Batteries in DS

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Also see: Load Capacities of Sam and Vehicles

All vehicles use energy four times as fast at Boost versus Standard speed. Take it easy if you want to go a lot farther. (Sam doesn't use energy four times as fast at Sprint versus Standard speed; he doesn't use any battery if not Sprinting with a skeleton.)

The PC only has standard or Boost (Shift) speed. As I understand it, the PS4&5 have variable speed. Sure wish the PC did.

An empty Bridges Truck can go three times as far as one packed to the gills (3,360 kg from 28 Special Alloy XL4s).

  • The Mule truck is the same way, but because it can't hold nearly as much, it doesn't get far up the load curve. It can go 25% farther empty than full (720 kg from 6 SA XL4s).
  • Only the load in the truck matters. Sam's mass (anything on him or his backpack) is ignored. Good to know for the Mule truck.

Bikes (reverse trikes) also go three times as far with no load versus a heavy load (500 kg on Sam and/or bike racks).

  • For bikes, Sam's load does matter. The loads of both Sam and the bike are added together.

It's rare to carry extremely heavy loads in normal play. Still, the larger the load, the less far you can go.

Of course, the energy grid (center of highways) keeps your charge steady (but doesn't charge it up). When you're on the grid, your running lights are green (for vehicles and for Sam).

If vehicles get to 0% battery, they stay at 0% for 3 minutes, then jump to 10%. I call this the rally charge.

Sam has a base of 1,000 Sam Battery Units (SBUs). These can be increased up to 2,800 max. To see your SBUs, look at anything that uses energy in the Equipment wheel (4 key on PC).

For skeletons, the weight of your load doesn't matter, only your speed.

  • Specifically, a Speed Skeleton uses energy 2.4 times faster than Power or All-Terrain skels.
    • With no load or with a full load. Doesn't matter.
    • Of course, this only applies to Sam with a skeleton. If he's not wearing one, he doesn't use any energy to Sprint.
  • Batteries work the opposite of boot wear and fatigue. For the latter two, only your load matters, not your speed.
  • If Sam's battery gets to zero, you can't use your skel functions (including extra load) until you have at least 100 SBUs.
    • Solar recharge is 4 seconds per SBU, so that's 6:40 (400s).
    • It's not a percent of your total SBUs (if you have more than 1,000 total). It's just 100 SBUs, period.

Solar Recharge is extremely slow. It would take Sam 67 minutes to get fully recharged at 1,000 SBUs. Of course, you can just walk instead, if needed.

Vehicles take far longer to Solar Recharge. Their 3-minute rally charge is the better bet if you're out of gas.

Sam's Batteries


Sam has a basic capacity of 1,000 Sam Battery Units (SBUs). He can have up to 2,800 SBUs:

Materials for One
Metals Cerams
Level 1 400 800 120 64
Level 2 550 1,100 160 96
Level 3 700 1,400 200 160

For example, Sam will have a total of 2,400 SBUs if he has two level 3 batteries (2 x 700 + his built-in 1000).

To see your current levels, use the Equipment wheel (4 on PC) and look at anything that uses energy (skel, hologram generator, etc.)

  • You can have two batteries by placing them both sideways. You won't be able to fit any other equipment on your backpack.
  • You gain the first extra battery when you can customize your backpack courtesy of the DC S of LKC. Levels 2 and 3 are from the DC N of MKC.
  • If you want to add batteries, make sure you have enough materials before going to the Private Room!
  • Thermal Pads also add 100 SBUs; you can wear four. Get 2,800 total SBUs with: base 1,000 + 2 Batt 3s (+1,400) + 4 Thermal Pads (+400).

The only other thing I can think of that adds battery capacity is the Stabilizer (+600 SBUs), but it takes up the whole backpack attachment area, precluding extra batteries.

Skeletons do not add SBUs (and only use energy if Sprinting).


For skeleton battery rates, only the type of skeleton matters. Sam's load (weight) does NOT matter for battery duration (but load DOES affect speed, fatigue, and boot wear).

The Speed Skeleton (SS) uses energy 2.4 times as fast as the other two:

Skeleton SBUs/
Sprint with
1,000 SBUs
Sprint with
2,400 SBUs
ATS3 or PS3 2.500 06:40 16:00
SS3 6.000 02:47 06:40

Skeletons only use energy when Sprinting.

I didn't test lower levels of skeletons. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2.4x relationship is the same, but lower-level skels might use more energy per second.

