for use on the day.

Unfortunately, this is not how it works. There are many types of lithium-ion batteries with different specifications. They may differ in voltage (V), capacity (Ah), energy/watt hour (Wh), size and weight.

For a quick understanding, it is ultimately important to know voltage x ampere-hour = total watt-hour. Therefore, batteries with different voltages or currents will produce completely different watt-hours. In addition, the voltage and ampere-hours must not only match the battery charger you are using (usually the charger that comes with the battery), but also the total wattage of the electric bike itself.

For example, a 48V lithium ion battery may already be slightly larger and heavier than a 36V lithium ion battery. Moreover, even if it has the same ampere-hours as a 36V bicycle, it still does not emit the same watt-hours. Moreover, there are several other potential problems that can be solved by understanding the voltage and ampere-hours of the electric bicycle that is best for you.

What voltage is best for electric bicycles?

Generally, the average voltage (V) of an electric bicycle battery is 36 volts. This is because the average human pedaling speed is about 20 km/h (12 mph). Therefore, the 36-volt battery will help maintain a reasonable and safe speed for electric bike riders. Depending on where you live, manufacturers need to abide by the laws regarding the speed of electric bicycles… Some laws provide maximum speed limits for electric bicycles.

However, more and more electric bicycles use 48-volt batteries (where higher speeds are permitted by law, such as the United States), especially on high-performance bicycles and/or electric bicycles with throttles. Why? Because cyclists want faster speeds!

Let us not be confused that higher voltage means more power (at least not by itself). On its own, a higher voltage will only provide a higher speed.

However, if the battery voltage you use is higher than the voltage required by the electric bike, there is a risk of overcharging and it may stop working earlier than usual. This is a good example of why electric bicycle batteries are not universal.

batteries for electric bicycle

Watt hour is equal to the total energy output of the electric bicycle battery

Is a higher Ah battery better for electric bicycles?
Unlike volts, ampere-hour (Ah) measures the capacity of a battery. Generally speaking, this is how long your battery can be used and the range it can travel. But there is one more point.

For electric bicycles, higher Ah is not necessarily better. Whether you need a high Ah battery really depends on how long and how far you plan to ride. Ampere hours will determine how long your battery can be used on a single charge.

Basically, compared with 46V and 15Ah electric bicycle batteries, 36V and 8Ah electric bicycle batteries will not be as fast or cannot travel that far when fully charged.

Can electric bicycle batteries be interchanged?

Now that you have a basic understanding of voltage and ampere-hours, it is important to put the two together when considering whether e-bike batteries are interchangeable (even if they are not universal).

Generally, batteries cannot be shared between electric bicycles because the allowable wattage of each bicycle and the watt-hour (Wh) of the battery may be different.

Imagine trying to put a type C battery in your computer mouse instead of double AA batteries? It doesn’t fit at all, so you know it won’t work. However, the batteries on electric bicycles may not be as tight as they are usually bolted to the outside of the frame.

Therefore, it seems that you can replace the old battery with a similar-sized battery on an electric bike.

Why can’t I replace the electric bicycle battery?
This question can be answered with a simple calculation (it sounds tricky, but it is not the case). You need to calculate the watt-hour (Wh) of the electric bicycle in order to compare the total energy of the battery with the capacity of the electric bicycle.

Remember this simple formula again: V x Ah = Wh

Here is an example of what might happen if you use the incorrect battery:

If the battery is 48V, 14Ah, then it outputs a total of 672 watt-hours (48 X 14 = 672)…just like my Rad Mini foldable electric bicycle battery. Since my electric bicycle has a 750 watt (maximum) gear hub motor, the battery watt-hour is just below the maximum wattage of the bicycle.

Now, if I install a 52V, 18Ah battery on my electric bike (52 X 18= 936), it will exceed the maximum 750 watt capacity of my bike, and it is likely to damage the battery and motor! Then I have to buy new parts or completely replace the bike (given that I need hundreds of dollars to replace the battery and motor anyway, this would be a reasonable choice).

This is just an example of why you shouldn’t change one electric bike battery for another without knowing what is right for your electric bike model. To be honest, if your electric bike is not designed for this combination, then multiple combinations of volts, ampere-hours and watts may go wrong!

batteries for electric bicycle

What type of battery does an electric bicycle use?

Battery packs can have so many different characteristics that it is difficult to equip all electric bicycles with universal batteries.

Generally, electric bicycles use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries as their main power source. Lithium-ion batteries generally have a long service life and fast charging time. This makes electric bicycles equipped with lithium-ion batteries very suitable for frequent and long-distance riding. This type of battery can last about 1000 recharges.

So, in other words, they are very suitable for regular cycling.

And lithium-ion batteries are much lighter than lead-acid batteries, in any case it can only charge you about 300 times.

If you buy a newer electric bicycle, you will find that it is usually equipped with a lithium-ion battery. Therefore, you don’t have to make a major decision about the battery type, but you still need to choose an electric bike based on the battery output.

Focus on buying an electric bike with a battery that allows you to drive as you like (voltage) and one charge (amp-hour).

How to replace my electric bicycle battery?

You can obtain a new battery by matching its specifications to replace a non-working or damaged battery. It must have the same volts, ampere-hours, and watt-hours as the old one, as well as the correct size and weight.

The best way to buy a new electric bicycle battery is to talk to your bicycle manufacturer or a reputable electric bicycle store.

Since the battery will cost you about one-third of the total cost of the electric bike, make sure you ask the right questions so that you will eventually become a happy bicycle rider and have a high-quality battery that can last for many years.

E-bike battery questions to ask before buying

How far can the battery go on a single charge?
How long does it take to charge?
What is the warranty? How long is the warranty period?
What should I do to take care of it properly?
Do you offer any discounts?

In conclusion

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but electric bike batteries are not universal or interchangeable. Therefore, it is best to understand your needs as an electric bicycle owner and how to find the right battery for your electric bicycle.

Make sure you have read this article in detail to understand what you need to know about e-bike batteries and how to replace old or damaged batteries.

batteries for electric bicycle

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