Saturday, February 6, 2010

Efficiency differences

When I bought this Gizmo in August 2006 it came with 6 Trojan T-875 8v batteries which were 1-2 years old. One of the things I did from the beginning was to use a Kil-a-Watt meter to record the energy I pulled out of the wall. I wanted to know how much it was costing me to charger my car and to see what the efficiency was. My regular commute is 4.4 miles with an elevation change of about 450 feet, most of that is in the span of about a mile. Sometimes my Wife drives the Gizmo to work and her commute is 9 miles. I mention this because with lead acid batteries and the Zivan NG1 charger I have, every charge cycle includes an equalization phase were the batteries are gently over charged to help all of the cells reach the same state of charge. This means that with shorter drives the wasted energy is not spread out over as many miles. Furthermore, the hill climb at the end of my commute where I would routinely see 250 battery amps, a less efficient current to pull since so much energy is lost to heat, would also not be spread out over as many miles as a longer commute would give.

From August 2006 through August 26, 2009 I used the Trojan T-875 batteries. On July 29, 2009 I didn't realize the range of the pack had diminished so far and ended up reversing a cell in one of the batteries. I never was able to revive it. At that point I took the Interstate Batteries U2200UTL pack out of Gizmo #26 I purchased last summer from Galactic Pizza in Minneapolis, MN and installed it in Gizmo #31 and used them until January 18, 2010 when I installed the TS-LFP100AHA pack. (Gizmo #26 needs extensive restoration.) BTW, if you are in Minneapolis go to Galactic Pizza and get some pizza. It is excellent! Tell them that the guy from Washington who bought one of the Gizmos sent you. Besides, you will be supporting a business which uses EVs to deliver pizzas as long as weather permits.

Note that the energy values below are all as measured from the wall so include charging inefficiencies.

Total Miles: 967
Total kWh: 272.81
Average miles/kWh: 3.54
Average Wh/mi: 282.1

Total Miles: 2364
Total kWh: 682.15
Average miles/kWh: 3.47
Average Wh/mi: 288.6

Total Miles: 497
Total kWh: 138.53
Average miles/kWh: 3.59
Average Wh/mi: 278.7
(On March 28 I sent the NORM Circuit, which reads the hall effect throttle sensor and sends the appropriate signal to the controller, to Black Sheep Technology to get a replacement built. I didn't realize at the time that I could have kept using the old one with my manual override switch until the new one arrived so I was without a Gizmo until April 2009. The new interface was worth the wait!)

2009 (8V T-875 pack)
Total Miles: 1180
Total kWh: 315.47
Average miles/kWh: 3.74
Average Wh/mi: 267.4

2009-2010 (6V U2200UTL pack)
Total Miles: 1180 (This number isn't a typo. I had to double check it, too.)
Total kWh: 294.24
Average miles/kWh: 4.01
Average Wh/mi: 249.4

2010 (TS-LFP100AHA buddy paired pack)
Total Miles: 823
Total kWh: 135.37
Average miles/kWh: 6.08
Average Wh/mi: 164.5
(January 18, 2010 through March 29, 2010)

There some interesting things I notice about the data. First 2007 showed slightly more energy use per mile than the previous year. The Gizmo came with a 30 tooth drive pulley and in August of 2007 I had to have the motor rebuilt by Jim Hustead of Hi-torque Electric in Redmond, OR. This is the Jim of White Zombie fame and the builder of the Jim-Pulse line of Warp motors. With a 30T pulley the motor was turning too slow to keep it cool. I went to the smallest pulley I could find which was a 22T pulley. This changed the gear ratio from 3:1 to 4.09:1. The motor has been much happier. I think that the build-up of carbon dust and wearing & cracking of brushes may have had something to do with the lower efficiency.

I think it is interesting that even though the T-875 pack was aging that the efficiency showed an improvement over the previous years (except for 2007). When I look at the energy used to charge after my 4.4 mile commute, however, the energy consumption was up slightly from earlier years and similar weather conditions.

When the 6V battery pack was installed I saw right away a drop in energy consumption. At first I was expecting to see the energy consumption increase because I added over 120lbs to the weight of the Gizmo. After some thought, I think the reason that the energy consumption decreased is that the significant increase in plate area meant that the 250A draws actually reduced the current per unit of plate surface area so not as much energy was lost due to resistance. This is definitely a variable one might consider when choosing a battery pack. Lighter is not necessarily going to be more efficient. Of course I only have one data point to support this hypothesis.

