3 ways to extend the life of your electric tricycle battery

3 ways to extend the life of your electric tricycle battery

The battery in your electric trike is usually worth about a third of the value of the entire trike, so it’s important to find a quality battery and take care of it properly.

We offer a 5 year pro-rata battery warranty on all our electric trikes, which is one of the best in the industry. Why we’re so confident that our batteries are amongst the best in cell quality. If you learn nothing else from this article, remember this: don’t buy an electric trike with a battery warranty of less than five years, and do your best to buy a battery from one of the “big three” brands: Samsung, Panasonic, or LG. Cheap electric trikes like Costco don’t have the same build quality or warranty quality. The build quality or warranty quality of a cheap electric trike like Costco’s will not ensure that you will be able to use the bike for years. We recommend that you spend a little extra money up front to avoid headaches (or worse – a landfill or even a fire!) down the road.

electric tricycle battery

Whatever electric tricycle you buy now, it will most likely use lithium batteries. Believe it or not, lithium batteries have been around since 1912, but it’s only in the last 15 years that they’ve become popular and affordable for consumer applications. There are “lithium-ion” batteries and “lithium-polymer” (aka “Li-ion polymer”) batteries, and the difference between them is the type of electrolyte used. Otherwise, there are no significant differences: lithium polymer allows for a slight increase in energy density, but is 10-30 per cent more expensive, so manufacturers have not yet decided which to choose.

There is also a range of lithium chemistries in different batteries, some of which manufacturers may claim are more robust than others, but the most important factor affecting battery life is how well the battery is maintained. If well-maintained, batteries typically last 3 to 5 years. (Even without use, lithium-ion batteries slowly lose their capacity over time.) Here are three steps you can take to ensure you get the longest life out of your electric tricycle battery.

#1. Keep the battery at optimal temperature
Temperature conditions are an important factor affecting lithium-ion batteries. For example, leaving your battery in the car exposed to the sun or direct sunlight will definitely shorten the life of your battery. The worst case scenario for the battery is to keep it fully charged at high temperatures. When not in use, store the battery in a cool place, preferably below 20°C (68°F).

It is also important to prevent the cold with your electric tricycle battery. Ensure that the battery temperature is above freezing before charging, otherwise the battery may be damaged. This is because the lithium ions in an electric tricycle battery float in a liquid electrolyte that may freeze. It is fine to ride your bike in below freezing conditions (without damaging the battery). However, when you ride in very cold weather, you may notice a drop in power and range; this is normal and expected. Store your battery indoors during the colder months.

#2. store partially charged batteries – but not too low!
You’ll also notice in the table above that storing fully charged batteries can have an impact on recoverable capacity. What’s more, storing a fully depleted battery can be disastrous because, as we mentioned above, even if you’re not using a lithium-ion battery, it will slowly discharge over time. If the voltage drops below a certain point, it can lead to battery damage, depending on how long it’s been sitting. Ideally, when storing a battery for an extended period of time, make sure it is between 80 and 40 per cent fully charged. Some chargers have a low “storage” voltage setting, so simply switch to this voltage before charging for storage. A simple alternative is to ride the bike for a lap before storing it fully charged.

Also, do not leave the battery on the charger for long periods of time as storing it at or near 100% will shorten the life of the battery. You can also check your battery every few months during the winter months. If you find that the battery indicator has dropped too low, you can give it a quick charge to bring it back up to the desired storage voltage (this is less necessary if the battery is 40% charged or higher). If you don’t have a battery indicator, charging the battery for half an hour every few months is probably a good idea. Again, try not to store your batteries fully charged (but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if this happened.)

electric tricycle battery

#3. don’t fully discharge your batteries regularly
Surprisingly, we still see tech sites that recommend fully discharging your batteries on a regular basis, even though this has been shown to be harmful. Look again at the chart below Courtesy of Battery University, which proves that regularly discharging lithium-ion batteries down to 0% is harmful, and recommends partial discharging and regular recharging to extend the battery’s charge cycle life. Occasional full discharges on extra long rides are not a problem! It is OK to charge Li-Ion batteries regularly, as shown below, and it is best to use them during the first half of the discharge cycle; Li-Ion batteries do not have the “memory effect” that other battery chemistries have. If you regularly go for short rides, it is better to charge them every few rides rather than every ride (to avoid prolonged periods at or near 100% charge, as described above).

Battery Discharge Effects
As an additional precaution during the winter months, make sure the battery temperature is above freezing before charging or the battery may be damaged. Cycling in below freezing conditions is not a problem (will not damage the battery), just make sure you allow the battery to warm up before charging. When you ride in very cold weather, you will notice a drop in power and range; this is normal and expected. You can help avoid this by bringing the battery inside to keep it warm when you’re not riding. This way you will gain extra power!

Properly maintaining and storing your battery as described above will significantly extend its life. A well-maintained lithium-ion battery will last three to five years, while a poorly maintained battery can be severely damaged in a season or less. For more detailed, scientific information about batteries and how to care for them.

If you want to know more about electric bikes or have any questions about our cycling clothing and their components, please feel free to reach out to our customer service. We are always here to assist you.

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