To figure out exactly how to match the proper battery to your life, you need to know what you plan on using your electric skateboard for. It is not only the most expensive part of any DIY build, but it affects everything from your speed, and range, to how quickly you are fully charged and back on the road. If you plan on commuting, going for long rides, your battery needs would be different than someone who just plans to hit the park or go trail riding. And these needs would be a lot different than those who are just trashing around their neighborhood or the high-speed needs of uphill/downhill or track racing. Putting a little thought into your riding style, speeds you would like to attain and the ranges you would like to hit will save you a ton of headaches later on. Read this article with those needs and wants in mind.
So before we go on, let’s touch on the three main qualities that need to exist in a good battery for your skateboard to operate properly.
- Proper Voltage: Without proper voltage, you aren’t going very fast
- Proper Capacity: Without capacity, you aren’t going very far.
- High Amp Output/Discharge Rate: Without high enough output you aren’t going anywhere at all.
Common Battery Types for Eskates
There are currently two common types of batteries used in electric skateboarding.
• Longer life cycle
• Batteries come with onboard BMS systems to manage the cells
These are the most commonly used battery due to their stability. They are great for first time builders, cruiser, and commuter boards. Lighter riders will be able to get the most amount of speed out of these batteries, but the Li-ion battery will perform well for riders of all sizes. Lithium-Ion batteries, while more expensive, are the most common battery used.
Lithium Polymer (LiPo)
• Better acceleration
• Higher discharge rates
• Can be put in places Li-ion batteries can’t go
LiPo batteries have a solid reputation as a cheap power source for most electric skateboards. These batteries do not have onboard Battery Management Systems (BMS) that help balance the charge across the batteries and must be recharged using an external battery charger with a BMS system built into it or a small portable onboard BMS. They fit nicely in almost any enclosure setup and are great for a custom AT or race build where you are trying to get a lot of power and ground clearance at the same time. LiPo batteries are incredibly sensitive to puncture and can get all burny and explodey if handled improperly. So you have to treat them with respect.
Electric skateboarding is constantly evolving and batteries are no different. There is a relatively new technology out there known as a Lithium Iron Battery (LiFePO4). Commonly used in solar arrays, these batteries feature the high discharge rates of LiPo batteries with the stability and long life of a Lithium-Ion. Of course, these are incredibly expensive as of writing but hopes are that these will eventually hit the DIY market at a rate us mere mortals can afford. These batteries are still evolving and are ones to watch.
10S4P – What’s that?
You hear a lot about Series and Parallel batteries in electric skateboarding. So what does that mean? They are the two different configurations of cells in your batteries. A cell is an individual battery in a pack. Most Lithium-Ion cells look like real plain AA batteries, but individual LiPo cells can come in all shapes and sizes. If you think of a cell, like a single AA battery, it helps you visualize how these are configured more easily.
Lithium-Ion battery cells come in a few different configurations but all can be understood when you look at the numbers on the cells. 18650 cells simply mean that each cell in the pack is 18mm in diameter and 65 in the length in mm. It helps when you finally decide to build your batteries (yes, a lot of people do that), and you need to know whether a battery pack will fit in your enclosure. All the cells are either arranged in Parallel or Series
- Parallel (P): Cells that are connected positive to positive and negative to negative. The connected cells then essentially become one larger cell balanced with the same voltage but double the Ah. What this means for you is that batteries with a higher count of Parallel cells can store more energy and have a higher range.
- Series (S): Cells that connect via one positive of one cell to the negative of the next cell. This increases the voltage of the cells and therefore provides you with more power. What this means to you is that more cells in series mean MORE SPEED!!!!
So to sum this up neatly, a battery with more cells in Parallel will have a longer range, and batteries with more cells in Series will have more power and speed. There are plenty of batteries currently available that meet both of these needs while allowing you room to customize the features you want out of your ride. The trick is to find a happy balance of power and range for your personal needs.