If you have something besides 1k SBUs, just multiply the 1k column by your SBUs. For example, if you have one Battery Lv.3 (+700), multiply it by 1.7. The 2,400 SBU column is 1k x 2.4. (It's just a coincidence that 2.4 applies to both SS vs. others and the fact I used 2,400 as an example. 2,400 was a natural choice for testing.)

The Oxygen Mask drains:

  • 72 SBUs/minute when not in Vog (1k SBUs in 13:53 or 833 seconds; 1.2 SBUs/second) but
  • 382 SBU/s minute in Vog (1k SBUs last 2:37 or 157 s; 6.4 SBUs/second).

Only wear the O2 mask when you need it. Though if you wanted to gas Mules, you could slam down a Generator, laugh.

Thermal Pads use 90 SBUs/minute (1k in 11:07 or 667 s; 1.5 SBUs/s), only when you're cold. It doesn't matter if you're wearing 1 or 4; you still use 90/minute. They also help conserve the canteen a little whether active (in the cold) or not.

IIRC, Armor Plate uses energy when you're hit by bullets.

So only skels (when Sprinting) and three other things use energy, right? (Not counting vehicles.)

When Battery is Drained

When Sam's battery drains,

  • You hear a "whirring down" sound,
  • You get a message in red text: "Battery depleted. Charge the battery."
  • The battery on HUD stops pulsing red.

Once his battery goes to 0, you must recharge to 100 SBUs before you can use your skeleton again.

It's an absolute 100 SBUs, not 10% of your current charge. Whether you have the standard 1k SBU capacity or 2,800, it still needs 100 SBUs.

During play when you drop below 100 SBUs, you can still use your skeleton until you hit 0. After that, it won't work again until you get it back up to 100. When it's offline:

  • On the main screen, the battery meter has a yellow triangle around the gear, which is ghosted out.
  • On the Map screen, the gear symbol to left of your load pulses in red. (It pulses blue when above 100.)

To regain this amount by solar recharge takes 6:40 (400s); you regain charge at 4 seconds per SBU. AFAIK, you gain charge (sunny or cloudy) except when in timefall. You even get solar charge when in a big knot's terminal room or on the grid, as long as there's no timefall. You can tell you're getting charge because the battery meter will pulse, and there's a little pulsing white edge on the far right of the battery bar (where it's changing). In fact, you get this pulsing white edge any time battery charge is changing, whether up or down.

Battery Level Indicators

1000 versus 2400 SBU battery meter on main screen (4x mag)

Death Stranding packs a lot of information into its interface. Unfortunately for testing, it doesn't show battery levels under any menus (Map or Inventory), which means you can't check it with the game paused. You have to use the Equipment wheel or battery meter on the main screen to see it. (Exception: The vehicle battery fullness meter, in Map or Garage.)

The inset shows a 4x mag of Sam's battery meters for 1k (top) versus 2,400 (bottom) SBUs. The sloping bar is how it's shown in the game. The grid overlaying it is completely vertical, to compare one with the other. It aligns with the bottom of the 0 to 1000 level:

  • Both have a little chevron triangle at 1000 SBUs, Sam's base charge. Sam's battery meter always has this, right at 1k, regardless of how much extra capacity he has.
  • The other dot pair always shows the halfway mark relative to your current capacity. For 2,400 SBUs, one half (1,200) is above 1,000 SBUs.
  • The little battery icon to the left shows infinity (∞) because the pictures were taken inside a knot, on the energy grid.

One way to tell you're Sprinting is that the little battery to the left of the meter will have a little cloud around it with the same color as the meter (blue, yellow, or red).

  • When you're just Jogging (standard speed), there's no cloud. Skels don't use energy then.
  • If you're on the energy grid there won't be a cloud. You don't use your battery when you're on the grid.
  • If you're Sprinting in range of a generator, you see the cloud. But also a lighting symbol for recharging.

Here are messages and indicators for Sam's battery levels:

Examples of Sam SBUs and battery indicators (similar for vehicles)
Percent Charge 1000 2400 You get these indicators
30% below 300 720 Yellow text, "[Items]'s battery is running out."
Battery meter and running lights turn yellow.
namely 299 719
15% below 150 360 Yellow text (still!), "[Items]'s battery has almost
run out." Battery meter and running lights turn red.
namely 149 359
1% below 10 24 No messages or color changes, but the battery
icon to left of meter goes from filled to empty.
namely 9 23

I'm making an elaborate point that batteries (and many other things) give a warning the instant levels go below an easily-graspable value. Whether Sam has 1k or 2400 or 2800 SBUs, you actually get the warning the instant it FALLS below 30% (i.e., 29.9%) in the first example.

