Zapino Battery Dead after 1100km
I purchased a Zapino in mid August 2007.
My commute to work is 4km; after 1159km, I can no longer make it to work on one charge. I charge the batteries after every ride (at work, and then again at home).
I measured the voltage of all batteries 4 hours after a full charge as follows:
After full charge:
4 batteries are at ~13.7V, one battery is at ~13.2V.
I am certainly disappointed in the battery performance of my scooter.
How can I fix the situation?
I emailed Zapino, and they offered to sell me replacement batteries at $99. They seem unwilling to cover the batteries under warranty.
Would replacing the single low battery fix the problem?
I actually posted about the battery problem as early as Fri, 09/14/2007.
At that point, the voltages were 13.3 and 13.1.
I live in Virginia.
I was thinking about buying a fancy de-sulphation charger like the BatteryMinder here
Would that help?
Thanks for your help.
I think you may have the older Zapino that ZAP used to sell. Your first step should be to remove the limiter now. It can cause some odd problems with the power consumption. That is really blowing my mind that you can only do 2.5 miles on a full charge now!
Have you ever let it go a while before charges? The way these new batteries go, a deep charge severely limits the life. I think ZAP puts the batteries at 400 deep cycles, or something.
ZAP is actually using a different supplier since your purchase so if you bought the batteries from ZAP, it might work out better for you.
I commute to work in the Northern Virginia area about 26 miles a day. I have taken the odometer to over 2500 since January, and my batteries are in the same shape as when I bought them if that helps.
Of course, once you remove the limiter you'll go 45-50 mph and you'll probably only get about 15 miles max on a full charge.
Yes, a single bad battery will act like a big resistor for the rest of the pack. But, the fully charged, open-circuit voltage is not a good indicator of battery condition.
You need to ride the scooter until it is starting to cut out, Then, measure each battery voltage under with at least a few amp load on the pack. (have a helper blip the throttle a bit with the front wheel well-chocked. The voltage of the bad battery will sag somewhat more than the others.
Once you are sure you have five good batteries, you should get a battery pack balancer such as a BattEQ. www.smartsparkenergy.com
One thing stood out to me in an otherwise helpful post:
....you'll go 45-50 mph ..."
Not if you doublecheck this with a GPS, maybe 38 mpH tops, 40- 42 downhill.
If your scoot does the speed you claim, I wanna buy it!
Regarding the Battery Pack:
NEVER charge it right away when the batts are warm or hot. That's how my E-MAX batts started gassing and blowing components on the charger board!
I would buy a simple household timer, set it so that it gives your bike about an hour to cool down and THEN begin the charge.
My E-MAX is now very "buttery" and not very strong in acceleration but I still have a bout a 14-15 km range after almost 2.000 kms
True that's not great but it seems that your batts are very compromised and depleted.
Try and see if they come back to life after you gave them that little thermal "break".....maybe it works!
zaprider, I don't think the de-sulphation charger will help because it appears like sulphation would not be the problem in your case. But I can't be sure. What kind of batteries are in the scooter?
The first thing I would do is the load test that PJD mentioned. Then, once you find the bad battery, take it out and add a small amount of water to each cell. I would start with 1-2 ml/cell of distilled water. You can measure this out from a dropper. This is a very small amount of water so it needs to be precise. Don't just pour some water in as too much water can cause problems. Charge it separate from the others with a Vector or other smart charger. I've heard you can get some of the Vectors at walmart for like $20-30?
13.7v sounds too high for AGMs, but I think these are silicon Greensavers?
I would definitely not buy replacements from Zapino, unless you know exactly what brand they are selling. And, given the lack of information regarding the life of Silicon Greensavers, I can't say if they will provide suitable life as replacements. Instead, I would personally go with B&B EB50-12 AGMs as replacements if they will fit. Once we get more long term information with people using Greensavers, then I might recommend them. And, please install BattEQs, PowerCheqs, or do bank charging. I noticed JDH recommended doing that in the post you linked. Don't come crying to us if you don't follow advice and kill your next set of batteries.
Thank you everyone for replying so quickly.
I will do the measurements that PJD mentioned tomorrow morning.
nacnud: I have never left the vehicle uncharged for more than a few hours. I usually only ride it to/from work and charge it then. The timer idea sounds good after long rides, but the 4km takes me <15min and I can't imagine that creates too much heat.
I posted before that my max was ~32mph (not GPS verified). I would prefer not removing the limiter unless you think it is critical to the battery-life issue. As I understand it, the limiter just reduces the signal to the controller. If anything, keeping it should increase range.
andrew: I have the stock battery in the scooter; see the picture below for a top-view of the battery near the end of the seat. There does not seem to be any brand name label visible on any of them. The manual say Greensavers, but how can I verify with the actual battery? Also, where should I put the water?
