5 Alternative Ways To Charge Your E-Bike Battery | Powering Up On The Move

5 Alternative Ways To Charge Your E-Bike Battery | Powering Up On The Move


(groaning) – Oh no, no, not here! Oh, crikey, out of battery. It’s wild and it’s windy, there’s
no plugs for miles around, I got no spare battery,
and do you know what? That extension I got
probably is not gonna stretch all the way back to my house. So, is it time to pack
the bike back in the van? Or, find some alternative
sources of power? Heres how to do it. So what do we mean when
we talk about grid? Well, it’s simply the high-power, electric transmission network
that covers a country. Here in the UK, it’s
called the National Grid, and it’s something that us
e-bikers are totally reliant on after we’ve had a great day in the hills, we come back home and we plug in, and get our batteries charged. However, some of the time,
we’re not so close to home. You might not be in
Motuo in Tibet, camping, we can actually be, maybe, only
five or six k’s from a city and there still might
not be any electricity. So, what can you do? Well, the good news is that
some companies, such as Bosch, are now making power
stations up in the mountains. That means you can go
for a mid-morning ride, you can get up at some
big, high altitudes, and there’s a power station there where you simply plug in and
charge your bike over lunch. Now, over the next few years,
I can only see more and more of these e-bike power
stations cropping up, especially in places such as the Alps. But, already, there’s a
really good dense network of charging stations on the
Alps that you can tap into. So check that out next time
you’re over there in the summer. Mm, but that’s all well and good but it’s not gonna do me much good here in the wilderness of the Forest of Dean. So, what do I do? Well, there’s lots of
options you can tap into, you got pubs, you got
restaurants, you got hotels, should I be staying the night. So lets go have a look
at the dos and don’ts of charging your bike in those scenarios. Oh, this looks like a nice
place to charge my e-bike. Ah, great, we’ll just leave that there. Come charge up in the bar I think. You all right? – [Landlady] Hello. – Give us some tap water. – Anything else? – Na, just give us some tap water. Oh, this looks a good place to charge in. I think I’ll just charge in in here. – What the hells going on? – I’m just charging up. – Do you pay the (beep) electricity bills? – No but might have– – You (beep) dirty bikers coming in here, and look at the sate of that hallway. Get your (beep) bike out of here! – Seriously, I– – First of all you want a glass of water, you don’t spend any (beep) money in here, now (beep) off Mr Jones. – (laughing) Crikey! Mm, maybe not the best start
to charge my battery really. Mm, so that didn’t go too well. So here is the alternative approach to charging your battery in a pub. – Did you enjoy that? – Absolutely delicious, thank you. – Wonderful. Your battery isn’t actually
finished charging yet. – Oh, really? – Do you want any puddings,
coffee, tea, another pint? Do you know what, why not? I’ll have a look at the
dessert menu, please. – Okay, I’ll bring it over for you. – Great, thank you very much. Oh, wow, that’s great. I’ve had a delicious lunch, I’ve had a couple of pints
of beer, some coffee. My battery is now fully charged. That is off-grid charging at its best. Rather than try to come
into a pub, sneak around, steal some electric,
really annoy the landlady, that is how you do off-grid charging. Wow, that was absolutely
delicious, thank you very much. – You’re more than welcome. – Can I get the bill now, please? – Of course, there we go, Steve. – Perfect, what about the battery? – Well, we don’t mind people
charging their batteries, but we do have some charity
boxes at the end of the bar, just a small donation would be great. – Perfect, I’ll come in here every day. So, pubs, a great place
to charge your e-bike, and remember, the longer the
lunch, the longer the charge. Just remember some common courtesy things, such as don’t go dragging your e-bike through the restaurant, don’t walk in there with stinking clothes, and remember to be polite
because if you are, you can probably get
away with quite a lot. Earlier this year, we
actually charged four e-bikes by running an extension lead
out of the pub into our van. So, there, there you go, pubs. Now, what about if you’re
stopping over for the night? Hotels and bed and breakfast. Now, the same rules apply in terms of being dirty and politeness. However, there’s a few more complications because some bikes have removable
batteries and some do not. Now, we’ve been on
countless trips this year and on some occasions
we’ve charge our e-bikes in wet rooms, in garden sheds,
in waiter’s smoking rooms, in laundry rooms, no end to places. I think the secret here is actually to, if you haven’t got a removable battery then you should maybe call up ahead, just to check out whether you
can charge your battery there. Now, you’re out and
about riding in the woods and you spot this cafe in the clearing, so you make a beeline for it, you come in, you scope out, is there any
electric points in there. You don’t see any, but then,
in the corner of the room is a beautiful trio of
fridges with that gold dust, that electrical socket. But, it would be really unwise of you to go unplugging these, simply because the ice-cream’s gonna melt, it’s gonna go on the floor,
the Coke’s gonna get warm, the food’s gonna perish, and, crucially, Funky Monkey is a drink best
served cold, rather than hot. Oh, what? Can’t believe it, I’ve left
my keys in the wife’s car. Can’t charge my e-bike battery up. Lets go and see what Ray’s up to, he’s fannying around with his car here. Ray!
