Friday, May 29, 2009

Elite Power Solutions - Not so Elite

I've been waiting some time to post what I feared would be the case from this company, but I think it's time to let as many people know as possible.

As you're aware for those following along I've had a few, to say the least, issues with the BMS system I purchased from Elite Power Solutions. I've emailed them quite a few times along the way but never really got a fix to anything and it always resulted in me figuring out a work around to make the system happy.

Recently, I thought I had two bad cells. It turns out, again, the BMS was misreporting these cell voltages, but only under load (they show fine at standing voltage, but drop quicker in voltage on under load than they really are). Here is the email transaction. It seems to start off fine, but after well over a month, I just feel like I'm getting the run around.

EDIT (Emails Removed):
Turns out the emails sent around clearly stated they were not allowed to be posted anywhere for public view. I was nicely asked to remove these emails from my blog.

This is where it's at now. I'm sure they will not get back to me until I bug them again. They are more than happy to take your order, but don't count on that one year warranty being honored. As far as the TS cells themselves, I'm so far quite pleased. I only ordered them from somebody in the US hoping to get the customer service support if needed.

I'm probably screwed on ever getting this thing fixed and might just design my own or mix and match a few other options out there.

So where should you buy these cells from now? Dave over at EVComponents is offering the cells and a different charger and BMS system. I kick myself, because his cell prices are about 70% of what I paid from EPS. Check out his website at They are working at keeping these cells in stock! This means no more 2-3 month turn arouund times either. Very promising for the EV world.

Update: Elite is sending yet another module out to replace the defective one. Sadly, I've discovered another issue with another module. This module has a problem with one cell where it will randomly cut the voltage in half (display only, the cell is fine). This in turn is telling the charger, if charging, there is a low voltage condition. To the charger this means terminiate immediately and do not restart. I've been lucky on the timing and so far have not been stranded while I was debugging the issue. I've since reduced my low voltage trigger to just above zero to prevent yet more false alarms. I'll keep you posted on the results of the second module replacement as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DMV trip four

I realized when talking to a guy about my DMV experience that I hadn't posted the fourth, and I sure hope final trip to DMV for registration to Electric.

As you recall from trips two and three, I was told to come back when the registration was due. This would allow them to open the smog section in their computers so they could input the DMV ID number on the BAR cert and finally change the MP field from G to E.

Well, as I'm sure you can guess, the smog section still couldn't come up. They tried this and that, talking amongst themselves and about 30 minutes later...nothing. So the lady says, "Well your registration is due, would you like to pay and maybe that will open up the smog section?" What do I have to loose, I'm thinking. I pay and the computer spits out the new registration paperwork. Sure enough, the MP section is already set to E!

So, in hind sight I'm thinking their system has changed a bit. The BAR referee computer must now directly change type to avoid the whole DMV confusion process. I think if I would have waited for the due notice to come in the mail, I could have paid it online and received the updated E registration without any of the headaches I went through.

I have had a few people telling me that E means something else, or doesn't exist, etc. So I'm really not 100% sure if this is done, and won't know for two years when the smog would be due again. I think I'm good, but you never know with DMV. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2500 and counting

Today I broke 2500 miles on electric, woohoo! In general things have been really smooth with the build and I'm overall very happy. I'm really pleased with the lithium cells and the balancers I built. Hopefully the cells just keep us moving for many many years :)

OK, so there is one item I'm not completely happy with. The BMS from TS has some really great features all wrapped into one system. Many piece together things like amp meter, fuel gauge, etc. It was nice to find it all in one package, but this thing has been far from reliable.

You may recall my initial problems with charging where the BMS would freak out and start reporting cells at low voltages and such if the charger was at high amps.

The next thing I noticed was two cells that seemed to be sagging pretty bad under load. I placed a volt meter on them and they weren't sagging at all like the BMS reported. There are 5 modules, up to 10 cells connect to each. I switched around two of the modules and then I started getting two different cells (same module) that were reporting sag. I'm still waiting on a replacement from Elite Power Solutions. The first "replacement" didn't work at all and I had to send that one back.

I've also had a couple of occurrences where the charger just stops during the charge and I couldn't figure out why. I was at first assuming it was getting a little hot, so I started opening the trunk (until I get time to vent the trunk better). This seemed to fix it for a bit, but it started happening again. While driving the other day, the BMS alarm went off indicating one cell was about one volt lower than it really was (it immediately jumps back up to normal voltage). This has happened a couple of times now. During charging, any low voltage indication will terminate charging, so again the BMS shows its quality.