The low battery is the front-most one, under the footboard. I haven't really figured out a good way to remove that one.
battery savers: I did note jdh_2550's rec to install batterycheqs. At the time, I thought the investment did not make sense because :
(a) they cost $250-300 (with meter) when a new battery pack costs $600
(b) I did not understand exactly how much it would extend the battery life, e.g. 1/2cost makes sense if it would increase life by 50%, right?
(c) I believed that new Lifep04 packs might make the SLA technology obsolete and thus the $250 would be better banked and later invested in that
(d) I expected the stock batteries to last for 3000km, i.e, more than a year, without the battery cheqs.
I might have just gotten a lemon Zapino scooter.
I had the older Zapino with greensaver batteries, now have the newer Zapino with B&B SLA. One of the things I noticed in your post from last year is that you may have made some long trips right from the start. All these batteries require a breakin period of short drives each day, going further each day. After each short drive, charge the batteries and let them sit overnight. Should take at least a week to properly condition a new set of batteries.
Another thing about having 5 batteries is that the string charger over a period of time cannot get the battery charge even. You will end up with an out of balance system. There are two things you can do to prevent this.
One is Bank Charging using 5 battery chargers to charge each battery separately.
The 2nd is the BattEQ for 5 batteries which just became available for $199. The BATeq shuttles current from the higher batteries to the lowest one so they are all equal after sitting awhile.
I have the Paktrakr installed so I can monitor total pack voltage, and individual battery voltage. It also gives me Temperature in the battery box and amps.
At this point you will neeed to do the test described above. Drive the scooter till almost end of range, then measure the battery voltage. A Bad battery will be much lower then the other. If this is the case, you could just get another new battery, condition it and then install it. If you have greensavers, go to this site(They should be SP27-12)
Forgot to mention. My original Zapino had a two speed switch on the handle bar next to the throttle. All is does is add resistance to the feedback voltage to the controller.
In HIGH you get about 4.3v DC. On LOW you get around 3v DC.
My new Zapino also has a two speed switch but is under the covers. Same principle. It measures 12K resistance on LOW. I can go over 40MPH in HIGH and around 30 in LOW. This works OK for me. I mounted the switch in the storage box near the CB so I can switch it when I need to.
The faster you go the shorter your range will be.
I rode from home to work this morning and then took the measurements described above.
That is, I propped up the scooter so that the back wheel rotated freely, and then measured the voltage of each battery while the accelerator was fully engaged.
Should I simply replace the 5th battery from SiliconBatteriesUSA? They charge $79 (which is surprisingly 20$ cheaper than the "at cost price" offered by the Zapino customer service person). What is the B&B SLA and can I replace with that one?
sgmdudley: Why did you choose to buy a new Zapino? Re: long rides-- Even from the start, I only used the scooter for ~4km rides. I think I have only made <10 trips over all that were longer...the longest one being ~24km. Yes, my scooter has a switch on the right side which controls whether I can go <20mph or <32mph.
Thanks everyone for your help with this.
I'm thinking about replacing the batteries with LiFePo4 batteries. are the batteries difficult to get too? I've so far been too chicken to take it apart.
I would get the 5th battery from SiliconBatteriesUSA due to the low cost. The B&B SLA that compares is the EVP35-12, and the cheapest I can find is $120 for it. Make sure and get the SP27-12 (the SP is the series for electric vehicles).
But, once you have to replace all the batteries, as I said, I can't really recommend Silicon Greensavers because I have no reports of a satisfactory life that can compare with AGMs. It is possible that ScooterTech on Voltsrider.net might have enough miles on some scooters to give an idea so I would contact him.
For now, to keep your scooter running until a replacement battery comes in, I would try and add a small amount of distilled water to the bad battery cells. First remove the vent covers and remove the vent caps, and add 1-2ml of distilled water per cell, then put the caps and covers back on and use electrical tape to hold the cover on. Then use a Vector charger or other smart 12v charger to charge it.
1) If the batteries are Green Saver SP27-12, then you ether replace the one bad one or all 5 with B&B. Do not mix. Andrew says these batteries have vent caps. If so they must be underneath a green plastic cover plate. You cannot see any vent caps.
2) The range for me is around 25-30 if I drive at a steady 20mph and avoid jack rabbit starts. I can't charge at work so must make the round trip on one charge. (19 miles).
3) I chose the Zapino because of all the scooters being talked about on this forum it seemed the best and I still think it is. I have a dealer two blocks from my apartment so dealer location was how I got interested. I don't think I would have bought an electric scooter if I couldn't test drive one first. I was ready to buy the Piaggio MP3
I assume you meant "replace the one bad one with a greensaver, or replace all 5 with BB batteries. Do not mix."
