You never know where your travels will take you, whether on a bike or in a car. Sometimes rides on the scenic route go longer than you think. As bike riding becomes more popular in the US, more and more tourist spots, nature reserves, parks, and trails are opening catered to cycling novices, fiends, and hobbyists.
When you are on your trip, you’ll probably want to bring along your electric bike. Of course, seeing that there is nothing like going on a new path, you’ll also likely be driving a car and may make a weekend vacation out of it.
While a lot of things need to be pre-planned for biking-centric trips, a question that is commonly asked is how you can charge your electric bike on the road. Continue reading to find out.
Can You Charge An eBike From A Car?
To answer the question briefly, you can charge your eBike from a car. However, there’s a lot more that goes into charging an eBike from a car. You have to consider the voltage of your car socket and your eBike, and the wattage of your charger to avoid blowing a fuse or damaging your battery.
Why Does Your Car Socket Voltage Matter?
Just as people choose bikes for various reasons, people do the same with cars. But something rarely considered nowadays, when most people expect USB or USB-C charging ports in their cars, is a car lighter.
If you didn’t already know, the easiest way to charge your eBike from a car is through the car lighter. With a car charger, you simply plug one end into your battery and the other end into your vehicle. However, that doesn’t explain the risk of doing that without forethought.
Newer cars put less emphasis on car chargers and instead prefer USB, USB-C, and wireless charging. Not to mention the fact that cigarette smoking has been on a steady downclimb for many years at this point. Which is especially good to make our roads more beautiful and enjoyable to traverse! Due to all these consumer changes, car lighters are now less powerful.
Voltage is important because if it is too powerful, then you risk damaging your battery and car. You don’t want too little electricity going into charging your battery, just as you don’t want too much.
You’ll need to check the inside of your car or likely look at your car manual to find the voltage. Don’t worry if the voltage doesn’t match exactly because there is one way to get around that.
What Is A In-Car Inverter?
To make sure the voltage doesn’t destroy your battery, connect your car lighter through an intermediary. The best way of thinking about what an inverter does is to consider what happens when your charger’s voltage is much lower than the car socket’s voltage.
In that scenario, nothing likely will happen to your battery asides from it absorbing power at a relatively slow rate. On the other hand, if you install an inverter and the wattage from the charger exceeds the wattage of the car lighter, you’ll, at a minimum, blow a fuse.
In the worst-case scenario, if you aren’t careful, you will completely destroy your car battery. While that may give you an excuse to ride all the way back home, it’ll cost you an extensive amount of money for repairs! Not to mention, it may leave you stranded in a far-out campsite or an unfamiliar town.
Interesting read – When You Pedal An Electric Bike Does It Charge The Battery?
How Do You Check Your eBike Battery Voltage?
To purchase the right car charger, you need to be aware of the amount of power your eBike’s battery produces and can hold. To do that, you need to own or purchase a multimeter.
Multimeters are small tools that look like pocket radios with the purpose of measuring voltage, current, and resistance. All you need to do is connect your multimeter to your eBike battery and look at the displayed measurements.
Make sure to charge your battery fully before checking the voltage, or else you may not get an accurate reading. Additionally, always measure and load batteries using DC current.
There are two connection methods for using a multimeter with an eBike battery. If you are lucky, there are panels on the back you can plug in through. Alternatively, your eBike battery may require an adapter to use a multimeter.
Seeing that you also use a multimeter to check your battery health and do diagnostics, do not exceed the recorded wattage amount when running tests.
Doing The Math
If you already didn’t get the gist of how to charge your electric bike from the car, let’s break it down further.
First, figure out your eBike battery capacity in watt-hours. Then, calculate your power station or car battery in watt-hours.
Battery Capacity for an eBike in Watt-Hours = Voltage x Ampere Hour
*An ampere-hour (amp hour) is the amount of charge a battery equal to one ampere for an hour
Power Station Bar Capacity in Watt-Hours = Voltage x Ampere Hour
Compare the two answers and see where the disparity lies. You want your power station battery capacity to be higher than your eBike battery capacity. The closer the two numbers are to each other, along with how large they are, the quicker it’ll be to charge your battery.
Alternatively, you can figure out whether it is okay to charge your eBike battery with your car by comparing the standard charger power and the power station output power.
Standard Charger Power = Output Voltage x Charge Current
Your power station output power will likely be marked in your car or if you use an external battery. Like the previous method, compare these two numbers and make sure the charger power is lower than the power station output power.
General Advice For Travelling With An eBike
If you are planning your next road trip, make sure to test out your charger and calculate your wattage using your multimeter beforehand. Additionally, pack a lower-powered charger just in case.
Depending on where you are visiting, you may have the ability to charge your eBike using a different method. Many campsites have outlets, so bring alternative charging methods.
Lastly, take out your battery and leave it in the trunk of your car while your bike is on the rack and you are on the go.
You may also be interested in Can You Take An Electric Bike On A Plane?