Practical guide to electric skateboard batteries
Batteries are the heart and power of electric skateboards. Today I dive into finding out how they work, which are the best and what some numbers mean.
I think it’s important to understand what is in our electric skateboards (“esk8’s”), it helps when we are repairing them, conducting maintenance and replacing parts. It is especially useful when buying new things, you’ll be able to differentiate between quality, parts that are bad, parts that are good value for money and what is most appropriate for you to pick.
Different types of batteries
When it comes to the electric skateboard battery, there are a few types, let us take a look at the scope of what’s available and what’s best:
- The Sealed Lead Acid battery. This battery is clunky, heavy but cheap to manufacture and therefore buy. It is not suitable for esk8’s because of how heavy it is, but you’ll find it on super cheap models. It is similar to car batteries. If you’re interested in cheap esk8’s check out my article on electric skateboards for less than 300$.
- Alkaline batteries. This is the type of battery you’d find in your remote, in a cheap toy car and some gamepads. Unfortunately, it is only one use and is not rechargeable.
- Nickel Cadmium batteries (NiCd). These are rechargeable but use Cadmium which is hard to recycle. They are found in digital cameras, portable cd players, and even powered screwdrivers. They weigh a lot so aren’t practical in esk8s.
- Nickel-Metal hybrid batteries (NiMH). You can find these in rechargeable AA batteries. They don’t have a great number of charge cycles (how many times you can charge a battery before it goes kaput) so they don’t last long and aren’t cost-effective.
- Lithium batteries. These are by far the best for esk8’s. They have a high number of charge cycles and produce a lot of charge in a compact weight. There are two types available. The Lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries and the Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries. Whilst the LiPo are cheap and offer good performance, they have a low number of cycles compared to the Li-Ion and are extremely fickle when charging. They sometimes burst into fire (yikes). The Li-Ion are the most balanced option, they have great charging cycles (in the thousands), are slightly heavier and bulky than LiPo, but are otherwise the best option for an electric longboard battery.
Most board manufacturers won’t put out what type of battery their board will have. However, if you can, always go for the Li-Ion batteries.
Quality of the battery is important
When it comes to the batteries, quality easily sets apart the good from the bad. An easy way to tell a good battery is where it is manufactured. Companies like Samsung, Panasonic or Sony are the best. You won’t go wrong picking the skateboard that has these batteries. A lot of them even come with a warranty in case anything goes wrong.
On the flip side, batteries from unidentified manufacturers can stop working pretty quickly, within a week at the worst or after a few months of using your longboard.
It’s especially critical for off-road electric skateboards. They need a lot of power to be supplied from the battery. You don’t want to have your skateboard fail you when you’re out in the middle of a forest trail.
How to pick a battery with the most range?
The unit that determines how far a battery can take you is the Ampere-hour (Ah or mAh). It simply shows how much charge (basically the amount of current * the amount of time) there is in a battery.
A battery of 5Ah will travel for about 6 miles and battery of 10Ah will travel for about 18 miles. There are other factors (like Power, motor, wheels etc.) play a part in deciding the range of an esk8, but this is one of the more important ones.
For more info on long range electric skateboards, please click the highlighted text.
Tip for maintenance
The most important maintenance tip is to not overcharge your batteries. Overcharging them can damage the cells and reduce their life cycle. You’ll find yourself looking for electric skateboard replacement batteries sooner than you need to.
It’s important to use the right battery chargers. Using a charger with a higher or much lower voltage rating is a bad idea. It will damage your cells and can cause over or undercharging.
Significantly reducing the working cycle or even causing them to stop altogether.
Only use the charger the manufacturer has supplied or one that meets the right specifications.
Did you learn something new?
I have glossed over a lot of the more boring details, units and numbers to make this a lot more digestible. However, it is the core knowledge and you have now built a foundation of information for yourself.
To avoid a headache, I recommend you always go for quality battery (and gear). It will save you a lot in maintenance cost. It might be on the pricey side but you can get good quality equipment at an affordable price.