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How much electricity does an e-bike use?
The most effective way to address this query is by examining the usual energy consumption of e-bikes and comparing it to other modes of transportation in order to demonstrate their exceptional efficiency in terms of power usage – which is relatively minimal by most standards!
Comparing watts is the optimal method for measurement and comparison when addressing this question. Not only does it measure electrical energy, but it also encompasses energy consumed by any form of movement, ranging from walking to flying, and everything in between. Watt-hours, on the other hand, are an even more valuable measure. They simply represent the number of watts an e-bike (or any other device) consumes in an hour – hence the term watt hours (Wh).
Watt hours are commonly used to gauge the amount of electrical energy stored in an e-bike battery. Although 1000 Wh batteries are considered large for an e-bike, they are not uncommon. For the sake of comparison, let’s assume that a 1000Wh (or 1 kilowatt hour – kWh) e-bike battery can enable a single rider to travel 100km (approximately 60 miles). This assumption is based on the numerous real-world tests conducted by EBR as part of our electric bike reviews.
Now, let’s compare this measurement of covering 100km on 1 kWh of electricity to other methods of transportation in the following diagram. All the figures are based on data obtained from the Without Hot Air website.
Of course, many of the other modes of transportation depicted here do not rely on electricity, but they all consume energy obtained from various fuels, which can be equated to kWh. Therefore, an e-bike utilizes approximately one twenty-fifth of the electrical energy consumed by an electric car for mobility and one fiftieth of the energy consumed by an airplane. These figures, of course, are rough approximations based on averages and assumptions. Nonetheless, the key takeaway remains unchanged – e-bikes require a remarkably small amount of electrical energy when compared to alternative options.
Now, let’s delve into the cost of recharging your e-bike.
How much does it cost to charge your e-bike?
Determining the cost of fully recharging a battery from empty is a relatively straightforward calculation:
(Battery capacity in kWh x 1.25) x cost of electricity per kWh
The presence of the 1.25 multiplier accounts for the fact that not all the electricity that flows from your wall socket ends up being stored in your battery cells. Due to the inefficiencies of power transfer, up to approximately 20% can be lost – you may notice the transformer warming up during charging, as it requires electricity to generate heat!
What are the costs of filling a 500Wh e-bike battery in the US?
Let’s look at a worked example using a typical 500Wh e-bike battery, which costs $0.106 per kWh of electricity. According to an article by Homeserve, the average cost of electricity for US consumers is 10.6 cents per kWh.
(0.5kWh battery size x 1.25) x $0.106 = $0.066. That’s right, it only costs just over 6.5 cents to fill a decent sized e-bike battery!
But keep in mind that the cost of electricity can vary significantly. To demonstrate this, let’s take examples from the opposite ends of the spectrum and apply them to the above calculation.
In Hawaii, electricity can cost as much as 38 cents per kWh. In Louisiana, it’s around 7.5 cents. This gives us the following example costs:
(0.5 x 1.25) x $0.38 = $0.0237, which is around 24 cents.
(0.5 x 1.25) x $0.075 = $0.047, which is less than 5 cents.
No matter what your tariff is, refilling your e-bike battery will always be a true bargain!
How does the cost per trip compare?
Sometimes, it’s more helpful to know the cost of a specific trip you take regularly, rather than the cost of a full recharge. If you already have a full battery, calculating the cost is quite simple. However, you will need a plug-in consumption meter, like the one available on Amazon, to measure the amount of electricity required to fully recharge the battery.
(Measured kWh) x (Electricity cost per kWh)
Let’s consider a typical example of a 15-mile round trip by e-bike, which requires 300Wh of electricity. At the average cost of 10.6 cents per kWh, the calculation would be:
0.3kWh x $0.106 = $0.032. That’s right, just over three cents worth of electricity for a typical commuting trip.
While it’s difficult to make an exact comparison with other means of transportation due to various factors, consider the examples provided in an article by The Points Guy, which highlights public transit passes in major US cities ranging from $1.25 to $2.75. There is no contest in terms of cost when compared to an e-bike.
What about the UK?
