The high C-rate is not the only reason LiPo is adored by the high performance crowd, the addition of Cobalt to the cathode meant that more power would fit in a smaller package. This was driven by the boom in Radio-Controlled (RC) models in the late 1990’s (RC airplanes, cars, helicopters, etc). When that market suddenly expanded, an Australian enthusiast started a company to supply RC parts from factories in China. Hobby King.com was born. Last year, due to popular demand, HK has opened warehouses in The USA and in Germany (edit: even more countries have HK warehouses now).
It is possible to do it that way, however there are some compelling reasons not to. 1) By first joining all the series cells you would end up with multiple high voltage groups, which means both the chance and consequences of an accident are greater. When you’re working with lots of exposed batteries with nickel conductors and metal tools flying around, the last thing you want is more high voltage possibilities for shorts. 2) Doing series cells first would be come unwieldy, physically. A series group is only connected at either the top or bottom of alternating cells. Without having multiple cells side by side to add stability, a long chain of single cells will need either a pile of glue or some type of physical holder to support the chain. and 3) most battery spot welders can only reach about 2 cells deep into a pack, meaning you’d have to either add very short nickel strips to each series group connecting only two groups (which means twice the welding and twice the cell damaging heat) or have long uncontrolled nickel strips hanging off the sides, again risking shorting.
The article was extremely informative, thank you. I’ve found everything but am struggling with good cells. At Aliexpress there are many choices but I’m struggling to get near the $2/cell mark you mentioned as a limit for decent cells and still find performance criteria of a good battery (or at all). So far I’ve found NCR18650B but it appears to have a 2C discharge rating for a 3400mA cell. At 4P this is more than enough but seems low for LiIon so I wonder if it is good? The price is $163 shipped to USA for 10s 4p 40 pieces to make 36v 13.6Ah. After adding shrink wrap, BMS and nickle strips I’m at $213 before buying a spot welder ($200). I can buy on the same site a 36v 15Ah Li Ion pack for $248. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/US-EU-No-Tax-DIY-lithium-18650-battery-pack-15AH-36V-Electric-Bike-battery-for-36V/32757165516.html?spm=2114.13010208.99999999.274.JmcpBS
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The controller that came with my ebike conversion kit just has the label ’48v 1000w’ on it and there are no other specifications anywhere to be seen. I have emailed the suppliers asking if I could have a full list of specifications for the controller but am yet to hear back from them.
Your battery pack size is based on voltage and amp-hours. The higher the voltage and the higher the amp hours of your battery, the more range your battery will give you. A 48V 10-Ah pack gives you 480 watt hour (48 X 10). This gives you an easy way to determine exactly how much battery you are buying. The wattage of a battery is the only accurate determinant to judge what range your finished ebike will have.
While it is possible to build packs with any number of cells for just about any voltage, most have standardized in 12V increments, with 24V, 36V, and 48V being most common, and 72V used on occasion. Battery chargers are usually only stocked for these voltages as well.
This page is embarrassingly old, referencing chemistries that are completely obsolete, and is due for a rewrite. In the meantime, we recommend checking out our Battery Kits Product Info page for a more current explanation on lithium specific battery packs.
Hailong makes some of the more refined of the generic battery enclosures from china. You’ll see them online everywhere, stuffed with whatever cells and BMS circuit appropriate to the market being addressed. They secure to the water bottle eyelets on the down tube of your bike frame, and the narrow height of this pack design allows it to fit even on smaller or hybrid frame geometries that wouldn’t normally fit a pack. We have the smaller Hailong-01 enclosure in 36V (10s 5p) and 52V (14s 4p) layouts suitable for 20-25A current setups, and the larger Hailong-03 enclsoure in 36V 23.5Ah (10s 7p) and 52V 16.5Ah(14s 5p) sizes for higher current and capacity.
