31 Mar How to Make Your Electric Skateboard Batteries Last
There are few things more annoying than having an electric skateboard with a bad battery that just won’t last. You leave the house fully charged and take off only to sputter to a complete stop 30 minutes later. Ya’ killing me smalls! Ya’ killing me.
We all do our best to preserve the battery life of our favorite possessions. Over the years, we’ve even developed personal systems to make them last.
But certain habits and behaviors might be shortening your battery’s lifespan even MORE than you think. Letting it drop to 0%, letting it overheat, and even just not using it regularly can all lead to an underperforming battery.
In an effort to make our (and your) electric skateboard batteries last a bit longer, we compiled a list of tips to do just that. These are simple, actionable pieces of advice that honestly many people never considered before (some of us included). For example, topping up your battery and never letting it fall below 30% is a proven way to extend its lifespan.
So follow the tips in this article and you’ll ensure that your battery has a long and happy life. Let’s find out what they are.
Understanding Your Electric Skateboard Battery
Before talking about how you can increase the lifespan of your electric skateboard batteries, let’s go over a few technical aspects of them first.
If this part doesn’t interest you, please skip ahead to the tips section.
To the gear junkies out there who want to learn more about their battery, take note of the following specifications:
- Voltage – Influences how much torque the motor can manage i.e. how fast it can go. Higher voltage = higher speeds.
- Ampere – The rating of the electric current. A board that has a battery that can supply the necessary power to the motor consistently (amperage) will run faster and smoother.
- Ampere hours (AH) – The rate at which power can be supplied in one hour. Very indicative of how long a battery will hold a charge. Also referred to as discharge rate.
- Wattage hours (WH) – The amount of power that is supplied in one hour. Wattage is found by multiplying the voltage and the AH. This is one of the largest contributors to a board’s range. A larger WH means more riding time. Just be aware that many airlines restrict boards that have more than a certain amount of wattage.
- Range – Synonymous with battery capacity. A board will only travel as far as its battery will supply energy.
- Cycle – One cycle = one full charge. Generally, the lifespan of electric skateboard batteries is measured in terms of the number of cycles they can achieve e.g. 250, 500, 1000, etc.
- Voltage sag – An interruption of the electric current that causes reduced performance. A rare albeit typical issue with most consumer electronics is a sign of poor quality or age.
Types of Electric Skateboard Batteries
9 times out of 10, an electric longboard battery is going to be of the lithium-ion variety, mostly due to reliability and lifespan. If you buy any commercial board, like a Linky, then odds are it’ll have a lithium-ion battery.
That said, there’s still some insight to be had by considering the different types of batteries that are on the market.
DIY electric skateboard enthusiasts will probably have a lot to say on the subject.
We just find the topic fascinating and even a little “electrifying” at times. (What a terrible dad joke that was…)
These are the most common type of batteries you see, not only in commercial electric skateboards but all consumer electronics, period. Laptops, cell phones, cameras, almost every one of these uses Lithium-Ion.
Lithium-ion batteries are popular because they are safe, reliable, and have relatively long lifespans. By now, technology has also advanced to the point where these batteries can be augmented with microchips that help regulate charging and discharging. These make the boards even safer and longer-lasting.
A typical Lithium-Ion battery will last around 500-1000 cycles. That’s roughly 2-3 years of life. Certain factors, like extreme heat and improper charging habits, can negatively affect the battery’s lifespan though (more on that later).
The biggest downside to Lithium-Ion batteries is that they can sometimes suffer from voltage sag. This is when the power output is not as strong as it could be and results in a brief loss of performance. These sags are generally rare though.
A more powerful alternative to the lithium-ion battery that you see less often in commercial electric skateboards. Lithium polymer batteries have a much higher output, suffer less from voltage sag, and charge faster. They’re also less expensive than lithium-ion batteries.
Given their upsides, you’d think that lithium polymer would be more common than lithium-ion. But there are some real downsides to these types of batteries, which are deal breakers for a lot of people.
For one thing, lithium polymer batteries don’t last as long as lithium-ion batteries. You’ll only get about 300-500 cycles out of these; half that of lithium-ion.
More importantly, lithium polymer batteries are much more dangerous. They’re very sensitive when it comes to charging and discharging, and even more sensitive to physical damage. It’s not uncommon to see lithium polymer batteries catch fire after misuse or a heavy blow.
TL;DR – use lithium polymer batteries only if you’re willing to show them the extra attention and are careful. People who like to DIY their electric skateboards will have better luck with these.
The newest form of battery technology that has a lot going for it. LiFePo4 batteries, which stands for “Lithium Iron Phosphate”, are the best of both worlds. They’re as safe as and even longer-lasting than lithium-ion batteries (1,000-10,000 cycles) but provide similar performance as lithium polymers.
The problem? The technology is still in its infancy and hasn’t reached the consumer-level point yet. Aside from being just difficult to find, LiFePo4 batteries can be really expensive. Almost too expensive to be worth the trouble.
That being said, we’d love to get our own hands-on some LiFePo4 batteries and try making a Linky board with them. Our head engineer is already frothing at the mouth in excitement.
10 Tips for Getting More Out of Your Electric Skateboard Battery
Looking to get the absolute most out of your electric skateboard battery? Follow these ten insider tips below to make it last as long as possible.
Avoid extreme temperatures
This is one of the surest ways to make your electric skateboard battery last longer.
