E-Bike Batteries: 48V vs 36V
When it comes to picking an e-bike, what battery voltage is right for you? Let’s explore the differences between 48V and 36V batteries so that you can confidently make the right choice.
Feel free to jump to the section that you’re most interested in:
What Does Electric Bike Battery Voltage Mean?
The Magnum Cosmo S features a 48V battery with 15Ah and 720Wh.
The voltage on your e-bike battery is the amount of power it can potentially deliver at one time. In our complete guide to e-bike batteries, we describe it as the water pressure in a hose: higher voltage means a more powerful flow of electricity from the battery, just like a higher-pressure setting on a hose delivers a more powerful stream of water.
So between a 36V and 48V battery, the 48V battery’s higher voltage means it can deliver more power to your e-bike’s electric system.
Voltage works in tandem with amp-hours or Ah (the amount of power your battery can deliver in one hour) and watt-hours (voltage multiplied by Ah) to determine the overall capacity and range of your battery. In particular, watt-hours help to determine an e-bike’s range: the distance or duration at which you can ride before needing a charge.
That said, your battery power isn’t the only thing responsible for determining the power of your e-bike.
Your battery’s power first goes to your e-bike’s controller, which uses inputs from your pedal assist system and/or throttle to regulate the amount of power that it ultimately sends to your e-bike’s motor. Check out our post about your e-bike’s electric system for more detail on that.
Here’s what this all means when it comes to battery and motor compatibility.
Can You Use A 48V Battery On A 36V Bike, And Vice-Versa?
Technically, yes …
But while your e-bike will probably power on and function, you can cause damage to your e-bike by using a battery with higher voltage than the e-bike’s motor and/or controller are designed to handle. That’s the case when using a 48V battery on a maximum 36V motor or controller.
On the other hand, using a 36V battery on an e-bike with a controller and motor specced for up to 48V won’t let you take full advantage of that battery’s potential power.
For this same reason, you should also be sure that the battery charger you’re using is compatible with your battery’s voltage. Specifically, avoid using a charger that has a higher voltage than your battery!
WARNING: Using a charger that has a higher voltage than your battery could blow fuses in the battery, ruin your battery, and even potentially cause it to catch fire.
Conversely, using a charger with a lower voltage than your battery will simply not provide enough power to charge your battery.
We recommend keeping the same voltage across all your e-bike parts. That’s for your safety, to preserve your warranty, and for the best performance. So always double-check the compatibility of any new or replacement parts — especially when purchasing from third parties.
How Long Does a 36 Volt E-Bike Battery Last? What About a 48 Volt E-Bike Battery?
Take great care of your e-bike battery and it’ll take great care of you. Pictured: the Magnum Ranger 2.0.
The life of your battery has 2 key components: the life between charges and the overall life of your battery from purchase to replacement. We’ll look at both now.
Life of a Single Charge
Battery voltage doesn’t actually dictate how long your battery holds a charge. That goes back to range and watt-hours: how much power your battery can deliver in an hour.
So when looking at how long your battery can last on a single charge, don’t consider the voltage so much as the watt-hours listed for your bike.
Other factors that impact how quickly your battery discharges include:
- Weight (including bike weight, load weight, and rider weight)
- Amount and degree of use (occasional light pedal assistance vs. revving the throttle for the whole ride)
- Terrain (flat road vs. hills, sand vs. concrete)
Life Of Your Battery
Just as the voltage of your battery doesn’t impact how long your charge will last, it also doesn’t affect the timeline for replacing your battery.
Instead, the life of your e-bike battery depends on its quality, use, and storage. With proper care, Magnum Bikes batteries will retain their full capacity for about 800 to 1,000 complete charge cycles. For typical riders, that can be anywhere from 2 to 5 years of use.
Even after that time, your battery will still retain about 80% efficiency — meaning you can continue to use it, but it may not be able to charge to its full voltage capacity or last as long between charges.
For a long-lasting battery, be sure to:
- Store it indoors, close to room temperature
- Let your battery rest before charging (after rides) and after charging (before your next ride)
- Charge when your battery gets low (one power bar), instead of waiting until it fully powers down
- Remove your battery from the charger when its charging cycle is complete
Which Is Better: 36V or 48V Battery?
Pick the right battery for the way you love to ride. Pictured: our Peak T7 Mountain E-Bike.
While you might be hoping for a definitive answer, choosing the battery that’s best for you is a personal decision.
You’ll want to consider the following factors:
How Do I Use My Battery?
If you ride mostly “analog” without powering on your pedal assist system or using your throttle on a regular basis, battery voltage may not matter as much to you. You can probably select just about any voltage and be happy with your choice, as you’re probably more interested in other features of your e-bike.
On the other hand, if you use pedal assistance regularly (especially on high-assistance settings) or often rely on the throttle to start your rides and power up hills, your battery will matter a lot to you! Consider a higher-voltage battery, but balance that decision with the potential added weight.
How Much Does E-Bike Weight Matter To Me?
Higher-voltage batteries are often heavier than those with lower voltage. That’s due to the additional cells required to generate that extra voltage.
A heavier battery will affect the overall weight of your e-bike.
E-bike weight, coupled with rider weight and the weight of any load you carry while riding, can impact battery efficiency. It may also make transporting your e-bike more cumbersome, especially if you need to load it into a vehicle or onto a bike rack.
If a lighter-weight bike is a higher priority than a high-voltage battery, a 36V e-bike might be the right choice for you.
Is E-Bike Price a Factor?
Since higher-voltage batteries require more cells, you’ll also usually find a cost difference. Since the controller and motor are also designed around this voltage, this ultimately means that an e-bike with a 48V battery will often cost more than one with a 36V battery.
If price is a big priority for you, choosing a 36V e-bike may save you some money.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to compromise!
The Magnum Bikes crew prides itself on making high-quality, high-powered e-bikes accessible and affordable to everyone. And for that reason, nearly all of our e-bikes are 48V — while still offering competitive prices.
What Is The Battery Voltage Of Magnum Bike Models?
The battery on our Pathfinder 350 is unique among all Magnum Bikes models — it’s the only 36V model we sell.
Almost every e-bike we sell is a 48V e-bike!
The only exception is our Pathfinder 350, which features a 36V battery.
With a compact frame, 20” wheels with fat tires, a 350W motor, and our most affordable MSRP, the 36V Pathfinder 350 offers 13Ah (the same as many of our Metro Series and Summit models) and 468Wh (almost as many as our Navigator X and Cosmo models). That means long-range rides are still well within your reach on this model.
I Need Help Finding The Best Magnum E-Bike For Me
Now you know more about choosing the right e-bike battery for you! But, you may still have questions about how to pick your perfect e-bike.
No problem — there’s a quiz for that! Take our quiz to find your ideal Magnum Bikes e-bike.