Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday October 20th 2009

Let me introduce this new chapter in my Saturn Ev blog. Some of you may know the story of my car and a bit about me, but for those that don't I am going to include a little history.

I am an IT guy in Detroit, Michigan. I have two EV's. I have an Rmartin electric scooter which is powered by 21 Thundersky 60 AH Lifepo4 batteries. It has a kelly controller installed and is capable of about 55MPH top speed and about a 50 mile range at an average speed of about 40mph. It has a single speed hub motor (5000W) and works well as basic transportation. I have ridden it in the rain, sleet, sun, dark and day. I've had the same problems everyone else had with it the dc to dc converter went bad and I burned up one (so far) main breaker. Both of which were replaced under warranty.

This was my first experience with the WONDERFUL qualities of a lifepo4 battery. I listened to people tell me I need a bms to keep the betteries in check or bad things will happen. Well, I just can't see this. From experience, I have a year and 3000 miles under the belt of the scooter and the batteries are still in ballance. How do I know this, well I check them (often, constantly) trying to find some inbalance or issue with them. I havent found anything yet. I charge them to about 3.7V and I discharge them to 3V. They seem very happy (until it got cold.)

Once the cold weather set in, the thunderskys stayed in ballance, but it appears internal resistance goes up when they get below about 45F. Once they (or by forced heat) heat up by themselves they are fine but I couldn't see riding in sub freezing weather on a scooter anyhow.

I also have an Electric saturn. Its a 1995 SL2 4 door sedan. Its your standard first conversion. It has heat, manual steering and power assist breaks not much else. There are two meters (motor amps and pack voltage on the dash.) At the moment it is powered by 12 autozone group 27 marine batteries. The range (at 40mph) is about 35 miles. Acceleration is ok but not too good. This I attribute to a controller issue. The controller is an early LogiSystems Controller 120-156V at 550 amps. There are only 2 adjustments (instead of the three adjustments (ramp, voltage ramp and max voltage (to the motor) I only have 1 and 3. So, I really wasn't able to tweak the controller very much. I contacted LogiSystems Controllers about some help adjusting it and Marie told my to send it back and they would upgrade it to the newest hardware version for no charge. I took them up on the offer and the controller should arrive back around the 28th of october (a two week turn around so not bad at all.)

I as some of you may know have been on a QUEST to find Lifepo4 batteries for my car. The lead acids are ok, but heavy, slow and very long to recharge. My office is 28 miles from my house so cold weather and not so good power at the office makes it difficult to get home on lead so I decided to get lifepos. I have now attempted for 3 weeks to find someone to take a payment via credit card. I contacted Thundersky, Sky energy, and 2 companies in the USA. With the exception of one they would not take a card (one never called me back when I said I wanted to pay with a card after attempting to contact them 3 times by phone and 2 times by email they were however fine with me sending them a check but thats not for me. Thundersky and sky energy wanted me to do a T/T. For those who do not know what a T/T is, think of it like sending cash overseas and hopping you get batteries. They are correct. And they work. You have no recourse if there are issues. So, again its not for me. The last company looked at the price I got from sky energy and got mad that the price they gave me was lower than he could get. So, he stopped selling the sky energy batteries. So having no supplier I started to give up hope.

I decided to try sending email/calling everyone that had anything to do with Lifepo batteries. I sent out about 15 messages/calls. Of those 3 responded. One quite close had an old (about 6 months old) supply of 40 Ah TS cells but he wanted $50 each for pickup. I needed about 100Ah at 140V. So that meant 3 strings of 43 batteries. I decided to pass because of the number of connections and the price he wanted. Another company had a stockpile of 6 month old TS batteries which would be fine except after 2 weeks, they have not agreed to my price or made a counter offer (I offered them $1.20 an AH or about 10 cents more an Ah that TS offered me.)
The final company I contacted seems to have been a winner for me. They accepted my credit card for a payment and today sent me a bill of landing saying 11 boxes at 360 pounds.

The cost of the cells came out to be 1.60 plus shipping an AH. Now before you all say thats 50 cents more an AH than I can get TS or 40 cents more an AH I can get for SE cells. Here is why I decided to pay more (remember I could have gotten 6 month old TS cells from a guy that is only 15 miles away from me.

1. The design is dry. This means, I can mount them in any direction. Upside-down, sideways, anyway. This is a Huge plus for me because I may get another string of 44 100AH cells in a year and have a 100 mile range. I figure it will be about 50 miles or so range with 44 100AH cells.

2. Shipping. I ordered the cells monday night 10/19/09. They are in California (as in they are IN STOCK in the USA.) I will get them friday 10/23/09. So, thats 5 days from order to my office loading dock. I dont have to wait for several months. I dont have to mess with import taxes, customs etc. That alone is worth the extra money to me.

3. Warranty. Ok folks hold on to your hat 3 years. Their default standard warranty is 3 years. I also have a 30 day money back offer from them. If the cells don't work for me, ship them back within 30 days (in sellable condition) and I get a refund. Try getting that from TS or SE.

4. I can call them at normal hours and they actually answer the phone. I think this company may help us out with batteries that are local to the USA and has support for the end user. I will update this blog with my experiences.

Tomorrow: Struts are bad they gotta go.


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