Can You Power Your E-Bike Using Your Car? Find Out!

Electric bikes are genuinely amazing. They redefined what is possible on a bike by allowing riders to scale up steep slopes and go almost anywhere. That is, until their batteries run out, leaving you stranded and testing your wilderness survival skills. Fortunately, there are a few options to charge up your bike again, including using the battery in your car.

Charging your e-bike battery from your car is possible. One method is to get an adapter to charge your battery straight from the cigarette lighter. Alternatively, a small inverter can charge your bike with the correct current and not damage your battery.

Charging your e-bike from your car is one option, but did you know some e-bikes also charge while pedaling?

Probably one of the easiest ways to ruin your e-bike is to mess with the electrical components without knowing what you’re doing. So, before jumping in, remember to always check your bike’s user manual on charging safety and dos and don’ts. Armed with that knowledge, here are a few ways to charge your e-bike from your car.

How To Charge Your Electric Bike From Your Car

If you need a setup to charge your e-bike battery straight from your car, you should know right from the get-go that it isn’t possible without some aftermarket component.

You might think your e-bike uses a DC battery and your car uses a DC battery, so logic dictates that you can just connect the two batteries, and one would charge the other, right? I mean, if you can charge another car using jumper cables, can’t you do the same with an e-bike battery?

The short answer is no. Unless you hate your battery and your warranty. While your car battery is only 12v compared to the 48v of a typical e-bike battery, it’s packing a lot more amps. And, as everyone knows, “It’s not the volts that kill; it’s the amps.” The same applies to your bike’s battery.

Fortunately, you do have a few options that are safe and effective.

Option 1: Use A 12V Socket Charger

Your e-bike charger plays a hugely important role in the charging process. It takes the incoming voltage, steps it up or down to match the voltage of the battery, and then regulates the flow of current to keep it constant.

So, one option for charging your bike from your car is to buy an aftermarket e-bike charger with a 12V plug that fits into your car’s cigarette port.

Basically, these chargers work the same as your stock charger does, but instead of plugging your charger into a wall socket, you plug into the cigarette port of your car. At around $80 – $100, it isn’t the most expensive or cheapest option on this list.

Just make sure you buy a charger with the same voltage output as your battery, or else it won’t work as well as you had hoped.

Apart from charging your e-bike from your car, you could also consider using a solar panel for charging.

Option 2: Use A Small Inverter

As soon as you mention a vehicle inverter, most people probably instantly think of a full camper van setup with house batteries and large inverters in the back of the truck. But that isn’t what we’re talking about here.

Instead, did you know that you get small, portable inverters that also plug into your 12V socket? If you said no, you’re not alone. But surprisingly, they are becoming increasingly common, and at around $35, they’re also really cheap.

To use these inverters, you simply plug them into your cigarette socket and then plug your e-bike’s stock charger into the inverter, and you’re off. Just ensure you get one with enough voltage to power your charger.

The added upside is that it gives you a standard power socket inside your car. So not only can you charge your e-bike, but you can power a few other bits and pieces as well. However, ensure you don’t overload it or risk killing your car’s battery.

Option 3: Install A House Bank Battery Setup

The drawback of both options above is that neither is too healthy for your car’s battery. Unlike your e-bike battery, your car’s battery isn’t designed to be deep cycled or drained close to empty. Instead, its primary job is to turn the starter motor and get the engine running, and then be charged by the alternator.

In fact, most people can attest that once they’ve let the car battery die and had to jump-start it, it is never entirely the same again. So both of the above methods require you to carefully watch your car’s battery or leave your car running while your bike is charging.

Fortunately, there is a better, albeit more expensive, option. Remember that camper van picture you had when we mentioned using an “inverter?” Well, that is comparatively the best and most sustainable way to charge your e-bike from your car. And if you often go camping and riding, it’s worth considering.

For this option, you are still using an inverter but adding an additional battery to your car. This battery must be a deep cycle battery and will act as a house battery. This means that it can be depleted and recharged, and all of your gadgets are powered by this battery, not your car battery.

In fact, you can even add a solar panel to keep it charging without the need to run your car’s engine.

With your setup complete, you would also simply use your bike’s standard charger and just plug it into the outlet. However, as helpful as this option is, it is also costly, so you may need to save up a little.

Conclusion

There are three standard options to charge your e-bike from your car. Firstly, you can buy a 12v charger designed to fit in the cigarette socket. Secondly, you could buy a small inverter that also fits into this socket, allowing you to use your regular charger. Finally, to prevent damage to your car battery, you can install an inverter and deep cycle house battery into your car to charge your e-bike.

If you're charging your e-bike from your car, you might also be interested in how to carry your e-bike on your car.

Author

  • Miles Baxter

    Miles Baxter is an engineer with a longstanding love for bicycles, sparked by winning a mountain bike in a childhood lottery. Balancing a keen interest in mechanics with the thrill of biking, his career is a testament to the art of turning wheels and gears into adventures.

    Baxter Miles