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Battery Safety

The batteries you find in a regular electric bicycle are similar to the lithium ion batteries in your phone, computer, and electric car. Data on battery fires is still sketchy, but the problems reported in the press appear to be primarily from low quality, mostly mail order, ebikes (and scooters and other micromobility devices) and batteries that have not been tested for fire safety or have been overcharged or improperly modified. On this page we discuss what you can do to keep you and your bike safe.

Buy certified bikes and batteries

Bike batteries from major brands that have passed UL 2849, UL 2271 or EU EN15194 certifications for electrical and fire safety testing are very safe if handled properly. Further down this page we describe these Safety Certifications and list which bikes have been tested.

 

Charge safely

For any bike, certified or not, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure fire safety - particularly when charging your battery. 

  • Don't overcharge - Don't leave it charging overnight. Unplug the charger when it is done or put it on a timer to turn it off after 6 hours (like this countdown timer available from Home Depot and Lowes or your local hardware).

  • Don't top it off every day - Unless you need your battery's full range the next day, run it down to 50% or lower before charging. This will help your battery last longer as well.

  • Charge in a safe place - Never in a bedroom. Outside if possible. Or in a space with a smoke detector. Not in the main exit path from your house.

  • Beware extension cords - If you must use one, make sure it is not cut or worn and is heavy duty - 14 or 12 gauge if you need a long cord.

  • Watch for changes - If your battery is damaged in a fall, or if during charging (or in use) it starts overheating, swelling, emitting smoke, popping, hissing or making other odd noises, stop charging right away.  Pull the plug on the charger if you safely can, but most importantly, get away from it. Let the battery cool down before touching it. Don't use it. Replace the battery before trying to use the bike.

  • Stick with the original manufacturer's recommended batteries & charger - When it is time to add or replace batteries or chargers, avoid used, refurbished or off brand aftermarket mail order deals.

  • Recycle your used battery - Never dispose of a battery in the trash. See below for how to recycle the old battery.

People For Bikes (a bicycle industry trade group) has published a factsheet with more hints for E-Bike Battery Safety Guidelines for Riders.

Direct URL to reference this section is https://climateaction.center/e-bike-faq#battery-fire

Ebike safety certifications

In response to concerns about ebike batteries that have caught fire, several safety certifications have been developed to rigorously test batteries and the related electrical systems to simulate abusive use and reduce risk of fire or shock. Increasing numbers of bike manufacturers are having their bikes certified or are using electrical systems from parts manufacturers that have been certified. Some US ebike incentive programs are beginning to require a certification. 

The three certifications that we know of that address ebike electrical safety are:

  • UL 2271 (Standard for Batteries for Use in Light Electric Vehicles (LEV) - US & Canadian certification of an ebike battery. It includes requirements for safe design of the battery and includes testing for abuse by overcharging, short circuit, over-discharge, heat, water, vibration and physical shocks and a variety of other electrical faults and physical abuse. Watch for this on replacement batteries or for bikes not yet certified to UL 2849. (UL 2271 text - free registration and login required). SGS, TUV Rheinland, and UL Solutions are all US labs approved by OSHA to test bikes against this standard for the workplace under the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) program.

  • UL 2849 (Standard for Electrical Systems for eBikes) US & Canadian certification of an ebike entire electrical system, including the battery. It addresses stresses to the battery as does 2271, plus also stresses to the battery management system, controller, charger and wiring and a variety of abnormal operating condition tests. Several US ebike incentive programs are beginning to require UL 2849 certification. (article by UL describing UL 2849 and the UL 2849 text - free registration and login required). SGS, TUV Rheinland, & UL Solutions are the North American labs approved by OSHA to test bikes against this standard under NRTL.

  • EN15194 (Electrically Power Assisted Cycles Standard) European certification that covers the entire bike - electrical and mechanical systems. 

Which bikes are certified?

The table below lists brands that have indicated that at least some of their models have been tested to one or more of three certifications that address ebike electrical shock and fire hazards, UL 2849, EN15194, or UL2271.

We are continuing to collect information on brands that have certified and will add to this list as we learn more.

Please contact us if you learn of another manufacturer who has been certified or find any errors in our listings. 

*** Use your scroll wheel or the scroll bar at the right side of the table window to see more brands*** 

This chart does not display properly on cell phones and some tablets. Use this mobile friendly version

Buyer beware. Some brands may only have certified a subset of their models and still be in process on others. Check with the dealers and look for labels on the bike to confirm certification on the specific model you are buying. Older or used bikes may predate the testing.

In some cases, what is listed here is based upon an actual certificate or a listing by the certifying organization. In other cases we are just reporting a marketing information claim from manufacturers on their websites or elsewhere. Check the Info Source column to see whether the claim is backed up with a publicly available certificate. We have found the attestations in the National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA) database to vary in usefulness. The NBDA database does not specify if all models in a brand are certified. In our research we have found that some brands use a variety of motors and batteries, some certified, some not.

Underwriters Laboratory provides a UL Prospector database of companies that have obtained certifications through UL's labs (2849 Listed, 2271 Listed, 2271 Recognized, and 2272 Listed. The UL databases, however, can be challenging to connect to retail brands. The certificate is sometimes listed in the name of Chinese OEM companies who actually manufacture the bike (or the battery in the case of UL 2271) - not the retail bike brand. Also note that the UL Prospector listings are not comprehensive as other labs test to the UL and EN standards  but have not published public lists that we are aware of identifying those they have certified.

Please let us know if you learn of other bike models that are tested and certified.

 

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