You can test this very easily on Sam by way of the slow solar recharge (4 seconds per SBU). Stop what you're doing the instant you see the message, look at your SBUs, and wait for it to recover to exactly 30% (or 15%). Then Sprint for an instant. You'll confirm that it gives the message precisely when it falls below that value.

This is why, if you check a battery (or a structure, or other things) they will always be at a weird number like 29 or 14 (in the examples above). Because the value has to go below the number that's easy to remember, laugh.

Just saying, shrug.

It also means that if you're doing testing, you have a very precise way to catch a particular level. The percent full meter is basically only good to two digits and doesn't tell you how close you are to an "edge"... if it says "1%" it could mean anywhere from 0.001% to 1.000%. The level warnings show exactly where an edge is, good to 1 SBU. Even for vehicles, you still know you hit the precise edge. (The width of an entire percent is big for vehicles with large batteries, if you're trying to do precision testing!)

Vehicle Batteries (with Sam for comparison)

First, a Note about Sam Equivalents

There isn't anything for vehicles that compares to Sam's precise SBU readings. Here are the four places you can get battery info for vehicles:

  • A battery icon hovers over vehicles you see in the game world. This is just a fullness bar (0 to 100%).
  • If you use the Map to select a vehicle, you also see a fullness bar. It's bigger than the hovering one, and a nice flat horizontal bar.
  • In the Garage at a big knot or a Safe House, you also see a percent-full bar. This one is even bigger and nicer than the previous two. (You can see the bar if you're on the garage instead of inside it. IOW, you can see your vehicles bar with a partial charge, if you want. If you actually Store the vehicle in the Garage, it will become Full.)
  • When you ride a vehicle, you see an absolute battery size (not just a percent full). This is the only reading I know of that shows this. Alas, it's hard to read. There's no number provided, just a bar. And it's slanted and even has a little spherical distortion.
All DS Battery Meters via 4K screencaps, straightened and left aligned, at 2X mag

So you can't get any absolute numbers for vehicles, just a relative fullness bar, or a bar that scales to battery size but doesn't have any numbers.

I attempted pixels counts on the meters shown when riding a vehicle (inset). They can give you a semi-decent number but it's not real precise.

There was one curious finding:

  • Sam has a little chevron at 1000 SBUs on his battery meter. It was at the 155th pixel of the meter bar, in my 4K screencaps.
  • Conversely, every single vehicle has a chevron at the 180th pixel (see inset and Gory Details). It clearly implies that vehicle batteries also have some kind of reference point. And it's different from Sam's.
  • Unfortunately, no vehicles' battery capacity actually matches that level; none are Full right at the chevron (unlike Sam at 1,000 SBUs). So who knows what their reference point signifies? Maybe it was something from early in game development, shrug.

Gory Details of pixel counts from battery meters

All DS battery meters with no mag - just straight cut and paste from 4K screencaps

Notes on my battery meter screencaps and pixel counts:

  • I used screen captures on a 4K screen. All gauges were straightened (made to be perfectly horizontal) along the top of the meter.
    • The on-screen battery meters are angled a bit off of the horizontal, so the straightening tool led to jaggies.
    • I didn't use a rectangular (perspective) correction, because only one dimension (length) mattered. (The less you mess with an image, the less chance of muddying the waters.) If you make a crop box around them, you'll see how spherical aberration made the outer (left) edge a little fatter than the inner edge.
    • Apparently, the distance that the POV is from the target (Sam) matters, resulting in less jaggies for Sam's meter. The POV is closest when it's just you (Sam), farther for bikes, and farther still for trucks. (Watch your POV change as you get on/off vehicles.) This probably added to the angling and spherical aberration, but didn't affect the bar length they were trying to show per se, because all the standard chevrons were pretty much at the same pixel.
    • All these screencaps were taken in a big knot's room against its smooth floor, to give a uniform dark background. They aren't all in the same place, making for slight differences in background color. For BT3, I got some floor marking.
    • The little green semicircles are from the pulsing circles that emanate from the battery icon when you're on the grid.
Pixel counts for DS battery meters

For the pixel counts:

