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Archive for January, 2009

I hit a bit of a wall there… between it being too cold to be in the garage without gloves, and me not really being able to decide what the next step is… I haven’t done much.  But I think I’ve done enough for an udpate.

Buying the Batteries

So I did some research into batteries for the car, and here is an overview of what I found.  If anyone knows more about this, and wants to correct me in the comments, I welcome the info… because I only know what I read on various message boards and blogs.

There are basically 3 types of lead-acid batteries:  Maintenance-free batteries intended for gas-engine cars, Flooded deep-cycle batteries intended for golf-carts/forklifts/industrial equipment, and deep-cycle marine batteries which seem to be some kind of hybrid.

In the realm of flooded deep-cycle batteries there are three main manufacturers:  Trojan, US Battery, and Exide.  Trojans are top of the line, US Batteries are a cheaper alternative to trojans… and the price/value makes them an attractive alternative, and Exide is the cheapest lowest performing.  Basically… if you see another brand on the market, Exide is making it for them.

So I made up my mind, and looked at getting 15 of the 8V US Batteries (8VGCXC).  By going with 15 x 8V to get 120 volts, I will have more weight, but a longer range because I’ll have more lead… so more amps.  I could have gone with 10 x 12V, but the range would be more limited.

I called the local US Battery dealer and they had 11 in stock.  I decided to go down an pick them all up so I could get started fitting them.  Dave and I headed down there in his truck and picked them up.  The total cost was a little over $1000.   ‘Spensive.

The BIG 8V batteries

The BIG 8V batteries

The Plan for Mounting the Batteries

Ok, now that I have them next to the car, I see that these batteries are very large.  Very tall. I thought that I was going to be able to get like 8 in the back, 5 in the front, and 2 in the trunk.  That was ambitious.  Realistically, I can get 6 where I thought I could get 8, 3 where I thought I could get 5, and none where I thought I could get 2.  That’s a problem.

After thinking about this very hard and trying a bunch of different configurations with cardboard dummy batteries and measuring tape, I finally resigned myself to removing the back seat entirely.  It’s not like I could get baby seats back there, and this really is going to be a commuter car, so I guess this isn’t a big deal.  Now that I’ve actually decided to do it… I don’t know why I was so against it to begin with.

Under the bonnet

Under the bonnet

So, three batteries can fit in where the old gas tank was.  If I try to put any in the front outside of that recessed area, the hood wouldn’t close.  The batteries are simply too tall.  I did not expect that.

There used to be a seat here...

There used to be a seat here...

So here’s the back with the seat removed.  I know that I can get 6 batteries up on the red part which used to be behind the seat.  Then I measured, and I can get 7 more in down where the seat used to be.   But, I only need 12 total back there, so I suppose I should make a new place for the 12V accessory battery… or maybe I should just put all the batteries back here and make the wiring much more simple.  Either way, I have options.

The Project in a New Economy

I get a lot of people who ask me questions because I started this project when gas was $4/gallon, and now gas is like $1.20/gallon.  Is it still worth it?  Do I regret it?  Do I feel like an ass for not having faith in our gas economy?

Yes, it’s still worth it.  There is still going to be a fuel and maintenance benefit of electric over $1.20/gallon gas.  I’m not concerned at all.

Plus, I have a very firm belief that gas prices will go up again.  We’ll see $3-$4 gas again in the next 5 years because demand is still increasing and supply is still limited.  I think that the rocket up to the price it was at was fueled by fear and speculation, and that this is a violent overreaction in the other direction because OPEC flooded the market and sales of gas-guzzlers tanked.  It’ll swing back for sure.

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