What are the most common Electric Skateboard Batteries?
Well, that is an interesting question that that will be cause for debate on many different forums. The new generations of electrical engineers are pioneering battery combinations we haven’t seen yet. However, for now, the most common are 36v – 48v batteries in the 6 to 12 S range with 1 to 4 P being the most standard Parallel setup. All batteries feature both cell styles in their design. So an example would be a 10S4P battery, which simply means you have 10cells in Series and 4 in Parallel. Below are a few examples of how these cells are combined and what possible ranges and speeds you can expect.
• 15-20 mph
• With 2P – 10-12 miles
• With 3P – 12-15 miles
• With 4P – 15-20 miles
• 25-30 mph
• With 2P – 10-12 miles
• With 3P – 15-18 miles
• With 4P – 15-20+ miles
• 30-40+ mph
• With 2P – 10-12 miles
• With 3P – 12-15 miles
• With 4P – 15-20+ miles
Of course, when you are creating your batteries, you can add as many cells as you like. Just make sure that whatever ESC you choose to use can handle the power of your battery. Not all electronic speed controllers can handle the added power. For a lot of off the shelf dual VESC style speed controllers, it may be better to stay with 12S batteries or lower. There are companies out there currently developing custom speed controllers that can handle the higher output of larger batteries. So you will have to shop around until you find something more customized to your specific high voltage needs. Soon we may see generic ESC hitting common ranges of 50 – 60 miles at 50 mph!!!!!
PLEASE NOTE: These mileage and speed claims are general and for reference purposes ONLY. Please note that all information in this article is based on generalities and not all battery types or even batteries in the same brands discharge the same.
Can you overcharge your Batteries?
Yes. Every time you charge your batteries you are using one charging cycle. Almost every retail battery sold is rated for only a finite number of recharges before your battery is no longer good. Now while there may be many exceptions to the rule, the standards set do provide you with a good guideline on battery life expectancy. A good rule of thumb is to not let your battery fall below the 50% full threshold when storing your board. It is never recommended to drain your battery completely.
Now LiPo batteries can get dangerous if overcharged without a battery management system. They can become unbalanced easily. It is best recommended to keep these batteries always charged equally across all cells. Unbalanced batteries can negatively affect your ESC, performance, and components.
Can these Electric Skateboard Batteries explode?
All electric skateboard batteries can either catch fire or even explode if mishandled. When building your electric skateboard, try to buy your batteries from a reliable source. Make sure the company stands by their product and know what they are doing. If buying your batteries from another DIY builder, ask to see some of their builds and judge for yourself on the quality. Anytime you don’t buy from a retailer with a guarantee, or you don’t build them yourself, you are taking the chance that the battery could short, catch fire, or even explode. This is especially true if you are buying a home built LiPo batteries.
A brief word on Battery Enclosures
While most parts are available online, battery & ESC enclosures are still a feature in most custom builds. Places like DIYElectricskateboard.com, mBoards.co, and psychotiller.com, among others, have excellent, ready to use enclosures. You can also find many on Amazon and eBay. Whatever enclosure you build or buy, you want to make sure there is room for the battery to sit in the case with a little room for the board to flex. Make sure you know how much flex your deck has as well. You also don’t want a stiff enclosure and a flexible board. You will crack your enclosure, or worse, you may end up warping and damaging your battery. Make sure any enclosure you buy has room for the battery and any electronics you plan on bundling with your battery.
Getting to know the vocabulary of Eskate Batteries
- Ampere (A): Often shortened to “amp”, is the base unit of electric current in the International System of Units. It is named after André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), French mathematician and physicist, considered the father of electromagnetism.
- Voltage (V): is the pressure from an electrical circuit’s power source that pushes charged electrons (current) through a conducting loop, enabling them to do work such as illuminating light. In brief, voltage = pressure, and it is measured in volts (V). … Current returns to the power source.