  • All counts assume a 0 point (not included in the data) on the left edge of the meter bar, and then state the pixel position at which that column's value was seen. I just used a selection box whose left side was at the zero point and right side the desired point, and wrote down the pixel width of the selection box. (It's easier and less error prone than writing down both sides' pixel coordinates and doing subtraction.)
  • Orig Full (Original Full) is the pixel position of the far-right Full end of the bar from my original reading of the meter.
    • For one of Sam's values I put a half pixel (143.5). There isn't any such thing as half a pixel... I couldn't decide if it was 143 or 144, so I put .5. Same for the Dit on that row.
  • Half is the position of the halfway marks. This and all other positions were taken from the top of the bar (the place where I straightened the meters).
  • H/F is Half divided by full. In theory these should all be 50%, right? But in fact they weren't. I guess the halfway marks are a touch right of center. (IOW, it isn't 50% until the bar gets below the entire mark.) But at the time I took the measures, I didn't try to read the devs' minds. I just took the measure from the same place on each bar while saying to myself, "let's take the halfway position from the same relative place for each vehicle, which I'm arbitrarily calling this particular place in the images". Keep in mind that the straightening tool caused the little marks to be a little to the right also when the angle was corrected; I tried to visualize where they intercepted the bar, going from the mark above the bar to the mark below the bar.
    • I didn't want to go back and "correct" my numbers. That's not good science. Just state your approach and what you found, warts and all. (If you do modify values, show the originals and modified ones.)
    • See the kinds of difficulties and second-guessing for graphics without any numbers? When doing work like this (speaking in general), there might be lots of potential pitfalls and traps that an outsider will have no clue about until they look closely. And hopefully catch anything that's not obvious, like this!
  • What I called the Dit at the time I made the measures, is what I'm calling the chevron (or standard or reference point or triangle) on this wiki.
  • Dit/Full was my attempt to see how the chevron correlated with the Full positions. As you can see, they don't. Not really. Keep in mind, you're looking at my raw data here. At the point I wrote that data I was new to it, trying to figure out what was what.
  • Vs BT0 is versus the Full pixel position for the standard Bridges Truck (no long range). I wanted to see if nice, neat numbers fell out. As you can see, they strongly suggest nice round numbers. But in actuality they're a little kludgy. (Why is the BT3 196.2%? If DS usually uses simple numbers under the hood, does 196.2% mean 200%? 195%? Or what? Hmm.)
  • I also included some readings from Sam for comparison.
    • Notice how his dit mark is 155, but the one for vehicles is 180.
    • Sadly, there is NO vehicle right at their dit mark (180), unlike Sam with his natural reference point of 1,000 SBUs. It's kind of maddening, lol ... no numbers AND no clear vehicle standard for their obviously-significant reference point.
  • Mod Full needs some explaining:
    • It was clear that there was noise in the data, but I knew exactly what Sam's underlying values were (see the SBU values in the Notes column).
    • So I made the Mod Full column where I could add or subtract a value from Orig Full (the original, unmodified pixel position of the Full point). Then I used Mod add, set to -10 in what's shown (i.e., Mod_Full = Orig_Full - 10).
    • I made the SBUs/ModFullPxl so I could be comparing a very well known value (SBUs) to this value with noise (Full). Example: the first row is 1000 / 143.5 = 6.969.
    • Then I played with Mod add to get a minimum of variance to SBUs/ModFullPxl. The Variance is only for Sam's four values and defined as (Max - Min) / Average for these four data.
    • A Mod add value of -10 (negative ten) was the best integer for the minimum variance I could get, of 1.44%. (That's what you see in the spreadsheet.) What this means is that if I subtracted 10 from all the Orig Full values (and then used the Mod Full values that are -10), I got the least variance for Sam's known values. (Any other Mod_add value made variance larger than 1.44%.) The presumption is that this will also reduce variance for the vehicles' Full position. Maybe I mis-stepped here by assuming the correction works for vehicles (i.e., that they use the same approach and have the same need for a correction). Since I can't know, I did it. It made the most sense for data that I did have a handle on (Sam's rows).
    • Subtracting 10 from all the Orig Full values basically implies that the displayed battery meter is 10 pixels wider than it should be. This might be consistent with the fact that many of DS's metrics are conservative and, e.g., inventory items (blood, grenades, boots) show "Not full" bars the instant the tiniest bit is gone. It may be tantamount to saying that the battery meters are really showing, e.g., 101%, not 100%. And thus they present a slightly larger width than is consistent with the actual value, across the board. Maybe.
      • Only now, as I'm writing this, do I realize I probably should have used a multiplicative correction factor, not an additive one, laugh. IOW, accounting for a relative 1% (or whatever), not a fixed amount (like 10 pixels). But I'm not going to sink more time into it, because I subsequently found a far more precise number for gauging battery capacity (namely, solar recharge time).