What about other countries? Electricity prices, e-bike costs, and comparisons
Does the incredibly low cost of recharging your e-bike hold true in other countries? This question arises due to the disparity in electricity prices between countries. To illustrate this point, we selected the United Kingdom as an example. Firstly, because EBR has a considerable number of UK readers, and secondly, because electricity prices per kWh are considerably higher in the UK compared to the US. In fact, they have recently experienced a significant price hike, with the average figure now standing at around £0.35 ($0.45) per kWh.
Let’s consider a basic example of fully recharging a typical 500Wh e-bike battery, based on the UK average cost of £0.35 per kWh:
(0.5kWh x 1.25) x £0.35 = £0.22 – which is approximately 22 pence (or around 30 cents) for a complete recharge. In comparison, the US, with an average electricity tariff of 6.5 cents (or 5 pence), would only cost a mere 6.5 cents for the same process.
Therefore, while the cost of refueling your e-bike in the UK and several other Western European countries may be higher than in the US, it still presents an astonishingly good deal. Let’s consider a personal experience shared by the author: for his regular hilly commuting route, a 500Wh battery would give him a range of approximately 30 miles. Utilizing public transport for the same journey would cost around £6 – nearly thirty times the cost of the electricity used by the e-bike!
E-bikes vs Electric cars: Charging costs comparison
Electric cars are frequently championed as the solution to the climate crisis by many governments worldwide. However, e-bikes often receive less attention despite their significantly lower energy consumption compared to electric cars.
Now, let’s examine the charging costs for electric cars in comparison. Although the diagram presented in the previous section already conveyed that e-bikes require considerably less energy than electric cars, let’s delve into the specifics by analyzing a couple of examples using the most popular electric car models in the US and UK.
To calculate the charging costs, we apply the previously mentioned formula, utilizing the average kWh costs from the US and UK (10.6 cents / 8 pence and 35 pence / 45 cents per kWh). It’s important to note that these calculations are based on home charging rates, as public car charging points tend to be more expensive but provide faster charging.
Tesla Model Y – US figures
(75kWh x 1.25) x $0.106 = $9.93 (£7.55)
Tesla Model 3 – UK figures
(50kWh x 1.25) x £0.35 = £21.87 ($29)
Once again, the comparison clearly favors e-bikes in terms of cost-efficiency.
Additionally, it is crucial to consider that electric cars consume significantly more electricity to cover the same distance as an e-bike, ultimately resulting in more frequent recharging. A notable article provides consumption figures that indicate electric cars typically require 190-290 Wh per mile, whereas e-bikes have a consumption range of 10-25 Wh per mile. Even the least efficient e-bikes are approximately eight times more energy-efficient than the most efficient electric cars.
Additional Costs of E-Bikes
Undoubtedly, when compared to a purchase price of at least $1000 (potentially even a few thousand dollars), the expenses involved in recharging an e-bike are truly insignificant. Naturally, there are also certain costs associated with the regular maintenance of an e-bike. While most of these can be considered relatively inexpensive in comparison to the initial purchase price, the cost of replacing batteries can amount to a few hundred dollars.
While it is beyond the scope of this article to delve into a detailed analysis of the long-term total cost of owning an e-bike, previous comparisons (such as those found in the book Electric Bicycles – although slightly outdated with current figures likely to be significantly higher) suggest that e-bikes are exceptionally cost-effective when compared to other modes of transportation:
Comparative Running Costs:
- Conventional (non-electric) Bike: $0.07 – $0.09 per mile / £0.03 – £0.07 per mile
- Electric Bike: $0.11 – $0.16 p/m / £0.088 – £0.12 p/m
- Small Car: $0.42 – $1.91 p/m / £0.32 – £1.45 p/m
- Small Car – local use only: $0.84 – $3.37 p/m / £0.64 – £2.56 p/m
- Bus: ~ $0.55 p/m / ~ £0.40 p/m
- Train: $0.26 – $0.80 p/m / £0.20 – £0.60 p/m
In summary, all the available evidence suggests that by embracing e-biking, you are not only enjoying the countless benefits of this form of transportation, but you are also significantly reducing your expenses!