AH, WATT the AMP?!
After listening to the nice electric bicycle salesperson talk power, I said,
“Stop! AMPS, VOLTS, WATTS…? Dude, I just want to know how far I can go and how fast!”
Smiling, he said, “Sure, I get that a lot. I’ll bottom line it for you.”
So, he said, “ebikes come with different combinations of volts and watts. You’ll see them referenced as V and W numbers, mainly.”
“Consider volts performance-related, affecting acceleration, torque and speed,” he said.
“Commonly e bikes come equipped with 24, 36 or 48 volts.”
Going up a hill, a 36 volt battery has to work harder than a 48 volt.
“Amp Hours (AH), is simply a measure of range on a single charge – sort of like gas in the tank.”
“With e bikes,” he explained, “there are some variables tied to AH or, range. When choosing, consider your weight, terrain, whether you like to pedal with occasional boost assistance or mainly boost with occasional pedaling. How often you stop and start plays a factor as well.”
“How many Watts do I need?” I asked. “I see them anywhere from 250 to 500, even 1000, Watts.”
Watts reflect engine size and power. He said, “Just want a little pedal assist boost? Then, 250 watts is probably ample. Want to use your e bike more for utility, to climb hills or power through fields and forests? You may want to go higher wattage.”
“OK, so how far can I expect to go before I have to recharge?”
Many e bikes on the market feature Volt and Watt combinations that yield estimated ranges of 20 – 45 miles on a single charge.
Generally, e bike manufacturers advertise range that is basically a guess, based on laboratory conditions though.
For range, a good rule of thumb is to have at least 200 Watt Hours (Volts x Amp Hours) For example: 48 Volts x 10 Amp Hours or 24 Volts x 15 Amp Hours. Both are good but the 48V will start more quickly off the mark and climb better.
“And don’t forget,” he said “they can be used as regular bikes too. In the highly unlikely event that you ever run out of power, you can pedal.”
“The great thing about so many different choices is that you can pick the one that’s ideal for your lifestyle. There are e bikes for if you’re a daily commuter, recreational rider, back-country mountain biker or beach cruiser. They are also really popular as foldables to carry onboard a boat or RV.”
“I hope that helped to clarify electric bicycles a little Ms. Volt!”
“Sure did,” I said. “Talking Watts and Amps was strangely energizing…”