# How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

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weissp
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How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

I have about a 300 watt solar panel array on roof that I am expanding to 500+. Does anyone know how I can use this to charge directly into my zapino? I currently have to use an inverter which wastes several amps of electricity itself and also it is only about 92% efficient. Then it charges several batteries (bank) of 440 amp hour set of 4 trojan t-105, this also wastes some electricity since the charge controller for that is not perfect.

I am guessing that I would need a 12 volt to 60 volt dc to dc converter/charge controller? I assume add that to the system and then I would need to make a special cable that looks like the one I have now from the charge controller. Any ideas on this and or what brand to get and how do you think it would work?

I know that it might take 3-4 days to charge the scooter, but I am willing to wait and also willing to add a few more panels each year when I can afford them.

juanito
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

What is the exact nominal voltage of the solar panels?
What is the charge cut off voltage for your Zapino battery?

In any case you need your solar panels to output a higher voltage than your zapino's batteries (60V nominal correct?). And when I say higher I mean not just 61 or 62 volts but anywhere from maybe 70 volts or higher. Higher than the recomended charge voltage.

Apperently you have solar panels that are for a 12V system. Is that correct? In order to charge a 12V system they probably have a nominal voltage of about 14V. So, that means you would need to set them up in series of at least 5. (5 x 14V = 70V). Hope that's possible for you. Are they homeade cell by cell? Cells are about 0.5V so 140 per series should do it.

As the batteries charge they will "absorb" the extra voltage and the voltage will drop down to thier level even if your PV array is past 100V nominal voltage. As they charge the charge voltage will increase. Then you need a way to limit the charging voltage. First, what is the charging voltage for your Zapino battery? If you know what it is you could just periodically check it and then disconect the PV array when they reach "full". Or you could buy or design a charge controller that would cut off the PV array from the batteries when they reach "full." My guess would be that the charge cut off voltage would be close to 70V but you need to make sure since over-charging is not good.

If your battery's voltage is more than the PV array's then current would flow backwards through the PV array and drain the battery. This can happen at night, for an example. A charge controller should be designed to prevent this. If you are going to control it manually look into getting some schottky diodes. They will prevent discharge if they are rated for the correct voltage.

weissp
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

Thanks for writing this response. I am new at this, so this is very helpful information. I have 15 individual solar panels that are a 12 volt system but are a 15 volt nominal voltage (Harbor freight)panels (http://www.paulweiss.bz/solar%20electric/index.html). I wired them in parallel but could wire in series if needed. I do not know the specifications on the Zapino batteries, but I think they are GEL, 5 total 60 volt system, so I think your comments would be appropriate. You seem to have described a very manual system. Would buying a charger/converter do all that you said automatically? Do you know of any systems that meet this criteria?

Thanks again for the great information.

juanito
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

Yes. You should be able to buy a charge controller for this kind of system. But I really can't recomend a certain brand since I don't have much experience with 60V systems. I did see that there is a 60V system charger disigned by Outback but it's really expensive. Charge controllers. To bad Zapinos aren't 48V since it would be more common and less expensive. If I were you I'd just keep looking for a good 60V charge controller so you could hook up your panels in 5 series and 3 parallel and control the charge with the charge controller.

As far as converters go, I really don't see how it would work very well if you tried anything different than what you are doing now. And it could be tough trying to find a 12 to 60 volt converter Even if there were a 12 to 60 volt converter out there you would still have the problem of stopping the charge when it got to "full." Besides it would be probably be less efficient than hooking your panels in series.

garygid
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

I assume you have a 120v AC charger for the Zapino already.

Wanting to maintain your present solar storage-battrery charging operation, you need to keep your panels in the 15-volt (parallel) configuration, right?

With panels in strings of even two, that "charger" would need to take in 30v and charge your 14v "storage" batteries, right?

Also, most likely, adding more panels will eventually provide more current than your present battery-charger system can handle?

Easiest (but not-direct) solution is to use a not-very-expensive, commonly-available 12-14v DC to 110-120v AC inverter of "sufficient" power output to power your present Zapino AC-powered charger, since it is (presumably) designed to handle the Zapino battery properly (not overcharge?).

Then, with your stored energy you could "quickly" charge the Zapino, if or when necessary.

Without more details on your system, and plans for expansion, it is difficult to give a good answer, other than "Please, be Careful".

15 panels of 15 watts each would be more like 225 watts, not 300 watts, right?

If these panels put out 15v at 1 amp, they probably put out 20 or even 25 volts open-circuit (no load, no current), right?

You might be able to use 4 new panels in series (80 to 100 volts open circuit), and charge the Zapino at about 1 amp "directly" (almost, needing at least a simple diode). But, there remains the question of overcharging.

What kind of cells does the Zapino have, SLA?
And, what Amp-hour capacity?

And, these panels' power is just "wasted" when not charging the bike?

Cheers, Gary
XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

weissp
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

This looks a bit complicated and expensive to me. I suppose I will just use the set up that I currently have which uses a Harbor Freight 4000 watt Sine wave inverter (12 volts DC solar to 110 volt AC)to power the included 110 volts Ac to 60 volt dc inverter that the Zapino came with. Since I am using the system for other uses when not charging the Zapino, this is probably the easiest (electric Lawnmower, many battery electric power tools and an electric weedwacker).

