For maximum battery life, it is best to avoid overdischarge and overcharge. It is generally admitted that the ideal range should be within 20% to 90% of full charge, to be kept as often as necessary, when possible, especially for happy owners of large capacity batteries like 520Wh of the Firewheel F520, even 680Wh (!) on some Gotway or KingSong wheels.
On electric monocycles or other electric wheelies (bike, hoverboard, bikeboard, gyropods…), overdischarge is avoided by the main controller board by warning and stopping. But all of them are designed to charge to full charge, which is contrary to recommanded practices above. It is nonetheless what happens with all products for obvious marketing reasons since price is in part determined by the nameplate battery capacity, which corresponds to a full charge.
The Charge Doctor V2 auto-shutdown function is precisely intended to address this inconvenience by cutting power when charge current drops under a user adjustable threshold to avoid overcharge. The auto-shutdown can of course be disabled so Charge Doctor V2 would function as any conventionnal (advanced) charge monitor.
Important : a full charge is still required occasionnaly, e.g. 1 every 10 or 20 charging sessions, to ensure the BMS ( (battery management system, the embedded battery controler board) would trigger charge balancing. Balancing, whose importance is most often exagerated, is still necessary on Lithium batteries. So plan some 100% full charges from time to time if you decide to mostly charge to 80% or 90%.
An example of charge session with auto-shutdown is described below to highlight important points of this process. It is the charge of my Firewheel F260 (batteries 16S2P, 260Wh stated capacity), datalogging is by Charge Doctor V2 and graphic display is by KST (see « Graphic Display » post for more details on how to use these tools).
The Firewheel was driven until pedals tilt-up, meaning the battery was empty before charging (voltage starts at 57.7V ie 3.6V, see « How to take care of your unicycle batteries‘). Charger is a 2A version and auto-shutdown threshold has been adjusted to 1.4A. The total datalogging duration is 3h34min30s (bottom-right number on the graph).
|Charge graph of Firewheel F260 with auto-shutdown at 1.4A|
A : end of the constant current stage, start of constant voltage stage
B : auto-shutdown by Charge Doctor
C : charging restart (by user)
D : charging up to 100% capacity
The charge session begins by the constant-current stage at 2A, lasting about 100 minutes, until A. Then constant voltage stage kicks in : voltage remains at 67.3V and stop increasing since it corresponds to 4.2V, the maximum voltage per cell. Note that, theorically, reaching the constant voltage phase should be sufficient to trigger cell-balancing by the BMS. After point A, current drops rapidly to point B, where Charge Doctor shutdowns current automatically. At C, Charge Doctor is switched on again to resume charging to point D, where the battery is virtually 100% full.
This full charge graph leads to the correspondance table of currrent threshold – % charge below (values are taken directly from the file « log.txt »). For example, a 1.0A threshold will end charging at 90% capacity.
For 4A or 5A fast chargers and/or different batteries, thresholds are naturally different so such graph must be logged initially by the user to determine the characteristics of his personal setup.
|Battery capacity (Wh)|| % of full charge
N.B. with the Firewheel charger, charge current does not drop to zero, even after hours (even after a night according to my tests). This means that the charger does not cut current at end of charge which is really bad for lithium batteries! My other chargers don’t behave like this, fortunately. Anyway, all chargers systematically charge to full capacity, which is always above the 90% recommanded level. So use the Charge Doctor V2 auto-shutdown, when you can.