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Charging an ebike with solar seems a completely logical thing to do. After all, it represents totally free travel, without even plugging the bike battery charge into a house socket.
But is it as simple as that?
There a few of things you really need to know before you try to charge your ebike with solar, if you don’t want to fry your bike batteries.
The easiest way to charge an ebike with solar panels is to connect between 100 to 200 watts solar panels to an inverter and use that to power your existing ebike charger. If it’s intended to charge the ebike at night, then add a solar battery charger and a 50Ah lithium phosphate battery.
Read on …
- Can you charge an electric bike with solar panels?
- Solar eBike – Can You Charge an E-bike With a Solar Panel?
- What Voltage Is an E-bike Battery?
- How Many Watts to Charge an E-bike?
- How Much Power Does a 100-watt Solar Panel Produce?
- How to Charge Electric Bike With Solar Panel
- What Do You Need to Charge an E-bike With Solar Panels?
- Why Do You Need a Solar Charger to Charge an E-bike?
- How long to charge an ebike battery with solar?
- Environmental Impact of Solar Ebike Charging
Can you charge an electric bike with solar panels?
Video – How to charge your ebike with solar panels
Solar eBike – Can You Charge an E-bike With a Solar Panel?
Typical Electric Bike Battery Capacity
Electric bike batteries usually are available in four voltages: 48V, 36V, and 24V. More volts equal greater power.
E-bike batteries are typically 36V, with some models having a 24V battery and others having a 48V battery.
Electric bike makers specify these as they provide a tremendous cost to power ratio for their products.
You are looking at custom-made electric bikes when you reach the 72V range, which generally results in a powerful bike that will not be categorized as a standard bicycle.
72V batteries are also considerably more expensive than 48V batteries.
Another factor to consider when designing or operating a high-capacity electric bicycle is the possibility of being shocked.
Your skin can protect you from electric shocks up to a voltage in the range of 40V – 45V.
However, electrical shock can occur at 72 volts, and in some states, this is a regulatory issue and is always a safety concern.
Suppose the power output of an electric bicycle goes above the acceptable 750 Watts. In that case, the bike will be categorized as a scooter which usually requires insurance, registration, and a license plate.
What Voltage Is an E-bike Battery?
When shopping for an e-bike for the first time, determining which battery is the best fit for your needs can seem like a daunting task.
The first thing to know about electric bike batteries is that they are described in terms of amp-hours and volts.
Electric bike batteries can be found in various voltages, namely 48V, 36V, and 24V. In general, higher voltage equals more power.
Battery voltage is directly proportional to car horsepower—the more volts in the battery, the more power will be delivered to your bike.
The advantage of a high voltage is that it has more power, allowing your electric bike to go faster for a longer time.
Amp-hours, abbreviated as AH, is the other element of an electric bike battery.
Amp-hours measure the amount of current that a battery can produce in an hour at a usable voltage or the amount of capacity that a battery has in terms of storage capacity.
The higher the number of amp-hours, the greater the distance you can travel on your battery.
How Many Watts to Charge an E-bike?
Given that most e-bikes are equipped with a capacity of 48V, how many solar panels would be required to charge this battery fully?
But, even more importantly, when you acquire the right solar panels, the question is whether the charger will charge your eBike’s battery as fast as power outlets do.
To answer this question, we must first take into account the battery’s capacity. It isn’t enough to simply know the battery voltage.
As a result, for a 48V eBike battery, you would require a charger with at least two solar panels capable of producing at least 200W.
But the best feature of a standard eBike charger is that it includes an inverter, which is necessary because eBike chargers operate on alternating current.
There is only one thing left to do: select the appropriate plugin type for your electric bike, and you are ready to ride.
The most important feature is that many eBike chargers can charge a bike at the same speed as a standard power socket.
How Much Power Does a 100-watt Solar Panel Produce?
100-watt solar panels, as the name implies, are intended to produce a maximum power output of 100 electrical watts.
However, this is the notional amount of power it can produce in Standard Test Conditions, also known as STC. Obtaining 100 percent power output from a solar panel determined by the STC is a long shot in the physical world – it hardly ever happens!
The amount of energy you can obtain from this module is dependent on your geographic location and weather conditions.