I have some plans to implement my own high and low voltage protection, and still use this BMS for the rest of it's functionality. This way if it blimps, it doesn't matter except for viewing purposes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

1.21 Gigawatts!

OK, so maybe I'm not harnessing the power of the lighting bolt, but the sun works well too. I've been patiently waiting as Acro Electric has been installing the solar system for the house, and more importantly the power to charge the car as well!

I kept climbing up on the roof when I'd get home from work to see what they had accomplished.

Here is a picture of some of the anchor bolts installed for one of the two groups of panels.

Here is a close-up of one. You see all the black caulking that goes into the drilled hole. Additionally the black piece of flashing will be over the bolt and hole with the higher shingle laid over this as well see later. This flashing allows most, if not all, of the water never even get near the hole.

Here is the south facing group of rails installed. You can now see how each anchor is covered by the flashing and slide under the higher shingle.
Here is a picture of the west facing group. I didn't have much south facing roof space so half of the panels went here.
The panels and inverters are brought in for installation. The panels are from SunPower model SPR-225-BLK-U. They are small and rated for 225 watts a piece, which is quite a bit especially for their size. There are two inverters SPR-3000m and SPR-4000m. As you've probably guessed they are rated for 3k watts and 4k watts respectively. There are 28 panels total for a DC/STC rating of 6.3kW. This is fancy rating they give to "lab conditions" and you won't see these numbers in the real world. Therefore another rating is given (CEC/CSI) which is a "real world" rating of 5.56kW. The physical roof footprint is 393 sq.ft.
Here is the south roof again with the panels installed. They are a nice solid black color, you can't see the PV cells like you can with the other panels.
The west facing group.
Here is the west facing group again with some perspective of how little roof space was needed for half (3.15kW) of panels. I could really add a lot more if I need to.
Day 4 and 5:
The last couple days was doing all the wiring and finishing touches on the system.
Here are the two inverters mounted in my garage. You can also see the new 220v plug I had them install while they were at it for the car charger. I was running a long, and rather big, cable across my garage before.
Today was the first day they got to fully operate over the entire time frame of sun light and they produced 40kW. I'm pretty sure as summer really kicks in we'll get even more out of them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A trip to my local Honda dealer

I still hadn't aligned the car after the conversion and I knew the weight changed plenty so it needed to get done. I finally made an appointment and took it in yesterday. My biggest concern was having somebody drive it, so I made sure to explain to the guy I was checking in with what needed to be done. It's nothing hard, but a few tricks that your average guy would think the car was broke when it didn't turn over :)

Long story short, Honda didn't get much work done that morning. I had about 15 of their employees looking at the car and asking questions. It was great to hear from all these guys how clean the job was and how much they liked it. There were a ton of questions from them and it was great to be able to show some people that this kind of thing IS possible despite their beliefs. I also found it interesting that they were impressed with a car that could go 80 miles on a charge. The typical reply was, "hey that's all I'd need to get to work and back".

Towards the end of the actual work the mechanic brought me back to explain something on the alignment. He said because of the weight difference in the front the caster couldn't be brought back into specs on the front, but it was very close. I asked if shifting more cells to the rear (which was something I was thinking of doing down the road) would help and he said no. The rear settings were maxed out on camber and adding more weight to the rear would put it outside the range as well so things will just remain as they are. It definitely makes me glad I went the LiFePO4 route, any amount of lead that could get me to work would kill my little car.

The icing on the cake for the day was I got the employee discount rate for the work since I made their day by bringing the car in. They all knew me by name now and kept thanking me. It was a great day but my wife couldn't understand why it took two and half hours until I explained the story. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hitler's Tesla

I found this inside footage of Hitler and his current delays on his Tesla. Enjoy :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Parts For Sale

On Saturday I put all my gas related parts up for sale on Craigs List.

Here are the major items up for sale but there are a lot of little pieces I don't need but didn't want to list.

F20 Engine, Converter, Manifold, ECM, Radiator with both fans, Intake box with filter, Alternator, Muffler Set, Heater Core, Fuel tank with Pump.

The muffler set went today. Hopefully the parts keep on selling to help recoup some of the conversion cost.