The Vehicle Rally Charge

If any vehicle's battery gets all the way to 0, it initiates a rally charge:

  • It stays at zero for three minutes. Your ride is completely dead; it won't even get solar charge.
  • At exactly 3 minutes, it gives a little sighing(?) sound and jumps to 10% charge.

From that point on, the vehicle gets solar charge and can be used.

This is a one-way thing. If you're above 10% and drop below it, you can keep pushing on. It only dies for 3 minutes after you hit 0%.

Sometimes an odd thing happens at this point, especially for bikes:

  • It'll seem to get to zero and speed will drop, but actually the battery meter will show a little pulsing edge of life, and you can still move a little.
  • I think what's happening here is that the solar charge gets into the mix and gives a tiny slice more, just as it was about to die. No matter; if you keep trying to move, it'll soon die.
  • Still, for testing, I look for the moment the wheels stop as the end of battery life, to avoid mucking up the numbers with this little sleeper charge that suddenly tosses in another 5-10 s to run-out time. Realistically, it's when your wheels stopped that the battery got to 0 for purposes of getting a run-out time.

When you truly hit zero,

  • There will be a red flash on the battery meter
  • You'll hear a whirring down sound
  • You get a red text message "[Vehicle]'s battery has run out"

The Rally Charge is a good thing. Even the smallest vehicle battery (Mule truck) would take 12.5 minutes to get to 10% via solar charge. The Bridges LR3 takes fifty minutes to get to 10%. But with the Rally Charge, you get a whopping 10% free after three minutes.

For a break down of how much time the Rally Charge saves you for all vehicles, see the 10% (Rally) column of the Battery Results table, below.

Battery Results

I got lots of results for batteries:

  • Time to drain battery at Standard and Boost speed, for all vehicles (and Sprinting in skels, for Sam).
  • Battery meter pixel counts for everything (see section above).
  • Time to recharge some batteries via solar charge.
  • I tried to gauge time to recharge batteries using a Generator, but it has quite a bit of variability.

Type # Variant Run Times (Run-Out Times) Solar Recharge Batt Meters Gen1
Standard Boost Compare Time Compare 10%
Mod Full
Sam 1 1k, SS3 n/a 02:47 1.000 1:06:40 1.000 n/a 143.5 1.000 5.215
2 1k, not SS3 n/a 06:40 2.400 n/a
Bike 1 RT std. (RT0) 08:20 02:05 1.000 2:46:53 1.000 16:41 191 1.000
2 RT Defensive 08:20 02:05 1.000 16:41 190 0.995
3 RT Y.K. 08:20 02:05 1.000 16:41 191 1.000
4 RT "Ride" 12:30 03:08 1.500 4:09:51 1.497 25:02 288 1.508
5 RT Long Range 16:40 04:10 2.000 5:33:58 2.001 33:23 382 2.000
Truck 0 Mule 03:45 00:56 0.500 2:08:16 0.512 12:31 141 0.491
1 BT std. (BT0) 07:30 01:52 1.000 4:10:35 1.000 25:03 287 1.000
2 BT Defensive 07:30 01:52 1.000 25:03 288 1.003
3 BT λ 09:00 02:15 1.200 30:03 345 1.202
4 BT LR1 09:45 02:26 1.300 32:34 372 1.296
5 BT LR2 12:00 03:00 1.600 40:04 455 1.585
6 BT LR3 15:00 03:45 2.000 8:20:55 1.999 50:06 563 1.962 45.040
Compare 1 BT0 / RT0 0.900 0.900 1.502 1.503
2 RT0 / Sam 1k 0.750 2.503 1.331
3 BT0 / Sam 1k 0.675 3.759 2.000
4 BT LR3 / Sam 1k 1.350 7.514 3.923 8.637