– Yeah. – Ah, I can’t believe I
left the keys in the car, to the house, can’t
charge my e-bike battery. What you doing here? – Well, I’ve just charged mine. I can put yours on and away we go. – You’ve gotta be, what,
on that little car? – On that little car, it’s
all set up, all ready. – [Steve] Are you serious? – Yeah, my last car, I bolted it up so it was already fitted. Just opened the bonnet and away I went. After I went for a run on the bike, I just stop and plugged straight in. I can get you going right now. Where’s your bits and pieces? You got your battery? – Here’s my battery, yeah, yeah. – Oh, there’s your charger. – There’s my charger. (laughs) – You left it on the curb side. Okay, lets go. – So, Ray, talk us through
what you’ve got here. What’s that there? – This is a small inverter,
costs about 70 pounds, you can get this from your
normal electrical wholesaler. This little unit I put on for myself, just to tell me that it’s working, and it’s taking the power. – What’s this thing? – This is a two pound 50
thing from Home Bargains, or something like that, just tells you the state of the battery. Because when it gets down to the red only, you know it’s gonna switch off. – I’m interested to
know what this thing is. Does that tell you how much
power’s coming up the battery? – It does indeed, it tells you how much is going from here into there, which is your battery unit. – Right, shall we test that first then? – Yeah, absolutely. – Right, so, got a nice
plug there for you, look. I know how you like the three pointers. – I’m not having the two pin ones. Lets pop her in. – [Steve] So, if we pop this in. – [Ray] Like that. – [Steve] And we’ll plug this in here? – Yeah, plug that into there. – So, what, so now. – Is you switch on here,
the green light comes on. You can see that’s dropped
a bit but that’s no problem because I’ve already charged my battery. So, for the purposes of
demonstration, here we go. – What does this say, 230– – That’s the voltage. The same voltage as
you would have at home. – [Steve] So is that
really important then? – [Ray] Well, if you haven’t
got any volts, no charge. So here we go, this is 226 volts, which is close enough for 230. We’re gonna press the watts button now, it tells us we’re taking 187 watts. That’s coming from your
battery, and it’s driving, and, so, you’re charging up. – [Steve] It seems to be charging my battery quite well there. – [Ray] Well, it would be. – [Steve] But Ray, I need to go to the pub and have something to eat. Can I just leave that there? – [Ray] You can indeed because– – [Steve] Can I just leave that? I’m really busy, Ray, I can’t
today, I’ve got lots to do. – [Ray] Well you fly over there, I’ll keep an eye out for you. – [Steve] But what about
if you get called off? Can I just leave that charging? – [Ray] You can indeed,
because what will happen is, when the voltage drops so low that the battery will be in a position where it’s got a problem,
this will drop off. – [Steve] ‘Cause I don’t
wanna leave that there and you’ve got no car to drive with because your batteries flat. – [Ray] No, you’ll be fine because, even though the voltage
have nine volts on here, it will start a motor and
you’ll be able to get going. – So does that thing cut the charger out? – This cuts off just under 11.5 volts, and your starter motor will
always start at 11.5 volts. In fact, it drops right down
so you’re perfectly safe, no problem at all. – Right, do you know what, Ray? I think I need to have this set
up in my van for the future. So, it’ll charge a whole battery? – It won’t charge a whole battery, it will charge, probably about
a quarter, maybe a bit more. But if you start the engine, you’re safe, you can charge it fully from nothing. – So, what I’m thinking here, Ray, is that I can go for a ride on my bike, I can come back for a spot of lunch, and just chuck it on charge for an hour. – You can chuck it on charge before you go and have your
lunch, you leave it there, if you’ve got a problem and
you’re not paying attention ’cause someone’s turned up
and you’re talking to them, it will take care of it and drop out. You’re come back, oh dear. Start the engine, no problem
at all, it will start up, and then, as long as you
leave that engine running, you will be charging full