- Ampere-Hour (Ah): The amount of energy charge in a battery that will allow one ampere of current to flow for one hour. An ampere is a unit of measure of the rate of electron flow or current in an electrical conductor. One ampere of current represents one coulomb of electrical charge moving past a specific point in one second. Watt (W): A watt (W) is a unit of power, and power is the rate at which energy is produced or consumed. … For example, a 100 W light bulb uses energy at a higher rate than a 60 W bulb; this means that the 100 W light bulb needs a bigger “flow” to work.
- Watt-Hour (Wh): A Watt Hour is a unit of measurement for power over a period of time (an hour), or in our case, a way of measuring capacity. One Watt-hour is equal to one Watt of average power flow over an hour. One Watt over four hours would be four Watt Hours of power. As an example, a 100 Watt light bulb on a 400 Watt Hour battery (like the Yeti 400) would last, on paper, 4 hours.
Helpful Battery Range Calculations
Before you make solid range calculations, you need to know a few valuable numbers. Those are the voltage (V) of a given battery, the capacity of a battery in Watt hours (Wh) and the total output of a battery in Amp hours (Ah).
Find the proper Voltage for your Battery
Sometimes a battery manufacturer will only show Watt hours (Wh) in their spec sheets. But in order to figure out that Watt Hour or even your Amp Hours, you need to know the Voltage of your chosen battery. That can be figured out by looking at how many cells your battery uses in series (usually 6S, 10S or 12S).
Take the “S” battery cell number from your chosen battery. Then just multiply that number by 3.6 to get the proper voltage for that particular battery.
Below I have provided you with the rough voltage for the most popular battery cell configurations.
If the battery is 6S (examples: 6S2P, 6S3P), then it’s 21.6V.
If the battery is 10S (examples: 10S2P, 10S3P), then it’s 36V.
If the battery is 12S (examples: 12S2P, 12S3P), then it’s 43.2V.
How to figure out your Watthours (Wh)
You need to understand watt-hours (Wh) in order to compare the battery capacities of different boards with different battery setups. Knowing the capacity in Wh helps you figure out how far you can go with any given setup.
If you can’t find the Wh number, look for battery specs that look something like this, 10S4P 12Ah, 12S3P 9Ah, 6S4P 8Ah etc.
You multiply the V and Ah to get the Wh.
So here are a few common examples:
If you see 6S (for example 6S2P, 1P6S, etc.), then the battery pack is 21.6V.
So for a 6S4P 8Ah battery pack:
21.6 x 8 = 172.8, so this battery has a watt hour of 172.8 Wh.
If you see 10S (for example 10S2P, 1P10S, etc.), then the battery pack is 36V.
So for a 10S4P 8Ah battery pack:
36 x 12 = 288, so this batter has a watt hour of 288 Wh.
If you see 12S (for example 12S2P, 3P12S, etc.), the battery pack is 43.2V.
So for a 12S3P 8Ah battery pack:
43.2 x 8 = 345.6 so this battery pack has a watt hour of 345.6 Wh.
In conclusion all you do is multiply the voltage number of your chosen battery by the Amp hour (Ah) to get your final Watt hour (Wh) for any battery.
How to figure out your Amp Hours (AH)
Sometimes you only get the Watt hours on a battery and not the Amp hours (Ah). To get the Amp hours, simply divide the Watt hours by the voltage to get the amp hours.
Wh ÷ V = Ah
Let’s use the 10S4P battery as an example. Let’s say that this battery has a Wh of about 432Wh. This is a 10S battery so it has a voltage of 36V.
432 ÷ 36 = 12.
This battery is 12Ah.