Your ideas are very interest and also have helped me learn more about how these charging systems work. Thanks again for the comments.

weissp
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

Garygid,
I am not sure what batteries are in the Zapino. I will have to open it up to see. I have a 30 AMP charger off all the panels and that should hold me up to for quite a while since I am buying new set (45 wattts more) every 6 months.
As I posted to juanito:

This looks a bit complicated and expensive to me. I suppose I will just use the set up that I currently have which uses a Harbor Freight 4000 watt Sine wave inverter (12 volts DC solar to 110 volt AC)to power the included 110 volts Ac to 60 volt dc inverter that the Zapino came with. Since I am using the system for other uses when not charging the Zapino, this is probably the easiest (electric Lawnmower, many battery electric power tools and an electric weedwacker).

Garygid....Your ideas are very interest and also have helped me learn more about how these charging systems work. Thanks again for the comments!

garygid
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

The HF 92464 4000 watt inverter ("only" 2000 watt continuous, but enough power for most anything that would plug into a normal 15-amp wall circuit) and probably produces a two-step "square" wave (called a "modified" sine wave). One that produces a "real" sine wave (for sensitive electronics) is called a "pure" sine wave output, and more \$\$.

But, a wise, easy, and flexible choice to just use the 12v DC to 110v AC inverter, I think.

Cheers, Gary
XM-5000Li, wired for cell voltage measuring and logging.

juanito
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

One thing I didn't think about is the fact that with the setup you already have your system can keep storing energy untill the trojan batteries are full so that's energy you're obtaining even when you are riding your Zapino. If you charge directly you lose that energy as soon as your Zapino is fully charged and when you are riding. So in that light the system you already have may be efficiente enough already.

But of course you could charge a 60V system composed of 5 storage batteries per series, 5 PV panels per series, a 60V charge controller, and just directly hook up to your Zapino and charge directly from the battery pack. The charge voltage for the Zapino would never reach more than the max charge voltage set for the storage batteries. You may need a current limiter with such a system. Then again all that would be way too expensive.

Some information as far as I understand:

A 60V nominal voltage set of gel batteries has:
Max charge voltage (typically speaking): 70.5 volts
Float voltage: 68.0 volts
Such voltages would typically need to be adjusted with temperature, needing a lower voltage with higher tempatures, to not damage the batteries, and a higher voltage with lower temperatures, for best performance. If where you live temperatures normally reach as high as 105 F or 40 C then you would need to lower these voltages by about 2.25V.
Min voltage could be about 52.5 although lower may not necessarly harm the batteries.

A 15 volt nominal voltage solar panel has:
Probably 30 cells per series at 0.5 nominal volts per cell.
A max (open circuit) voltage of possibly 18 volts.
Remember that volts drop as amps increase down to 0 volts at short circuit.
As less amps are drawn the voltage increases.
Voltages mentioned above as well as amperage are always affected by sun angle and weather conditions (i.e. clouds). Also could be much more as indicated in a comment above.

Although 5 15V panels in a series would be typical for a 60 volt system, a 4 series might work (but really only at perfect conditions since a 60V volt battery pack needs as much as 70 volts or more while charging). Also note that a 5 series could reach over 90 volts and 4 series over 72 volts (open circuit best sun). Also could be much more as indicated in a comment above.

In other words a 15V solar panel can put out 0-18V, more or less, depending on various conditions but as long as it's voltage is more than the charging voltage of the battery (about 14V) the battery will be charging. In any system (15v or 60v or other) the charge controller cuts off the current to the batteries from the PV panels when the voltage reaches the max voltage for the batteries therfore protecting the batteries form over charging.

Check this out, especially the last part. Manual wind charging.

justincbi
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

That is a complicated job. Normal charging process is a three stage charging. the first stage, charger output a high voltage, big currency to battery. This usually keeps 3-4 hours. second stage the voltage increased a little more but the currency decreased gradually to a tiny one like 500mA. The last stage is the voltage decreased to same as first stage, the currency kept at tiny one. So if you want to use a solar, you will have to simulate these three stages. The easier way is you make your solar output exactly same as power, then you just plug your charger on. Haha...

viking
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Re: How do I Solar charge my zapino directly?

Hi, I have an 60 volt eFun (USA Name) (Au has different name but from the same manufactor) which I use 5 x 14.2 volts solar panals that put out the maxuim of 5.5 amps. These are only a smal solar panal that measure 18cm X 28cm brought of eBay for under 120US\$.
My scooter never see a 240 volt charger as I put an different plug wired straight to the batteries and the solar system plugs into this.
Batteries are 12 volt 20amp Gel and still hold 100% charge since new.
In my part of Australia we have long hot summers and no shortage of sunshine, which is good for charging.
This system, by the end of our summer will have paid for it self, and from them on it will be free scooting.

50+ years of Riding & repairing Scooters and Bikes.
Riding Guzzi 850 T3, Kawa KE175, EFun 60Volt, 2008 ECharm, Plus others.

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