power, but there is– – Do you know, I love this idea. It means I can go anywhere in
the world, in my little car, and go for an e-bike ride. – You can indeed, you can
take that lunch break, and you can be up and
powered for the afternoon. But there’s one thing
that you’ve got to watch. You’ve gotta buy a good battery charger. This is splendid, that batteries okay, but you need a good battery charger. – You mean one of these? – You need a good battery charger and it’s gotta have power
factor correction, PFC. – PFC, right. – Because, if you don’t have that, it will be taking loads of power, and chucking nothing,
hardly into the battery. – Right, so, are you saying to me that not all e-bike chargers
are created equally? – I’m saying exactly that, so
if you’ve got a quality one, with PFC, that’s fine. So, when we press the button on here and we see 188, that’s fine. If we go and have
another couple of presses on another thing, it will show
us what the power factor is. And the power factor on this is 87%. Now, that’s pretty good,
90 to 95 is possible, but most chargers, around the 50 mark, and I came across one
the other day, only 35. – Now, actually, Ray, was
actually that the bike, the cheap bike that I’d
brought down to you? Now, this is the bike that
I took up Snowdon, Kevin, the 320 pound bike from a supermarket, it was that battery, right? – [Ray] It was that battery, yeah. – [Steve] And how
efficient was that battery? – 35%, that’s 35% of the power that was coming out of the battery was making it’s way, slowly,
into the bike battery. – So, there you go, I
think Ray has proved there that you can charge your e-bike battery, very simply, very effectively,
but, as Ray points out, make sure that that charger is correct. So, if you’re setting this up in your little family car, like this, you got a couple of leads there, you can actually keep that in the car, and plug that in as and
when is needed, right? – You can, but if you really want to, what you can do is you can
make a safe space for it. – Like this beer box you’ve got here. – That’s right. (both laughing) Maybe something a little better, and you can fix it permanently because it’s pretty weather proof. I wouldn’t say to leave it in in situations where you’re
running through snow and ice, and things like that. But, generally, it could be in a position, with a little bit of protection round it, it could remain in here, out of the way. That means that all you have to do is to plug into the front. You could put a cable through to the boot and do everything in the
boot if you wanted to. – You could, couldn’t you? That’d be dead easy. So quite easy to connect
a cable up from that, through the car, into the boot. – You could do, no problem at all. – Really simple. – Yeah, and then everything’s secure. – And that means you can wherever you want and keep rolling on your e-bike. So, the landlady has
kicked you out of the pub, you’re batteries charged,
you’ve gone for your ride, you’ve moved on to the
next out-there place, and it’s far away from anywhere. So, that’s where the trustee
camper van comes into play. And a good camper van
that’s set up correctly can be a really versatile
way, and efficient way, of charging your e-bike battery. Luckily, I’ve come
across Andre in the woods and he’s got the ultimate
e-bike charging setup. Andre, thanks for meeting up. Now, it seems that you’re
a very keen e-biker, two spare batteries and
you’ve got one in your bike. – No, no, no, sorry,
I’ve only got the two. – You must still be doing
a lot of e-biking, right? – I do, I do, yes. – So tell us about the setup of your van. – Right, well, I’ve got, like
most camper vans these days, I’ve got an extra 12 volt
battery, a leisure battery, underneath the seat here in the back. That’s connected to the
main alternator with a lead and special relay that’s under the bonnet. – So this is one lead
from the battery upfront, down through here, into
the back of the van. – Correct. – Easy, easy, yeah. – You then have, also, a
power management systems here. This one allows you to charge that battery from the mains as well. – Right, so if you’re parked
up outside your house, you plug in, it charges
your spare leisure battery. – Absolutely. – Right, okay, so you’re
taking that energy with you. – That’s right, ’cause these batteries can take quite a lot
