C values seem to be as much about cell packaging as chemistry for LiFePo/LiMn/LiNiCoMn Pouch and prismatic cells with high AHr per cell tend to have a C value of about 1 to 1.5. So cheap packs both cased and shrink wrapped or from suppliers like Ping seem to be like this. Cylindrical cells from A123 or Headway tend to have C values of 3C to 5C upwards. And for a fully built pack, C is as much about cells in parallel as anything. eg 10s2p having twice the C of 10s1p Again BMSBattery/GreenBikeKit are now selling LiFePo Headway based packs with a BMS and with C values of 3C to 5C and either cased or shrinkwrap.
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).
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.
An older battery technology that was popular around 10 years ago as replacment for lead acid in some more expensive commercially available e-bikes. Today it has been obsoleted in e-bike applications because of the recent availability of LiPo and LiFePO4 cells. NiMH is a finicky technology to deal with. The packs do not have long life expectancy, and have to be treated delicately. One big problem for DIYers is that its very hard to safely charge NiMh cells that have been soldered together in parallel. Extra care is needed for NiMH in both assembling and charging.
Most of the problems occur when charging an ebike because they are unsupervised and that is when a LiPo fire can burn down a house etc. Use common sense on where you are going to charge your bike or battery pack, so that if it does burst into flames it does not take your house with you. I have a big steel barbecue grill set up in my entryway which I charge my battery packs in as nice safeguard. This involved taking the battery pack out of the bike after each ride but I am OK with that:
Work in a clean area free of clutter. When you have exposed contacts of many battery cells all wired together, the last thing you want is to accidentally lay the battery down on a screwdriver or other metallic object. I once nearly spilled a box of paperclips on the top of an exposed battery pack while trying to move it out of the way. I can only imagine the fireworks show that would have caused.
Note that in the article it says that LiFePo is the most commonly used chemistry. I think that depends on where you are looking. I suspect that LiNiCoMn or the older LiMn is actually most common in terms of total unit cells because they’re the cheapest and get used in the low end E-Bike market in China.
When it comes to layout, there are two ways to assemble cells in straight packs (rectangular packs like I am building). I don’t know if there are industry terms for this, but I call the two methods “offset packing” and “linear packing”.
I assume you mean 52V (14s, or 14 cells in series) which is a somewhat common lithium ion battery configuration. It works with most 48V setups but provides a little more power than a standard 48V (13s or 13 cell) battery. A good charger I recommend for 52V 14s batteries is this one.
Interesting that they claim the controller is balancing the two batteries. I highly suspect that is false, and just marketing fluff, but who knows. They probably have a simple diode built into the internal battery. I checked with a friend and he reminded me that it would be a good idea to include a diode in the discharge cable of your auxiliary battery. That way if you ever plugged in your auxiliary battery when it was low on charge and the bike was fully charged, the bike wouldn’t try to charge your auxiliary battery in reverse.
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In general, the size and cost of a cell will scale directly with its amp-hour capacity. To a first order, twice the amp-hours would mean twice the size, twice the weight, and twice the cost. In practice this deviates a little due to different packing densities and production scales, but it’s usually pretty close. For instance, the familiar ‘AA’ NiMH has about 2 Ah, a ‘C’ cell has 4 Ah, a ‘D’ cell is about 8Ah, the large ‘F’ cells are 12-13 Ah, and double-D cells are 18-19Ah.
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The higher C-rate of 3C for the newer LiFePO4 (from A123) keeps these popular so you don’t need a huge pack to get fairly adequate amps. To get a continuous 24A, you’d only need a 8-Ah battery. Fairly affordable, and small enough to fit in a bike frame.
Now take your trip distance, multiply it by the appropriate watt-hours/km from the table above, and you’ll get the total minimum watt-hours required for the trip. Take the watt-hours you’ve estimated and divide it by the voltage, and you now have an estimate on the minimum amp-hours you’ll need from the pack.
Linear packing, on the other hand, will result in a narrower pack that ends up a bit longer than offset packing. Some people say offset packing is more efficient because you can fit more cells in a smaller area by taking advantage of the space between cells. However, offset packing creates wasted space on the ends of parallel group rows where gaps form between the edge of the pack and the ‘shorter’ rows. The larger the battery pack, the less wasted space is taken up compared to the overall pack size, but the difference is negligible for most packs. For my battery, I decided to go with offset packing to make the pack shorter and fit easier into a small triangle bag.
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.
Should the voltage on the charger be exact, or can it be *higher* than my battery pack? For example, I need to charge a 19.2V pack. Does my charger have to *exactly match* (or come as close to as possible to) this 19.2V, or can I use a higher voltage charger, (say, 36V)? Will the charger automatically adjust to a lower voltage, allowing a 36V charger to charge my 19.2V pack?
1. The extra amperage that the battery could output isn’t wasted, it’s just sort of a safety factor. It means you aren’t stressing the battery to its limit. Also, batteries only get their full rated capacity at lower discharged. So you’re more likely to get the full capacity now than if you actually pulled 50A out of it.
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A cell that provides close to a “real world” 2.8-Ah per 18650 cell is pretty impressive, and the 3C current-producing capability is perfect for E-bikes (a 15-Ah pack can provide a continuous 45A, and our favorite power level of 30A can be provided by a very small 10-Ah pack). If you know of anyone who builds a pack out of these, please contact us, as we are very keen to discover whatever strengths or weaknesses they may have. If you are shopping to buy these, make certain you get these specific part numbers, because similar part numbers will only have half the C-rate.
It was an interesting project to say the least, particularly how to link the Ch- and the P- from the BMS taking its B- from the 7s negative termination to the positive of the 6s group, given that there are two routes (i.e. charging and discharging), so connecting both simultaneously would override the function of the BMS.
This is a very simple layout where each column of 3 cells is connected in parallel and then the 10 columns are connected across in series from left to right. The BMS board is shown at the far right end of the pack. You’ll see how the pack represented in the drawing will come together in real life shortly.
Many people are tempted to use cheaper 18650’s sold under names like Ultrafire, Surefire and Trustfire. Don’t be one of those people. These cells are often marketed as up to 5,000 mAh but struggle to get more than 2,000 mAh. In actuality, these cells are just factory rejects, purchased by companies like Ultrafire and repackaged in their own branded shrink wrap. These B-quality cells are then resold for use in low power devices like flashlights where their weaker performance is less of an issue. If a cell costs less than $2, it simply isn’t worth it. Stick to the name brand cells, like my favorite Samsung cells, if you want to build a safe, quality ebike battery.
Now this step is very important: I’m going to turn the pack upside-down and perform this set of welds between the positive caps on the second parallel group and negative terminals on the third parallel group. Essentially, I’m welding on the opposite side of the pack as I did when I connected the first two parallel groups. Skip down a few pictures to see the completely welded pack to understand how the alternating side system works.
If you want to step up a notch on the quality ladder, here is another good charger that I prefer even more, though it’s a bit more expensive: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/aluminum-shell-36V-42V-2Amper-Li-ion-Lipo-battery-charger-high-quality-charger-for-10S-li/1680408_32275847257.html
To calculate the max amps the battery can deliver, you have to know the max amps of the cells you used. For example, Panasonic 18650pf cells can deliver 10A continuous, and I used 3 batteries electric bikes in series in this battery, so the battery can deliver 3 x 10A = 30A. However, you also need to know how much current the BMS can deliver. If I put a 15A continous BMS on this pack then that would be the “weakest link” so to speak, meaning the pack with the BMS could only deliver 15A continuous.