External temperatures can have a profound effect on a battery and its ability to retain a charge. Too low and the battery will start to lose its charge even when not in use. Too high and the battery could be irreparably damaged.
Regulating temperatures isn’t hard to do either. Just try and keep the board in or around room temperature (68-77 °F or 20-25 °C) as much as possible. Avoid at all costs leaving the board, for example, in direct sunlight. If the battery reaches 140 °F (60 °C), it could be seriously damaged.
Boards that are used often are happy boards. This is because electric skateboard batteries actually last longer if they are used on a regular basis. Not using a board or charging the battery for a long time (months) can actually have an adverse effect. Ultimately, the battery will not be able to hold a charge as well.
It’s kind of like exercising – no work and the battery becomes sluggish and lacks energy.
If you need to store your board, make sure to take it out every few months and use it a bit. Drain the battery some and charge it back up. This will ensure the battery can continue to hold the utmost charge.
But don’t make your electric skateboard work too hard
Riding an electric skateboard on ill-suited terrain or exceeding its maximum weight load can cause the motor and battery to work overtime. And whilst in these cases you can be sure that the battery is being used, it might be getting over-taxed.
Avoid misusing your board and you’ll avoid draining its battery too quickly or unnecessarily.
Top up your battery
Batteries last longer if they are charged at regular intervals. Ideally, you should start charging your battery after it has only been depleted by 20-30%. This is to avoid irregular discharge cycles and to avoid the battery being depleted completely.
Though it may sound tedious, if you are consistent about charging your electric skateboard battery so consistently, you could seriously extend its lifespan. Get in the habit of charging the board every time you finish using it, either recreationally, when commuting, whenever.
Avoid depleting the battery completely
Draining the battery totally and letting it hit 0% can also negatively affect its lifespan. This has to deal with a battery’s depth of discharge, which is a somewhat technical concept that we invite those interested to read more about here.
Basically, the more you deplete a battery on a single charge (higher depth of discharge) the less able it will be to hold a charge in the future.
The key is to limit the depth of discharge i.e. charge the battery before it gets too low. Doing this will extend the electric skateboard’s battery life markedly.
But don’t charge it to 100%
Conversely, you want to avoid charging your battery until 100% and then leaving it alone. This will also have a negative impact on the battery’s lifespan.
A good rule of thumb: try to keep your battery between 70-90% charged at all times and avoid letting it fall below 30%.
Check and clean your battery periodically
You ought to take a peek at your electric skateboard’s battery and the compartment every once in a while to make sure everything is looking good.
The presence of dust, dirt and other particulates is normal, especially if you ride your board frequently.
What you should really be looking for is rust or other signs of damage, like corrosion, caused by moisture. Water is a real killer when it comes to electronics, in particular batteries. If your battery is already starting to show signs of rust, it could mean that its lifespan is coming to an end.
To limit breakage caused by water, avoid riding in the rain and store your board in a dry place. Even though a lot of electric skateboard brands claim to be, and to some degree are, waterproof, water has a funny way of still getting inside still.
Limit your exposure to water to limit the chances of damaging the battery.
Store the board properly
If you need to store your electric skateboard or longboard for an extended period of time, you need to do the following:
- Make sure the battery is 50% charged before putting it away. This is the optimal amount for long-term in-activity.
- Store the electric skateboard somewhere dry and at room temperature. Avoid damp areas or leaving them near windows for months on end. Moisture from the outside can affect the board.
- Take it out every 3-6 months to recharge the battery. Most likely the battery will have gradually lost power over time. Expend whatever energy is leftover and then bring it back to near fully charged. Ride it a bit more until the battery is back to that goldilocks 50%.
- Check for any new damage, like rust or mold.
Do the above and you will be able to prolong the lifespan of your electric skateboard’s battery even when it’s not being used.
Check to see if your board has regenerative braking
This is a really cool new feature of modern electric skateboards that you might be taking advantage of without even knowing!
I won’t go into the finer details or the physics of how regenerative braking works.
All you need to know is that when you brake, additional electricity is produced. Rather than let that go to waste, regenerative brakes harness this extra energy to recharge your battery. Incredible, right?!
Not all electric skateboards come with regenerative braking though. Be sure to double-check if the electric skateboard that you want to buy does or not.
Replace the battery if and when needed
Sometimes, despite all of our best efforts, things just run their course. We can pour all of our heart and soul into making sure our battery runs as long as possible – and maybe get more than the average amount of cycles out of it – but eventually, it will fail.
So when ol’ faithful finally decides to croak, just let it. Give it a proper farewell, and by that, we don’t mean a Viking funeral, rather at a specific center. Then move on to the next one.
Many commercial electric skateboards will require a specific type of battery. Your best bet is to contact the company first and order from them. If they can’t provide a battery, they should be able to recommend an alternative.
Battery life decreases with age; this is inevitable. The more energy you consume, the less energy it is able to hold on future charges. Like our own fleeting human existence, it’s just a reality that we have to deal with.
But with proper treatment – much like proper diet and exercise for us humans – we can reduce the rate at which a battery degrades and increase its potential lifespan.
We believe that all of the tips in this guide offer the best chances of maximizing an electric skateboard’s battery life. If you have any other special tricks or tips that we might have missed though, we’d love to hear what they are in the comment section.
Until next time.