of hours to charge up. – How long? – Five, six hours. – Right, okay. – So if you can imagine if you’re doing five or six hours driving,
that’s quite a long way, and you won’t always be
doing that kind of driving. – Okay, so your batteries charged before you leave the house. – I tend to keep it topped
up so when I leave the house I’ve got a fully charged battery there. A fully charged one of these batteries will run down to about half
charge to charge one of those. – Wow. Now, Andre, you’ve got
two Bosch batteries here, talk us through the perfect
weekend e-bike ride scenario. You’re probably gonna leave house with your leisure battery fully charged. – Fully charged, so I’ll have charged that upon the mains over night. – So you’ve got there Friday night. Saturday morning, you get out, you’re gonna go for your
ride, out for a ride, you’d maybe get 3/4 of life
out of one of your batteries. You come in, have some lunch,
put that battery on charge, go out on the other
battery, out for a ride, maybe you flatten that
3/4, what happens then? – Right, so you’ve been
charging the other battery, so you come back and you’ll probably find the other batteries fully
charged, so you swap over. – So now you can have your third ride. – Yes, absolutely. – That’d probably be a night ride, right? – Well, certainly at
this time of year, yes. – But what impact would that have had on your leisure battery? – Okay, so, you can
probably get one charge out of a leisure battery, safely. Leisure batteries, a
single leisure battery, shouldn’t be charged more than about 50%. And because of the efficiencies
of the mains chargers, and so on, you’ll have a
problem actually getting more than one charge out
of a leisure battery. Because, not only have
you got the inefficiency of the charger to worry about, you’ve got the inefficiency of
the inverter to worry about. – Right, okay, so you’re
on Saturday night, you’ve flattened both batteries, you’re leisure batteries on, say, 50%, what do you do then? Do you drive off to another location? – You can do that, but
also, during the summer, if you’ve got solar panels on the roof, you’ll probably find you’ve
got enough current in there to, pretty much, charge up one battery. – Really?
– Yeah. – Lets have a look at your
solar panel setup then, Andre. So this is, we’re talking here, is the ultimate in off-grid
setup for your e-bike. – [Andre] So, on the roof, I’ve got a 100 watt solar panel up there. – [Steve] Can we see that? You can just about see
that up on the roof. And, I guess, ’cause you’ve
got a luxurious camper, you can tilt that to face the sun, right? – Absolutely. You are always looking
for a place in the sun when you’re trying to charge your battery. The last thing you want to
do is parking under a tree. – So you must go for these big
weekends in the hills then. – I do, yes. I will go away for three,
four days, I just go. – And you can use a combination
of solar panel heat, you can have the alternator, driving your motor to charge it up. – Absolutely, yes. – Wow, that’s a big adventure, it’s a big time out in
the hills, isn’t it? – Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. I want to be off grid,
I want to be out there, I don’t wanna be tide to anything. Don’t wanna be having to
roll up to a camp site at a certain time,
paying exorbitant prices to park up for ten hours. – Or go and spend hours
in a cafe, or restaurant, charging your spare battery. – Well, this is it, this is it, yes. Because it takes, what, three, four hours on the four amp charger to charge. – That’s a lot of pints of beer isn’t it? – It is. (both laughing) – Now, I know what you’re thinking, this is a bit extreme, right? I mean I should really
have just come in here with my bike and plugged in. However, I’ve got my extension
lead into the toilet, powering my e-bike battery up. I’ve got the gas lights on to keep warm while the bikes are charging. And, even, the guys in the background are taking advantage of that
little bit of extra electric. So, if you wanna see more
about e-bike batteries, check out the video Chris did on basic battery care and maintenance. And, to see what really off grid is, check out Into The Wild,
which I did with Hannah Barnes in Knoydart peninsula, in Scotland. Let us know your thoughts, don’t forget to subscribe to EMBN, and give us thumbs up, cheers.