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Safe travel, beware of e-bike ‘range extenders’

Wind power and solar power generation increase mileage by 15%-45% - how amazing is the ‘range extender’ for e-bikes?

In recent years, e-bikes have become a common travel tool for many people. Some businesses have launched ‘range extender’, claiming that it can solve the long-term battery life problem of e-bikes, attracting many e-bike owners to use. However, on the e-commerce platform, such products are chaotic. For example, they attract attention with false gimmicks such as ‘no charging for the whole year’ and ‘running 108,000 miles at a time’. They claim to be capable of wind power and photovoltaic power generation to increase battery life, but it has been identified by professionals that it is basically useless.

Several industry insiders pointed out that such products are concept plays, in fact ‘basically have no effect’ on the range extension, and ‘at most some psychological effects’ for consumers. At the same time, there are certain safety hazards in the external connection of these products to electric vehicles, and there are many risks such as short circuit and deflagration. In addition, users should note that it may be illegal to use an e-bike ‘range extender’, because in some areas, it is illegal to install or modify electric vehicle power units.

Run 108,000 miles at a time? Actually just a stunt

The media called ‘The Paper’ (2022) consulted some merchants selling related products on the e-commerce platform, and the result was that the descriptions of the working principles were relatively consistent among the merchants. According to the customer service of a merchant, "This product is an electric vehicle range extender, which can stabilize the voltage and save the battery life of the electric vehicle. After the electric vehicle is charged, it can be plugged into the charging port, and the battery life can be increased by 30-50 kilometers."

In the merchant's store, the product with the highest sales volume is a voltage stabilizer. According to the product introduction, “the product can be used in e-bikes such as 12V to 108V lithium batteries and accumulators. The use of this product in new e-bikes can effectively extend the life of the battery for more than 2 years and prevent battery aging; the use in old e-bikes can not only prolong the life of the battery for more than two years, but also increase the mileage, increase the climbing strength, and improve the driving speed. This product has its own plug.” The instructions for use say that the product can be always plugged into the bike and unplugged when the bike needs to be charged.

In the poster of this voltage regulator, expressions such as “no charge for a year of life artifact” and “running for 50,000 miles at a time” are displayed. The customer service said: “This is only for the drainage effect.”

Another range extender claims to have the function of wind and solar dual power generation, which can be charged while the e-bike is running. According to the instruction manual, after the product is connected to the battery power supply, the battery car reaches a certain speed, generates wind power, adds light energy, charges the battery, and increases the mileage by 15%-45%. That is to say, the original battery car can travel 100 kilometers, and after using this product, it can travel to 115 to 145 kilometers.

Dismantling: worthless small capacitors and meaningless ‘power generation’

The media called ‘The Paper’ purchased the above two products from the online store and sent them to an electric vehicle battery manufacturer for dismantling.

Before the dismantling, the person in charge of the battery factory said that this type of product mainly uses the psychology of consumers, and the concepts of ‘endurance and range extension’ are exactly the problems encountered by many e-bike owners. He said frankly: “Manufacturers are the most sensitive to the market. If there are such low-cost, high-return accessories, they will be installed at the factory.”

The blue shell on the outside of the first regulator above is held in place by two hexagonal screws. “Most people don't have the tools to disassemble this kind of screw” , said the person in charge of the battery factory. After he took out a professional disassembly tool to disassemble the voltage regulator, he could see that the black external charging cable was connected to a capacitor about 2cm long. The circuit lines on both sides were exposed on the outside and were roughly pasted on both ends of the capacitor.

The bottom of the blue shell is a cylindrical black plastic shell, and the lower part is fixed by black colloid. “The black plastic shell and the colloid in the lower part are mainly used to increase the weight of the product and conceal the internal structure. In fact, the product is a light and small capacitor”, said the person in charge. The cost of this small capacitor is very low. The circuit lines are very thin and the workmanship is very rough. It is impossible to rely on this energy-saving battery life and battery protection, and the effect of stabilizing the voltage is almost negligible.

Subsequently, another ‘range extender’ claimed to be capable of photovoltaic power generation and wind power generation was dismantled. The front of this product is a photovoltaic panel, and a complimentary yellow or white plastic fan can be attached to the side. The black external wiring is connected to a circuit board in the device, with some spare parts on it. The person in charge said that the low conversion rate and low power generation efficiency of wind energy have always been difficult problems to solve, so wind energy has not become the mainstream energy for power supply. This kind of small plastic fan can theoretically generate a small amount of electricity, but in fact it is negligible. “The charge is not enough for a mobile phone, not to mention the power to propel the vehicle forward.”

Has the power generation endurance been verified?

‘The Paper’ sent the two products to a product quality inspection institute. The results show that both products have obvious problems, from the outer packaging to the inner structure.

Each product must be produced in accordance with national standards or industry standards. Standards are yardsticks for measuring product quality and safety. Whether it is the above-mentioned first voltage stabilizer or the above-mentioned range extender that claims to be able to generate electricity, it must at least meet the basic electrical safety requirements. These two products do not have any signs of implementing the standards, whether from the outer packaging or the product itself. At the same time, there is no information on the product body, such as model, material, brand, manufacturer, etc., which is obviously not in compliance with the regulations.

On the product body of the ‘range extender’, there are expressions such as “wind power generation: 15%-45%, solar power generation: 15-35%, comprehensive increase in battery life: 15%-45%”. In fact, there is never such an expression in electronics. In addition, manufacturers cannot come up with third-party test reports as verification.

Suggestion: The e-bike ‘range extender’ is easy to short circuit and cause fire, and it is not recommended to use as an external equipment

Is it safe to use this type of product? Several industry insiders believe that there are indeed safety hazards, and it is not recommended for consumers to use as an external equipment.

From the perspective of product design, the external equipment disrupts the original factory settings. After installation, the speed of the motor may change, and the braking and other aspects cannot match the corresponding speed. Naturally, there will be risks.

Specifically for the above two products, if there is a voltage exceeding the threshold value of the capacitor, the capacitor may be broken down, especially for inferior products, the voltage resistance value may be only a few hundred volts. After the breakdown, it may cause a short circuit, and in severe cases, the e-bike will spontaneously ignite.

From the installation point of view, the capacitor installation of this product is very casual, there is no fuse, and the spare parts are loosely suspended. If it is installed in an e-bike that is often shaken, it will age and fall, and there will also be a short circuit after the parts are dropped. Once a short circuit occurs, the external wire may be melted instantly. If there is a flammable and explosive substance next to this wire, it will ignite and cause a fire. Moreover, because the product itself does not have the manufacturer's name and corresponding logo, it is impossible to trace the source, and it is impossible to find who is responsible if there is a problem.

Therefore, e-bike enthusiasts, we must identify pseudo-concepts and eliminate unjustified psychological hints. Travel life, safety first. If you have any questions about the safety of Troxus products, please feel free to contact the Troxus Official (info@troxusmobility.com), Troxus Mobility service will always be online for you and your travel life.

 

Reference:

The Paper. (2022, March 14). E-bike endurance artifact: concept plays, drainage and psychological suggestion. Retrieved June 28, 2022, from https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_17063961

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