I’m sorry to hear about your bad experiences with AliExpress. I’ve done a lot of business there, and I’d say only around 5% of my transactions have been problematic. They have great buyer protection though and every time I’ve either gotten a full refund or had my product replaced at no cost. If you want a BMS from a source other than AliExpress or eBay, I recommend a company called BesTechPower. They make the highest quality BMS’s I’ve batteries for e bikes and they are the ones I use on my “top shelf” batteries. They are pricier, but you definitely get what you pay for. Just email their contact addresses and they can help you choose a BMS. http://www.bestechpower.com/
Thank you for the very informative post, and it has helped a lot. I plan on building a battery pack with 20 cells with blocks of 4 in parallel, and then I am going to put those in series to make an 18.5V, 13.6A pack. Sorry if these sounds a little bit foolish, but I am not sure what kind of BMS I should be using. Would I be able to use any BMS or would there be an issue with having extra wires if the BMS can power more batteries in series?
Maybe another way forward is to buy a pannier mounted supplementary battery pack (a proper one with a BMS) and to install it in parallel with the main one. The question then becomes whether to connect between the sprung terminals that go to the motor controller (which I believe to be the best thing to do) or into the little charging port jack. I presume that the charging port is connected to the charging side of the BMS and I don’t know how much current that port would take or whether it’s even a good plan to charge and discharge the main battery at the same time. I see significant potential for a high current through that small jack once I discharge via the main battery and a voltage difference exists between the supplementary batter and the main battery.
The battery cells have now been assembled into a larger 36V pack, but I still have to add a BMS to control the charging and discharging of the pack. The BMS monitors all of the parallel groups in the pack to safely cut off power at the end of charging, balance all the cells identically and keep the pack from being over-discharged.
The single best manufacturer is BesTechPower, but their BMS’s are really expensive and they have a minimum order quantity of 2. For ‘best bang for your buck’ BMS’s I’d recommend Greentime BMS’s. They are great for most ebike applications outside of serious hotrods and speed machines. I use them on most of my packs.
As you sugested in one of your articles, using lead acid is a great way to prototype the build, so if I am happy with the performance if not the weight of the lead-acid, I can convert to lithium in the future and save some big weight.
Absolutely, a relay is the way to go. Use the keyswitch you bought to activate the relay, then the relay will carry the heavy current flowing through your battery’s positive discharge wire. Alternatively, you could install 9 or 10 of these switches in parallel. Just make sure you mark your keys accordingly 😉
In the end, I opted for a DPDT+OFF rocker switch, as using diodes introduced forward voltage drop and this interfered with charging enough for me to have second thoughts. This arrangement does require that the BMS be “flashed” to initiate it, which can be done by the charger in charging mode but for discharging, I found that shorting the B- and the P- for less than a second initiated the BMS and it then latched itself on, so I installed a reset button. If I had used a DPDT switch without an off position then I would not have needed to do this. However, when the BMS hits a low voltage group e.g. going up a steep hill, it will not automatically reset when the voltage recovers, so you need to use the reset button if you want to get the last bit out of the battery. I’m toying with latching this button when discharging, as the voltage drop knocks the controller out, so I think I’ll get a reaction like traction control, without having to manually reset the battery (which is annoying as it’s in a backpack).
I did not intend for the timeline to reflect anything other than what I recall seeing as E-bike battery packs. Some chemistries have been around a long time before they were used by a significant number of E-bikers.
Alternately, you can separate the batteries and charge each with its own charger, but then you have some small risk of reconnected the batteries when one is charged and the other is flat, if for some reason one of the batteries didn’t get charged up properly. We usually recommend leaving the packs parallel connected at all times.
Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.
With the voltage known, the next item to figure out is how many amp-hours will be required to achieve your desired trip distance without the battery running flat. This depends of course on how much pedaling you contribute to the effort, how fast you are traveling, and the terrain you are on. The following table is based on minimal pedaling effort.
NiCd-Nickel Cadmium. This chemistry was half the size per a given power compared to SLA. But it has a low C-rate (Current producing capability) so anyone who made a pack out of them was restricted to low amps. There were no large packs for sale. E-bikers had to purchase rechargeable flashlight batteries and solder together a pack of a higher voltage, for which an off-the-shelf charger could be found to charge it up. Because of the low price of SLA chargers, 36V and 48V NiCd systems were common. When the price of nickel went up and the price of Lithium came down, NiCd died a quick death. Not even cordless drills use these anymore.
Hi I need help! I am building my own battery pack from old laptop batteries (18650’s). I bought the cheep $250 48v 1000w ebike conversion kit on ebay. I have many questions! It seems the perfect number of cells to connect in series are 13! This is a big problem for me because I am cheep and I already bought the Imax B6 battery balancer charger. I also bought 7x 6s balancer leads and 5x 4s leads. The Imax has a max charge voltage of 22.2v (so it sais in the manual), and a max balance of 6 cells at once. I also bought the parallel balance charging board. I don’t want to charge two or three packs at once to just have to turn around and charge one separately. So now I’m faced with the decision of making a 12 series battery or a 15 series battery (I will buy 5s leads in this case). The problem is with the 12 series battery the nominal voltage is only 43.2. Or a 15 series battery with a nominal voltage of 54. Which I’m pretty sure is a big no no because the controller is only meant to handle 48v within reason (13s max charge voltage of 53.3 and 12s 49.2 at 4.1 v per cell). But if I make it a 12s, running around most of the trip at 44v, will this drain the Amps faster because the motor wants 48v? I’m thinking no but just wanted some confirmation on that and if the controller can handle more volts. I could make a 15 series batter and just charge to 3.6 or 3.7 volts. Is this hard on the cells?
One other disadvantage of lithium batteries that isn’t talked about often, but should be, is their potential for theft. Lithium ebike batteries have become huge targets by bike thieves as a result of their combination of small size and high price tags (the same factors that keep shaving razor cartridges behind lock and key at the drug store). Thieves see an easy target and ample resale market, meaning you have to be extra careful about locking your ebike up and leaving it alone in public.
Lithium electric bike batteries are not cheap, they are not perfect, and they are not readily available. Some OEM’s such as BionX sell a moderately sized lithium e-bike battery pack for $1000 plus. Optibike sells their touring LiPo battery as an add-on accessory for their bike for a gasping $2500. It is surprisingly difficult to find a ready to plug in LiPo battery pack for sale on the internet by any real company. The reason is simply product liability.
For discharge wires you’ll want something bigger, like 14 awg silicone wire. 12 awg would be better but might be overkill for your use. For charge wires, 16 awg silicone wire would be fine and you could probably get away with 18 awg silicone wire.
Lithium battery: 36V. Motor: 250W high speed brushless gear motors. Type: Mountain Bicycle. Front Fork: High-strength carbon steel comfort shock absorption. Tire: High quality lithium tire. Charger: S…
At the same time though, think about if that is what you want. It could be that those cells died because of a malfunctioning BMS unit or old wiring. Putting new cells in their spots could just wind up killing those new cells in a few days or weeks. I’ve seen that happen as well. So make sure you check everything and consider all of your options!
If you want to learn more in-depth about building your own lithium battery, you’ll want to check out my book “DIY Lithium Batteries: How To Build Your Own Battery Packs” which is an Amazon #1 Bestseller in multiple categories!
The exact amount of range you’ll get per battery and motor varies greatly and depends on factors like terrain, speed, weight, etc. Suffice it to say though that if you double your current battery capacity, you’ll see an approximate doubling of your range as well.