  • Run Times (Run-Out Times) are how long it takes Sam or vehicles to completely exhaust their battery when starting from fully charged.
    • Times are in mm:ss.
    • These times have been neatened to remove tiny variations in test results due to interface lag, etc.
    • Boost uses batteries four times as fast for all vehicles. (Sam only uses energy when Sprinting.)
    • These run times are for very small loads (a few kg). Having a very heavy load reduces vehicle run times to a third; read on.
    • Sam's battery rates are only affected by the type of skeleton, not the weight of his load. (But weight does affect his fatigue and boot wear.)
    • Sam can Sprint in an ATS3 or PS3 for 2.4 times as long as in an SS3.
  • Solar Recharge is how long it takes to recharge from 0 to 100%. Times are in h:mm:ss. These times have not been neatened. Empty rows weren't tested.
  • The 10% (Rally) column shows how long you'd have to wait for the battery to recharge to 10% if the 3-minute rally mechanism didn't exist. As you can see, it saves you anywhere from 9½ (Mule) to 47 minutes (BT LR3). Sam doesn't have Rally mechanics; after his battery is depleted, he has to wait 6:40 (400s) to get to 100 SBUs before he can use skel functions again.
  • Battery Meters are battery-bar pixel counts from a 4K screen capture; see Gory Details above for more info. Mod Full is the adjusted pixel count for a full battery of that type.
  • Gen1 is the time to fully charge with a Generator Lv.1. Times are in ss.000 (seconds and decimal seconds). Results were pretty variable; only two variants were tested.
  • Sam variants: First row is for 1,000 SBUs and Sprinting (Boost) in a Speed Skeleton 3 (SS3). The second row is 1,000 SBUs and Sprinting in either other skeleton type (ATS3 or PS3).
  • The Compare columns compare values to a particular row within that type of vehicle/group, which is bolded:
    • Sam is compared to Sam with an SS3
    • Bikes are compared to the standard RT (Bike / RT0)
    • Trucks are compared to the standard BT (Truck / BT0)
    • For Run Times, it doesn't matter if you compare Standard or Boost. Standard:Boost always has a 4:1 relationship, so it'd give the same answer either way.
  • The Compare rows are comparing across groups (Sam, Bikes, and Trucks). This always uses values from its own column. For example, "BT0 / RT0" is the value for the standard Bridges Truck (BT0) divided by the value for the standard Reverse Trike (RT0). For comparing Sam across groups, the top, bolded row is used (SS3).

Run Times

These were tested by:

  1. Get everything set up and the battery all the way to 100%. I had a Gen1 nearby but even going a very short distance, I usually had to wait for solar charge to top it back up to a bona fide 100% charge.
  2. Write down Order Time a.k.a. Game Time.
  3. Drop out of Map and immediately start the vehicle or Sam running against some kind of wall.
    At first I ran against a Bridges Truck, but they start sliding around. Even if you pin that truck against a Safe House, lol. Eventually I realized Watchtowers are great for this. They're immobile, and they trap you in their X-shaped recesses.
  4. The instant the battery runs out, hit Tab and write down Game Time again. Get the difference.

The results were not quite a clean as shown above for Standard and Boost. Sometimes they'd have 2 or 3 or even 10 or 20 seconds off from the "neatened" Run Times. (For the larger discrepancies, I'd almost always done something that I knew goofed the time, like stumbling or the vehicle sliding a weird way.) But I performed a lot of tests on the more important configs (RT0, BT0, BT LR3, etc.), and at least one run-out test on every single vehicle (at Standard speed, which is more precise).

For Sam, I also have a lot of data on different skeletons and SBU totals (Jogging or Sprinting; 1000, 1700, 2400, 2800 SBUs, etc.) which were all normalized to 1k and found to be extremely consistent. I actually used his 6:40 as the basis for neatening the rest. (6:40 is 400 seconds.)

There's not a lot to see here besides the data, really.

Solar Recharges

As shown in the table above, Sam will solar recharge to 1k in 1:06:40 (4,000 seconds). A.k.a. 4 seconds per SBU and 15 SBUs per minute. If he has more SBUs, just multiply. For example, 2,400 SBUs (Sam plus two v3 batteries) would take 2:40:00 or 9,600 seconds (2.4 x 4k).   (It's interesting how the math works; that 2.4 times 1:06:40 equals 2:40:00.   2.4 times 1 hour is 2:24:00 and 2.4 times 0:06:40 is 0:16:00.)

Vehicles take much longer, as shown in the table. Even the Mule truck takes almost twice as long. The standard Trike takes 2:47 (h:mm). The standard Bridges Truck 4:11, and the Long-Range 3 Truck takes twice that (8:21).

Yep partner, I let the game run for hours while I tested all those guys. I used a timer on my phone (with estimated end times) to catch the vehicle the instant its battery got to 100% (and you get the "full charge" chime). It was weird to wait over 8 hours doing nothing at all in the game, just for the moment a BT LR3 gave a little chime.

Fortunately DS didn't need any input for this, so I could do other things on my PC.