Electric bikes in the UK tend to come with either Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) or Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries. In China, on the other hand, lead acid batteries are still the most common ones used. In 2014 – according to the China Bicycle Association / IdTechEx – 35 million eBikes were sold on the Chinese market, and just 2.8 million of them had lithium battery.
I have now come to the conclusion however that i want a pack that is 48V and capable of running a 1000w motor for atleast an hour. I live in a hilly area, i use a downhill bike (heavy) and im not the smallest guy. Im feeling a bit insecure about putting too many cells in parallel. Through the years i’ve read that the consesus is that more than 4 cells in parallel is a risk. Since a 13S4P pack is about 12Ah (with good batteries) i was wondering if you had any input on how i should move on?
Thanks! I’m putting together a new rig I need to tow a 50lb trailer over some soft sand…I’m realizing the proper system is paramount. Any recommendations for power/battery/controllers? DIY eBikes website?
Safety disclaimer: Before we begin, it’s important to note that lithium batteries inherently contain a large amount of energy, and it is therefore crucial to handle them with the highest levels of caution. Building a DIY lithium battery requires a basic understanding of battery principles and should not be attempted by anyone lacking confidence in his or her electrical and technical skills. Please read this article in its entirety before attempting to build your own ebike battery. Always seek professional assistance if needed.
Believe it or not, most BMS’s can handle the current from regenerative braking in the discharge mosfets as its rarely more than 5-7A. Some BMS’s (called two wire BMS’s) actually use the same mosfets for charging and discharging. Those inherently should be more than capable of dealing with the load from regen.
I have come to the conclusion that a 48v battery would probabky be sufficent for my needs. I need to ride continuously for at least 7-8 hours–but prefer up to 10 hours– at 15-20mph everyday. Although I also need a top speed of 30mph, at times. If my math is right, in order to accomplish this I need to build at least a 14s8p battery. After running these specs through a simulator I found that the power starts to drop at about 1150 watts and 20mph.
Hey Brian, good question. You can actually do regenerative braking this way, the only problem is that you won’t be using the balancing circuit part of the BMS as it will charge straight back through the discharge circuit. Theoretically this is fine, with the exception of one specific case where this could be a problem. If you charged your battery at the top of a huge hill and then immediately rolled down that hill for a long time while using regenerative braking, you could actually overcharge the battery. That scenario is pretty rare though.
12V increments are easier to do with LiFePO4 due to the 3.2V per cell. So for 12V, 24V, 36V and 48V they go 4 cells, 8 cells, 12 cells and 16 cells. Li-ion is more annoying because the 3.7V per cell doesn’t play as nicely. The general convention for the same 12V increments is 3 cells, 7 cells, 10 cells, and 13 or 14 cells. 3 cells is just a bit low for a 12V system (about 11V nominal) but will work for most applications until the voltage drops to about 9.5 or 10V depending on your device’s cutoffs. Regarding the balancing issue, if you’re using those packs that claim to remain in balance then I’d imagine you can just trust them. If their packs had problems with balance then they’d probably be having tons of returns. Worst come to worst you can occasionally open the case and measure the cells to make sure they are all staying balanced. One word of advice: be very careful with the series/parallel switch setup. If you make a mistake or the switch melts you could end up shorting your batteries electrical and ruin the whole lot…
This is how most Asian batteries are built, since they use the same size aluminum or plastic case, but offer different sizes and capacities of batteries in the same case. I’ve used arts and craft foam, which often comes in sheets up to about 5mm thick (and I use a few layers to fill larger gaps). For MUCH larger gaps where that thin foam is less desirable, I’ve seen people use styrofoam or even that green molding foam often used in pots to hold up fake plants. That stuff is a fairly rigid though, so maybe a combination of that stuff and a layer of softer foam for cushioning would be good.
