This is a question most people who own electric bikes ask themselves; is it possible to charge an electric bike with a solar panel? The most common types of solar panels are those we see on rooftops, and they are huge. So, carrying them with you to charge an electric bike seems impossible.
Still, this doesn’t answer the question, can you charge an electric bike with a solar panel? This is a straightforward question and it needs a straightforward answer and that answer is yes. You can definitely charge an electric bike with a solar panel because there are manufacturers who design and produce portable solar panels specifically for use on-the-go.
In this article, we will discuss these solar panels, how they work, and many more. Keep reading.
Do You Really Need a Solar Charger for Your Electric Bike?
If you own an electric bike and don’t want to find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere when your battery dies, then having a solar charger is a must. The good thing about solar chargers is that they are affordable, lightweight, and portable.
Once you purchase one, you can carry it with you anywhere for your safety so that you do not have to be concerned about getting stranded anywhere. Solar panels are also economical to use, they do not harm the planet in any way as all you need to do to charge them is to place them under bright sunlight.
These solar panels can also be portable, and they’re designed in a way that allows you to carry them anywhere. They’re not huge like the ones we usually see on rooftops. There are also several ways in which you can charge your electric bike with a solar panel, you just need to make sure that it has a decent wattage output.
How Do You Charge Your Electric Bike With a Solar Panel?
The process of charging an electric bike with a solar panel is quite straightforward. Firstly, you have to figure out how your e-bike will interact with the solar panel, choose the right solar panel, buy all the right wiring equipment, connect your e-bike to the charging system, place the solar panel in direct sunlight so that it’s ready to charge the e-bike, and finally take it for a spin.
This process is best for individuals who already have some knowledge about e-bike maintenance. Well, for you to have a better understating, we will now take a look at this process in detail:
Learn How Solar Power Will Work With Your Electric Bike
It’s very much possible to charge your electric bike while traveling with it, but this depends on the type of electric bike you own. Some bikes do not offer this option because the electric assist is not connected to a plugged-in charger. Some e-bikes can easily be charged as you travel, which is quite awesome.
So the first thing you need to know is whether the type of bike you have allows you to do this and if it doesn’t then you’ll need to find out before leaving so you know how much power you’ll need for your journey, or if you’ll have to stop and charge the bike. If stopping is required, then you’ll need to take the right supplies.
To find out if the e-bike will be able to charge on the road, plug in the cord and see if the pedal assist comes online. The bike will show the “charging sign” on its display, but if the throttle and pedal assist don’t work, it simply means you cannot charge and ride your bike at the same time.
Choose the Right Solar Panel
Make sure you purchase the right solar panel model, one which is according to your budget and will charge your e-bike the way you want. There are several types of solar panels you can use to charge your electric bike, however, below we have listed the three main types you should take into consideration:
- Portable, foldable solar panel chargers: These types of solar panels are awesome, as they’re portable enough to comfortably ride with. They’re perfect for long distances and good for journeys where you will not have any electrical outlets to plug into. However, you should keep in mind that these types of solar panels are more expensive, and they will put more weight on your bike as you travel. You will also not be able to charge your electric bike while riding it since the solar panel will be folded and put away where it is not exposed to sunlight. Bad weather will also have an impact on the charging process of these types of solar panels.
- Stationery solar panels: These types of solar panels are huge and designed to be stationary. They are usually designed to power the whole house as they are very efficient. The downside of this type of solar panel is that you cannot carry it with you, meaning you are still limited to how far you can ride your e-bike, and when it runs out of power you will need to find another power source to charge it when you are far from home. One of the best ways to use these types of solar panels is to ensure that you have two batteries with one, one of which you will charge when there’s full sunlight during the day. These solar panels are less expensive, and you do not have to worry about carrying extra weight because they’re lightweight.2b
- Using a trailer or rear rack: This option allows you to charge your electric bike while riding it but it is very heavy. Although you’ll be traveling with a powerful solar panel, the disadvantage of this option is that it will restrict your mobility and where you’re able to go with your electric bike. For starters, you won’t be able to pass into tight electric bike lanes or do any off-roading. The trailer or rear rack will also add a lot of weight to your bike. You may also have to deal with stability and balance issues. This option is also the most expensive of the three since you not only need to buy the solar panel but the trailer too, having it attached to your electric bike will also cost more. However, this is the most common option used by most electric bike riders who travel long distances because, at the end of the day, it’s reliable.
Buy All the Needed Wiring Equipment
Solar panels function by gathering energy and then sending it to a battery bank using a series of wires. Solar systems will not charge on their own because they’re actually integrated into your electric bike. Therefore, you’ll want to pair the solar panel with something known as the charger controller.
This is commonly referred to as a maximum power point tracker (MPPT) and its job is to convert and optimize the energy coming from the solar panel to your e-bike’s battery. Most solar panels come with MPPT, but if yours didn’t come with a reliable one, then we suggest you buy one.
Connect Your E-bike to the Charging System
The charging system consists of the charge controller, the solar panel, and the battery. However, when connecting the e-bike to the system, you should by no means connect the battery and the solar panel directly to each other as this will cause damage. You must simply connect the battery and the solar panel straight to the charge controller in order for the charge to be successful.
For safety reasons, you must protect both your hands and eyes while connecting the charging system. And remember to strictly follow all the guidelines as indicated in the charger controller manual.
Put Your Solar Panels in the Sunlight to Charge Your E-bike
Once everything is safely connected, your solar panel should be placed in a spot where it gets the most sunlight. This will allow you to maximize your ability to get all the energy released from the sun.
Finally, Take it for a Test Drive
Once you’re done following all the instructions, you can unplug everything and test your bike to see if it has charged as it needs to.