How to estimate Range using Battery Specifications
Now that you know the battery capacity of your electric skateboard in Watt-hours (Wh), you can figure out how far that particular battery is going to carry you. First you have to get an idea of your future eSk8 project’s energy efficiency based on your rider weight. A good rule of thumb is that for every 30 pounds of rider weight, your battery will need approximately 4 Watt hours per mile. This means that with 150 pounds of rider weight, your battery will need roughly 16Wh of power to go one mile. With 180 pounds, your battery will need 20Wh to travel one mile and so on. This works for all weights, so keep the final rider weight in mind with this equation. All-Terrain electric skateboard wheels will need more power due to the increased friction of the wheels and overall heavier weight of the board. That is also accounted for in the table below.
Our Graphic and Table will give you a rough estimate of your Watt hour per Mile (Wh/mi).
Rider Weight in Watt Hours Per Mile
Now that you have a rough idea of what your battery efficiency number is, you need to divide the battery capacity number (Wh) by the battery efficiency number (Wh/mi) to get a rough range estimate for the final rider’s weight.
Suppose you have a board with a 432 Wh battery, you weigh 180 lbs and riding a board with street wheels, according to the data, the efficiency for you would be about 20 Wh/mile.
432 ÷ 20 = 21.6 miles
That board should be able to carry you about 21.6 miles.
Now let’s go a little heavier and suppose you weigh 270 lbs and you are riding an All Terrain electric skateboard. The board’s efficiency is now 49 Wh/mile according to the chart. You have decided you want to ride with a 345.6 Wh battery.
345.6 ÷ 49 = 7.05 miles
This all terrain board now carries this rider about 7 miles.
If you refer to the spec sheets on any battery manufacturer’s website, you should be able to now roughly calculate your own individual range before you make your purchase.
These are rough estimates ONLY! The chart assumes the following conditions: smooth road, no inclines, mild acceleration, mild weather, about 19 mph speed, and a standing pose. A change in any of those conditions can greatly affect the range. Don’t expect the estimate to be very accurate! It is meant to be a convenient way to help you estimate range of a chosen battery based solely on your weight and battery specifications before you make an initial purchase. Many real world variables influence the actual range of an electric skateboard.
How to estimate Battery Recharge Time
You are searching for batteries with and without chargers depending on your budget. How do you know how fast a charger will recharge that empty battery? Let me help you find that out.
The first step is to find out what the battery amp hours (Ah) are. Then figure out what the battery capacity in amp hours is for the battery you are researching. This is generally written like 6Ah, 8Ah, 14Ah, etc. Next you have to find out output amps (A) of the charger you plan to use. Every charger made has a label that tells you what its input and output amps are. Look at the number for output. It’s normally written as something like 2A, 3A, 4A, etc.
Divide Ah by A .
Suppose the battery is 14 Ah and the charger is 2A.
14 (Ah) ÷ 2 (A) = 7.
7 hours until total recharge.
Under ideal conditions with those specs, this 14Ah battery with a 2A charger should take 7 hours to recharge from empty to full. In reality though, it can take anywhere from 10% to 25% longer. To keep the math simple, just add 30 to 60 minutes to the calculated time and you should be pretty close.
This is a rough estimate of charging time. Real world variables exist that may alter charging times.
- MBoards: mBoards.com
Batteries with chargers, enclosures and more
- Torqueboards: DIYElectricskateboard.com
Batteries, chargers, enclosures
- Psychotiller: Pyschotiller.com
- Amazon and Ebay:
Great locations to source cheap batteries. Just remember to make sure batteries have BMS and chargers.
- Mellow Boards: www.mellowboards.com
- Bound Motor: boundmotor.com
- Metro boards: metroboard.com
- Meepo boards: meepoboard.com
You will find a lot of different opinions out there about which battery is appropriate for what application. Reference this article often, as we are here to help you navigate the seas of opinion until you find the battery that best serves your personal needs and wants. I personally choose serviceable batteries from reputable builders I trust. As electric skateboarding continues to rise in popularity, there will continue to be new innovations, so keep your DIY build flexible. That way you can rotate new technology in as it becomes available. Good luck, skate hard and put the power to the ground.