Panasonic and Samsung are the only manufacturers I know of that are producing this chemistry (several other manufacturers buy these and re-label them as their own). Since you would have to buy the bare cells in order to solder together your own pack, I wouldn’t have mentioned these just yet, but…EBAY-seller supowerbattery111 is selling these, and…he will also professionally spot-weld the cells into groups for a small fee, which reduces your pack-building efforts down to about 1/10th of what it would be otherwise. His main business seems to be refurbishing cordless tool battery packs that have worn out.
I then put one set of welds on each cell end of the first parallel group, effectively tacking the three nickel strips in place. Then I added another set of welds on each of the negative terminals of the second parallel group. This gave me 6 weld sets, or one weld set for each cell. Lastly, I followed up those single weld sets with another couple welds per cell to ensure good contact and connection.
Thanks so much for this excellent information. I was wondering how to calculate the total amps for the entire battery? I’m trying to determine watts from this as I have a 24V 500 watt Rayos electric bike and am working to build a 24V 20 Ah battery (7s7p) battery and would like to know what watts it is capable of providing.
I am working on a similar project, and was wondering if the BMS’s that you recommended would handle any back EMF from the motor (from regenerative braking, for example.) I see that there are separate leads for charging and discharging, so I’m guessing if current flowed back through the discharge circuit that would be bad. Do you have any recommendations on a BMS (or something different) that would handle this condition?
If those are new cells then I’m surprised that the voltages aren’t identical. That difference (0.08V) is about the farthest difference I’d want to see between cells. Ideally you should charge that 3.82V cell up a bit more before you connect it in parallel with the others. I’d run tests on all of those cells though with a capacity tester to ensure they are good quality cells though. Genuine cells straight from the factory should all have identical voltages.
Thanks for your kind words about my article, I’m glad it helped! To answer your question, I highly recommend avoiding a custom built charger. While it might be possible to use a DC-DC converter to change the output voltage of your 12V charger, the chances of a problem occurring are too high for my liking. The converter might not be smart enough to adjust the current down once full charge is reached. Technically your BMS should protect your battery from most overcharging scenarios, but if it is overloaded and a component fails, there is nothing to stop your cells from being destroyed.
We also maintain stock of replacement vertical seattube batteries that have been in use in the eZee bicycle line since time immemorial. If you have an eZee bike circa 2008-2012 with the Phylion lithium battery pack, you’ll be in for a serious upgrade with over twice the capacity in the same size and weight.
Secondly, what is your take on modular plastic battery spacers (e.g. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/50x-EV-Pack-Plastic-Heat-Holder-Bracket-Battery-Spacer-18650-Radiating-Shell-New/351681365193?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D36381%26meid%3Dfc487881e617412ba361731154a742b5%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D5%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D262123820960). Clearly this adds a significant volume penalty and a smaller weight / cost one, but if this is not an issue then how would you rate vs glueing? I can see the benefit of having a space between the cells to limit heat / electrical conductivity in the event of some kind of melt down, but any thoughts?
I’d recommend going with a cell that can output 10A, giving you 40A continuous power rating. You’ll use less than that, meaning the cells will be happier (and cooler). Something like the Sanyo 18650GA or LG MJ1 would give you good power and capacity (both are around 3,400 mAH per cell).
I want to build some custom batteries, but I am hesitant to do the spot welding myself. Aren’t there modular and affordable pieces of hardware one can use to connect the batteries? Something like this?
Technically yes, you can bypass the BMS for discharging and just charge through the BMS but this is not recommended. It is better to just choose a BMS that can handle your 50A discharge. BesTechPower makes some great BMS units that can handle 50A and more, depending on the model. They have many options.
You too can find a metal box to store your batteries in while riding and charging. Here is an example of a custom built metal box that holds six hobby king packs perfectly (make certain to add a vent so pressure does not build up if a pack goes into flames!):
The main limitation of those holders is power – they can’t handle it. For a few amps, they might be fine, but ebikes require dozens of amps, which would surely melt those guys. Think about it this way: professional ebike batteries have big hunks of nickel plate welded between cells. The tiny little spring contacts of those holders will never compare to that kind of current carrying ability.