So you have an electric bike. Or you’re thinking about buying one. And you want to know whether you can charge it on a generator.
It’s a good question. Maybe you want to keep the bike in the summer house, which is off the grid, and your only source of electricity there will be burnt dinosaur bones.
Or maybe you’re living the van life, and a generator is the only way to charge a power-hungry thing like an electric bike without depleting the electricity you have for everything else.
Whatever the case, we’ve got you covered. And it’s good that you asked, because the answer’s a little more nuanced than a clear-cut yes or no. Seeing the amount of B.S. on the topic out there, we wrote this guide to help you out.
Charging an Electric Bike With a Generator
In a word, yes, you can charge your electric bike with a generator. But make sure the generator provides enough power to charge the bike fully.
The power output of a generator is measured in Watts (W). But hold your horses! Before you go out and buy a 750-Watt generator for your 750-Watt bike, there’s something about generators that you should know.
Getting a 750-Watt generator for your 750-Watt electric bike may make sense to you at first, but not all generators are the same. Moreover, generators are meant to power appliances less powerful than themselves. You’ll probably have to get something more powerful.
What Kind of Generator Do You Need?
Generators provide two types of power, no matter if they’re powered by gas or diesel: surge power and rated power.
Surge power, also called “starting wattage,” is provided for only 2–3 seconds. It’s used to get appliances running when they’re first plugged in. Rated power, which is sometimes called “running wattage,” is the power continually supplied to appliances when you plug them in for extended periods of time.
It takes hours to charge an electric bike, with the typical charge taking anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. This means that, if you want to charge your bike on a generator, the generator has to be capable of delivering at least as much rated power as the e-bike needs for a full charge.
How Powerful Should the Generator Be?
If you ask this question to somebody who’s used alternative power sources for a long time, they’re going to tell you the following rule of thumb: The generator should provide approximately ¼ more wattage than the electric bike’s motor needs.
To put this into numbers for you:
- To charge a 250-Watt electric bike, get a 300-Watt generator
- To charge a 500-Watt electric bike, get a 750-Watt generator
- To charge a 750-Watt electric bike, get a 1,000-Watt generator
- To charge a 1,000-Watt electric bike, get a 1,250-Watt generator
This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t charge your e-bike on a lower-powered generator. It just means that the generator will struggle to provide enough power, and the bike’s battery may not get properly charged.
Unless you like setting aside money for repairs and replacements, why make two expensive devices struggle when you can choose not to?
Yes, you can charge your electric bike with a generator, but make sure the generator provides enough power to charge the bike fully. The power output of a generator is measured in Watts (W), and it should always exceed the power requirements of your electric bike.