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Old 05-10-08, 03:21 AM   #1
Zephyr Boy
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Where are some creative places in public one can charge up their battery pack?

I was wondering if it's a big deal to use public places to charge up my e-bike's battery pack. It'll be nice to take my battery pack off my rack and go to a library or a college campus or a coffee shop or a pizza joint to charge 'em up.

Sometimes I catch myself day dreaming about having something like a Pullchain Socket Adapter with Two Polarized Outlets--> it converts any standard lamp socket to a socket with 2 polarized side outlets--then hop on my e-bike loaded with my camping gear and head up the Pacific Coast Highway. I would stop at State Beach campgrounds along the way, set up camp then screw the device in a light socket at a campground bathroom to charge up my batteries (or just use an outlet outside if there is one).

Just curious where some people might have charged up their battery pack besides at home and the workplace?



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Old 05-11-08, 12:41 AM   #2
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If you want to be totally legal, you could try stopping at houses where people have some kind of eco-friendly bumper stickers, signs, hybrid cars, whatever and explain that you would like to have a couple pennies worth of electricity and you are willing to pay a nickel or a dime. Or do the same at businesses. Gas stations are the first that come to mind, haha! Another type of place that comes to mind is cafes (for ones that let folks run personal laptops, why not a battery charger instead, especially if the customer is a good tipper) bicycle shops, wherever.

Folks say that the DeWalt 36volt tool batteries can take enough current (charge or discharge) to fill up in 5 or 10 minutes if you build a charger that can handle the power. Get yourself some of those, and you're set.

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Old 05-11-08, 12:46 AM   #3
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I would think if you were discrete, it would be Okay. I don't think removing light bulbs from public places and screwing in a socket adapter is very discrete.

Of course, if very many folks start doing this, then we'll lose public access to outlets in many places we enjoy they now. That will be the unfortunate side effect, but for now when such usage is not common, just fly below the radar and if anyone objects, disconnect.

Touring on pilfered power is another thing. I don't have an E-bike but I would assume that it would take many hours of charging at a fairly high current rate to get a battery pack from flat to fully charged and this wouldn't be a "few cents". Doing this in a light socket in a bathroom at a State Park would be no different to me than someone coming in and running a 100' extension cord out to their RV. I think this non-incidental use of power in this situation should be power you pay someone for, not abuse a public facility.

- Mark

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Old 05-11-08, 12:52 AM   #4
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Of course, if very many folks start doing this, then we'll lose public access to outlets in many places we enjoy they now. That will be the unfortunate side effect, but for now when such usage is not common, just fly below the radar and if anyone objects, disconnect.
Possible, but with typical e-bike batteries the amount of electricity required is such a pittance that it may never add up to anything worth worrying about. (if 100 e-bikers came to my house and charged up from my outlets, it'd add a whopping 4 dollars or so to my electric bill.)
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Old 05-11-08, 03:34 AM   #5
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Smile

I agree, the charge time is the real bummer, also I pay State Taxes every day, too bad the State can't charge up my e-bike a couple times out of the year ; )

I suppose this topic is too subjective (each person's neighborhood will be different than others). I know a pizza place (Boston Wildflower Pizza) on Main Street in Santa Monica that has an outdoor patio in back were we put our bikes and sit down to eat and drink. Us locals tend to gather there for a couple hours when Main Street has a festival (like 4 bands playing at the same time every few blocks). I see other customers use the outlets out back to plug in their laptops...

Barnes and Noble on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, I see people in the coffee shop, drinking coffee for hours and using their laptops with the many outlet around the coffee shop...

I also notice at Greyhound bus station, people plug in their laptops or dvd player or many cellphones in the wall outlet while waiting hours for the next bus...

Anyway, I posted this topic because I may want to cut my "tether" to my home and work place's electricity dependency. The LiFePO4 seems to extend the range of an e-bike by 2x, at least. So, maybe one day I can get a hotel room at the end of a long tour, and charge it up my hotel room.

thanks for your replies, and any suggestions/comments would be gratefully appreciated...

Last edited by Zephyr Boy; 05-12-08 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 05-11-08, 08:47 PM   #6
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Most LiFePO4 batteries charge pretty quickly. Go into a restaurant and eat there and ask if they can charge it. Most will let you. For me I have a LIPO battery that requires 8 hours to charge from a flat situation. The Battery holds about 75 kC (kilo Coulombs) or about 21 A*h of charge (36 volt). The wattage used is 1.1 kWh or about $0.07. I imagine that a 10 Ah battery (36 volt) that is LiFePO4 wuld require about $0.05 of electricity.
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Old 05-12-08, 08:13 AM   #7
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Vending machines. Carry a splitter, and buy something from the machine. Water is nice. The profit from the sale may or may not go to the people paying the electric bill directly.