The biggest shock :) came when I looked at the energy use with the TS batteries. To go from a best case of 250Wh/mi with the 6V lead acid pack to a tiny 165Wh/mi is incredible! I am including all the energy I've put into the TS pack so that if I don't completely charge the pack on one charge it will be made up for when the pack gets fully charged later. I keep thinking something is wrong. I'm using the same Kil-a-Watt meter I have been using all along. Maybe I should hook a second one in series with the first to see if they both give the same results. I'm going to periodically update the data as I get more use on the pack. The only things I've come up with as to why the efficiency is so much higher is that there is very little wasted energy when charging a Lithium Ion pack. I don't equalize each time. I plan on doing that this summer to see how far out of balance the pack has gotten. I'll probably only equalize once or twice each year since the BMS will alert me to an out of balance cell. One other possibility is that with the higher voltage I went to, the controller and motor are more efficient. I really don't know how much more efficient they are but I assume a little more. On the other hand, I don't drive full throttle as much either so the switching losses would be higher, I'm guessing. Time will tell.

(edit: updated energy consumption & distance values March 31, 2010)

Performance is WAY UP!

I haven't finished installing everything in the Gizmo yet. I still have a little wiring to do on the BMS warning system, I don't have an emeter type device yet, I don't have a latching relay to kill the AC to the charger if something goes wrong, and I don't have the charger installed yet since I'm still fiddling with the finish voltage trim pot. It is finishing at about 71V right now so it isn't going too high for the BMS modules on a balanced pack. [(7-25-2010) see comments below about this ending voltage.] I have 18 "cells" and the BMS modules have a HVT (High Voltage Trip) of 4.00V. When I get things finished, or nearly so, I'll go weigh it at the Airport. A friend of mine is an A&P mechanic. He has some scales he uses to calculate the weight & balance on airplanes. I will post the data along with my CG calculations for the 6V pack and the new pack. Suffice it to say, the Gizmo is much lighter than it was with the lead acid pack.

Each pack of 10 cells with connecting straps & bolts weighs 80lbs I have a total of 36 cells. With the mounting hardware I used I figure this pack weighs about 300lbs. The Interstate Batteries U2200UTL are 62lbs each so 8 of them were 496lbs and this is without the connecting cables. It looks like I was able to reduce the weight buy about 200lbs. This is lighter than with the original Trojan T-875 batteries. They are 63 lbs each so a total of 378lbs.

The 18 "cells" I went to raised the voltage I see to about 61V nominal. After a short run to drain off the top 1% of charge or so the pack sits about 61V. After a several mile run it sits at about 60V. I find that while cruising along at about 125A or so the voltage sags to about 56-57V. A 200A load (this is 1C since I'm using buddy pairs) lowers this to about 55V. This is with the batteries at 45-50°F. Maybe when things warm up they won't sag as much. Even with this, it is much better than with the lead acid batteries.

My top speed on level roads with no wind is about 42 mph. Just after I installed the pack it appeared to be about 45-48mph so maybe the batteries were still warm from being in my shop. With the higher voltage I'm seeing current readings a little lower than before. This is to be expected. When climbing my hill I now only slow to 33mph where before I slowed to 24mph on a fully charged pack. I attribute the climbing performance to a higher voltage and being 200lbs lighter.

After installing the pack I didn't get a chance to back off on the spring tension on my coil-over shocks. I definitely sat higher and it seemed that I could feel every pebble on the road. I think I only had a 1/4" travel before the rear shock was at its maximum extension. I have since reduced the tension a couple of notches but I still ride a little higher and it is still a little stiff. I'm going to reroute the wires going to the motor so that I have more travel before the motor bottoms out against the tub of the Gizmo and the lower the tension in the spring to see how that feels.

Acceleration is much better than before. I have to watch my speed-o-meter to make sure I don't get a speeding ticket now. I can easily out accelerate the other cars on the road now. I'm not drag racing them but just comparing to what the typical driver does when a light turns green. When accelerating with the lead acid pack I almost never saw 400A from the batteries. Now I can pull 400A on every acceleration if I want. I tried bumping up the maximum amperage to the armature to 500A and noticed significant increase in acceleration. I didn't leave it there, however, since I want to stay below 2C on these batteries. I need them to last several years longer than the lead acid batteries did to recoup my investment.

In short. I love having a Lithium Ion battery pack!