Switching from a car to an electric bike, or anything else that runs off of an electric battery, will sometimes create skeptics. "How do I know this is cheaper than buying gasoline?" they'll ask. "I'm going to be paying my electric bill each time I plug this bike into the wall!"
This is very true, and we don't want to mislead people into thinking the cost of an electric bike will ultimately be more expensive than driving a car. That's why we put together an easy formula for you to calculate how much energy your electric bike, electric scooter, or whatever electric vehicle you drive, is consuming. Let's get down to it.
Electric Bike Battery Specifications
The first thing you'll need to measure for these calculations is the Voltage and Current rating of your electric bike battery. These are usually featured on the front of the battery. If you're not sure, check the owner's manual. A rough average for an electric bike is 36 volts and about 10 Amp-Hours. This is a Lithium-based electric bike running for approximately 20 miles on a single battery charge.
Okay, now to calculate the Kilowatt-hours (kWh) of your electric bike, simply multiply those two numbers together and divide by 1000:
36 volts x 10 Amp-hours / 1000 = 0.36 kWh
This means that it takes about 0.36 kW to charge an electric bike for one hour. In most cases, an electric bike will need to charge for about 4 to 5 hours, so let's say the total consumption for a complete charge cycle is:
5 x 0.36 = 1.8 kWh
Cost to Charge an Electric Bike
In New York City, the cost per kWh varies on the provider, the user, and the time period. A good, round number that is close to the average is $0.10 per kWh. Let's get back to our calculator:
$0.10 x 1.8 kWh = $0.18
Now, all of these calculations are approximate, so don't blame us if your electric bill is a bit higher, or your electric bike battery is a bit larger than the example we used. Despite all the variations, it is only going to cost between ten and twenty cents to charge an electric bike from completely empty to completely full. That's pretty good considering the price of gas.
Even if you charge your electric bike every single day from completely empty to completely full (something that will rarely happen with long-distance Lithium batteries), it's going to cost about $5 per month to charge your bike. If you're following along on your calculator, that comes out to $65 per year. Now, how much did you spend filling up that SUV last week? That's what I thought.
Yes, it IS much cheaper to run an electric bike, even in the most extreme circumstances. The cost to charge the bike is hardly noticed on a monthly scale, and is far cheaper than running a car on gasoline for a month. Want to save some money? Get yourself an electric bike!