Churches are usually generous if you ask, and their locations are diverse and complementary to other sources.
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Old 05-12-08, 08:38 AM   #8
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Ive got a couple of solar panels hooked up - one sits on top of the rat-trap and charges when the bike is being used, and another 3 wired in series ( foldable) so i get my 36 volts- but it takes forever to get to full charge- what i'd like to do is get a rat( ram air turbine) so the wind would charge as well
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Old 05-22-08, 04:23 AM   #9
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I volunteer at a hospital 15 HILLY miles from home. I need a recharge to get back. I talked to the maintenance guys. They showed me which of the outlets on the parking lot light poles are kept powered. Many poles have outlets, few are powered all the time.
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Old 07-02-11, 11:02 AM   #10
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Going from a 1amp charger to a 2amp battery charger decrease my waiting time during charging...I'm thinking about getting a 5amp LiFePo4 charger...3hour max charging time could get me a lot further out...thanks for the suggestions! ☺
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Old 07-02-11, 05:46 PM   #11
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I charge up at vending machines, gas stations, Starbucks, even the local Arby's has an outlet outside...
Only one time in 4 years did anyone complain..
Some jerkoff at a restaurant in Boca Raton, FL complained that I had charged my bike and was "stealing his electricity"... I laughed in his face and LITERALLY threw a dollar at him and told him to keep the change.. Then unplugged my bike and told him, thanks for being a total complete ass... It's people like you that keep the oil companies in business... Later ass wipe
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Old 07-02-11, 05:48 PM   #12
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Oh I forgot to mention, I was actually at that place eating dinner when he came up to me AFTER I ATE.
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Old 07-03-11, 12:03 AM   #13
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Great question. I hadn't noticed this thread before. Here's my advice:

Get yourself a cheap lightweight bike cover. There are lots of apartment buildings or public buildings that have outside outlets. Most are in the back or the sides of buildings. Hook up the charger etc. then cover the bike. Most people will think it's a covered moped or maybe even a bike, but have no idea that you're charging up a battery. I would lock it up to something, but a rail/metal object most likely won't be available. Then I would just lock one of the tires to the bike frame. That would slow down any thieves that try to run away with it.

I would probably go to a nearby starbucks or someplace with a window and keep an eye on the bike, if i could.
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Old 07-03-11, 07:46 AM   #14
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I have considered the same thing using a LWB Recumbent. The new Bionx 48 volt claims to go 65 miles on level 1. Adding the weight of a touring bike would take that down considerably. Although heavy you could by a extra Bionx battery. Between the 2 batterys and possibly charging while eating lunch you should be able to ride a long way.
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Old 07-03-11, 02:32 PM   #15
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I'm charging up at a chevron (gas/petrol) station now... Heh.. Forgot to charge my bike last night.... Finally (almost) crapped out of battery after 110 miles between two days... Only 8 miles from home now... Take about 30 min to get charged to get home. (only one charger with me)...
Normally I have 2 chargers (at home) to charge to full in at most 3.5 hours.
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Old 07-03-11, 04:32 PM   #16
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First,
with LiFePo battery you should avoid deep discharges just like with any battery.
Just because it is 50% charge left you should use it, just try to charge as soon as any opportunity arises not waiting to 80% DOD /dEPT OF dISCHARGE/.
wHERE I live in Calgary life recepticles are all over the place, because simply building code require to install them for mostly block engine heaters at winter.
My favourites are parking stalls plug ins - very common in Alberta Canada.
Different story in British Columbia, like different country, it is hard to find one with power and try to find any tap with water which are also plentiful in Calgary.
I like to plug at closed department stores, schools after hours/all have them live/ but not gas stations- too many people around.
Ussually nobody see any cord just a bike leaned agains pole or the wall. I have never asked to plug,
never been chased away in close to 10 years riding /charging/ ebike.
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Old 07-03-11, 06:35 PM   #17
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In my state, some mcdonald's have outdoor plugs that you can plug stuff in. The newer mcdonald's sometimes have these. Look for them sometime. Chances are that if the mcdonald's has flat panel tvs inside then there is probably a plug in outside. At least that's how it is here. All the ones with tvs inside have outdoor plugs. And if your battery pack is small enough to be carried in, you could probably plug it in inside, too. Look for mcdonald's with WIFI because they probably have plugs inside that you can use.
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Old 07-11-11, 07:12 AM   #18
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If I can stand reak of MACGARBAGE food, but I ride around them far away.
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Old 08-06-11, 03:28 PM   #19
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The railroad waiting rooms have outlets. At least in NY.
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