I purposely titled this “what I THINK I know about battery charging” for good reason. I only know what I have read and experienced thus far. I am certainly no expert and I readily admit that at times I have found what I have read a bit confusing and perhaps even contradictory. I have had 4 batteries thus far … all lithium ion and all 48 volts. What has been different about them is their capacity or power rating. I started out with a 6.6 aH Bionx battery that fit in a rear rack. I found that it was way too small. I ran out of battery power long before I was done riding each day. I used to carry the charger with me to recharge the battery while I was out riding … taking valuable time stopped to do this. Below is a picture of my trike stopped in a city park recharging the Bionx battery.
Bionx was good enough to allow me to return the battery to the dealer and get their largest battery … which is only 11.6aH … still not very powerful. I had problems with my Bionx system so I ended up returning everything for a refund as they either couldn’t or wouldn’t fix the issue I was experiencing. Next I got a 20aH battery which also mounted in a rear rack. Later I bought a second one and have one available as an extra battery if I need it or want to have it along with me although I usually only have one along with me.
In charging these batteries they each take a certain length of time based on two factors: 1) How far down in their charge level they are and 2) the charger being used to recharge them. BTW, a lithium ion battery should never be used beyond 80 % of its capacity. 20 % charge should remain in the battery. Naturally the larger the battery rating the longer it takes to recharge it unless one uses a more powerful charger. Lithium Ion batteries are best charged slowly. In fact, fast charging can harm them and reduce their life span. My 20aH batteries came with a 2 amp charger. That is a pretty small charger as far as chargers go. Yet there is a reason why the company selling them supplies this size charger. In short, it is to get maximum life out of the battery. There are lithium ion batteries out there that recharge in only 1 hour. That is because they are being charged fast. At 2 amps my 20aH batteries take about 10 hours to recharge (20 divided by 2 equals 10).
I recently bought a 5 amp charger after reading about this subject. 5 amps is as large as I dare go for fear of damaging the batteries. Even at 5 amps I am a bit concerned. I started using it and immediately was alarmed at the result as I thought I had already damaged the battery. I noticed that it did not charge up quite as much as it always had when using the 2 amp charger. I also noticed that as I started riding using it it seemed to run down quicker than it always had before. I decided to use the 2 amp charger again and much to my relief everything returned to normal … I had a fuller charge and once more was able to get the same distance out of the battery charge as I was getting before. WHEW! My battery is okay … at least as far as I can tell. After using the 2 amp charger again for about 3 days I went back to the 5 amp charger.
It usually takes about 5 hours to recharge the battery using the 5 amp charger. Doing the same math … 20 divided by 5 … one would think that it would take 4 hours. Again, I am no expert on this but I think the math comes out differently because in the recharging process the circuitry has built into it a slow down toward the final part of the process. Lithium ion batteries are a bit complicated and the charging process is also complicated. It is all very high tech and the circuitry has safeguards built into it. The same is true of the motor controller. Without this damage can and would occur. And fire is also a great concern. It is important that we always use proper equipment made for our e-system. BTW, even though I am back using the 5 amp charger I do not know at this time if I am shortening the life of my battery. I know I would be best off using the 2 amp charger most all of the time and only use the 5 amp charger if I am in a hurry.
E-assist has become extremely popular and with more and more trike riders getting it we need to know about our batteries and charging them. We need to be safe. We certainly don’t want to prematurely age our battery’s life nor have our earthly possessions going up in flame. We all want to …
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