I can confirm that mixing conventional lead acid with the silicones doesn't work. For that matter, all batteries in any pack should always be the same mfg. and model.
BTW, as far as balancers, a BattEQ for a 5-battery pack costs $199. And, as far as LiFePO4's, I am having a heck of a time finding a suitable BMS. So, my $1500 investment is still sitting on the bench.
I'm thinking about replacing the batteries with LiFePo4 batteries. are the batteries difficult to get too? I've so far been too chicken to take it apart.
Maybe you can sell 1-2pcs the used batteries to ZAPRIDER with lower costs,it is better than throw away old battery.
We found Greensaver didn't well balance 5 cell batteries when EX factory last year.
This year we take notice and measure the tolerance less than 0.02V between each cell before loaded in scooter.
If ZAPRIDER will mix old and new batteries,better use bank charger.
Now that BattEQ is available for 5 batteries, does anyone know of a source to purchase it for less than the MSRP of $199? Given that the stock batteries cost approx. $500-$600, is it cost effective to purchase the BattEQ for $199? I just purchased a new Zapino and am breaking in the batteries as suggested by many on this board. But I'm not sure about the cost effectiveness of all of the potential modifications that can be made to improve the battery life. If BattEQ is added, I read posts that say that the BattEQ should be disconnected before charging. I am presently string charging and am wondering which of the following is more beneficial to battery life (1) Not using BattEQ and using string charging, OR (2) Using BattEQ without disconnecting it during string charging.
As stated before, string charging may cause the batteries to be at different voltages. This is due to different internal battery resistance. The BatEQ works to balance the batteries by shuttling current from the high ones to the low one. Major Caution: Do Not have the BatEQ connected when trying to charge the batteries.
Yes, if you have 5 Greensaver SP27-12, then replace the one bad one with the same Greensaver battery. Or else replace the greensavers with 5 new SLA. Do not mix.
One of the problems with the Bank Charging, Paktrkr and BatEQ is that all three of these modifications require adding wiring to the batteries. I have my scooter wired for the Bank Charger in such a way as to make the Paktrakr install easy. Then for the BatEQ, I will just connect to the Bank Charger connector. That way ether the charger is connected or the BatEQ is connected.
sgmdudley - I'm pretty sure that I have the same batteries that you have because I received delivery this week and it is the newer version of the Zapino. I'm thinking of adding the BattEQ but at this point I don't plan on converting to bank charging. My thoughts were that I didn't want to invest too much money in the SLA battery equipment because I'm hoping for an affordable Lithium battery replacement in the future.
What I was trying to ask is, Would it be better to string charge without BattEQ (what I'm doing now), or would it be better to string charge with BattEQ without disconnecting BattEQ when string charging? I'm not sure if I will be able to rig up a switch to easily disconnect BattEQ when string charging so I was wondering given that, is it better to have BattEQ or not have BattEQ. Thanks.
Major Caution: Do Not have the BatEQ connected when trying to charge the batteries.
I don't know where you got that information. This is wrong. The BattEQ and the PowerCheq units are designed to equalize during charging.
usatracy may have recommended removing the BatEQ before bank charging, because he may have thought the units can somehow interfere with the individual charging algorithms. I don't know if he had any way to support that. But, for string charging, the BatEQ won't interfere with the charger at all, as it doesn't change the potential of the string of batteries that the charger will be measuring.
Yes, that is the source of the information I had. I will be getting the BatEQ and I plan to ride to work, then plug it in while the scooter sites for 11 hours without a opportunity to recharge. My goal is to equalize the batteries after riding 10 miles to work. Then when I get home, bank charge.
My original Zapino had the GS, this new one has the B&B SLA. I too would like to switch to LI-ION when they become available. Less weight/more range. May have to change the whole charging process. Don't know how to do it with LI-ION, any difference?
I am currently converting a 48V e-max to LiFePO4's using sixteen 40AH Thunderskys. The first hurdle for LiFePO$'s is finding cells of the appropriate size to physically fit in the battery boxes. But the biggest hurdle is the unavailability of battery management systems (BMS's) which are needed for charge equalization and cutoff if any cell goes too low. I've got $1500 worth of cells sitting on the bench until this issue is resolved.
The only good prospect right now is one being developed by a lone retired guy in Oregon.
For scooters that use the typical 35-40AH SLA's you could use Valence 12V LiFePO4 batteries and their BMU system - which is expensive and has a lot of bells and whistles we don't need - each battery is about $750 each - plus at least couple hundred for the BMS.