Sometimes I used the 10% point (rally charge, explained above). It's a very precise edge. Then I'd divide the time by 0.9 to get the 100% time.

A little trick I sometimes used is that:

  • If you save the game at the moment a vehicle runs out (and starts its 0% for 3 minutes),
  • When you reload that game, the rally charge timer has been lost. The vehicle simply starts slowly gaining solar charge as normal (without rally charge), right above 0%.
  • This way, you can easily get the full 100% without having the Rally Charge "interfere" with a full measure.
  • Just be sure you have everything ready to go when you save, and then be ready to hit Tab the instant you reload that savegame (to write down Order Time the instant the trial starts).
  • Usually this adds a few seconds to the overall time, which you can subtract if you want. Or neaten the numbers later, like I did for run-out times. I didn't bother to do it for the Recharge Time column, because it's pretty damn obvious that it's consistent with the neatened run-out times (look at the Compare column for Recharge Time).

Quick note: If you Rest in a Prepper Shelter, your vehicle will NOT get solar charge, even though technically you spend 30 minutes of game time per Rest (and when you go to a Private Room).

I once Rested at a Prepper five times in a row when testing Mule-camp materials spawning. Before resting, my Y.K. trike had 82% charge. After resting (2.5 hours of game time), it had 83%. Ordinarily it takes a standard bike 2:40 to completely charge. Ergo: they don't charge when you Rest at a Prepper, and probably not at a big knot either.

Did you know that you still get solar recharge while inside a knot's perimeter, including in the lobby of a big knot? That's what the little pulsing white bar at the tip of the battery level means – it's changing. If you're inside a knot perimeter, it won't go down (knots prevent any battery drain). So the pulsing can only mean it's going up – due to solar recharge. (Assuming 1) it's not 100% already, and 2) there's no timefall, which prevents solar charge.)

Of course, if you go to a Private Room, the vehicle on the elevator will be repaired and recharged.

Generator Recharge Times

Very tricky because it happens so quickly. At first I tried with a stopwatch, but got pretty variable results. I couldn't use Game Time here because the 2-3 seconds of interface lag (whose exact value isn't really knowable) would screw Sam's measures in the 5+ second range.

So I resorted to video captures while charging, using Mirillis Action! And I even did some in 10x slo mo, holding down the 4 key (looking at an SBU reading) while Sam charged. Sometimes I walked into the generator field, sometimes I erected one and waited for it to finish. Here's a YouTube where I erected a Gen1 and watched it charge me to 2800 SBUs in slo-mo. A third of the time Sam had 1k SBUs, another third 1,400, and a final third 2,800; all were normalized to 1k. Here's a summary; the ones done in slo-mo have already been divided by ten:

Stat Time to 100% (in s.000) BT LR3 /
Sam all
Min. 43.35 4.86 4.68 4.68 9.26
Ave. 45.04 5.29 5.12 5.22 8.64
Max. 46.35 5.70 5.71 5.71 8.11
N 5 5 4 9
Max/Min 1.069 1.167 1.220 1.220

From the video, I got the second and the frame count (60 fps) from the first time there was a clear charge due to the generator (with a lighting bolt in the battery icon), then got it again when the charge became full (bolt goes away).

There was a lot of variation. Not even the slo-mo helped much; it still had ~17% variation in its range (Max/Min = 1.167).

The best I can figure is that there simply is real variation in how fast a generator charges you or your vehicle.

Since this is a lot of work for each datapoint, and other measures are more precise (especially the solar charge time), I dropped the vidcap approach after seeing these initial results.

Also: The 8.64 (actually 8.637) for BT_LR3 / Sam_all is the value I used in the main table of Battery Results. I was trying to see if this had a BT3:Sam relationship similar to other approaches (run times, pixel counts, or at least solar charge).

But it didn't. Not really. Oh well.

In case anyone cares:

  • Generators of level 2 and 3 charge you twice as fast as a Gen1. I only tested this a few times to establish it. Of course, I used a Gen1 for testing so that the longer times would give more precision.
  • The ECV chargers at some Knots Cities charge you 1.5 times as fast as Gen1s. Here are ECV locations and counts:
Cap KC: 8 total in two sets. One set of 3 immediately in front of KC building and a set of 5 just outside physical barriers.
Port KC: 10 total in three sets. One set (3 ECVs) just outside entrance gate, another just to to left (S) of KC building (4 ECVs in a row), a third set (3 ECVs) to the far S (S of all the shipping containers).
Lake KC: 11 total in three sets. One set of 3 immediately S of KC building, a set of 4 further S outside energy gate to KC, and a third set of 4 outside physical barriers.
South KC: 11 total (but 2 unusable) in three sets. One set of 4 just outside the physical barriers, one set of 4 just outside the energy gate, and one set to the W past the KC building (3 ECVs, 2 occupied).
Mountain KC: None.
Edge KC: None.