There is a difference in the sun intensity between a sunny and a snowy geographical location. This is called irradiance.
Therefore, you can expect a higher wattage during summer and reduced wattage in winter.
In ideal circumstances, the amount of energy generated will be equal to the wattage of the solar panel multiplied by the number of peak sun hours.
That is to say:
Solar Panel Wattage * Peak Sun Hours = Energy Generated.
The average number of sun hours in the United States is 4. As a result, with a 100 watts solar panel, you can generate approximately 400 watt/hours of electricity every day on average.
Furthermore, you could receive up to 600 watts of solar energy each day, depending on your location, especially for those who live in states like Arizona, Wyoming, or Nevada.
Weather conditions, dust, and other variables could cause your total output to reduce by approximately 30%.
How to Charge Electric Bike With Solar Panel
1. Connect the Inverter and Solar Charge Controller to the Battery
To begin, connect the inverter and solar charge controller to the battery via a battery connector.
To ensure maximum safety, it is recommended that a fuse be installed on positive leads that link the battery to both the inverter and the charge controller.
2. Install a Solar Panel and Connect It to a Solar Charge Regulator
Next, hook up the charge controller to the solar panel using the included cable. Again, including a fuse between the two is the safest course of action in this situation.
A number for the inbound PV voltage will appear on your charge controller’s screen, signaling that the panel has been successfully installed and connected.
3. Testing Your Solar Charging System
To ensure that your solar panel is charging, place it in the sun and check the PV voltage on the voltage regulator.
This indicates that the solar panel has been effective in charging the batteries. Now you must connect your charger to the inverter outlet to determine whether it is receiving power.
What Do You Need to Charge an E-bike With Solar Panels?
Unfortunately, you cannot simply buy solar panels, attach them to the battery of your eBike, and sit around waiting for your battery to charge.
Solar panel chargers are operated with a set-up, which assists with the collection, transfer, and output of reversed energy to the battery, among other things.
To make your own charger, addition to the panels, you will need a charge controller, which boosts the amount of output power obtained from the solar array.
The problem is the battery voltage, which as we know is between 24 volts to 48 volt normally.
A standard 100 watt solar panel has an open circuit voltage of about 22V, which reduces considerably when hooked up to a load.
You would need at least 3 of these connected in series to produce enough volts to charge a 36 volt ebike battery, for example.
If you’re building your own solar electric bike charger or looking to buy solar chargers, keep this in mind as you consider your options. It get complicated.
I prefer to use the standard eBike battery charger operating on alternating current, and use an inverter to feed it. It’s the simplest solution.
Why Do You Need a Solar Charger to Charge an E-bike?
Many solar chargers are small, lightweight, and convenient to use – you can carry them on your travels without them becoming an inconvenience or appearing to be extra luggage.
There will be times when you will be stranded in the middle of nowhere, which is not convenient for most chargers; however, this is not a problem for solar chargers.
It prevents you from becoming stranded away from home, and you will not be forced to pedal back home because you have run out of power.
Furthermore, it is the more cost-effective of the two options, and it will have a positive impact on the environment as well.
Not to mention that you will be contributing to environmental conservation, which is set to become a hot issue soon.
How long to charge an ebike battery with solar?
I recommend using the mains charger that you already have and feed that with solar. In this case the ebike would charge in exactly the same times as if you plugged it into the mains.
This means putting together a solar charge kit comprising:
- solar panels (between 100 watts and 200 watts, depending on ebike power)
- suitable inverter (the original charge uses a.c. power)
If you want to charge at night, then add a solar battery charger and a 50Ah lithium phosphate battery.
Environmental Impact of Solar Ebike Charging
According to a recent study, choosing an electric bike as your primary transportation mode and ditching car transportation will go a long way toward lowering the carbon footprint left in the environment.
While electric bikes are generally considered environmentally friendly, you can make them more ecologically friendly by charging them using solar power rather than an electric source.
It is a more sustainable energy choice, and it can provide you with a service that is comparable to that of electricity.
Cunningham, E. (2020, October 17). Solar power- E-bike charging: The possibilities.
How to convert your ebike to a solar ebike. (2020, October 6).
Is charging eBike with solar charger possible? (2021, February 11).