At no other time are the equalizers as important as when charging. They prevent overcharge of the batteries that reach full charge first. A good educational exercise is to measure the voltage or each battery in a pack (without equalizers) with the charger connected and nearly charged. You will see some batteries reaching rather damaging voltages - 16 volts or more, while others are only 13.5 volts. And, since it is typically the weaker battery(s) that reach full charge first, they get progressively and rapidly more damaged and weaker with each charging!
The pattern observed by Zaprider is typical, one battery completely shot, the others good. 90% of the time, battery balancers will prevent this.
- Paul D.
Is what you described a result of string charging or bank charging or both? I have 5 2/4/6a Vectors. I plan to periodically rotate the connectors to change the battery each charger works with to offset what I have seen in charger differences. Would be nice to have a way to adjust each charger to produce same charge current and cutoff voltage.
I used the PowerCheq on one of my e-bikes and they worked great. I never disconnected them during charging or discharging. They did a great job of balancing the pack during charging and they helped maintain the battery pack power level over range or during discharge. I only made one mistake with the PowerCheqs, I did not remove/disconnect them when I stored the bike for the winter. As has already been stated they were developed to balance during both the charging and discharging phase. Here is how they work.
I found out (the hard way) when you store your batteries for more than 2 weeks, yes 2 weeks seems to be the magic time period, at least for a 12AH pack, you must disconnect the PowerCheqs or they will continue to balance the batteries to almost nothing. I stored my bike with the PowerCheqs attached over a winter and the 36-volt pack had only 4-volts in it when I tried to charge it for the first time. Needless to say that pack was junk. I still use them on the bike but I have them mounted so I can disconnect them when I don't plan to use the bike for longer than a week or so. At this point I am using an old set of batteries that I could only get about 2AH worth of good performance without the PowerCheqs. I am getting about 5AH of good performance with the PowerCheqs from those batteries. The bike is being used everyday, by my brother-in-law, to get to work and back. With some luck I will be replacing that pack with a 36-volt 15AH Li-on battery pack.
Grandpa Chas S.
I agree that with smaller packs, this must be is a problem.
But, I have left my 40AH packs (with powercheqs) sit for as long as a month before a top-off charge, and the pack was still probably at 90-95%.
If the scooter is going to be stored for a month, could the charger be connected during that entire time? Or is there a trickle charger that can be used to keep the batteries fully charged but not overcharged?
The main reason I think my pack went dead so fast and yours did not was the general condition of the batteries. I could see where a good set of batteries could maintain a reasonable charge after sitting a month however if you have one battery in the pack with a faster self discharge problem, a.k.a. not holding a charge, this would make even a large amp hour pack go low with the PowerCheqs attached. I still advise everyone using PowerCheqs to disconnect them when you are in a storage mode. Even my small pack did not have this problem when it was new but by the end of the riding season, when the weather got too cold, they were no longer new and apparently one battery was weaker than the others. the PowerCheqs were doing their job so well I did not notice one battery was slowly dying.
As long as the charger has a float mode you can leave it connected to the pack.
Grandpa Chas S.
The PowerCheqs have a Quiescent current draw of <= 5 ma. Check here:
5ma times 24 hrs times 30 days is 3.6 ah per month. This is why I would charge the batteries every two weeks if the powerCheqs are left connected.
Today, I purchased a Vector 30/10/2 smart charger.
I disassembled the bike to get access to the 5th battery under ones feet. (This required removing the seat, the sidepanels, and finally the underpanel.)
When I found the battery, I noticed that the top plate covering the little black caps where one presumably adds water had been blown off. Also, one of the black caps was off its well, and the hole was open. I thought this odd. I replaced the cap on the well.
Then I began to charge the weak battery with the Vector.
Within 3-4 minutes, one of the black caps popped off its well again.
I then stopped the experiment to ask for more advice about what this means.
Is there not enough water in the well? Should I add a few drops of distilled water?
Or does the fact that the black cap keeps popping off signal that the battery is very dangerous, and I should not mess with it.
Thanks for your help.
That battery is probably permanently ruined and should be recycled. Trying to keep charging the battery would be futile and possibly dangerous.
Measure the voltage as you charge it, and charge at a slow rate. Also, secure the caps with the top plate. If the existing one that blew off is gone, than use a flat piece of something like a piece of wood or plastic. Secure it with a piece of electrical tape wrapped all the way around the battery. It may be that one of the cells is either very weak, or internally shorted. I would go ahead and add 2 ml of distilled water to all of the cells. I use a little dropper. If you don't have a dropper, than find a paper cup to bend. Measure the amount of water according to teaspoons:
1 tsp = 4.92892159 ml (thanks to google) so about 1/2 teaspoon would be a good place to start
Charging the battery will not be dangerous. Just make sure you charge it in a well ventilated area. It is normal for pressure to build when charging, and if you remove the vent covers, sometimes the caps will pop off on good batteries due to the positive pressure created.