No Distribution Centers, Waystations, or Preppers have ECV chargers. So only 4 (of 6) Knot Cities have them, and that's it. A total of 38 usable ECVs.

Here's something a little cool to try: Next time a generator is charging you, swing the POV around so you're looking right down the electricity bolt going to Sam or your vehicle. Neat, huh? Works best for big batteries that need a lot of charge, since it gives you more time to see it. And with Sam you can bring up one of his equipment wheels to see it in slo-mo.

Or make a perpetual bolt: Set up a generator while Sprinting in a skel against a truck or wall. Or actively using Thermal Pads or O2 mask. Or whatever.

You can also slow time 10x while doing this by going into any equipment wheel.

Do Batteries Work the Same for All Vehicles and Sam?

Yes and No.

Yes, they all have the same general functionality: battery meter, solar charging, you use more energy when you move fast, etc.

But No, there's at least one real difference besides the obvious ones already noted on this page. (The obvious being how Sam is different from vehicles, with his SBU info, skeleton functionality, etc.).

What's the non-obvious difference between the two main types of vehicles, bikes and trucks?

In the Battery Results table, the standard Bridges Truck can only Run 90% as long as the standard Trike (BT0/RT0 = 7:30/8:20 = 0.9000).

But based on the Solar Recharge and Meter bar data, the Truck ostensibly has 50% more battery (1.500).

In other words, the BT0 has a 50% larger battery, but only runs 90% as long as the RT0. This is a clear difference in battery functionality between trucks and bikes as general classes (just look at the Battery Results table).

One simple explanation would be that the battery meters (and solar recharge) use the same scale for both bike and truck, but trucks are simply heavier, so its large battery doesn't take it as far.

In the real world, there would actually be lots of variables involved: the motor sizes and efficiencies, the empty weights, the size and efficiency of solar panels, actual batteries used, etc. (Who can say with certainty that the battery meter is the same for both types? We know it's not between Sam and vehicles.) Or even more subtle things like aerodynamics (wind drag).

Be all that as it may,

We know for sure that the two types differ: bikes run longer than trucks for the same apparent charge on the battery meter.

Compare the standard Bridges Truck (BT0) to the Ride trike. They both have the same battery-bar length and solar recharge time. But the Ride trike can run 67% longer (12:30/7:30 or 5/3). Or, said another way, the BT0 only has 60% of the Ride's range (3/5).

Unless someone has better insight: Let's just say it's because trucks weigh more. Specifically, 67% more (and bikes weigh 60% less than trucks).

Unless I'm missing something, it seems true enough for practical game purposes. An Occam's Razor situation.


That Damn Vehicle Battery Chevron

Where does that leave vehicles' chevron, the little dit at 180 pixels of their battery meters? (I talked about it in Gory Details, above.)

It's significant for Sam; it represents his base 1,000 SBUs. But there isn't any vehicle that has a Full charge equal to the vehicle chevron. So what does the chevron signify, for vehicles?

One thing that's easy to do, is compute how far it would get each type:

  • The chevron is at 30% of the BT LR3's battery. (The next time you get a yellow text "Truck's battery is running out" on the BT LR3, look where the chevron on the battery meter is, and its percent full. Compare Battery Level Indicators.) Which is to say, a truck can go 4:30 (270s) at standard speed with that much charge (.3 x 15:00).
  • And, as we've established, a trike can go 5/3 farther. Namely, 7:30 (450s).

Okay, well,

There's that, lol.

But I still don't know why they have it as a reference point.

I bet they switched things up midway in development and that chevron (which probably initially meant something obvious and significant, like with Sam) was left behind. It might even be that bikes were initially equal to trucks relative to batteries (the issue explored in the previous section), but later in development they realized there should be a difference. So they tweaked the battery sizes and run-times for the two types... and the chevron (made long before) got lost in the shuffle.

If true, it would also explain why bikes can't go way much farther than trucks on the same charge, as you'd expect in the real world. Because the devs did a simple fix for that problem, instead of a sophisticated overhaul of bikes versus trucks under the hood.

Maybe. Shrug.